Archive for the 'Bitcoin' Category

Speech to the Bitcoin Conference, “Bitcoin and the Entrepreneur”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

I have selected as the title of my remarks today “Bitcoin and the Entrepreneur.” Some may suggest, knowing of my distaste for Crony Capitalists, that this would be more naturally worded “Bitcoin Versus the Entrepreneur.” But those are not my sentiments as I write this.

My purpose in this piece is not to deliver the usual assault on the so-called monolithic Big Brother state and its Crony Capitalist clients. On the contrary, in recent months I have rarely heard anything positive about any current administration anywhere in the press except from a few Mocking Bird Talking Heads. Nor is it my purpose here to discuss or defend the spread of different Alt Coins. I think it is highly beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Alt Coins and derivatives, side chains and other projects regularly transacting on the internet, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and the courteous qualities displayed by developers is most refreshing and experiment is vital to the progress of Bitcoin.

Nor, finally, is this essay intended to leave un-examined the proper degree of privacy which the State should allow to any person on the internet.

My topic here is a sober one of concern to all users of Bitcoin as well as users of the internet in general.

I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future–for reducing this threat or living with it–there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security–a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.

This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the Bitcoin user and to the public at large–two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this threat to freedom. I refer, first, to the need for a far less invasive State; and, second, to the need for far greater privacy in all spheres.

I

The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. To be specific, to secret operations like PRISM, so bravely exposed by Edward Snowden. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of individuals the pertinent and intimate facts about them, far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify those intrusions. Even today, there is little value in supporting the benefits of an open society by accepting the State’s arbitrary mass surveillance. Furthermore, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of mass data collection and concealment of such collection. The president of the United States should not permit these intrusions to the extent that it is in his power to stop the abuses. And no official of his Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should use the pretext of keeping America safe as an excuse to spy on Americans, to torture, to rain death on people with drones, to cover up America’s mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

I ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the world to re-examine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of their country’s peril. In times of seismic technological change, the government and the press have customarily worked oppositionally in an effort based largely on self-interest, to prevent the State from transforming totally into the enemy. In times of unprecedented change the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must not yield to the State’s need for national security. This is why Bitcoin should not ever fall subject to legislation, in direct violation of theprotections it naturally has as a form of speech.

Today no war has been declared on Bitcoin–and however disruptive Bitcoin may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion as was the case with the ill fated “War on Drugs”. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy in the form of the New World Order are advancing around the globe. The survival of our Liberty is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired, save legislative and regulatory ones.

If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it decides to come to the defence of Bitcoin, then I can only say that no government ever posed a greater threat to our Liberty as does the present crop of nation states. If you are awaiting a finding of absolute proof of this then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent. A cursory look at the arbitrary arrests and raids on Bitcoin businesses, users and traders provides a stark picture, vivid and terrifying even for the most inured journalist.

What is required is a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions–by the Bitcoin entrepreneur, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on undemocratic regulation instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on judge made law by day and armed raids by night. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine of tyranny that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, and until the revelations of Snowden, not published. Its mistakes are brushed aside as “learning experiences”, not headlined and always without consequences to the unlearned perpetrators. Its dissenters are exiled and mercilessly threatened, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumour is printed, no secret is revealed. The State conducts itself as if the Cold War had not ended, in the new clothes of the “War on Terror”, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match, or indeed tolerate.

Nevertheless, every democracy now recognizes the necessary de-funding of the police state apparatus commonly misconstrued as national security–and the question remains whether that de-funding and ultimate restraint needs to be done quickly or if we are to promote this liberty restoration projectas a long term one in the form of death by a thousand cuts.

For the facts of the matter are that all nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through central banking, control of the money supply that they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or violence; that details of the Federal Reserve’s money printing to defraud the world’s financial operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the spread and the nature of our money and principle weapon of inflation, and our plans and strategy for the money’s use, have all been pinpointed in the Libertarian press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any curious reader; and that, in at least in one case, Ron Paul, the publication of details concerning the secret mechanism whereby money is created and its alteration from a sound gold standard is now a matter of acknowledged fact, even by the Bank of England.

The newspapers which refuse to print the truth about this are disloyal, unpatriotic, irresponsible and bear ill will to their readers. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the needs of page views and advertisers and not the standards of journalism. And my question here is whether additional reliance on theso called “Mainstream Media” should not now be abandoned.

The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to you, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities in the form of new software like Bitcoin, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration and ultimate resolution.

On many earlier occasions on this Blog, I have said–and your gut has no doubt constantly said–that these are times that appeal to every citizen’s sense of impending change to liberty and freedom. It calls out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against the vile tyranny leering at him through CCTV in direct opposition to those rights and the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who work in the software business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.

There should be no calls for or desire to establish a new Office of Bitcoin, or to enact Bitcoin regulation, or BitLicenses, guidelines or legislation to govern the flow of Digital Currency. I am not suggesting any new forms of thinking or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma of how society will reorganize itself without a State, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the software profession and the Bitcoin industry in whatever country they are to re-examine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.

Every entrepreneur now asks himself, with respect to every Bitcoin story: “Is regulation really needed?” All I suggest is that you add the question: “Is regulation in the interest of the consumer?” And I hope that every group in the world and the institutions that make it up–unions and businessmen and public officials at every level– will ask the same question of their endeavours, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests and ethics, coming naturally to the conclusion that the controls of the State are not needed.

And should the entrepreneurs of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific regulations or guidance, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations if they are in fact purely voluntary and in our interest.

Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by free and open software in a free and open society in a global and all pervasive internet. In times of technological disruption, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of disruption and peril which knows no precedent in history. This is what we are facing with Bitcoin.

II

It is the unprecedented nature of the Bitcoin Blockchain and sovereignty and their challenges that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to correctly inform, protect and alert the users of Bitcoin–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of Bitcoin and the choices that we face.

No entrepreneur should live in fear of a crack down by the violent State or scrutiny of his programs. For from that scrutiny comes from mis-understanding; and from that mis-understanding comes support or opposition. And neither of these are necessary. I am not asking newspapers to support Bitcoin, but I am asking for your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. All Bitcoin entrepreneurs intend to be candid about their errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without Liberty, no business man and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why the American press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution (except Copyright, which was the Founding Father’s greatest and most damaging error)- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. Bitcoin, being first amendment protected speech, can also annoy, mold, lead, indicate by its flows, crises, and ultimately, give the public what it wants. This is is at the very core of the Bitcoin revolution. It belongs to everyone and no one, and all men have an absolute right to it, as they do to speech itself.

Bitcoin has greater coverage and absolute penetration of international borders–for money recipients and transmitters are no longer far away and foreign but always close at hand and local on the internet. It means greater and improved flows of money as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to refrain from violence against you with the fullest possible humility since it can no longer steal your money to hurt you, even under the absurd pretext of national security–and we intend to make this happen.

III

It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass and made real and onerous by the Federal Reserve have made us all part of a connected world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure. Bitcoin changes this dynamic utterly. No longer will gunpowder or the printing press work together to enslave mankind, for the printing press, used to defraud and finance the waging of war on men is now rendered useless as a new and wondrous incorruptible money comes into being.

And so it is to the internet and the personal computer–to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, the sender of his love letters and the mover and protector of his wealth–that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with or without your help, man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

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Bitcoin and Reality versus American Journalists

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. – Ayn Rand

This famous Ayn Rand quote is true, but the real question is raises is “what is reality?”

For some American journalists, reality is their belief that America is the center of the universe, and that their opinions, rulings and laws apply everywhere by default. By any objective measure, this is false.

Bitcoin is a technology that proves once again, that America is not the center of the universe, or even of economic activity on the earth. It doesn’t have the biggest population or the greatest economic freedom. It is just another country, one jurisdiction amongst many, and one that the vast majority of the people of the earth ignore completely.

With Bitcoin it will be shown again, as it was with CDMA and GSM, that what American journalists and entrepreneurs want will not become the world default simply because they want it. Their peculiar ideas and sense of right and wrong applies only to them. The majority population of the world is an economic force that they cannot possibly compete with, and in the internet age, this means that they must always lose and submit to the effects of numerically superior populations.

For those of you who do not remember, there were two competing mobile phone network standards in the past; GSM and CDMA. These standards were not compatible, and the only country that settled on CDMA was the USA; everywhere else in the world settled on GSM.

Now, GSM is the global default, and no mobile phone is CDMA only. The world won, America lost. All the development, investment and engineering effort that went into creating the CDMA cellular network was lost, wasted in fact. The same will be true of Bitcoin, and any internet technology, which is more properly called, “software”. We could also use the example of software patents, which are only issued and valid in the USA, to show how parochialism is moot in today’s internet age but we can save that for another time.

There are no “rogue players” or “bad actors” in software. Software is neutral. It does not and cannot care what you do with it. It is not concerned with puritanism, or hysterical fear-mongering about the scant few people who choose to smoke marijuana. Software is information that can perform acts on information; this is the breakthrough that preceded Bitcoin that almost no one has picked up on. For the first time ever, an idea or a design can be made to do something without the direct guidance human agent. Previously, ideas that are designs needed to be written down on paper and then executed by hand to create a mechanical device. Even delivering the idea had to be done by a human. Now, information can be mediated by a machine, that can communicate to another machine. That machine can be a printer, or any other mechanical device, or another machine of the same design. These machines are called, “computers”.

Now with Bitcoin, computers and software are being used to do accounting in a way that allows the data stored in them to mimic the properties of fiat paper money. The problem that Bitcoin solves is called “The Double Spending Problem”. Previously all data, which is infinitely copyable, made it impossible to verify wether or not a piece of data had been copied. Now with the blockchain, data that is tracked inside it can be allocated to a single person, in a way that is verifiable by anyone anywhere. This is superior to holding a paper dollar, because Bitcoin ledger entries cannot be forged, unlike paper dollars, or entries in a bank ledger. This means that Bitcoin can be used as money, amongst many other things that require a single owner to be identified as the owner of something.

The nature of Bitcoin should be clear to anyone reading this piece, and you should already own some. What you may not understand is the truly profound revolution that Bitcoin is, and the ramifications of what the solution to the Double Spending Problem are.

Bitcoin will make socialism impossible. It will make all forms of coercive collectivism impossible. American journalists say things like, “Sometimes our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.” This is communist drivel. There is no collective weakness in man, or collective strength. That an American journalist is writing like this is troubling enough, but what is even more shocking is how little insight people have to what Bitcoin is about to unleash.

Bitcoin will make it impossible to run a coercive State apparatus. Thanks to the money printing antics of the central banks world-wide, and in particular, the Federal Reserve, which prints the money that underpins the entire global fiat system, the paper money systems of the world’s central banks are going to disappear. This is not hyperbole; every single fiat currency that has ever existed has gone to hyperinflation and ceased to exist. Here is a list…

Angola 1991-1995, Argentina 1975-1991, Austria 1921-1922, Belarus 1994-2002, Bolivia 1984-1986, Bosnia-Herzegovina 1992-1993, Brazil 1986-1994, Bulgaria 1996, Chile 1971-1973, China 1948-1949, Free City of Danzig 1922-1923, Georgia 1993-1995, Germany 1922-1923, Greece 1942-1944, Hungary 1945-1946, Israel 1970-1971, Japan 1948-1951, Krajina 1992-1993, Madagascar 2004-2005, Mozambique 1977-1992, Nicaragua 1987-1990, Peru 1988-1990, Philippines 1942-1944, Poland 1989-1991, Romania 1998-2005, Russia 1921-1922 and 1992-1999, Turkey 1990-1995, Ukraine 1993-1995, United States 1861-1865, Yugoslavia 1989-1994, Zaire 1989-1996, Zimbabwe 2004-2009

The currency of the United States has failed twice. The third time is just around the corner. This is guaranteed and inevitable:

At heart, this economic crisis is in fact a currency crisis. Throughout history no paper currency (or fiat currency, since it is accepted as money by virtue of Government fiat or decree) has survived, and this time will be no different. The average lifespan of fiat currencies has been 16 years*. The present system is unique in that it has survived for 38 years and for the first time ALL countries throughout the world are on a fiat money standard. This means that the resulting crash will be on the scale of something the world has never seen.

[…]

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/coming-financial-tsunami

Bitcoin is something new; a distributed public crypto ledger that has an application making it useful as a pseudo currency, which emerges from the process of a machine running software. The value people put on it is subjective, since it has no form or mass, and since it is scarce, real world goods can be divided against it in a catalactic calculation. This is something really new, that is difficult to understand at first and which is extremely powerful and useful.

The decentralized structure of Bitcoin makes the violent actions of the Statists impossible. It flattens the field so that everyone is protected from the biggest violent predator, the State. There will be no more creation of money out of thin air by the State. No more debasement of people’s savings. No more fiat currency created by central Banks. This, along with the removal of banks as transaction facilitators is the true transformation that keeps Statists up at night in a cold sweat. This is what American journalists desperately want to prevent, once they get a glimpse of what Bitcoin is and what it will do. Bitcoin will decentralize everything, and remove government force from the equation by starving it of stolen loot. You only need look at BitTorrent to get a glimpse of what trying to stop it will look like.

BitTorrent is a protocol released by a single man, Bram Cohen, to solve the problem of centralized servers acting as mediators in file sharing. It is a software breakthrough as important as Bitcoin, and looking at BitTorrent is a good way to illustrate how the Bitcoin disruption is going to emerge, evolve and propagate.

BitTorrent takes up one third of all internet traffic. It has completely replaced all previous centralized file sharing services and software. This is analogous to Bitcoin replacing the money transfer services. Bitcoin will replace the banks completely as storage of money can be done on your phone or laptop or keyfob. Bitcoin will replace both money transfer services and banks which will no longer serve any useful purpose, unless they pivot to Bitcoin exchanging sites.

BitTorrent makes it possible to get a file from anyone anywhere in the world, instantly.Bitcoin makes it possible to send money from person to person anywhere in the world without knowing them, instantly.

BitTorrent is not controlled by anyone. It was written once and spread by the work of developers world-wide. Bitcoin was written once, and is spreading exactly the same way.

BitTorrent does not belong to anyone. It is free software. Bitcoin is the same; it belongs to no one, anyone can download and develop whatever they like with it.

All of these facts combine to make viral effects inevitable. Bitcoin is going to spread everywhere. People like to download movies, but they do not need to. That pressure alone caused BitTorrent use to explode. People actually need to send and receive money on a daily basis multiple times. They have a real, crucial to life need for Bitcoin; this will cause it to be quickly propelled at a greater velocity and momentum than BitTorrent, and it will stay at that high level of momentum. It will become a beneficial juggernaut.

BitTorrent services cannot be stopped by the State. There are technical and practical reasons for this, but first among the reasons is that there are too many people using it to stop them all individually. You cannot turn off the internet to stop them, without killing world commerce. You cannot block the sites that list torrents (the files used to seed information to BitTorrent nodes) Because there are many tools that prevent net censorship that are child’s play to use, like “Stealthy” the Google Chrome pluginwhich takes only a single click to unblock any censored website. The only thing that can work as a propaganda exercise is to arrest the owners of the biggest torrent indexing sites. Technically, these indexing sites are not participants in file sharing at all; they are only listing files that need to be downloaded from somewhere else and used by a BitTorrent client somewhere else. If the law worked properly, these torrent indexing sites would be free and clear of any wrongdoing, because they do not host any copyrighted material themselves, they only index files that may or may not point to other files that exist on users computers that are seeding. And these token arrests have not and will not stop anyone sharing files. Ever.

Of course, the technical, ethical and legal facts are of no consequence to the American journalist and the American legal system. They throw out the rule of law to protect the incumbent industries that are threatened by file sharing. It has not worked of course, and filesharing is bigger than ever, more efficient and greatly strengthened by two decades of research and software development that has made BitTorrent filesharing something that can never be removed from the internet.

Now superimpose all of this onto Bitcoin.

Bitcoin services will not be stoppable by the State. There are technical reasons for this, but first of all, there will be too many people using it to stop them all individually. You cannot turn off the internet to stop them, without killing world commerce… that will be based on Bitcoin. You cannot block the people that sell Bitcoin, because they will do it person to person hundreds of millions of times per day, world-wide. All the tools used to stop internet censorship will be used to stop Bitcoin exchanging sites from being taken down, and when I talk about exchanges, I do not mean the exchanges that mimic the stock exchange model. New exchanges are going to emerge that are nothing like stock exchanges and these will be so simple to use that anyone can understand them. The software that powers them will be open and this will make them very resilient. Arresting a vanishingly small number of unlucky Bitcoin users or site operators will have zero impact on the world-wide exchange of Bitcoin.

This is the reality faced by the American journalist that wants the world to stay exactly as it is forever. Their blinkered world view is already finished, and they don’t even know it.

Their antiquated, violent, prohibitionist ideas of “bad actors” is going the way of the dodo. There are no “bad actors”; in reality there is only the market, which works to suppress people who are truly bad; i.e., people who break their promises and do not deliver on what they promise to deliver.

No “regulator” or recent immigrant prosecutor in palookavile USA is going to stop Bitcoin, or the people who use it. They might bag a trophy prosecution, get their portrait painted and hang the stuffed heads of their innocent victims on their wall, but the vast majority of people will be unaffected, not only because they do not have the staff or the means to stop everyone, but they have very limited jurisdiction. Look at internet poker and casinos to get a feel for what that looks like in real life.

The American obsession and subservience to their unconstitutional agencies is utterly baffling. These three to six letter agencies all try and carve out turf whenever something new arrives, and Bitcoin is no different. The American FinCEN and the IRS both have declared that Bitcoin is two different things, as if they were not both parts of the same government. It is the modern equivalent of a keystone kops movie; watching them bump against each other scrambling around trying to get to grips with the slow motion software tsunami that is about to sweep them away.

That anyone is calling for “a clear voice” from these people is beyond belief. Why should any of these people have jurisdiction or a voice over free speech? Yes, Bitcoin is a form of speech, it is not money, no matter what a State mouthpiece journalist tells you.

These agencies have no business, right or legal obligation to regulate, control, inspect or stop Bitcoin in any way. Just because there are a few people asking for “guidance” from them does not mean that the conclusions they come to are correct, ethical or enforceable. The people who make a career out of testifying before committees like beggar servants are irrelevant to the truth of software. No matter what they say or claim is their “stake” in Bitcoin, no one outside of their incestuous Washington bubble cares. Bitcoin, like BitTorrent, will flow into every device and nothing they do or say can stop this from happening. The market will determine what services thrive and succeed, not blabbering wannabe leeches.

There is no such thing as “the BitTorrent community”. Soon the idea of a “Bitcoin community” will seem utterly absurd. There is no software community, rice community, air community or math community. All of these things work and taste good despite there being no “community” to “represent” them. These quaint ideas come mostly from people who do not have Bitcoin or who do not write software. They are desperate, once they realize what is happening, to get on board and have a part to play in this incredible once in a lifetime event. This is perfectly understandable, and in fact, desirable. What is undesirable however, are the types that do not have direct involvement in software choosing to assert themselves by bringing the law onto the heads of the people who are actually creating the infrastructure and who own the thing that they are fans of.

It is not enough for these people, like the journalists, to witness and report what is going on, or to start collecting and using Bitcoin; they must impose their petty, small minded, limited imaginations on others to achieve satisfaction. Its nauseating, and unethical, and in the end, will be a complete wasted effort because no one cares what these people think. The people that write software and own Bitcoin are going to do what is good for them, spend their Bitcoin in ways that benefit them, build services that they need and write the software that does what they need to get done. No one cares about these low brow busybodies, and the BitTorrent example is a perfect fit once again. Journalists are non-actors in the new world order of software. They do not write anything that can be executed; all they can do is complain. And they are very good at it.

Bitcoin has the potential of raising the standard of living of living of the 2.2 billion unbanked. The State, busybodies and socialists are not required to make this happen; only entrepreneurs, software and hardware developers are needed. There is no such thing as “over regulation” in Bitcoin, the regulation comes from the software itself and its baked in rules. If you agree to abide by the software’s rules, you can use Bitcoin. If you do not, you cannot. You can use other software, or use other methods to account for your money, but that is entirely your decision. No law is required to mediate an exchange of Bitcoin, and there are enough laws that cover fraud and contract to protect anyone who interacts with a business that makes a promise. And of course, contracts are what are going to be “Blockchainized” next, with Etherium.

If only journalism could be made to be as true and reliable as Blockchain mediated transactions!

It is profoundly shameful that journalists and Statists want to cripple something that could change the world and improve the lives of billions in the same way that the telephone and the internet have changed the world for the better. Their personal ideas of right and wrong that are entirely wrong and learned by rote should not be the standard by which free men should be forced to live. Even if their ideas about ‘drugs’ are correct, this is a vanishingly small amount of trade in comparison to the 2.2 billion unbanked that can benefit from Bitcoin, along with the billions of banked who will have their money freed by it.

The question is this; is man going to live by the peasant thinking of the lowest common denominator, or is he going to reach for the stars?

Thankfully, the latter is going to be the case. No thinly veiled threat that “we” must come begging to “Washington” is going to stop the spread of Bitcoin everywhere.

Nothing is going to stop liberty from being the default. BitTorrent file sharing is the model that proves this. It is deeply entrenched in the fabric of the internet and the minds of the users. Soon, Bitcoin will be exactly the same. It will be ubiquitous, the best services will thrive, and the bad services will be quickly abandoned. All the boasting about thousands of outlets and millions of users by some startups are completely meaningless. In the internet age, these big numbers can drop to zero very quickly. Look at MTGOX, MySpace, AOL, and all the other large sites that no longer exist, or that are now mere shadows of their former selves.

No site is immune from falling out of favor with King Consumer, but one fact remains true in every instance; the internet persists, ready to facilitate the next big player. Bitcoin is the internet of money. No matter what player disappears, the Bitcoin network will still be there, ready to transact, store and record.

This is the only thing that is important.

The world has changed, Statists.

Get used to it, because no one wants you. Everyone wants Liberty.

And we are going to have it.

#######

Translations:
Chinese:????????????????
http://www.8btc.com/bitcoin-and-reality-versus-american-journalists

The “Bitlicense” is a bad idea that must die

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

There is much talk about the arbitrary imposition of a nonsensical “Bitlicense” on businesses based in New York that use Bitcoin to make a profit.

Apart from the nauseating and unimaginative use of the prefix “Bit” in yet another context, this idea is of course, completely absurd and unethical. It’s also guaranteed that this bad idea will face a robust and successful legal challenge that will remove the possibility of any sort of “Bitlicense” from being required anywhere in the United States, potentially causing that country to become the center of all Bitcoin business for the entire world.

Let me explain why.

Some say that Bitcoin is money. Others say that it is not money. It doesn’t matter. What does matter are two things; that the Bitcoin network does what it is meant to do completely reliably, and what the true nature of the Bitcoin network and the messages in it are.

Bitcoin is a distributed ledger system, maintained by a network of peers that monitors and regulates which entries are allocated to what Bitcoin addresses. This is done entirely by transmitting messages that are text, between the nodes in the network, where cryptographic procedures are executed on these messages in text to verify their authenticity and the identity of the sender and recipient of the message and their position in the public ledger. The messages sent between nodes in the Bitcoin network are human readable, and printable. There is no point in any Bitcoin transaction that Bitcoin ceases to be text. It is all text, all the time.

Bitcoin can be printed out onto sheets of paper. This output can take different forms, like machine readable QR Codes, or it can be printed out in the letters A to Z, a to z and 0 to 9. This means they can be read by a human being, just like “Huckleberry Finn”.

At the time of the creation of the United States of America, the Founding Fathers of that new country in their deep wisdom and distaste for tyranny, haunted by the memory of the absence of a free press in the countries from which they escaped, wrote into the basic law of that then young federation of free states, an explicit and unambiguous freedom, the “Freedom of the Press”. This amendment was first because of its central importance to a free society. The First Amendment guarantees that all Americans have the power to exercise their right to publish and distribute anything they like, without restriction or prior restraint.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This single line, forever precludes any law that restricts Bitcoin in any way. I will show you why.

In 1995, the US Government had on the statute books, laws that restrict the export of encryption products from America without a license. These goods are classified as “munitions”. The first versions of the breakthrough Public Key Encryption software “Pretty Good Privacy” or “PGP”, written by Philip Zimmerman had already escaped the USA via BBS systems from the moment it was first distributed, but all copies of PGP outside of the United States were “illegal”. In order to fix the problem of all copies of PGP outside of America being encumbered by this perception, an ingenious plan was put into motion, using the first Amendment as the means of making it happen legally.

The source code for PGP was printed out.

Its as simple as that. Once the source code for PGP was printed in book form, it instantly and more importantly, unambiguously, fell under the protection of the First Amendment. As a binary, the US government ridiculously tries to assert that immaterial software is a device, and not text. Clearly this is patently absurd, but rather than waste money arguing this point in court, printing out PGP removed all doubt that a First Amendment act was taking place.

The printed source code was shipped to another country, and then transfered to a machine by OCR, resulting in a PGP executable that was legally exported from the United States.

The direct analogy to Bitcoin should be clear to you now. PGP and Bitcoin are both:

  1. Pieces of software that can be rendered as text
  2. Software that generates unique blocks of human readable text
  3. Designed to generate text that is covered by the First Amendment

The purpose of PGP is to absolutely verify the identity of the sender of a message and ensure that the message was not read or changed in transit. The purpose of Bitcoin is to absolutely verify the ownership of a pice of text that is a ledger entry in the global Bitcoin network. Both of these pieces of software are messaging systems and services that absolutely fall under the First Amendment in every aspect, from the source code used to generate the clients to the text the compiled clients generate, send, receive and process.

Bitcoin is text. Bitcoin is speech. It cannot be regulated in a free country like the USA with guaranteed inalienable rights.

Bitcoin and PGP generate messages that are initiated by their users. Each of the messages that are generated by these two pieces of software are unique. The only bodies of law that could possibly be invoked regarding their output and source code are Copyright and Patent law respectively. The Bitcoin source is not copyrighted and the core idea of it is not Patented, and in any case, none of this has anything to do with the nature of Bitcoin messages.

Copyright gives the generator of these texts privileges under the law imposing fines on someone copying your message without your permission, but that law has nothing to do with exporting or imposing a tax on the messages themselves, and of course, forbidding the copying of your Bitcoin payment message rather negates the purpose of using Bitcoin.

Taking all of this into account, if any legislator, regulator, three or six letter US agency or other bored bureaucrat busybody dares to try and regulate Bitcoin, they will be on a hiding to nothing. A legal challenge will be mounted, and will have to be mounted, because if the State can legislate against a single piece of software that generates messages, a legal precedent will be created allowing the US government to regulate all software no matter what it does.

Bitcoin’s operation is fundamentally no different to what all email, text messaging and internet connected software does; relay messages. The only difference is in the software that tracks how the messages of the sender and recipient relate to each other. Email is no different to Bitcoin, save for the fact that a record of the sender and recipient and content of your email is not stored in a public ledger one against the other. We know its stored in a private database, but that’s another story. Wink wink.

Allowing legislation to touch Bitcoin means that any software of any kind will suddenly be liable to arbitrary and unethical restriction. It will set a precedent that will be highly damaging to all software development in the USA.

Twitter for example, could find itself being regulated; it transmits messages that are no different in nature to the messages that Bitcoin transmits; the only difference being the publicly maintained ledger and application of the messages. In fact, twitter could turn itself into a Bitcoin company quite easily by adding a few fields to its message JSON schema to include a bitcoin address for each of its users, adding a page to its client and running its own Bitcoin server pool. Would that extra text suddenly transform Twitter into a different company? Would that suddenly change the nature of each Tweet that is sent on their network? How is having a Bitcoin address integrated into your Twitter account different to making a promise by hand on Twitter to your followers or in a direct message?

Essentially, Bitcoin allows you to make contracts with people without knowing them or signing paper; the network and software takes care of identifying and fulfilling the promise, all with cryptographically signed pieces of text. What the people calling for “Bitlicenses” are asserting is that because Bitcoin right now has a particular use, it should be exempted from the basic law of the United States of America. That is completely insane, and will have unintended consequences that would be absolutely disastrous for the American economy since almost everything today is mediated by or touches software.

On the other hand, if Bitcoin is left to flourish and the market allowed to define the services and means of setting the value and resolving disputes, Bitcoin as an ecosystem will be extremely robust and widespread, just like the internet is today, after having grown for twenty years without any regulation or oversight from the State.

Furthermore, as I have said previously, the country that does not enact Bitcoin legislation will become the starting and endpoints of all Bitcoin transactions globally by first mover advantage. All other jurisdictions will see Bitcoin passing through them untaxed, and there will be nothing they can do about it, as Bitcoin is an unassailable peer to peer network.

We have seen a similar phenomenon with the legal position of encryption in France. SSL was regulated in France until Dominique Strauss-Khan removed the restrictions. They knew that “French e-commerce” would take place inside “le pays Roosbeff” if it were not possible to secure French websites with SSL on demand without friction. American Bitcoin businesses since the endpoints will be in their jurisdiction, will be taxed on their profits, and this will be a percentage of the trillions of global transactions made on the network for every conceivable and inconceivable purpose.

The same is true for any other country. The United States looks set to cripple itself by enacting “Bitlicenses” and declaring by fiat that Bitcoin is a currency, or a commodity or legal tender. As I describe above, Bitcoin is none of those things by nature, and the myriad number of applications it can be put to is only just being discovered. Our project Azteco is but one of them, with the potential to reach the 2.2 billion unbanked people in the world, and provide them with an easy way to access internet e-commerce, world-wide, with a system that makes payment fraud impossible. The potential benefit to the unbanked and the websites that sell goods online is without precedent. Only a fool would do something that could harm the advent of this transformation.

No legislature will be able to keep up with the advances in software that are taking place; there are too many developers and efficient tools in the wild all over the world, all with equal access to the market. The best the State can possibly hope for is to tax new businesses that use the new tools as they emerge, and encourage entrepreneurs to incorporate in their jurisdictions. If America wants to drive away Bitcoin developers, exchanges and new businesses fine; there are plenty of other places in the world where fast internet pipes have been laid and where the government is not so backward. Skype was founded in Estonia, not Silicon Valley, and this is for a reason. All the big Bitcoin exchanges are outside of the USA. There is a reason for that. No one wanting to start a Bitcoin business is planning to move to New York from anywhere, because they know that their business models will immediately come under attack.

For those of you who are frightened of a free market in Bitcoin, rest assured, all the laws that currently exist to do with fraud, theft, misrepresentation and everything else, continue apply to all people and corporations who use Bitcoin. Bitcoin does not make laws or your personal or corporate obligations moot. When you deal with a company, you retain access to the law and recourse to it. When someone makes a promise to sell you goods with Bitcoin, that promise is not nullified because you are paying with Bitcoin. Good Bitcoin businesses will build dispute resolution systems the way that eBay and Amazon have, so that you never have to go to court to obtain justice if there is a problem. Online, reputation is everything, and bad reputations can destroy your credibility and customer bas over night. This is a far more powerful incentive to do right, which most people do by default in any case, than some arbitrary “Bitlicense”.

All the “Bitlicenses” in the world could not stop MTGOX from having a software problem, and no law can bring back the money lost either directly or through the disruption the event caused by the software error. Once again, entrepreneurs powered by the internet make life easier and better, not laws and regulations. Regulation does not make software correct; developers do.

I have one recommendation for anyone advocating that there should be a “Bitlicense”. Don’t waste everyone’s time and money and resources knocking down this stupid idea. The EFF has better things to do with their time than teach the PGP “Munitions Case” lesson all over again. If it goes to court, your side will lose, and as a consequence, America will lose its head start as all Bitcoin entrepreneurs flee the USA for environments that will allow them to innovate, grow and prosper.

And what can the people who want a “Bitlicense” forced on the public say? That they don’t trust themselves? That’s patently absurd. That they do not trust their competitors? If its the case that their competitors are not good actors, then the good actors have a market advantage, and remember; a license cannot protect the public from fraud or provide any guarantee of any kind, it can only distort the market.

What these “Bitlicense” advocates actually want is a guaranteed market advantage. They want to prevent the “Golden BB” entrepreneur that might destroy their business, they want to slow down and stifle innovation, so that they can become the entrenched and unassailable gatekeepers. They want to bar new entrants to the market. It simply will not work. And its un-American.

Let the American dream flourish and extend its power to Bitcoin.

Or else.

Azteco Bitcoin: BTC for the masses

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

For the last two years, we have been developing our latest project “Azteco”. It is the easiest way to buy Bitcoins, of which we have written some blog posts previously.

Our first Azteco outlet is now open in Shoreditch at 19 Goulston Street. There, you can buy an Azteco voucher and then redeem it at https://www.azte.co immediately. You only have to wait 70 seconds to receive your bitcoins.

Azteco vendor sites can be described as an “ATM-less ATMs”. Another way of putting it is that we have created virtual ATMs in software. This has an obvious advantage over physical ATMs; we do not have to manufacture and ship them. We can set up a new vendor in minutes, no matter where they are in the world. We do not have any physical parts to assemble and maintain, and we can control a vendor’s account in a fine grained way, instantly. Azteco is orders of magnitude more efficient and flexible than any Bitcoin ATM.

The current thinking about bitcoin has been shaped by the first businesses built around it, the exchanges. This has lead directly to Bitcoin being perceived as an investment that is traded on stock exchange style platforms, with all the problems of people staring at graphs, failing to see the wood for the trees. Bitcoin has had an interesting and exiting start, and this situation is bound to become even more exiting as bitcoin spreads through the population.

Bitcoin is not an investment. Bitcoin is not money. The way to think of it, is to say that bitcoin is a non-disposable, recyclable postage box that you can use to send money. It can be thought of as an unforgeable entry in a public ledger. These boxes or ledger entries, because they are scarce, have a utility and value to the people who want to use them. It is important not to mistake the pipe or the box for what it carries, and in order for Bitcoin to be thought of as a way to buy things online, two things need to happen.

Firstly, the software that will help merchants integrate Bitcoin into their shopping carts needs to be developed. This is happening.

The second thing that needs to happen is that the way bitcoins are bought needs to be augmented by a very simple widespread service that has nothing to do with the public interfacing with an exchange. That is what Azteco is.

Azteco allows you to buy bitcoins in the same way that you buy mobile phone credits. You take cash or your credit card to an Azteco agent at any one of our outlets, buy an Azteco voucher and then redeem it at our website. When you redeem your voucher it is sent to the bitcoin address you specify on the Azteco site.

This means that when you want to buy something online, all you need to do is pop round to your local store and then send the bitcoins directly to the merchant or yourself. If you do not want to run the bitcoin client yourself, you do not have to. You can buy things with bitcoins easily, with a minimum of pointless waiting, fuss or technical knowledge; all you have to be able to do is type in a voucher number and copy and paste a bitcoin address. Everyone already knows how to redeem mobile phone top up vouchers, so the learning curve with Azteco is essentially zero.

This has clear applications for sending small amounts of money anywhere in the world to anyone, not just to merchants. Imagine that there has been a disaster somewhere, and people need money to help recovery. All that is needed is for them to display a Bitcoin addres QR code on TV or in a newspaper, and millions of people can send Bitcoin to it. They can send anything from one Pound, Euro or Dollar upwards, all without ever having to interface with a bank or a charity. The implications for charitable donations and servicing the unbanked are huge; now, people without access to the financial system can recieve money from anywhere in the world instantly, in any amount, without the possibility of fraud.

It means that e-commerce, world-wide is going to explode, as the 2.2 billion unbanked get access to Bitcoin. Clearly, anything that slows this adoption down or makes Bitcoin more difficult to use is anti-human, and of course, any country that enacts legislation that affects Bitcoin is going to be excluded from profiting from this revolution. The simpler Bitcoin services are, and the more relaxed the country entrepreneurs are working on, the quicker this transformation can take place, for the benefit of all mankind.

The number of bitcoins that are used in commerce is relatively small right now. We expect this to change dramatically, and we expect to grow along with that increase in adoption of bitcoin. If other blockchains and bitcoin forks become popular, we can easily add them to the Azteco system so that people can buy the Bitcoin variants of their choice.

As we’ve said before, Bitcoin is a breakthrough in software engineering; the “Double Spending Problem” has been solved. Whoever it was that wrote Bitcoin, they built into it a dazzling array of potential applications that have nothing to do with moving money from A to B, and these applications are only now just being imagined and built. Bitcoin the money transporter and SWIFT replacement (or whatever else a developer or entrepreneur comes up with) is just the first of many new ways to use the Blockchain.

Thinking of Bitcoin as a tool to send money on demand, also removes a problem that many people who store their Bitcoin at exchanges are facing. Bitcoin spread out on millions of devices in small amounts is far less vulnerable than the Bitcoin of millions of people stored at a single site. Sites that have millions of accounts are a very attractive target for attacks of every kind, be they legal or hack attacks. A swarming cloud of millions of Droid phones and jailbroken iPhones running stand alone Bitcoin clients is akin to trying to wound fog with a sword. It cannot be done.

We’re looking forward to working on Azteco, rolling out new features and outlets. Follow us on Twitter @Azteco_ for the latest news.

Bitcoin is not a threat, it is a boon

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The Financial Times has published an astonishingly blinkered and short-sightedarticle, where Bitcoin is mischaracterisedas a threat, instead of the greatest business opportunity of the century.

The fact of the matter is, and I have said this before, the country that puts a 150 year moratorium on all Bitcoin regulation and ‘supervision’ will reap all the Bitcoin entrepreneurs in the world, who will run to incorporate in that territory. This event will spark a Hong Kong style boom without precedent in size, and of course, all the businesses located in that territory, should it be the UK, will be paying corporation tax on the profits gleaned by providing services to Bitcoin users world-wide.

It seems however, that the socialists andKeynesiansat the FT are squarely ant-British, anti entrepreneur, anti progress and computer illiterate to boot.

Lets take this article to pieces, starting with the sensationalist and irrational title:

Taxmen, police and spies look at bitcoin threat
By Jane Wild

This is anentirelymisleading title. Unless you believe that profit and human progress are threats. The advantages Bitcoin will bring to commerce world-wide are easy for even a child to see.

Mobile phones are everywhere. MPESA is absolutely huge in Kenya. Itdoesn’ttake much to understand that Bitcoin is MPESA for the entire world, only orders of magnitude bigger and better because it can never be gamed or corrupted.

The country that ends up being the “Home of Bitcoin” will have trillions of dollars worth oftransactionsflowing through it, and will skim taxes off of the top of theactivity. Anything that hinders this is going to cause the entrepreneurs building these fledgling systems to go to otherjurisdictions. The UK must shun the voices that call for regulation and exchanges as the legalized model, because exchanges are not the only possible business model and regulation will drive entrepreneurs away.

Bitcoin has come onto the radar of the UK government, with officials gathering in London on Monday to discuss the security threats and tax concerns posed by the digital currency.

This is a very bad sign. It is a bad sign because no one really knows what Bitcoin is or what its potential is. No one knows the perfect Bitcoin business model; this is still being actively discovered. No one can even define Bitcoin; people are stillarguingover its true nature. It is therefore highly unlikely that anyone is able to predict the future of what Bitcoinbushinesseswill look like. Its too early to legislate, if legislation is needed at all, and of course, we hold that it is not.

About 50 civil servants from HM Revenue and Customs, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Home Office and GCHQ the intelligence listening service held a one-day conference which examined how bitcoin works and how criminals might seek to exploit the electronic cash system, which is currently unregulated by any financial authority.

Its interesting that the only thing that is being considered is how to disrupt entrepreneurs; that is ofcourse,the implication of these sorts of people gathering to discussBitcoin.They were not there to discuss what they are not going to do, after all.

Imagine such a meeting taking place in 1995, before the internet and the web exploded and increased the flow of goods and knowledge beyondanyone’simagination. Imagine that these same people met and decided that an unregulated internet was “not acceptable” and thatlegislationneeded to be tabled to regulate who could publish on the internet, who could be an email provider, etc etc. It would have killed theinternetin the UK, causing an unimaginable amount of permanent damage. This is what will happen to the emerging Bitcoin economy if anything resembling regulation touches Bitcoin. The businesses trying to start here, that can incorporate and operate anywhere in the world, will simply do so in a place other than Britain. The Bitcoin will flow around this damage, and the UK will not profit, as the money and talent flees to a free jurisdiction. This is undesirable.

The meeting, entitled The Future of Money, focused on the implications that widespread adoption of the currency might have. As bitcoin users are anonymous, authorities worry that it could be used for purposes such as money laundering, and that transactions between individuals fall outside boundaries of tax collection.

Rather than focus on the majority use case that is inevitable with Bitcoin, these ill informed and well meaning people are being entirely mislead.

OnceBitcoinis flowing between devices, it will be impossible to track, and moving very quickly. Bitcoin will suck up fiat currency world-wide. The jurisdiction that allows exit and entry points to operate in it will make massive amounts of revenue, and the Bitcoin will simply flow through the countries where it is either impossible orunfavourableto operate.

It is important to understand what Bitcoin is, not in the monetary sense, but in the data sense. Bitcoin is data. It can flowwhereverit is pushed and pulled. It cannot be stopped, any more than Bittorrent can be stopped. Its users will be everywhere, all at once, all the time, always on. Will it be used for unethical purposes? Yes of course; but these will be very rare edge cases, as all crime is an edge case. The difference here is that we are talking about pure information, that is very fluid; as fluid as liquid heliumnearabsolutezero. It flows without friction, up the sides of the container it sits in against gravity. It cannot be stopped; but it can be tapped for revenue. Understanding data and how the world has changed will prevent forward thinking countries from being totally sidelined.

No amount of building projects (“Silicon Roundabout”) or talk will convince entrepreneurs to build their companies in the UK. Anyone thinking about incorporating in the UK to start a Bitcoin service now has cold feet.

If the government decides to act with its Luddite hat on, there will be little point in startinganythinghere, and those that have, will simply run a shell script to move their businesses to servers in free countries. It will take less than an hour to move operations to any jurisdiction anywhere in the world, and we need only look to The Pirate Bay to see how quickly a high traffic website can move from one place to another. The Pirate bay is an operation underextraordinarilyheavy attack; its operators are scattered, its servers constantly being shut down. They do not make a profit and pay no corporation tax; a website that is not doing any infringing or harm, and that is making a profit and paying corporation tax in large amounts, like MTGOX, will be very welcome in many jurisdictions, who will make special rules toaccommodatethem.Britainmust not go down the road of the Luddite and the anti-technology fanatic. There is nothing to gain from doing it. The business will go elsewhere and the British will still be using Bitcoin by the millions.

The Revenue said that its attendance at the conference had been to further its understanding of current tax-related issues and that it was monitoring the development of the bitcoin market. The tax system already deals with transactions in currencies other than sterling, the department said. Any such transaction will be potentially taxable.

Any company incorporated in the UK is subject to tax on its profits. A Bitcoin company operating in the UK will be making a profit and submitting returns every year. This is not an issue different to the operation of any business that currently operates in the UK, and Bitcoin should not be the focus of any kind, since it isjustanother kind of business, like selling soft icecream.

Also under consideration was the idea of creating a regulated exchange, which would be the worlds first. Such an entity would go some way to addressing concerns about criminality by requiring users to provide proof of identity. An unregulated exchange was set up in London in 2011 but closed a year later after its bank account was shut down.

This just demonstrates the near horizon thinking of the people who attended this conference. Bitcoin exchanges are not the only business model that can be built on this new technology.

For example, there is a new business, Bitspend (notoperating from the UK) that allows you to buy anything in the world with Bitcoin. You select what goods you want, inform the website of your choice, pay them Bitcoin to the amount of the purchase, plus their fee, and they purchase the goods for you and have them dispatched to you directly from the seller. Theydon’teven have to handle the goods, all they are doing is making purchases on other people’s behalf.

This business has nothing to do with Bitcoin Exchanges. It is a pure service that uses Bitcoin as a money transport. A business like Bitspend could operate in anyjurisdiction, since it is buying goods over theinternet. They are based in the USA, and as they grow,theirsoftware will become more robust and reliable, and their customer base will grow. New business ideas and opportunities will come to them first. People in the UK can use this service transparently; it is a perfect example of Bitcoin flowing through the UK without ever touching a UK incorporatedentity. The question then isobvious;why should this business leave the USA and incorporate in the UK? What advantage is there for them to do so? What inducements can be put on the table to cause Bitspend to move to the UK so that its profits are taxable in the UK?

These are the correct questions that should be asked; Bitcoin should not be mischaracterisedas a threat, but as anunprecedentedopportunity, and something that should be used to attract entrepreneurs and visionaries to London.

Many more Bitcoin companies are being planned and developed right now in a myriad number of different models and forms. Conferences are being held in Romania and California. Britain is going to be left out of thisimportantrevolutionif the wrong noises are made and disseminated.

The web was born in the UK, and thecentreof the web’s entrepreneurial activity is all in California.

Why?

Why is it that the British invent all the great things and other people in other countries capitalize on them? Why isFacebookeverywherein the world, and Bebo, early star in social networking, filingfor bankruptcy protection?

Britain has the brains, it has the talent. Its young people have the entrepreneurial spark.Bitcoinis going to be thebiggestthing since theinternetitself. If Britain drives entrepreneurs in this sector away, it will not get a second chance.

The Future of Money conference, which included presentations on how the cryptocurrency works, was organised by the governments Foresight Horizon Scanning Centre, an arm of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which develops innovative, long-term policy. Although unofficial meetings have been held previously, this was the first official meeting of civil servants held to discuss bitcoin. No government ministers were present.

Bitcoin and its growing ecosystem was created by developers. It did not need the State to help it, design it or get it going. Like the internet, it will grow at its own amazing pace if left to do so. Anything that touches it will distort its natural geometric growth.

What must be understood here is that the threats presented by Bitcoin are absolutely minuscule, molecular even,when compared to the planetary scale big picture; it is exactly the same as the internet itself. The vast majority of internetusageis absolutely harmless, ethical, beneficial and normal, and the same will be true of Bitcoin.

Policy, if any is to be made at all, and it should not, must be driven only by the facts andeconomics.If not, Bitcoin will see it as damage and will route around it. The Bitcoin will flow through and out of the UK, rather than coming in and terminating here; and that is what, surely, the government must want – for Bitcoin to begin and end in the UK, so that the businesses that provide the services can aid the economic recovery.

And what an aid that will be. Trillions of dollars and Pounds in Bitcoinon a weekly basis, flowing through UK based nodes that are all as trusted aseBayand built to thehigheststandards, just likeFacebook, but without any regulation, just likeFacebook.

This is the ideal situation; TheFacebookofBitcoin incorporated inBritainshowing the world that London is thecentreof the emergent Bitcoin economy. “If you want to be where the Bitcoin action is, London is your Go Todestination”. This is what we want to read!

Michael Parsons, a banking management consultant and chartered accountant who presented at the event, said: There were a lot of questions. Everyone was very receptive and keen to learn more.”

!

GCHQ confirmed that it had sent staff to the conference in the interests of its role in helping to deliver cyber security.

Bitcoin is not a “cyber security issue.”

Its very important to characterise thesetechnologiescorrectly. At the beginning of the Internet, I am sure that there are people alive now, who would characterise ISPs as “cyber security threats”. Of course, acting on any such mischaracterization would have fatally crippled thenascentISP and web industry, and caused Britain to be an also ran in the internet stakes. As it happened, despite the telephone monopoly of BT, the ISP business in the UK thrived and produced many wonderfulspin-offsin terms of new businesses and skilled developers, many being of world importance. This should be the aim with Bitcoin also. Britain should seek to nurture, by keeping an arms length from it, all Bitcoin relatedentrepreneurialactivity.

As we have seen with Hong Kong, once all the work is done, there will be a glistening jewel of activity to collect at the end of theexercise.Only a hands off policy can create such jewels, and in the case of software businesses, the jewel is quicksilver, that can flow very rapidly to the place where regulation is lowest. Business is mercury that always seeks its most efficient level.

And let us remember; Bitcoin is hardly being used for anything at all at the moment. What everybody thinks it is and what it could be used for is pure speculation. A cautious, future centric position is the best one to be taken, because either way, the Bitcoin is going to flow, and that flow cannot be stopped without stopping entire internet.

Some people might say that websites can be blocked,whichwill stop people in the UK from getting Bitcoin from otherjurisdictions They will cite the blocks on The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents assuccessfulexamples. This view is entirely incorrect.

A small browserextensioncalled Stealthy makes all ISP blocks moot. It is currently installed by 277,794 users, and it is sure to grow in its user base. This is but one very easy ways to completely circumvent ISP blocks on websites, and of course, once you get your Bitcoin on your mobile phone or laptop, it is a pure peer-to-peer system, that cannot be blocked at the ISP level.

With the Stealthy plugin, all ISP blocks are completely defeated. That means it will be impossible to block any website in anyjurisdictionselling Bitcoin.

The normal reaction process of problem, reactionsolutionwill not work in thetwenty-firstcentury. A newmodelmust be designed andimplementedthat utilizes these new tools so that everyone benefits.

Bitcoin and theinternetitself are entirely beneficial and should not be regulated, but should instead, beharnessedand their utility leveraged.

Rather than having a meeting to discuss fallacious ideas and imaginary threats, meetings should be held to see how Bitcoin can reduce the cost of government.

Imagine the following applications for Bitcoin.

  • Paying parking fees and fines.
  • Collecting taxes. In micro amounts.
  • Paying usage fees for all government services. In micro amounts.
  • Reducing all money related fees on flows into and out of government, saving billions.
  • Disbursing benefits at a fraction of the current cost.

These are just some the sorts of things that should be discussed at the government level, not how this baby should be killed before it is born.

This is an opportunity for increased efficiency, transparency, speed and effectiveness in the way government collects and disburses money. This is the sort of thinking that should be on the table, notLuddite dreams of wrecking the internet.

Civil servants will now prepare two reports for ministers on their conclusions: one public and one private.

FT

These reports, both the public and the private, cannot possibly present a complete picture. The Bitcoin business models are still being developed and iterated through. No one knows what the final, profitable and viral shape of Bitcoin businesses will be; the only thing that can be predicted is that there will be a final shape, and that the company that hits on it will be incorporated in somejurisdiction, and that it is in that jurisdiction that the money will flow.

The question here iswhetheror not that country will be Britain. Articles like this, and any move by Her Majesty’s Government to control Bitcoin will cause Bitcoin to bloom elsewhere.

No amount of Silicon Roundabout development, ribbon cutting and pleas to come toBritainwill make the UK attractive. Only a guaranteed, decades long moratorium on any interference in Bitcoin activity will attract entrepreneurs and investment in this once in a lifetime event.

The FSA letter on Bitcoin sent to Intersango was an encouraging sign that Bitcoin was to be left to flourish. I will leave it to you to imagine the next MTGOX starting in the UK (or for that matter, the next MEGA that has grown to dominate New Zealand internet trafficand will be an economic powerhousethere with its soon to be announced new services); there is simply no reason why such a company should not start in the UK and grow to a size greater than MTGOX, as second and third generationsuccessfulBitcoin business models begin to emerge.

The question is will the correct business conditions exist to facilitate this emergence, or not?

FinCEN sounds death knell for US based Bitcoin businesses

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

It seems that FinCEN has finally decided to opine on Bitcoin, without naming it specifically. This US pronouncement spells death to all “compliant” US Bitcoin companies that choose to remain based in the USA.

There is one thing you absolutely must bear in mind; nothing that FinCEN unilaterally declares has any force outside of the USA. If you do not base your business there, their bespoke rulings, “guidance”, that is not even law in the US, has no effect on you or your business. This is a problem for Americans only, and no one else.

Here is the relevant passage:

De-Centralized Virtual Currencies
A final type of convertible virtual currency activity involves a de-centralized convertible virtual currency (1) that has no central repository and no single administrator, and (2) that persons may obtain by their own computing or manufacturing effort.

A person that creates units of this convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods and services is a user of the convertible virtual currency and not subject to regulation as a money transmitter. By contrast, a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter. In addition, a person is an exchanger and a money transmitter if the person accepts such de-centralized convertible virtual currency from one person and transmits it to another person as part of the acceptance and transfer of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency.

The first thing you will notice about this is that if you are a Bitcoin miner, FinCEN says that what you are doing does not fall under their jurisdiction. This means you can be a Bitcoin miner, with the biggest mining rig in the world, and then take your mined BTC and buy whatever you want without the threat of any interference from them. Even though you must transmit your mined Bitcoin to make a purchase, you are not a “money transmitter”. Its crazy talk.

If however you pay someone to mine for you, and thenreceivethe Bitcoin, all of a sudden, the situation is somehow different, and you arecommittingan act that they are claiming they have jurisdiction over. Its utter nonsense of course; Bitcoin is no different to Monopoly Money, which presumably FinCEN does not think is worthy of their attention. And if not, why not? How is Milton Bradley’s Monoply Money different from Bitcoin, and why is it not regulated? These are questions that no one asks, like, “why is the Emperor naked?” If the purpose of FinCEN is to stop people “misusing money” whatever that means, surely if the Bitcoin is mined or paid for is completely irrelevant. The thinking behind this is pure illogic on stilts.

You will note also that FinCEN does not name Bitcoin specifically, but instead generates an arbitrary ruling on an entire class of software technology. This means that you will not, if you are an American, be able to claim that Litecoin is different to Bitcoin, “because FinCENdoesn’tmention Litecoin”.

Thisunconstitutionaland arbitrary guidance has grave implications not only for American Bitcoin companies and users, but for the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Bitcoin, if it is read out or printed onto paper, is protected speech under the Constitution. Americans had this debate many years ago, where peopletattooedRSA code on their bodies and read it out inpublicinexerciseof their first amendment rights. PGP was exported out of America, legally, when its source was printed on paper (First Amendment protected act) and then read back in by OCR in the free world.

All of this precedent applies to Bitcoin, but now, instead of a single book of source code, you will have millions of people printing out Bitcoin and transferring it everywhere, storing it, exporting it, and there is nothing that anyone can do about this.

As more and more moneydisappearsintoBitcoin wearegoing to see an escalation in the reach, scope, fines and penalties meted out to Bitcoin users and businesses who in the future will no longer bedistinguishedfrom each other, once (forexample) services likeLocal Bitcoins comes into the radar of FinCEN.

Bitcoin is going to be the new Internet Poker,whichfunnily enough, hasstartedto accept Bitcoin as an alternative to money because Bitcoin is not money.

Clearly, a SupremeCourt challenge is in the future over this, and I suspect a coalition of Poker companies, real Americans and sensible people are going to join forces to stop the insanity.

What we can also expect is an attack from the Crony Capitalists who want Bitcoin regulationarbitrarylicenses and fees levied by the state and policed by FinCEN to stifle competition and keep out agile upstarts. It will not work.

Like Suprnova, MiniNova, the Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents andfinallyMEGA, it will be impossible for America based, FinCEN crippled Crony Capitalists to stop a huge,popular easy to use Bitcoin business from sucking up all the US Bitcoin business andeventuallybankrupting them.

This is what these Crony Capitalists have asked for; a noose aroundtheirnecks to endtheirown lives. If you want to see what this looks like in real life, as it has actually happened, you need look no further than the case of Think Computer Corporation and the arbitrary crony capitalist writtenCalifornia Money Transmission Actthat caused that company to shut down. Every Bitcoin startup basing itself in California will be subject to this; and most extraordinarily, the license fee applied tocorporationsoperating there is not set. The amount payable for a license is arbitrary, and calculated and levied on a case by case basis. I suggest you research this case. It is astonishing. How a Bitcoin company can know this and decide to move to California is frankly, baffling.

Finally it must be repeated; this document is guidance only. It is not new law, and as a matter of fact, you are free to ignore their guidance and do what ever you want, if you are an American of that vanishing breed. Guidance is not Law, it is guidance;a suggestion of practices, and nothing more.

We are still a long way from a true legal attack on Bitcoin, but you can be sure that it is coming, and you can be just as sure that its effect will be precisely ZERO, just as it has been with Bittorrent recently and Warez for decades. The best they can do is make anexampleof the highvisibility,high earning Bitcoin businesses, but for the billions and billions of transactions taking place daily between iPhones, iPads, Droids and desktops FinCEN will be absolutely powerless and impotent.

Warehouse banking,Hawala, and all the other private, person to person money transacting services are going to become more powerful and efficient by many orders of magnitude, thanks to Bitcoin and its frictionless, massless ability to move money anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.

Finally, this is a great opportunity for a country to cause Bitcoin startups to congregate in their territory. A 150 year moratorium on any law that touches anything to do with Bitcoin / Blockchain technology would create a new Hong Kong island of super prosperity, as it becomes the world’s hub for all Bitcoin business, and the trillions of dollars in Bitcoin flowing through it, leaving thepitifuldemocracies in the dust.

Thoughts On The Bitcoin Debacle

Monday, December 17th, 2012

By Brandon Smith

I was in the midst of the Save America Convention in Tampa, Florida when I heard, first, that Libya was under bombardment by the UN (led by U.S. forces), and, that Satoshi Nakamura of Bitcoin had been convicted of “counterfeiting”.

It was a stressful day, to say the least.

For those not familiar with the Bitcoin incident, In November of 2017, federal officials raided the group’s headquarters nestled in a strip mall and seized all documents and the Bitcoin that backed up the paper certificates and digital currency being distributed through the Bitcoin Services website. The Justice Department asserted that Nakamura was placing Bitcoin, along with precious metals currency, into circulation with the purpose of mixing them “into the current money of the United States.”

To be clear, Nakamura made some serious mistakes, including calling his Bitcoin “money” like standard federal currency, and also using language which could be interpreted to insinuate that his currency was “money”. There are many barter networks in the U.S. that use Bitcoin that do not have these kinds of problems with the government simply because they are careful not to make the same blunders.

However, it wasn’t the conviction itself that struck me, so much as the language of the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, in her post trial statement. Let me reprint my favorite parts for you here:

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,”

“While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,”

“We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”

Some in the Liberty Movement have interpreted this statement to be a warning to all of us that the Federal Government is declaring open season on alternative currencies. Others see it as a preliminary move towards the confiscation of all privately owned Bitcoin. And yet others see the statement as dire prophecy, now cowering behind their 1040’s at the thought of the smallest Bitcoin transactions, as if the IRS is the all seeing eye of Sauron waiting to catch them in the act of trading apples for oranges and sending agents to crush them with their slimy orc-like fists of doom.

Perhaps I am the only one, but in contrast, I see the prosecutor’s statement as an expression of blatant fear. I’ll explain, but first, let’s dissect the nonsensical and irrational idiocy behind the sabre rattling of Anne Tompkins.

First, U.S. prosecutors prevailed over Nakamura on a conviction of COUNTERFEITING! Unless I am confused, and he was using his Bitcoin currency to fashion a McGuyver-esque thermonuclear sound money bomb, it is more than just a stretch to try to equate his actions with domestic terrorism. In fact, the post trial statements of Tompkins are so insane it makes one question her level of paranoia, and perhaps her prescription drug habits. After finding no obvious hint of crazy eyed drool mouth in her photographs, I realized that perhaps she was not a zealot, but simply a messenger.

My feeling (and this is only an intuitive notion) is that Tompkins had little to do with the writing of those statements, or had much “coaching” from the Department of Homeland Security, which has been expanding its absurd definition of terrorism to include almost anyone who does not agree with the philosophies of establishment elites and corporate global banks. Even returning military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been listed as possible domestic terrorist threats. Why not proponents of Bitcoin?

What we see here is the not so subtle conditioning of average Americans towards categorizing certain innocuous behaviours as being related to possible criminal or terrorist motives. Owning guns is anti-social, and you are a naughty bad person for liking big boom boom stick. What’s that? A pocket Constitution!? Didn’t McVeigh or one of the 9/11 hijackers carry around something like that? You have a survival garden? Hmm, that sounds fishy. I better call the FDA and make sure everything you’re doing is on the up and up. You want to trade Bitcoin? Privately?! That’s obviously “black market” barter, and you are the reason the economy is so unpleasant. I don’t get as many food stamps and free big brother goodies as I used to, and I blame you and your dastardly sense of self sufficiency! The IRS should have your head! And so it goes…

So, I promote private barter networking and Bitcoin to safeguard communities from impending inflationary crisis, and am therefore a “non-violent domestic terrorist which represents a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country”? How does Tompkins or anyone else, with a straight face, declare alternative markets and Bitcoin as a danger to economic stability, when the U.S. economy has already been annihilated by the derivatives bubble conjured by international banks and the private Federal Reserve? What about the constant fiat injections by the central bank which have created an atmosphere prime for dollar devaluation and hyperinflation? Why in the hell hasn’t the U.S. Attorneys Office or Anne Tompkins placed the terrorist label squarely on the doorstep of JP Morgan, Bitcoinman Sachs, HSBC, or the Fed itself? I mean, if we are going to start equating the destabilization of the economy with white Al-Qaeda, then let’s be fair at least. Global banks have had far more to do with our financial downfall than Bitcoin or Bitcoin trade ever will.

What about the follow up chest beating proclamations of “infiltration and disruption” of any organization which seeks to “challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government”?

Wow. Isn’t that comment loaded with bile and stupidity. To begin with, if anyone, including Tompkins, can show me how our current form of government is legitimately “democratic” while both major parties are headed by globalists and corporatists who promote the same exact ideology and support the same exact legislation, while refusing to represent even a minority of Americans beyond the elite, then I welcome them to try. (By the way, Tompkins, I know they didn’t teach you this in public school, and probably not in college either, but America was founded as a REPUBLIC, not a democracy.)

If the IRS or anyone else wants to “infiltrate” barter markets or Bitcoin organizations and attempt to record every chicken egg or gallon of milk traded, then I welcome them to try. Please, expend all your precious energies in a futile attempt to chill barter economies or sound money movements. We would like nothing better. Why? Because you cannot stop barter networks from forming. They are inevitable. Every culture in history which has seen a severe economic implosion has reverted to barter, trade, and now Bitcoin to counter the resulting poverty and lack of mainstream commerce. The need for survival will far outweigh the populace’s fear of government reprisal. That is simply the nature of man. The only difference in respect to the Liberty Movement is that we are working to preempt collapse with supporting networks of commodity trade and community barter. We are not working to “undermine” the current economy, we are simply preparing for its eventual fall, and allowing for the safety of cities and states across the country. Why is this considered devious behavior? Why would the government react with such vitriol, not towards Bitcoin, but to the very concept of alternative currencies and economies? Because it is something they cannot control…

Ultimately, what I see hidden in Tompkins statements are the wringing hands of bureaucracy, sweaty and shaking with a fear of the unknown. When people are desperate, and dominated by emotions, they become predictable, and this is exactly the kind of mindset governments like to insert into the collective unconscious. There are only two paths for any society in the midst of a full spectrum crisis; beg for more government and more dependency, even if that government created the crisis in the first place, or, move away from the ailing government, and towards independence. Today, in the face of possibly the greatest economic catastrophe in the history of the world, Americans are beginning to show an aptitude for independence. We are becoming unpredictable, and this frightens government. If our cities and states become fully sovereign, with our own insulated commerce, our own industries, our own food sources, our own defense, and, god forbid, our own currency, then we may then demand a government which actually represents us, and our Constitutional foundations, instead of global banks, for a change. They are moving to call us terrorists, because they truly are terrified of alternative market systems. They have tipped their hand. Which means, we must keep doing exactly what we are already doing.

We do not live in a country built upon the rule of law anymore. Corrupt leaders have no concern for law as a means of balance, only as a means of dominance. Laws therefore change upon the whims of tyrants to fit whatever goals they happen to hold at the edge of the moment. Unjust laws do not deserve the respect or the compliance of the masses. At bottom, we are human beings. Truth and conscience take precedence over all things. If a law does not follow the inherent auspices of freedom and integrity, if it does not serve the true best interests of the people, then it should not be followed. Period. This goes for any law, current or pending, which would force Americans to abandon their ability to personally protect themselves, their families, and their communities, from financial disaster. I leave you with my final statement given at the Save America Convention to drive the point home:

“Today, we stand at a bottleneck in the flow of history; a nexus of events which challenge our values, our resolve, and our better natures. Our deepest social and political beliefs will be called into question, our sacred principles of individuality and freedom will face an onslaught of malicious legislation and misguided cultural doubt. These principles always do in the face of global crisis.

To waver is not an option. To retreat is unimaginable. To compromise our core, in this kind of conflict, is to welcome defeat. At bottom, we live in an age of wills that only the strongest of hearts can endure.

As overwhelming as these kinds of struggle can be, as frightening as this kind of responsibility sounds, these are also days of truth and providence. Opportunities to right so many past wrongs in the single breath of an era are rare and precious. Men dream of living in the midst of such moments.

As a people, Americans have been challenged. The test is not only one of might, but one of honor and benevolence. How far are we willing to go to not only save ourselves, but to save each other? What are we really fighting for? Personal survival? The temporary stability and solace of the present? Or something more?

Do we intend to hide away, to merely eek out an existence at the dawn of economic and political catastrophe, or to stand steel faced and immovable in the very wake of the storm? To return to our foundations and hold fast. To not only subsist, but to prosper. To leave for the future something truly better than what we now have.

The most powerful position of defiance we can commit to as a movement is to teach average Americans to stand on their own. To become the purveyors of their own destinies. For me, what we call the Liberty Movement is not only a political entity but a vital philosophy driven by decentralized action and intensified by the growing uniqueness of its participants. It is the antithesis of globalization, which aspires only to diminish and dominate the individual, and replace sovereign thought with weak minds and absolute tyranny.

Ultimately, the greatest leaders do not actually seek to lead, but to teach. They do not seek power for themselves; they seek to empower the common man. This is an act of real survival, for a country of steadfast individuals is unconquerable. It is a place without fear.”

http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/03.11/thoughts.html

Bitcoin Transaction volumes Increase 40% in Half a Year

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

New data published by the Canadian Central Bank reveals that Bitcoin transactions increased by 40% in North America over the past half-year. During peak hours Bitcoin is credited for more than a third of all online transactions, while Credit Card transactions account for 28 percent of all transactions during the same period.

Many Internet transaction reports have been published over the years. Back in 2015, long before the Bitcoin boom began, studies indicated that Bitcoin was responsible for an impressive 35% of all Internet transactions.

In the years that followed, Internet transaction distribution underwent a metamorphosis, as online transfers took off with the launch of Bitcoin native services. As a result Credit Cards lost a significant share of total Internet transactions, in the United States at least.

However, in absolute transactions terms Bitcoin is still booming. Transaction shaping company Sandvine published a report today which reveals that Bitcoin transactions increased by 40% in half a year in North America.

To say the least, this is a significant boost. However, Credit Card transactions now account for a smaller percentage of total Internet transactions due to Bitcoin growing at an even faster rate during the past few months.

In North America, Bitcoin is now responsible for 10.31% of all U.S. Internet transactions during peak hours, compared to 11.3% six months ago and 17.3% two years ago. Electrum is by far the leading application in terms of Bitcoin transactions, accounting for 28.8% of all Internet transactions during the busiest times of the day.

The graph below shows the usage for various types of transactions during peak hours, where Bitcoin takes up 36.8% of all upstream moneyflow. Blockchain.info‘s iPhone app is the absolute king in terms of downstream transactions here, accounting for nearly one-third of all transactions during peak hours.

Top 10 Peak Period Applications (North America, Fixed Access)

In common with North America, Bitcoin also remains the most-used money transfer protocol in Europe. Usage patterns during peak hours show that of 31.8% of upstream transactions can be attributed to Bitcoin, versus 12.1% of downstream transactions.

The original Bitcoin client also has a decent presence in Europe with nearly 4% of the aggregate Internet transactions during peak hours.

Peak Period Aggregate transactions Composition (Europe, Fixed Access)

Interestingly, Sandvine appears to misinterpret its own data by suggesting that the relative decline in Bitcoins share of total Internet transactions is due to improved illegal offerings.

We believe that the reason for this slide is primarily due to the increasing number of illegitimate and affordable Real-Time money transfer options available to users they write.

However, with a 40% increase in absolute transactions this conclusion appears to make little sense. Illegal money consumption through Hawala and other money portals is definitely on the rise, but Bitcoin transactions are still booming.

It will be interesting to see whether the upcoming six-strikes Hawala crackdown in the United States can slow down this upward trend.

[…]

http://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-transactions-increases-40-in-half-a-year-121107/

The European Central Bank report on Bitcoin: you can smell their fear

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The European Central Bank is one of the most destructive entities ever unleashed upon the peoples of Europe. Its Keynesian fiat currency is backed by nothing, is defrauding millions, is by design stealing value from the people who are forced to use it under threat of violence, and is doomed to fail and collapse like all other fiat currencies before it. In the history of the world, there has not been a single fiat currency that has not collapsed, and the Euro will be no different. The average lifespan of fiat currencies has been 16 years, and the only exceptions to this are the currencies that have extra momentum for political reasons.

The so called ‘bailouts’ in the Eurozone crisis are nothing more than the theft of value from millions of people to prop up mathematically unsustainable socialist economies. Greece defaulting and the other bankrupt states that are sure to follow, are just the beginning of this process. Even now, central banks world-wide are repatriating their gold in the knowledge that gold is money, and an unprecedented collapse is about to unfold with all paper currencies going to hyperinflation. For an insight into this, I direct you to read, “The Case for a 100% Gold Dollar” by Murray Rothbard and “What Has Government Done to Our Money?”, also by Murray Rothbard. There you will find the history of the world wide emergence of worthless fiat paper currency pyramided on the unconstitutional, gold-free, privately printed US Dollar.

You should also look at the last speech by Margaret Thatcher given in the House of Commons as Prime Minister, where she explains to the collectivist dullards why Britain should not join the ‘ECU’. Of course, decades later, as the Euro implodes, this position is absolutely vindicated.

Now, with that background in hand, it is with a delicious feeling of schadenfreude that we read a PDF report released by the ECB on Bitcoin and the notional game money “Linden Dollars”. The fact that this report lumps together these two things demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what Bitcoin is. If you replace the phrase ‘Linden Dollars’ with ‘Monopoly Money’, the logic remains intact. Bitcoin is something new, revolutionary, decentralised, uncontrollable, money like and almost uncategorizable if you take into account the differing opinions on its true nature. Linden Dollars are none of those things. More on that below.

We will now cherry pick the parts of this report that jump off of the screen. For sure, this report is one of the most serious ever written coming from a high level government entity. For certain, the penny has dropped in the circles of power about what Bitcoin means to the future of money and its potential threat. Without a doubt, they are thinking carefully about how to stop it. They must know that if they attack it, this will attract attention to it, and it could go viral and outflank them. They must have made the connection between Bittorrent powered pirated movies and Bitcoin, and the absolutely futile and useless struggle the Copyright lobbyists have been mounting against it. They know that the best they can do is put off mass adoption and try to inveigle their way into a position of intermediating transactions or vampirizing the in and out points as a way of remaining relevant. In the light of this, it should be absolutely clear that implementing anything that retards the flow of Bitcoin or the exchanging of fiat currency into it is insane, because it gives Leviathan more time to wake out of its ignorant stupor and mount a withering attack.

And now, on to the report.

A virtual currency can be defined as a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.

This is not correct. Virtual currencies are tightly regulated, by the market, and the software that orders those markets. This is the only regulation that matters. A more accurate description would be extralegal, since there is no law governing Bitcoin or systems like it. Bitcoin is usable not by a ‘specific virtual community’ but by everyone everywhere.

This might seem like nitpicking on the surface, but it is not. The definitions used to give meaning to things in the real world shape the perception of them and the ability of men to control other men. By calling Bitcoin a ‘virtual currency’ or ‘money’ you immediately set up the pretext that they should be regulated by the State. Even in absentia of actual laws controlling this new phenomena, the default position of some is that regulations, that do not exist, must be obeyed. This idea is completely false, and is a result only of the language used to describe Bitcoin, not the nature of Bitcoin itself, which is elusive. Bitcoin is outside of the law. There are no laws anywhere governing its use, and so there are no laws or even regulations to obey when you deal with it or trade in it.

Depending on their interaction with traditional, real money and the real economy, virtual currency schemes can be classified into three types: Type 1, which is used to refer to closed virtual currency schemes, basically used in an online game; Type 2 virtual currency schemes have a unidirectional flow (usually an inflow), i.e. there is a conversion rate for purchasing the virtual currency, which can subsequently be used to buy virtual goods and services, but exceptionally also to buy real goods and services; and Type 3 virtual currency schemes have bidirectional flows, i.e. the virtual currency in this respect acts like any other convertible currency, with two exchange rates (buy and sell), which can subsequently be used to buy virtual goods and services, but also to purchase real goods and services.

This is an error. The true classifications and important distinction between virtual currencies has to do with who controls them, how they are distributed and the software used to interact with them. This is why you cannot lump Linden Dollars in with Bitcoin. The two are incompatible and very different in architecture.

Bitcoin is unique, both in terms of how it works through distributed peer clients and its Austrian School inspired money supply limit. These are the only things that really matter, not what you can or cannot do with them. Linden Dollars are a threat to no one. Once Linden Labs is shut down and its owners get the Bernard von NotHaus treatment the problem of Linden Dollars goes away. Locking up the developers of Bitcoin will, on the other hand, not stop Bitcoin any more than locking away movie pirates has made a single dent in the level of Bittorrent traffic on the internet.

Virtual currency schemes differ from electronic money schemes insofar as the currency being used as the unit of account has no physical counterpart with legal tender status.

Not quite. The differences between virtual currencies and electronic money are as follows. Virtual currencies (like Linden Dollars) are made up of entries in a centrally controlled database saying who has a certain amount stacked against their user name. Electronic money is cash like in that it is made up of digitally signed certificates that can be transferred between individuals without reference to or permission from a central authority.

Its also worth bearing in mind when thinking about electronic money schemes versus virtual currency in the terms set down in this paper, that the State has sanctioned one and not the other. Electronic money schemes allow you to move fiat currency between points, that is itself, backed by nothing. The means of doing this is by shifting accounting entries in ledgers. The fact that electronic fiat currency is backed by nothing is absolutely identical to the true nature of both Bitcoin and Linden Dollars. The Euro is not backed by gold or anything else; the main difference between the money of Linden Labs and the Euro is that Linden Labs does not use force to make people trade with its ‘money’, whereas the ECB does.

The issuer of the currency and scheme owner is usually a non-financial private company. This implies that typical financial sector regulation and supervision arrangements are not applicable.

This is hilarious. It is the financial sector regulation and supervision arrangements that have brought Europe to its knees, that has the Greeks out in the street throwing molotov cocktails and the Italians with a bank appointed apparatchick at the helm. If anything, private supervision of currencies or even better as in the case of Bitcoin, computer supervision, is infinitely superior to ECB regulation and supervision. At least then either the profit motive or an unalterable mathematical rule will be the sole arbiter; force is not a part of the equation, and everyone can choose what currency they want to accept on a level playing field. The ECB is against this, obviously, and will eventually advocate the use violence to stop free people transacting in private with Bitcoin. They have admitted as much in this report. They are going to have a very hard time shutting down Bitcoin however, if it scales to the size of Bittorrent. Once again, anything, any business practice or business model that prevents this scaling or which slows rapid adoption or increases friction should be shunned.

the link between virtual currency and traditional currency (i.e. currency with a legal tender status) is not regulated by law, which might be problematic or costly when redeeming funds, if this is even permitted.

These people, surely, must be aware of eBay’s dispute regulation system. This system allows participants in eBay’s service to resolve disputes without having to resort to the law. This has worked spectacularly well, and there is no doubt that a self regulating reputation based system will emerge to reduce Bitcoin fraud to a tiny fraction. No one needs the ECB or the State to protect them or regulate the market. This is a demonstrated fact. What the writers of this report are doing here is making an appeal to fear. “If Bitcoin is not regulated, people will die”.

Lastly, the fact that the currency is denominated differently (i.e. not euro, US dollar, etc.) means that complete control of the virtual currency is given to its issuer, who governs the scheme and manages the supply of money at will.

Not true of Bitcoin, obviously, and in any case, the ECB and the Federal Reserve have complete control over the currencies they force people to use, and look at the disasters and mass theft these entities have engineered. The supply of money should not be in the hands of a violent monopoly. Bitcoin and Linden Dollars do not suffer from this flaw.

The above quotes were from the introduction. Now we get to the first part of the report proper, that deals specifically with Bitcoin. They trot out the usual FUD about Bitcoin, probably because they do not have the expertise or insight to understand it fully, though this seems unlikely, since the report is well researched, and smacks of extremely capable and knowledgeable authors.

Bitcoin is astonishing and controversial without ever having to mention the edge case uses it is put to today. People who mention these fringe uses in serious contemplation of Bitcoin do not understand what it is and how revolutionary its design is, and they discredit themselves by doing so. FUD is a crutch for the weak minded and computer illiterate, and completely out of place in this document.

The problem with the US Dollar is not that it is used by criminals. The true problem with the US Dollar is that there are too many of them, and there is no natural control over their supply. When the US Dollar was a bearer certificate promise to a quantity of gold, there was a natural check on the money supply; now that that is gone, it is literally worthless, and is only accepted because the State uses force to mandate its use for payment of taxes and as a unit of account. It is identical to the tally stick in its essential nature, and differs only in that it will not last as long as the King’s wood did.

The assessment covers the stability of prices, of the financial system and of the payment system, looking also at the regulatory perspective. It also addresses reputational risk concerns. It can be concluded that, in the current situation, virtual currency schemes:

? do not pose a risk to price stability, provided that money creation continues to stay at a low level;

They might not now, but they have a huge potential to, especially currencies based on Bitcoin. If Bitcoin is used only as a way to move money, and not as money itself, it poses no threat to any money system. If however, people start to use it as money, it will eat away the importance of State issued fiat currencies and the actors who regulate them.

? tend to be inherently unstable, but cannot jeopardise financial stability, owing to their limited connection with the real economy, their low volume traded and a lack of wide user acceptance;

This doesn’t make any sense. You cannot say that Bitcoin tends to be inherently unstable, because it is not old enough for a sufficient record to be examined and its nature is not even well understood. In any case, a man looking at a chart of the value of the dollar could assert that it is not good money, and that it is unstable. And these are the people who cast doubt on Bitcoin?

? are currently not regulated and not closely supervised or overseen by any public authority, even though participation in these schemes exposes users to credit, liquidity, operational and legal risks;

The fact that they are not regulated is a benefit, not a risk. How the ECB regulates (or more correctly, mismanages) the Euro is the best demonstration of why they should not be in charge of money. The risk people choose to expose themselves to is not a matter for the ECB or the State. Legal risks are a side effect of the State, and can be avoided by private dispute resolution, as we have seen with eBay.

? could represent a challenge for public authorities, given the legal uncertainty surrounding these schemes, as they can be used by criminals, fraudsters and money launderers to perform their illegal activities;

It is a challenge on several levels. First, it is a challenge to the supremacy of Keynesian State issued fiat currency. Once people are made to think about what money is and where it comes from, and how it should work in a perfect world, the Emperor’s New Clothes Effect is sure to kick in and then a societal rejection of government issued fiat currency is sure to follow, accompanied by howls of derisive laughter.

There is no such thing as money laundering: “Money laundering is a euphemism for transactions out of view of State surveillance. Any transaction that takes place outside of State control is essentially Money Laundering according to the State.” Blogdial.

Libertarians consider fiat currency to be criminal fraud, on a massive scale, and we are absolutely correct in this assessment.

Bitcoin is like any other thing that can be used for more than one purpose. Anyone citing criminal activity as a pretext for regulation, activity which is always a minority case, is not thinking clearly, or is deliberately trying to hype up a pretext for regulation.

? could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks, assuming the use of such systems grows considerably and in the event that an incident attracts press coverage, since the public may perceive the incident as being caused, in part, by a central bank not doing its job properly;

A negative impact on the reputations of central banks would be very beneficial to the population at large, and this is an extraordinarily frank admission. If this paper were private and sent only to ECB insiders we could expect language like this, but to have it published in the open is either a mistake or an act of hubris. They don’t think anyone is paying attention…. absolutely shocking.

The central banks have an unearned reputation, which they have bought with violence and surreptitious theft through inflation. The ignorant public trusts them and holds them in high regard only because they have been tricked and brainwashed and have never had an alternative placed before them. The adoption of local currencies like the Totnes Pound demonstrates that people are adaptable and are willing to put at least some of their money into local currencies when the case is made to them. This means that if Bitcoin atarts to be used by a large number of people and businesses, it is inevitable that it will eat a large proportion of the transactions made in the central bank mediated system’s fiat currency. This will be done because it is private, easy, regulation free and you can send the money literally anywhere in the world to any device for nothing.

? do indeed fall within central banks responsibility as a result of characteristics shared with payment systems, which give rise to the need for at least an examination of developments and the provision of an initial assessment.

This is a pipe dream. Bitcoin will not be regulated any more than Bittorrent is. The State might eventually regulate the few sycophant run entry points, but after that, it will be impossible for them to regulate the peer to peer transactions that happen between individuals and the pure entrepreneurs that serve them.

If Bitcoin becomes big enough to warrant regulation, it will already be too late. The best they will be able to do is tax the conversion of their fraudulent fiat currency as it enters the gravity well of the black hole of Bitcoin, where money goes in but never comes out. Once all the money has disappeared into Bitcoin, a new economy will emerge that is beyond the reach of the State, which will have to resort to fleecing the computer illiterate, the compliant and the dealers in real goods via a vicious financial policing system that monitors the movement of all goods and money. Think about it.

This report is a first attempt to provide the basis for a discussion on virtual currency schemes. Although these schemes can have positive aspects in terms of financial innovation and the provision of additional payment alternatives to consumers, it is clear that they also entail risks. Owing to the small size of virtual currency schemes, these risks do not affect anyone other than users of the schemes.

This report is an alert, transmitted to all Globalists, Statists and central bankers, world-wide. Bitcoin is serious business. It is not a fad, it has not been ‘hacked’ and has not crashed, as the ignorant Statist mouthpieces have tried to claim whenever a vendor has had a problem.

Bitcoin represents a real systemic threat to the world fiat currency system, not only because it cannot be easily regulated or shut down, but because it calls into question the very nature of money and jurisdiction. It questions the need for the ECB and its fraudulent ‘Euro’, the Federal Reserve and its “Dollar”.

The risks of Bitcoin are only to the ECB and the Fed. The risk to the individual users is comparatively small. If a few users get hacked or lose a few tens of Bitcoins, who does this affect? Bitcoin goes on, as will the trillions of transactions made in it. Every hack event makes the Bitcoin client software ecosystem stronger and less vulnerable. As Bitcoin get stronger, confidence in it will increase, as will reliance upon it to move money from A to B.

Its interesting that they say the risks do not affect anyone other than the users of the schemes. If this is true now, why will it not be true if Bitcoin takes up a third of all transactions world-wide? Why is it not important at a small scale, but important at a large scale? Is this report really asserting that if a few people get hurt, “it doesn’t really matter”? This gives you a peek into the ethics of these people, “as long as it cannot displace us, we do not care about who gets wiped out by Bitcoin”. This makes any comment the ECB has to offer on Bitcoin with regards to “harming society” absolutely hollow.

As a consequence, this report largely relies on information and data gathered from material published on the internet (see the Annex for references and further reading), whose reliability, however, cannot be fully guaranteed. This places serious limitations on the present study.

This is an absolutely ridiculous disclaimer. In preparation for writing this report, these people should have used Bitcoin themselves, and then applied their economic theories to it, after examining it and the services that are on offer. That is all you need to understand it fully, and its implications. The reliability of sources on the internet is irrelevant; Bitcoin is not theoretical, it is live and running right now. It is run on software that can be examined in fine detail.

I am going to forgo picking out all of the mistakes in this paper, such as this one:

Virtual currencies resemble money and necessarily come with their own dedicated retail payment systems; these two aspects are covered by the term virtual currency scheme.

I assume that as a reader of BLOGDIAL, you know what money is, and therefore know that a virtual currency is not and does not resemble money. I will not be going over this again; what I will do, is go straight to the most interesting parts of this report, leaving out the glaring errors and the sections that the report gets right, because these are not of interest to us. It is interesting however, to note this section:

Modern economies are typically based on fiat money, which is similar to commodity-backed money in its appearance, but radically different in concept, as it can no longer be redeemed for a commodity. Fiat money is any legal tender designated and issued by a central authority. People are willing to accept it in exchange for goods and services simply because they trust this central authority. Trust is therefore a crucial element of any fiat money system.

What they are saying here is that money is money today, simply because people say it is. Anyone paying attention closely will be flabbergasted by this admission. The ECB is admitting that the money it issues is worthless, and it is used only because people have faith in the issuers of it. I will leave it to you to ponder wether this makes the ECB a sort of church, with the Euro its holy sacrament. Needless to say, this makes Bitcoin deeply sacrilegious.

Also, they say that money is money because, “People are willing to accept it”, yet we know that it is money by force because it is fiat currency, “fiat” meaning arbitrary decree. People who try and conduct all of their business in gold, for example, get into hot water, even if it is gold issued by the country in which they live.

By this admission, the following line is a lie, where the report says that the Euro is a:

Store of value: money can be saved and retrieved in the future.

when clearly it is not. Not only is the Euro not money, but it is not a good store of value because the supply of it is not fixed. It is inflated by design, meaning that it is a very poor store of value.

Money is not a “social institution”, as the report claims. The ECB is a social institution. Money is the property of individuals; it does not depend on any institution for it to come into being or have its value (Bitcoin being the latest example of this, if indeed it is money; the FSA in the UK says it is not) and the best form of money is gold. Gold in your hands is separate from any issuer, has a value in and of itself, “inherent value” and is not a part of ‘Society’ or a ‘social institution’ or any other fictional socialist nonsense.

Money has not been affected by technological innovations; it remains exactly the same in nature, just as man’s nature has not changed because he can make a phone call. This is a fundamental, though not surprising, error of the authors of this work.

a virtual currency is a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community. This definition may need to be adapted in future if fundamental characteristics change.

In other words, they have no good definition of Bitcoin. This is true not only of the ECB, but of everyone who is talking and writing about it. Is Bitcoin money or is it not? Is it a distributed ledger, or is it ‘digital gold’? One thing about Bitcoin is true and everyone can agree on this, it is hard to get Bitcoins, no matter what you think they are. This is being addressed.

We have written extensively, consistently and coherently on the subject of what Bitcoin is on BLOGDIAL. I suspect that the same forces that cause some people to believe that Bitcoin is money are going to come into play when the ECB decides to try and design policy concerning it. Bitcoin to them, is a threat. It is a money, and it should be either killed or regulated so that it has no teeth.

This of course, does not change the nature of Bitcoin; Bitcoin is like a mirror that reflects the ideology of the looker. An Aparatchick will see something that needs to be regulated. A Statist will see something that requires compliance. Entrepreneurs see an exiting business opportunity. A Libertarian will see another neutral tool for her toolbox, to go along with her hammer and coping saw.

Until the big idea of Bitcoin is unleashed, what people think Bitcoin is will remain in flux. All we can say about it that is true is related to the clients, the network software and the statistics to do with processing power and other plain facts. Trying to pin down Bitcoin to one definition is like trying to say what the internet is. It is a series of tubes. A way to send mail. A way to make phone calls, and so many other things, but it is really whatever you want to do with it, and there is always another protocol that can be developed and used on it.

The theoretical roots of Bitcoin can be found in the Austrian school of economics and its criticism of the current fiat money system and interventions undertaken by governments and other agencies, which, in their view, result in exacerbated business cycles and massive inflation.

For certain, this is the most delicious part of this document. It will have the Bitcoin hating Austrians blowing smoke from their ears, as the dastardly ECB puts the blame for Bitcoin’s creation and design upon its creator’s correct conclusions about the true nature of money gleaned from a careful study of the Austrian School. The bigger Bitcoin grows, the more it confirms that the Austrians were right. Or will it confirm that they are wrong? I suppose it depends on who you ask!

Note how the authors detach themselves from Austrianism by using the phrase, “in their view”. They are saying here that the Austrian School is not correct, and that it is just a ‘view’. This doesn’t make any sense. Economics cannot be two things at once, and as we have seen, the wrong ideas of the Statist “paper moneyists” and Keynesians has destroyed every paper currency that has ever been created. The Austrians are correct, because history demonstrates it. It is not opinion or theory, but fact.

It is a great pity that the major voices in the Austrian School have not picked up on and championed Bitcoin. Its almost as if they have worked diligently and brilliantly for decades determining exactly what money is, but now that the 21st century has crept up on us all, they cannot look outside of this definitive study at the world as it profoundly changes around them, and apply their insights to this truly new and wonderful innovation.

Perhaps now that the ECB has made this connection, they will be forced to either ramp up the irrational attacks on Bitcoin, siding with the ECB, or they will concede that Bitcoin is extremely interesting and serious, and perhaps even a form of money. Either way, none of this has any effect on the adoption of Bitcoin, and is more of a form of entertainment, as this insightful commenter describes. Bitcoin, like the moon landings, will succeed no matter what the pronouncements of the people who say it is impossible are.

However, the system has been accused of leading to a deflationary spiral. The total supply of Bitcoins is expected to grow geometrically until it reaches a finite limit of 21 million. If, however, the number of Bitcoin users starts growing exponentially for any reason, and assuming that the velocity of money does not increase proportionally, a long-term appreciation of the currency can be expected or, in other words, a depreciation of the prices of the goods and services quoted in Bitcoins.

The only people who level the accusation that Bitcoin is deflationary are the Keynesians that believe the supply of money must increase over time, and that this doesn’t matter, even though it penalises savers because, “In the end we are all dead anyway”.

A fixed money supply is in fact, a good thing. It means that you can save money and rest assured that when you use your savings, the money will have the same purchasing power as when it was stored. Naturally occurring money like gold has, for all intents and purposes, a fixed supply. That is why the price of goods denominated in gold when displayed on a graph against time is a flat line, over decades, and the only fluctuations are to do with natural disasters like locusts destroying crops, and other natural supply altering events that change the amount of goods on the market.

People would have a great incentive to hold Bitcoins and delay their consumption, thereby exacerbating the deflationary spiral.

This is another Keynesian fallacy, see Rothbard for a refutation of the imaginary “Hoarding Problem”.

Secondly, Bitcoin is not the currency of a country or currency area and is therefore not directly linked to the goods and services produced in a specific economy, but linked to the goods and services provided by merchants who accept Bitcoins. These merchants may also accept another currency (e.g. US dollars) and therefore, the fact that deflation is anticipated could give rise to a situation where merchants adapt the prices of their goods and services in Bitcoins.

This is interesting. Because Bitcoin is not linked to the currency of any country or currency area it is not directly linked to the goods and services produced in a specific economy? Why is gold linked but Bitcoin not linked? Gold is acceptable everywhere on earth, and so is Bitcoin… this is a very odd argument; is there a currency that is linked to anything, anywhere? Surely this is only a matter of what people will accept in payment, and there are no actual links to anything between currencies and goods. The only exception to this is compulsory taxation, where the State will only accept its own currency in payment of taxes.

Furthermore, if Bitcoin is thought of only as a way to transfer money and not as money in and of itself, this problem goes away. Merchants would set the price of their goods in Bitcoins dynamically by realtime API calls to the exchanges, and when the payments via Bitcoin are made, exchange their received Bitcoins into gold or fiat currency directly upon receipt. There is no reason why a merchant should want to hold on to Bitcoins, they are of no use to the merchant, and she exposes herself to risk of theft, Bitcoin price fluctuation and attacks from the ECB. It also means that in her business processes, she can account only for the fiat money of the State in her annual returns and tax forms and not for the ill understood Bitcoin she has received.

If Bitcoin is not treated as money, all the imaginary problems associated with it, “compliance”, “Know Your Customer”, “Anti Money Laundering” regulations and all of that other utter nonsense goes away. It becomes nothing more than another protocol layer on top of the internet, that does not need regulation or interference to do its job; moving money from A to B. When you think about it for a second, its clear that the idea of regulating Bitcoin is as stupid as the idea of regulating email.

However, it is also true that the system demonstrates a clear case of information asymmetry. It is complex and therefore not easy for all potential users to understand.

I laughed out loud at this. Its clear that the ECB does not understand what money is, and yet they claim that Bitcoin is complex? Is it really more complex though? How many people in the street understand how GSM works, and does this affect their ability to use mobile phones and make calls to anywhere on the globe? People don’t even need to remember telephone numbers anymore thanks to the design of the phone’s address book (which is not actually a real book. Do you understand what I am getting at?); why should it not be as easy to send money between mobile phones as it is to send a text message to an address book entry?

The same can be said of every technology in use today; you do not need to understand catalytic cracking to be able to drive a car, and you do not need to know about public key cryptography to understand what the green lock in your browser means. No one in the middle ages would have been able to use a mobile phone, yet today there is no one alive that cannot be made to understand it in a few minutes. The same is true of Bitcoin. When the breakthrough service arrives that simplifies Bitcoin to the level of a mobile phone’s ease of use (Think Apple), this argument against it will be moot. It is only a matter of time and development and funding.

The paper then goes on to roll out some pathetic fallacies, of the kind we have read before, “because we do not know who wrote Bitcoin, it cannot be trusted”. This is utter nonsense. Bitcoin is software that can be examined by any competent person. Just because the authors of this paper are incompetent software illiterates, does not give them license to assert that Bitcoin, “works like a pyramid or Ponzi scheme”. They should have hired a software developer to assess the source code for them so that they could speak from a position of authority on this matter, instead of relying on hearsay from the internet. Very shabby, and quite stupid.

As for the ‘problem’ of getting out of the Bitcoin system should it collapse, this is not a problem if Bitcoin is treated as a money transmission protocol and not money. It is up to entrepreneurs to develop business models and services that treat Bitcoin according to its true nature to make this problem go away. If no one is holding Bitcoins and the system collapses no one gets hurt, except for the small number of people with Bitcoin in transit at the precise moment it collapses. Everyone else, the billions of people who used it to move trillions from A to B will have lost nothing whatsoever.

Further action from other authorities can reasonably be expected in the near future.

Oh really? Do your worst.

You will not be able to stop Bitcoin, any more than you can stop Bittorrent and pirated warez which have been around for decades, since the days of the BBS. Trillions of files have been copied, billions of song files, billions of movie files, hundreds of millions of PDF files of books. There is NOTHING you can do to stop it, and it will NEVER cease.

Bitcoin is going to spread like wildfire, once people start to use it and intuitively place it somewhere between cash and text messages. It will spread to every web browser and every mobile phone and tablet.

And there is NOTHING you can do about it.

  • Attacking the exchanges will not work
  • Arresting individual Bitcoin users will not work
  • Threatening people with propaganda will not work

Just ask the MPAA / RIAA how well their anti ‘piracy’ campaigns have been going over the decades they have been trying to stop people from copying files. Every few years there are software improvements that strengthen the ecosystem; from Napster to Gnutella to Bittorrent to Bittorrent Magnet Links to Tracker-less Bittorrent to Bittorrent in the Cloud, every year there are new innovations making the Bittorrent ecosystem more resilient and widespread. The same will be true of Bitcoin.

All the show trials, disgustingly harsh gaol sentences and million dollar fines of 70 year old grandmothers have not stopped Bittorrent, and these techniques will fail with Bitcoin also.

The world is changing. Thanks to the internet, people are not only learning and sharing information as never before, but they are also using the same network to build tools that have never and could never exist before the internet. Adapt or die is the catchphrase that applies to both the ECB and the MPAA / RIAA. You must accept the new reality. It is not going away, and there is nothing you can do about this without destroying everything that is now dependent on the internet.

GAME OVER!

Bitcoin as troll killer

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

For years, Slashdot has used its moderation system to filter out the trolls. The “mods” are given “mod points” intermittently in a feedback mediated system that keeps the site clean. This does not stop people from making troll posts, it keeps them out of sight to an extent that you can choose, using a threshold selector. If you have set your threshold low, you will see all the noise and trolls like, “first post”, and “Free BSD is dying” and other staples of Slashdot. If you set your threshold high, you will only see posts that have scored highly.

But there is another, better way to moderate posts, and Reddit has almost done it first:

By using Bitcoin as mod points, troll posts will not only be better controlled, they will diminish in number. It will literally be worth your while not to troll or waste peoples time, and if you are insightful, you could actually make some Bitcoin that you can use to buy real things in the real world. Slashdot has its own internal currency called “Karma”. You cannot take it away with you, you cannot spend it, even on Slashdot, and it is entirely meaningless to everyone in the world except the users of Slashdot who are paying attention or who even care.

Bitcoin is a different matter however. You can spend it in places other than Slashdot; it has a life outside of the site. The reward for posting thoughtfully in such a system is therefore, many times greater than collecting Karma.

As I have said before, Bitcoin does not have to take over the entire world for it to be a successful project. If it is used in only a small fraction of all transactions world-wide, it will change everything. Its not hard to imagine a world where the thumbs up and group moderation systems that are found in tools like Discus no longer exist, replaced entirely with Bitcoin. Given the number of blogs and newspapers that use these systems, and the number of comments that are made every day on them, it is not hard to imagine just how huge a market and Bitcoin driver this could become.

Bitcoin is going to monetize areas of life online and off that are not immediately obvious, and each one has the potential to make adoption of Bitcoin wallets go viral. Furthermore, the effect of Bitcoin adoption is beneficial wherever it touches; it is an instant international money transfer medium, a potential spam moderation facilitator, and many more things that are hard to imagine.

Read this post in Spanish

Bitcoin and the generational divide

Friday, September 21st, 2012

This video is a visual representation of the difference between the Austrian School Bitcoin detractors and the people who understand what Bitcoin is, what it can do, and how it is the biggest thing since email.

On the right, you have James Turk the head of GoldMoney, who is old, and on the left you have Felix Moreno de la Cova, who is young. The old man doesn’t understand computers, cryptography or the internet. The young man does. They have a very illuminating and friendly conversation about Bitcoin and money, without confrontation, rancour or irrational nonsense like, “I just don’t like the product”.

This is how discussions should take place, and I have alot more sympathy for Mr. Turk now, because he is genuinely reaching out to understand something that is clearly incomprehensible to him, and he is not intimidated or defensive, is eager to learn and is patient and thoughtful.

We need people like James Turk, because he has a vast amount of experience to offer, and once he understands Bitcoin, I would say that his presence on a board of directors would be invaluable.

Compare and contrast this gentlemanly interview with the appalling article that just appeared at The Daily Bell (which I will not link to; one click from me is quite enough) where every sort of fallacy and nonsense is trotted out in what is a blatant attack piece trolling for clicks.

As I have said before at length, GoldMoney is a fundamentally flawed idea:

http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=3103

and it is now suffering from its exposure to the State, and is becoming harder and harder to use thanks to suffocating regulations. The exact opposite is true of Bitcoin, which is becoming easier and easier to use, with better software and more outlets accepting it every day, and a response from the State which amounts to a shrug of the shoulders.

When the economic collapse starts to bite, I am betting that GoldMoney will be forced to shut down entirely, because it serves its customers against the interests of the State. The gold confiscation of 1933 is a precedent that can happen again in a heartbeat; this is not beyond the realms of possibility. People who hold real money with third parties are going to face the institutionalized theft of their savings. Bitcoin on the other hand, will never be shut down by the State, it cannot be confiscated en masse or stopped, just as Bittorrent will never be shut down.

Whatever your opinion on what Bitcoin is or is not, it is here to stay, and it is going to change everything. Wether or not you take advantage of it is up to you, but the future is not going to wait for you to wake up and catch up.

The Friction-Free Bitcoin Economy

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

As the barriers to competition evaporate, the world is becoming Bitcoin’s oyster.

Guess who it is you’re fighting now? Everybody.

In his old book, The Road Ahead, Bill Gates wrote of “friction-free capitalism,” a type of marketplace that he argued will be ushered in by the spread of a technology like Bitcoin. This is like heralding the Net as a harbinger of instantaneous transaction while dispensing with hard cash and the credit card. Forget the Banks — we already inhabit what has become a remarkably low-friction internet economy. That’s why today’s marketplace feels so competitive. And it’s why some businesses are prospering beyond all expectation while others are wondering who changed the rules of the game.

Economic friction is everything that keeps markets from working according to the textbook model of perfect competition: Distance. Cost. Restrictive regulations. Imperfect information. In high-friction markets, customers don’t have many suppliers to choose among, or are restricted to suppliers hampered by regulation. Owning a factory — or a store with a good location — counts for a lot. It’s hard for new competitors to get into the game. The marketplace moves slowly and predictably. Low-friction markets, as are found on the internet, are just the reverse. New competitors crop up all over, and customers are quick to respond. The marketplace is anything but predictable. Bitcoin exacerbates these effects exponentially, because it removes barriers to securely collecting money from customers.

The single most significant change in the economy over the past 36 years has been a wholesale reduction in friction, affecting nearly every industry. Some of the factors are obvious: increased air travel, overnight delivery, credit cards, cellphones, the internet. They put faraway companies on a competitive par with local ones; they enable Lands’ End, Amazon and a hundred other mail-order houses, for example, to match the convenience and price of a neighbourhood store. Other factors are less visible but no less important: Deregulation opened up many industries; local truckers, for instance, may face competitors from half a world away. The growth of high-risk, high-return capital markets has transformed other fields. Today a local Bitcoin entrepreneur must worry about the entrepreneur in Kiev showing up two clicks away in her browser.

Sure, the Internet will grease the market’s machinery still further. But friction is declining every day anyway. Banks face new competition not just from the occasional startup fiat money site (like Linden Dollars) but from distant competitors using Bitcoin technology. Entrepreneurs in Kansas or New York, according to the Wall Street Journal, must now compete with entrepreneurs from Bangalore and China, whose Bitcoin services are only a click away.

There’s little need to elaborate on the threat posed by a low-friction economy; it means more competition, often from unexpected parts. The opportunity is pretty plain as well. In principle, at least, the world is any small company’s oyster. Bitcoin services selling in Dallas can be offered in Dakar or Bangladesh with zero extra time and expense. The thing is, the rules of a low-friction marketplace are different. And if you’re not playing by the right rules, you’re out of the game before it starts.

Rule Number One is merely a caution: Don’t expand blindly. The fact that you can open up a plethora of locations or launch a public relations operation or even integrate into the mainstream banking system doesn’t mean that you should. After all, everybody else can do the same, or something new and disruptive that will outmanoeuvre you. You may be able to peddle your products or services in Minneapolis or Brooklyn, but nobody has to buy them. Having 100,000 outlets is meaningless when it comes to being outflanked by a more nimble competitor.

Rule Number Two: Offer a distinctive something to your customer. This seemingly trite piece of advice is more revolutionary than it sounds. Your job is to take care of the customer — to deliver good value. All the business gurus harp on that one theme, albeit in many variations: Quality. Service. A fair price. In a low-friction marketplace, however — particularly if you’re expanding — the old nostrums are nowhere near sufficient. You have to have something that sets you apart from all the other suppliers offering quality, simplicity, service and a fair price. What should the something be? In the internet age, the company that provides the best privacy and usability wins, especially with Bitcoin.

There’s a hidden secret of the low-friction marketplace, which I’ll call Rule Number Three: What you sell doesn’t need to be a unique product or service. It can simply be the ability to do something better than anybody else. If that puzzles you, think of Google. None of Google’s strategies — search, webmail, storage — is exactly a secret. Indeed, most of the big search engines have at one point or another tried to be Google, only to discover they can’t. They just don’t know how to do what Google does and still make money at it.

You can be a lot smaller than Google and still do things that leave most competitors baffled. New, agile Bitcoin Businesses, will learn how to guarantee, for example, the delivery of Bitcoin in 30 minutes, without fuss or privacy issues. You think people wouldn’t welcome that capability? There will be many market players entering the Bitcoin space who will offer friction free services that will be a no brainer when you compare them to the stifling complexity and Orwellian surveillance state features of other services.

We get dazzled these days by glossy visions of information superhighways and electronic bazaars fuelled by Bitcoin. No doubt we’ll all have to deal with the commerce of Bitcoin sooner or later. Meanwhile, the friction-free economy is already here. The entrepreneurs who recognise what it means are the entrepreneurs who are going to prosper.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/19960601/1690.html

Sit down and shut up!

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Jon Matonis has another great article up at Forbes which replies to Fred Wilson the venture capitalist and principal of Union Square Ventures question about Bitcoin.

Below is the text of our comment on this post, spurred on by a man asking people to essentially “sit down and shut up with the Anarchism jive”.

Before I copypasta, something interesting related to this has just happened. Australian-based trading firm @SpendBitcoins has decided to pull out of the U.S. market, citing “regulatory obstacles”:

https://spendbitcoins.zendesk.com/entries/21806042-spend-bitcoins-out-of-the-us-market

Just what those obstacles are are not specified; in fact, there are no regulations or laws covering Bitcoin buying selling or transferring anywhere in the world. Bitcoin is unregulated, free of legal constraints and its up to the people who use it to do what they want with it on whatever terms they see fit.

That being said, if there were regulations controlling Bitcoin, we can see by this abandonment of the US market exactly what the effect of regulation would be.

Entrepreneurs would not be able to enter the market and compete, thanks to artificial barriers to entry. This is great for early entrants, who also happen to be the advocates for regulation. This is called ‘Crony Capitalism‘; where businessmen use the violence of the State to keep competition out and entrench their positions so that they are unassailable.

Bitcoin is going to be a different case when it comes to the Crony Capitalists and their plans to dominate the market by the force of the State. Because it lives on the internet, and is essentially a new hybrid between pure information, money and a certificate of ownership, the dynamics of the internet and telecoms, specifically Warez (MP3s Torrents), Instant Messaging, SMS and email are going to come into play.

When we look at all of these unregulated services, it is clear that Bitcoin will be absolutely unstoppable, and the Crony Capitalists will not be able to dominate because each computer and mobile phone on Earth will act as an input and output point, circumnavigating them. They will be as Apple’s iTunes DRM files are to the pirate music scene; large in number and market penetration, but dwarfed by the total amount of transacting going on world-wide. For certain, this State sanctioned walled garden Bitcoin world is a goal of such massive proportions that any business man would kill to be the owner of it. What I am saying is that it is not ethical to use the State to get to that position of domination.

Bitcoin will see regulation as damage and it will route around it.

In the end, only the inured 5% will move their Bitcoin in systems that are expensive and regulated, whilst the rest of the world will live and profit in a Bitcoin ecosystem that is pro-human, unregulated, open and free.

That is the scenario where the pro-regulation camp ‘wins’.

And now, on to the reply:

*******

First of all, Bitcoin is not money. If you receive it in exchange for goods and services, it is more like an intangible barter instrument rather than money. Since it is intangible, you can argue successfully that you have received nothing in exchange for your work. It is therefore not possible to be taxed on income when you have taken Bitcoin (nothing) in exchange for your work, any more than you can be taxed for receiving the telling of a story or a concert of music, or a soft whisper in your ear in exchange for your labor.

This is obviously different to receiving physical precious metals issued by the State in exchange for your work, and yet, we can look to a recent case that went to court on this very act for insights in to how Bitcoin might be treated if people were to be paid in it.

In the Kahre tax case, a company paid its workers in US Government issued gold and silver coins. Since the face value of these coins is one thousand times less than the Federal Reserve Note value (in the case of gold), all the wages of the workers at that company fell beneath the reporting and taxation thresholds. They were taken to court by the State on multiple counts of tax evasion and other ‘financial crimes’, and won:

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/10/366287.shtml

In the light of this, it would be hard to argue that wages paid in Bitcoin were more taxable than silver and gold dollars issued by the United States Mint, when the State does not even recognise Bitcoin as money in the first place.

While we are at it, it might be possible to bring a case for tax evasion on gold and silver coins paid as wages by valuing them at the spot price on the day the wages were paid, but this is not how Federal money works; the face value of the money paid in wages is the value for reporting. That is why they won.

Do you see what they did there?

Then there is the matter of who owns Bitcoin as a system and the perception of it. The developers of services that run on Bitcoin do not own the Bitcoin system and are not responsible for what other people say about it or do with it. There is no pecking order that puts developers and their opinions above the opinions of the users of Bitcoin.

Some people believe in tight integration with the state, through licensing, registration, ‘compliance’ and other forms of disgusting, degrading destructive, irrational and anti-human regulation. Others believe that Bitcoin users and service owners would be better served by the ecosystem growing as the internet did; organically and exponentially, without regulation or interference from the computer illiterate luddites of the State poking their noses into other people’s private business.

To say that linking Bitcoin with tax evasion is, “not helpful”, implies that there is a central aim to Bitcoin that everyone must be on board with. Helpful to whom exactly? If someone’s aim in developing Bitcoin and promoting it is to defund the State, then promoting Bitcoin as a way to prevent having your money stolen by the State is an extremely helpful thing. Everyone should promote Bitcoin to their constituencies and not concern themselves with what other people are thinking or are doing. Of course, the flaw in this logic is abundantly clear when you consider that the State will not let people who do not conform to its ideas live in peace. But that is another story.

Jon’s pieces in Forbes, are the best pieces of writing on Bitcoin to date. They are compact, crystal clear, factual and informative, without being bombastic or overtly skewed to a political philosophy. Reading between the lines, I sense a pure Rothbardian hatred of the State, but that is probably just me projecting my own philosophy on his words.

Bitcoin changes everything. All of your assumptions about money, how it is moved, what it is and is not are blown to pieces by it. Rather than trying to squeeze Bitcoin into a Procrustean Bed, it is better to embrace it on its own terms and build services that work on those terms, and not on the assumptions and qualities of physical money or the demands of the State. Its analogous to designing a surf board to surf waves, or an aircraft to fly. What you would prefer these things to look like is of secondary importance to aero and hydrodynamics. The aim of a surfboard is to allow you to shoot the tube at Teahupoo and live. The aim of Concorde is to get you to London from New York in three hours instead of six. Bitcoin is designed to destroy the State. It is designed to destroy Western Union. It is designed to wipe out the banks. This mission is implicit in its architecture and design.

Accepting Bitcoin for what it is, on its terms, will enable you to build better, revolutionary and disruptive services that better serve people. You wil be able to identify these services by how close they bring you to the core of the service. The most innovative services will balance and blur the distance to the ‘raw network’ and the user experience. This is the sort of Bitcoin entrepreneurialism that we are going to eventually see, and it will not come from people who are trying to build a new kind of Bank.

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Dystopian Pingit from Barclays cannot win

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The Financial Services Club Blog has an interesting piece on Barclays Pingit:

http://thefinanser.co.uk/fsclub/2012/05/case-study-barclays-pingit-for-consumers-and-corporates.html

Pingit is the new service from Barclays that runs on iPhones and Android. In order to use it, you need to be a Barclays customer.

Barclays Pingit is growing fast. They have over seven hundred thousand users. They are using the PayPal “recipient becomes a user” as a way to spread the service. This is a fascinating trend, and they probably have so many initial users because they were able to target existing account holders directly in the branch or through the post or other points of contact to offer them their new free app.

Pingit is very interesting for anyone interested in Bitcoin, banking and liberty, for several reasons, and it is a bad product for anyone interested in the future of money transfers over devices that is beneficial to the users. Look at the onerous and invasive sign up procedure you have to go through to use Pingit, and you get a taste of what that service is all about; arbitrary controls and restriction:

As a non-Barclays customer you have to go through a very complex account verification process that involves not only a PayPal like penny drop into your current account with a reference number that you need to enter; but this is followed by a letter to your house via snail mail with another verification number.

More on this in detail below. None of this ‘account verification’ has anything to do with the utility of the product, how it works, its security or anything else. If Barclays did not have to do this, Pingit would be on the phones of seventy million people, not seven hundred thousand. And this is a very good thing, because once a service becomes entrenched it will be hard to displace it.

Or maybe not.

Everything has changed in the internet mediated world. Pingint might have seven hundred thousand users today, but there is nothing to stop another app developer creating a product that sits four millimetres adjacent to it on your iPhone’s home screen that does a better job without any nasty restrictions or requirements.

Pingit users could then move their money into that app and then never open Pingit again. Think of it as similar to MySpace users migrating to Facebook, and of course, all the people who are un-banked and who do not live in the UK are also on the same internet with the same mobile phones that Pingit users are on. The market for these users is bigger than the population of the entire UK. On this basis alone it is clear that Pingit will eventually reach an upper limit that is a subset of the UK population. The field is wide open to disrupt and capture the money on mobiles market, and the winner will not be Barclays Bank.

Imagine the following scenarios. Barclays doesn’t like what you are doing on your mobile phone. They can unilaterally or by order of the State, freeze your account and disable your Pingit access. They have total surveillance of every transaction you make, on both ends, to whom, when and from whom. Their 4,123 word long terms and conditions include the following arbitrary restrictions:

  • You need to be 16 or older to use Pingit.
  • You can send 1 or more but not less than 1.
  • You must have a UK current account.
  • You must give them your UK mobile number.
  • Pingit can reverse payments at any time.
  • There is a maximum daily limit of 300 for payments.
  • The payment can be made only once the Payee has registered for the service.
  • There is a maximum daily limit of 5,000 for all payments received through Pingit. Barclays will refuse to process a payment if it exceeds the arbitrary limit.
  • Barclays places arbitrary restrictions and limits on how you use your Pingit account.
  • Users may not be able to install or use the app on a jail-broken or rooted device.
  • You may not attempt to derive income from the use or provision of the service, whether for direct commercial or monetary gain or otherwise.
  • Pingit can refuse to process a payment if they believe that you have not met any of the conditions.
  • You must authorise Pingit to display the full name of the account and your mobile number to the payer when they input your mobile number into the app.
  • Depending on the information you provide when registering, Barclays may require you to complete registration at a Barclays branch or to provide us with further information before you can use Pingit.

Arbitrary, absurd, completely ridiculous and even astonishing.

These terms and conditions, and this is only a cherry picked selection of them, are unacceptable to all decent people with an intact moral centre, and none of them are needed for Pingit to work if it had been designed properly; they are made to surveil the user and to be compliant. People in other countries or of no country at all will not be bound by these arbitrary, anti human, anti market restrictions, and when an entrepreneur launches a rival e-money app, they will eviscerate Pingit and all other competitors that are spawned by banks.

This might be the reason why Blockchain.info’s Bitcoin app was removed from the iTunes store after having been approved. It is exactly the sort of app that is an existential threat to Pingit and products like it. Both Pingit and Blockchain.info’s apps are free, so there is no friction there. One surveils you and you cannot use it ‘out of the box’ upon download. The other works as soon as you run it and does not surveil you. Bitcoin allows you to send and receive very small fractions of Bitcoin. The arbitrary one pound limit, apart from being denominated in fiat Sterling, means that the world of micro-payments is forever shut off from Pingit. It is a major flaw. Blockchain.info’s app wins over Pingit.

Blockchain.info’s app and service has no KYC restrictions, no fees and no ability to arbitrarily shutdown your account. It is a friction free service. It has no default surveillance, and you do not need to identify yourself in order to use it. There are no limits to the amount of money you store on it. It is international, ‘instant on’ and interoperable with a plethora of different services. By any measure Bitcoin running in Blockchain.info’s app is infinitely superior to Pingit.

On top of all this, Pingit only allows you to send Sterling back and forth. This means that the money you use in Pingit is deflating, losing purchasing power on a monthly basis, by design. Quite apart from the fact that you cannot use this ‘money’ anywhere else but in the UK, the inflation tax is another reason why people will opt for Bitcoin rather than Pingit when the two apps are installed side by side on their phones.

This has implications for Apple also. If they continue to refuse to allow Blockchain.info’s app to be given away for free on iTunes, people will turn to Android phones where they will be able to run the apps that they need without any fear of arbitrary shut down. Imagine that you have 50BTC on your iPhone and you run iTunes to update your apps. Apple, because they have disallowed Blockchain.info’s app, prevents you from getting updated versions, and if you need to download it again, you cant. This is an unacceptable risk, quite apart from being insulting and anti consumer. Its clear that Android phones are the future when it comes to e-money provided by third parties, because Apple cannot be trusted to allow you to use your device for what you need it for. Add to the mix the rumours that Apple is working on iWallet, and you get a sense of what Apple’s motivations might be in removing Blockchain.info’s app. They don’t want any competition… CAPISH?

Barclay’s Pingit service is interesting because it means that money on mobiles is going to happen in a big way. Now it is a matter of who has the best product that will fit into the space, avoiding the bear traps like iTunes, the attacks from the banks (shutting down the accounts of Bitcoin businesses), the technical difficulties and the State.

On top of this, and perhaps the biggest barrier of all for Bitcoin, is the PR problem; getting the public to understand what Bitcoin is, how it works and why it is superior to services like Pingit. In order to make this happen, the merchants are the first line of attack. Bitcoin, if it is accepted in many places will trigger installation of the clients on phones, and a spread of the ecosystem. Blockchain.info’s app is potentially, a key piece of this puzzle.

It should now be clear to anyone with an interest in this that regulation and registration of Bitcoin services will not help adoption. If this is a race between services, clearly Bitcoin has the advantage and the better potential to go viral far more than Pingit or MintChip or any of these broken by design bank offerings.

In order for the chain reaction to happen, nothing must stop the flow of money in the system. Registration and regulation are carbon rods in the pile. What is needed is a runaway chain reaction so that the Bitcoin is spread everywhere, into every device in every pocket. Tying down Bitcoin into jurisdictional boxes, hampering it with onerous regulations, KYC and other arbitrary nonsense will allow Pingit and other services to mature, spread and solidify. Once again, this does not mean that their dominance will be permanent, it will simply mean that for a time, the market is broken and people are hurt. It would be far better for humanity if Bitcoin wins without going through a stage of broken e-money, and there is no reason why this should not happen.

Pingit cannot win. By popularising e-money on mobile phones, they are educating the users about money on mobiles. Once this information is spread everywhere, a new challenger can arrive and wipe them out in a matter of months, and there will be nothing they can do to stop it.

Bitcoin and the State: Asking permission to be free

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Should people who want to see the widespread and rapid adoption of Bitcoin seek tight regulation and integration with the State, or should they rely only on their skills as developers, marketers and entrepreneurs to create the rock solid, reliable and trustworthy products that people will use in their millions, like the other well known internet companies that have changed the way we do things?

*****

A Bitcoin innovator has just applied for and received a registry entry from the US Federal Government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network:

http://www.fincen.gov/financial_institutions/msb/msbstateselector.html

on that linked page you can read the following statement clarifying FinCEN’s position on each entry they list:

“The inclusion of a business on the MSB Registration Web site is not a recommendation, certification of legitimacy, or endorsement of the business by any government agency.”

This disclaimer appears on the certificate as the first paragraph, in large letters. The certificate also says that, FinCEN does not verify information submitted by the MSB. Information provided on this site reflects only what was provided directly to FinCEN. Read the rest of this entry »

TransferWise: limited, lacklustre and locked in to the State

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

TransferWise may or not be the next big thing, but as far as I can see their appeal is limited both in terms of who needs it, can use it, and the time it will take for them to be completely outflanked by superior services.

The VentureBeat press release:

http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/18/transferwise-undercuts-the-banks-with-crowdsourced-currency-exchange/

says “Banking is broken”; this is true, but what is needed to replace it is not ‘the AOL of banking transfers’; what is required is the open Internet of banking transfers, and that means Bitcoin.

Back before the internet permeated every home, AOL was the main way millions got online and used email. It was the consumer method of getting online. Anyone who knew anything about how the net really worked understood that AOL was garbage, and not the true internet. Similarly, anyone who had a friend that needed to get their contacts list out of AOL Messenger knew what a jail and walled garden it was. TransferWise is the AOL of money transfers. and I predict that it will end up just like AOL, even if it becomes massively popular for a short time.

TransferWise suffers from several problems. First, it is under complete control of the State. Look at its boast of full integration with the UK regulatory bodies. This means that all transactions are subject to complete surveillance and control. Read the rest of this entry »

The heat is slowly building up against the Canadian Royal Mint’s Mint Chip

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Mint Chip, the Canadian Royal Mint’s attempt to enter the digital money market, is doomed to fail. It is being thoroughly attacked from all sides, the technical, the philosophical and economic.

Via a post on Slashdot, we are reminded of Bruce Schneier’s warning signs of Snake Oil, which the Mint Chip suffers from.

What is ‘Snake Oil’ I hear you ask? In cryptography, snake oil is a term used to describe commercial cryptographic methods and products which are considered bogus or fraudulent. The name derives from snake oil, one type of patent medicine widely available in 19th century United States.

There are several parts of Mint Chip that cause even those with a casual interest in cryptography to smell snake oil. Read the rest of this entry »