Idris Elba, the British actor and filmmaker, observed the cryptocurrency frenzy during the pandemic as his celebrity peers raced to capitalize on the high prices. In 2021, crypto businesses spent millions on celebrity endorsements, while celebrities also took advantage of the opportunity to release their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or create their own crypto coins. However, Elba chose not to participate as he felt uncomfortable with the gold rush atmosphere and being used solely for profit. This decision turned out to be wise as the crypto industry has since experienced a decline, with notable collapses and regulatory crackdowns tarnishing its reputation.
The crypto “winter” in the past 18 months has seen numerous failures, including the collapse of the Terra Luna stablecoin and the subsequent downfall of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, crypto lender Celsius, and crypto exchange FTX. As a result, investment has dried up, regulators have increased control measures, and the remaining businesses have faced significant criticism. Celebrities who endorsed crypto services have particularly faced backlash for their involvement in promoting failed products that caused substantial financial losses. The repercussions for these celebrities may extend beyond the metaphorical winter period.
Although the crypto industry has seen a downturn, Idris Elba, unlike many others, remains intrigued by the technology. He is specifically interested in how crypto’s technical infrastructure could address issues of financial inclusion in West Africa, a region his parents come from, where less than half of adults have access to banking services. Elba views crypto as a means to break down barriers as it operates on a decentralized ledger outside the control of governments or banks. Despite the current slump, Elba’s curiosity about the potential of crypto in emerging markets and its ability to empower individuals with incredible minds remains undeterred.