Steve Bannon is creating a ‘deplorables’ cryptocurrency to boost global populism

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is working on a cryptocurrency project to reward political activism and “provide an alternative to the financial system”, according to an entrepreneur who claims to be working on the project.

“It would provide financial services, and a reward for political activity,” says blockchain investor and businessman Jeffrey Wernick. “Not necessarily for one party, but just for participating in the process: for supporting independents, not just democrats or republicans.”

Wernick, a former trader at defunct investment bank Salomon Brothers who has restyled himself as a blockchain evangelist and investor, said he would meet Bannon over the next two weeks to further define how the populist cryptocurrency will work. “[It will be a reward for activism] not necessarily [in] one particular party—but more for political activism outside of the establishment,” he says.

People familiar with Bannon’s cryptocurrency ambitions confirmed that Wernick has indeed helped Bannon navigate the crypto world – in some cases introducing him to figures in the sector. Bannon did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication; this story will be updated if he replies.

Last week, during an hour-long interview with CNBC, Bannon briefly mentioned a plan to launch his cryptocurrency tokens. “We are working on utility tokens for the populist movement,” Bannon said after professing his love for bitcoin and all things cryptocurrency. “They’re the future.”

Wernick claims he is the one who first advised Bannon to create his own political token after getting in touch through a mutual friend. On a phone call in early July, Wernick said he was in the process of “helping design a token for Bannon, [in order to] tokenize the movement” that is rapidly taking shape behind the populist impresario.

Bannon has been increasingly supportive of anti-establishment movements and personalities across Europe – from France’s National Rally (erstwhile Front National), to Italy’s League and Five Star Movement, to far-right activist Tommy Robinson in the UK. On Saturday, it emerged that Bannon intended to kick-start a Brussels-based foundation to boost populist parties throughout the continent. While the name of the foundation, The Movement, is reminiscent of the wording Bannon used when talking of his cryptocurrency project, nobody involved in the project would confirm if the foundation and token were linked.

Wernick described Bannon’s new cryptocurrency as geared towards the “deplorables” – as Hillary Clinton labelled half of Donald Trump’s supporters in an infamous 2016 video – although the ambition is for the token to have a global reach, rather than a US-only one; the token will likely be launched by the end of 2018.

While not a nationalist himself, Wernick believes cryptocurrency can help turn around the fortunes of the impoverished working class. And he hopes that Bannon could be the right catalyst to spread the gospel of cryptocurrency among the disenfranchised masses. “He has an audience of 40 million people. His ideology is not interesting to me, it’s the audience that he has,” Wernick says, adding that he has tried to involve other people in the project, and made contact with some supporters of Bernie Sanders – a cohort Bannon is eager to win to the populist cause.

Unlike professional provocateur Bannon, Wernick does not crave celebrity. A self-described private person who shuns…

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