Bitcoin An Unstoppable Force Says US Congressman At Crypto Hearing (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s (BTC) plight in Congress has seen attention focus mainly on naysayers, but this week’s hearing also saw United States politicians accept it was always beyond their control. Bitcoin An Unstoppable Force Says US Congressman At Crypto Hearing (#GotBitcoin?)
‘Governments cannot stop this innovation’
During testimony on July 17, U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry, who represents North Carolina’s 10th District, told lawmakers directly that attempts to stop Bitcoin were futile.
“The world that Satoshi Nakamoto, author of the Bitcoin whitepaper envisioned, and others are building, is an unstoppable force,” he said.
McHenry runs in sharp contrast to other Congressmen making the headlines over Bitcoin, with Brad Sherman again gaining the spotlight after making dubious claims about cryptocurrency’s role in crime.
Others broadly failed to draw a distinction between Bitcoin and permissioned digital currencies, specifically Facebook’s Libra project, which formed the initial basis for the hearings.
For McHenry, however, legislation or not, Bitcoin will prevail. If it were possible to shut it down, he implied, an adversary would have already done so at some point since its 2009 inception.
“We should not attempt to deter this innovation; governments cannot stop this innovation, and those that have tried have already failed,” he continued.
Nations coming to grips with crypto
As Cointelegraph reported, the Congressional hearings came as other states are currently coming to grips with the first incarnation of their regulation of Bitcoin and other decentralized cryptocurrencies.
Notably, India this week confirmed it was working on official guidelines after a scandal involving what some accepted as a draft law banning cryptocurrency outright appeared earlier.
The fallout of the document, which mandated prison sentences for Bitcoin users, resulted in billionaire investor Tim Draper calling the Indian government “pathetic and corrupt.”
Two Pro-Crypto US Congressmen Note Bitcoin White Paper’s 11th Birthday
U.S. Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), have encouraged Bitcoin (BTC)-powered innovation on the Bitcoin white paper’s 11th birthday.
U.S. Policymakers Should Not Attempt To Deter Bitcoin’s Tech
U.S. congressman McHenry, who represents North Carolina’s 10th District, urged that American authorities should not stifle the new technology in a tweet on Oct. 31.
According to the official, policymakers should facilitate the development of new technologies. McHenry reiterated his previous bullish sentiments about Bitcoin, stating:
“The world that Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned, and others are building, is an unstoppable force. As policymakers, we should not attempt to deter this technology, but instead ask ourselves: what are we doing to meet the challenges & opportunities of this new world of innovation?”
Bitcoin Has Big Potential In Protecting Privacy
Rep. Davidson outlined Bitcoin’s potential to protect online privacy, retweeting Cointelegraph’s article on Bitcoin’s whitepaper turning 11 years old. The congressman stated:
“Eleven years ago, this anonymous white paper opened up infinite possibilities for technological innovation and #privacy protections. It’s time the US harnesses this potential and establishes a framework for American #blockchain innovators.”
Earlier in October, Davidson suggested that Facebook adding Bitcoin to its native crypto wallet Calibra would be a “way better idea” than launching their own cryptocurrency Libra.
In a blog post on Oct. 31, major U.S. crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase pointed out that Bitcoin’s adoption has been developing much faster than other transformative technologies such as email and television. The exchange wrote:
“The television set was invented in 1927 but by the end of the 1940s only 2% of American families owned one. Bitcoin, on the other hand, went from an idea in 2008, and a first transaction in 2009, to over 27 million users in the US alone in 2019, or 9% of Americans.”
According to a survey last spring, as much as 11% of the American population owned Bitcoin as of April 2019.
Former US Congressman Ron Paul Receives His First Bitcoin
Former Texas Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul received his reportedly first Bitcoin (BTC) from Bitcoin Foundation board member and Bitcoin wallet startup Ballet Crypto founder, Bobby Lee, on Oct. 28.
Ron Paul Now Owns A Gold Plated Bitcoin Wallet
Lee publicly announced the gift he had given to Paul on Nov. 2, noting that the coin has been loaded into a gold-plated Bitcoin wallet produced by his company Ballet Crypto. He added that extra care has been given to customizing the wallet to better suit the former congressman:
“It was a special serial number AA000820 to match his birthday! And he loves the #Gold color.”
The wallets produced by Lee’s company are non-electronic physical wallets meant for cold storage of cryptocurrency. Their format is similar to that of a credit card, and they feature the passphrase of the wallet under a scratchable layer.
Freedom Of Money
Paul received the gift at a lunch that took place at the Litecoin (LTC) summit 2019, also in the presence of Litecoin founder Charlie Lee, who said that all three of them share some ideals:
“We Are All #Libertarian — Personal Liberty And #Freedomofmoney.”
Paul — an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve — is known for his advocacy of gold. With regards to Bitcoin, Paul noted in July that he’s in favor of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology because he supports competing currencies.
Paul’s stance is also in stark contrast with the ideas of U.S. congressman Brad Sherman, who believes that cryptocurrencies — potentially competing with the national currency, i.e. the dollar — should be banned. In late October, he said:
“Cryptocurrency either doesn’t work, in which case investors lose a lot of money, or it does achieve its objectives perhaps and displaces the U.S. dollar or interferes with the U.S. dollar being virtually the sole reserve currency in the world.”
On the other hand, not all U.S. representatives share Sherman’s dollar maximalist view. As Cointelegraph reported this week, two congressmen showed support on Bitcoin’s 11th birthday, noting that the technology has created “infinite possibilities for technological innovation and privacy protections.”
How Many More Birthdays Until Bitcoin Wins?
Bitcoin just turned 11 and it’s worth looking at what this technology has achieved. First, some context.
Facebook is 14 while Twitter is 13. Linux is 28. The World Wide Web – the network you’re reading this on – is 30. TCP/IP is about 44 years old, depending on whom you ask.
If you’re into a bitcoin, you’re most likely 18 to 34 years old, according to pollsters at the Global Blockchain Business Council. And you probably joined the bitcoin party about five years ago and own some fraction of or even a full coin. Some of you own many, many more.
I’m about as old as TCP/IP. I’m part of the generation that saw computing’s evolutionary bloom. If you’re younger, you’ve gotten used to modern networking technology and you don’t remember a time when everything wasn’t done on a screen. You were there for the birth of bitcoin.
But on the 11th anniversary of the white paper’s publication, we face a question: How long must we wait until bitcoin becomes like Twitter or Linux, something you use every day? Ten years? Twenty?
Bitcoin, from the vantage point of pure adoption, has been a failure. But it remains a beacon, the best chance we have for truly shaking up the status quo and, ultimately, changing the way we interact with our fellow global citizens.
When will we be using bitcoin daily? When will the underlying technology embed itself into the fabric of our financial lives?
Shrug. We Don’t Know.
Bigger Than Belgium
A billion people use Facebook every month. On Twitter, it’s 330 million. Both services ramped up quickly but really took off in the last few years. Linux is on 98 percent of servers worldwide – that took a while but ramped up after the dot-com boom. The web is everywhere, but that took a solid 20 years to happen.
How many people use bitcoin? It’s hard to gauge on a decentralized network designed for anonymity. For a rough proxy, CoVenture Research says there are “11.2 million bitcoin addresses that hold at least .001 BTC,” or about $9 worth.
That’s a big number, more than the number of people in New York, including the outer boroughs. Of course, a single user can, and often does, control multiple addresses. Yet if anything, this estimate may be too conservative. An April 2019 survey by Harris Poll, done for Blockchain Capital, found 9 percent of Americans – 27 million people – own bitcoin.
All told, it’s safe to say that if the crypto community were a country, it would be bigger than Belgium.
But it’s not 330 million and it’s not a billion. It’s enough that the average investor and programmer will take notice and it’s enough for Hollywood to consider the topic interesting enough for an awful movie. But 11 million in 11 years is not good for bitcoin.
If bitcoin were a startup it would exist in the Valley of Death. In the startup world, an app with 11 million users is strong enough to generate some revenue but not interesting enough to attract massive investment. Bitcoin is like that. It works, but not enough to turn heads outside of a vocal minority.
So where is bitcoin going? Is 11 million enough? How many more years until we get to mass adoption?
Another shrug. Another unknown. We see the forward motion every day on CoinDesk – the various small changes that add up to a story of a platform. (Or is it a movement?)
This points to the primary problem that bitcoin and the wider crypto ecosystem has to accept. Facebook and Twitter achieved those numbers through investments far smaller than bitcoin’s $165 billion market cap. Linux and FOSS endeared themselves to developers enough that they happily contributed their time freely. The web grows by itself because it is trivial to join the party.
Bitcoin exhibits few of those traits. Bitcoin startup investment is cold. The crypto ecosystem is insular and self-involved, difficult for outsiders to join. The network grows by fits and starts, driven primarily by Number Go Up. We are in a vibrant early stage in which everyone is a pioneer and there is no clear way forward. Infighting turns developer against developer while crypto clowns hog the mainstream media’s attention. Only a small, dedicated group holds the center together.
This Is Bad For Bitcoin.
By all rights, bitcoin shouldn’t survive another ten years. All the things that made Linux and Twitter and Facebook and the PS4 and Netflix commercial successes cannot be seen in bitcoin’s rise. You can’t spin up an AI that can write Harry Potter novels on bitcoin.
Bitcoin doesn’t move the world’s financial markets the way Twitter does nor does it get the same scrutiny that Facebook does. There is no “bitcoin and chill.”
Yet It Still Exists.
You will argue that it’s unfair to compare bitcoin to all of those things. But bitcoin is both a financial instrument and a technical product. It is, like a startup, a work in progress, an alpha product that may graduate to beta with a little more time. It is a good idea that needs another summer or two to germinate.
When I first looked at Spotify, 13 years ago, I saw the future of streaming music that freed me from CDs. When I stuck a copy of Mandrake Linux into my Pentium computer in 1998 I saw a future of machines freed from paid software. When I look at bitcoin through the eyes of an uninterested programmer I see numbers and hype and scams. But when I look at bitcoin through the eyes of someone who wants to catch the next big thing, I see the possibility that one day, not too far in the future, it will make banking and commerce vastly different.
All of the other services and tools I mentioned above are reaching their apex. It’s all downhill from here. Bitcoin, to quote the Joker, is just getting warmed up.
Bitcoin is a slow burn, one that will take another five or ten years to really explode. And when it does it won’t be visible like Facebook or Netflix. It won’t be one level removed from our browsers, hiding just out of sight, like Linux. It will be ingrained in our lives, in the interaction between our money and the world. It will be the currency used between humans and robots and between robots and robots. It will become so useful that it will disappear.
Bitcoin Is 11. Where Is It Going? When Will It Win?
Shrug. We don’t know. But, compared with everything that came before it, there is little out there to stop bitcoin and a lot of energy driving it forward. It’s only a matter of time.
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