St. Cloud Area Professionals Launch Nonprofit Cryptocurrency

What started as a group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts gathered for coffee has turned into a new central Minnesota nonprofit that benefits educating the community and helping connect people with resources to learn more.

The MN Crypto Council held its first event at the St. Cloud Financial Credit Union on Tuesday night. Alex Schoephoerster, a lawyer at Moss & Barnett and a member of the board of directors of the MN Crypto Council, said the group’s immediate goal was to organize more events, especially roundtables on relevant topics such as mining, NFTs, legal and regulatory space around crypto. The board asked attendees for suggestions on topics, and Schoephoerster said he wanted to hear from others about their interests in crypto and any expertise people could offer others in cryptography.

“Our goal is really to empower you to drive innovation and growth in the community by teaching you what space is(and) applying it to your businesses,” said Schoephoerster.

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The nonprofit aims to help individuals invest smartly, help businesses understand how to use cryptocurrency to build their business models, and ensure government officials understand the world of crypto. †

“There’s always pushback, and usually it’s the people who just don’t get it,” Schoephoerster said, citing past skepticism about crypto and, more broadly, the advancement of technology in the industry.

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Schoephoerster said now is a passionate time to enter the cryptocurrency space. Venture capitalists invested more than $33 billion in blockchain and crypto startups in 2021, according to research firm Galaxy Digital Research. That is more than all previous years combined. A Federal Reserve survey found that 12% of US adults were holding cryptocurrency in 2021, nearly all (11%) as an investment.

Ledge Wealth financial planner Marshall Grams said that as an investment manager, he saw that cryptocurrency is a new asset class that cannot be ignored.

“Just because crypto is scary, just because it’s speculative, just because it’s volatile, doesn’t mean there’s no turning back, or that it shouldn’t be inevitable,” Grams said. “There’s just a risk. It’s all about risk management. And it comes down to being educated.

According to Chase Larson, board member and chief loan officer of St. Cloud Financial Credit Union, more and more financial institutions — including his employer — are looking to use cryptocurrency in their business models.

“People get caught up in the ‘get rich quick’ thing, don’t you? You want to invest and you want to get rich, but I really think the value that bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain are going to bring is much more than just at the investment level,” said Larson.

Part of the evening also translates into a presentation and Q&A with James DonFrancesco. He is the co-founder and CEO of NextGem, a company that helps trading card enthusiasts scan, share and discover rare cards.

People who would benefit from contacting the MN Crypto Council can learn more about the events at www.mncryptocouncil.com or the nonprofit’s Facebook page.

Board members encouraged attendees to continue learning the language and intricacies of cryptocurrency.

“You literally have to go down the rabbit hole and learn,” said Andrew Deters, board member and account manager of Innovative Office Solutions.

MN Crypto Council board members include Schoephoerster, Larson, Grams, Deters and ZenLord Pro co-founder and CEO Tom Spaniol.

Sarah Kocher is the economics reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Contact her at 320-255-8799 or skocher@stcloudtimes.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahAKocher

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