Hand on heart: Are you interested in dividing everything by 21 million – or do you primarily want to keep middlemen out of payments? There are two perspectives on Bitcoin. Most of the time they are compatible. But not always.
The attraction of Bitcoin lies in two aspects that are usually compatible but sometimes contradictory:
1.) The monetary perspective
This perspective is about “monetary policy”: Bitcoin is hard money, limited to 21 million units, with an always calculable money supply. To the extent that the technology supports this, it is interesting and even fascinating, for example when it is romanticized as a thermodynamic anchor in reality.
2.) The practical perspective
For her, it’s about what the technology achieves in practice: about the options for action it gives individuals. Individuals can receive, store and send electronic values autonomously through Bitcoin. Because Bitcoin solves the problem of double spending.
Let’s put it this way: Savings Technology and Freedom Technology, one technology for savings and one for freedom.
For most Bitcoiners, the two go hand in hand: They want free money that is not subject to any government and a free means of payment that does not depend on any bank. Neither middlemen nor central banks should prevent you from actually owning money.
In any case: The blockchain is only so powerful because Bitcoin is valuable. Every euro in Bitcoins becomes hashpower, which stomps entropy into block headers. Money and platform cannot be separated.
Or? And what if it does? Hand on heart!
Many Bitcoiners ignore the rise of stablecoins. It made a scenario conceivable in which Bitcoin, the money, fails while Bitcoin, the technology, prevails. Bitcoin does not become an everyday means of payment, not a unit of account for everything, not a reserve in currency baskets, but remains, let’s put it nasty, “hipster gold”, while the technology, the blockchain, turns into a platform for all values in a thousand incarnations, for dollars, euros, yen, stocks, bonds, real estate, works of art, liabilities — as the Internet of Values.
What about that? Would it be a shame because we didn’t get Bitcoin, the money, and monetary policy remains in the hands of the state? Or would it be a triumph because Freedom Technology prevailed?
Personally, I think: As long as Bitcoin doesn’t fail, it will remain an alternative money that, even if not used, disciplines fiat money as a competitor. It will no longer go back into the bottle, whether as a means of payment or as a store of value.
And otherwise: I welcome the fact that the freedom technology of the blockchain is becoming established. No matter how, with or without a trustee, more decentralized, more centralized, more private, more transparent. There are a thousand facets, and even if it doesn’t always work flawlessly, the incentives and possibilities of technology work: they inevitably shift the status quo towards more transparency, competition, self-determination, decentralization.
Ultimately, I don’t think you should look the other way or reject innovations because the Freedom Technology, which you were there for, is “not Bitcoin the money”. Even if it would be better.