By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — A black woman-owned business is prompting the adoption of crypto currency in Inglewood.
Najah Roberts founded Crypto Blockchain Plug in February 2019 to make sure the urban community was not left behind when it comes to crypto currency, bitcoin and blockchain education.
She was extremely excited about 2020 until COVID-19 hit.
“It was really disappointing because I had such high hopes for what 2020 would bring us,” said Najah Roberts, founder and chief visionary officer of Crypto Blockchain Plug. “(But) I think the future is absolutely phenomenal. We have so many opportunities that are right here at our doorstep.”
Due to rising interest in digital currency, crypto currencies are nearing all-time highs during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
“People are starting to hear that digital currency is starting to come into play, so there is much more interest in what it is we’re doing here,” Roberts said. “I believe that a lot of what’s happening is they’re doing a reset, so that a lot of things can go digital.”
Retailers are experiencing coin shortages, prompting entrepreneurs to explore alternatives. More businesses in Inglewood are now accepting crypto currency in exchange for digital payment, like In The Cut barbershop, Sip & Sonder coffee shop and Philthy Ragz clothing store.
That development is thanks to Crypto Blockchain Plug, an education-focused lounge, located on Manchester Avenue, less than two blocks away from The Forum and SoFi Stadium. In fact, Crypto Blockchain Plug is the first African-American woman owned over-the-counter crypto currency lounge with a physical location. Crypto Blockchain Plug is one of three brick-and-mortar crypto currency exchanges in the United States.
Roberts said being a black business owner presents its own set of challenges.
“As a black business owner, I’m still dealing with the same intricacies of less funding than traditional businesses,” Roberts said. “I’ve seen so many businesses get the type of funding that they need to try to keep themselves afloat. We were fortunate to be able to work with a small bank that got us the payroll protection program.”
Roberts said once protesting began this summer, she also saw new interest from people who wanted to learn about blockchain technology and how the digital device is affecting African Americans.
Meanwhile, the future is bright at Crypto Blockchain Plug. They’ve partnered with Airbnb to create a crypto currency museum and retail store catered to international tourists. The Airbnb experience explains the history of crypto currency and tours Crypto Blockchain Plug’s 3,000-square-foot co-working and trading space.
However, their most ambitious project may be “The Parking Plug” which would allow football fans and concertgoers the opportunity to spend their crypto currency, tailgate with a cigar from Drobe Stogies and be transported back and forth to SoFi Stadium, The Forum and the Clippers Arena.
Crypto Blockchain Plug is also in the process of being a free community hotspot for internet service, and when it is safe to do so, will facilitate a Crypto Kids Camp at Pepperdine University and virtual monthly meetups like wine, women & crypto and coin-o-nomics, which is an online investing education platform.
“I think it’s really up to us as black business owners to hold on here and seek out and look for individuals or smaller banks or smaller organizations that will have grants that will help us pull through this time that we’re in right now,” Roberts said. “This is a long haul. This isn’t a short term, get rich quick type of thing. We’re looking for vendors in the area that will allow people to shop using crypto currency.”