Idris Elba, the British actor and filmmaker, kept his distance from the crypto frenzy that took hold in 2021. While many celebrities were capitalizing on the cryptocurrency trend by endorsing crypto businesses and launching their own lines of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or crypto coins, Elba chose not to participate. He saw these opportunities as exploitative, with celebrities being used as mere money-making machines. Elba only bought one NFT and otherwise refrained from joining the gold rush, a decision that proved to be wise given the subsequent downturn in the crypto industry.
Over the past 18 months, the crypto market has experienced a decline, marked by the collapse of various platforms and regulations tightening. The industry has lost investment and its reputation has been tarnished. This period is commonly referred to as a “winter” in crypto circles, suggesting that it is a temporary phase that will eventually pass. However, celebrity endorsements have faced heavy criticism for their role in legitimizing crypto products that ultimately resulted in significant losses for investors. Celebrities like Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal, and Lindsay Lohan, who endorsed crypto businesses like FTX, are now facing lawsuits and legal charges.
Despite the challenges faced by the crypto industry and the repercussions for celebrity endorsers, Idris Elba remains intrigued by the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies. He sees the potential of crypto’s technical infrastructure in addressing financial inclusion issues, particularly in regions like West Africa. Elba, whose parents are from West Africa, believes that crypto’s decentralized nature, operating on a blockchain outside the control of governments or banks, can help dismantle the barriers to financial access in emerging markets. He sees crypto as a means to unleash the talents and potential of individuals in these regions, who are currently held back by limited banking options.