Last week TechCrunch delved into bitcoin’s image problem. Having followed bitcoin for the past year or so, I expected a substantive critique of bitcoin’s legitimate branding… let’s call them opportunities. Instead I got a poorly researched bit of toothless invective. Here are the piece’s biggest errors.
Take the Winklevii, white knights in the bitcoin army, who are asking for little to no regulation of the bitcoin markets, a prospect that will further drive away “respectable” users.
Oh, if only. In reality, Business Insider reports that last week at the New York hearing on regulating bitcoin, the Winklevoss twins said they were gratified the Department was discussing ways to help legitimize Bitcoin commerce. And that their Bitcoin ETF is awaiting regulatory approval from the SEC.
As it stands now, bitcoin is used to buy drugs and maybe stuff from Overstock.
Actually, people who research things before they say them have found that illegal narcotics make up about half a percent of bitcoin transactions.
Finally, bitcoin users are seen as misogynistic and sexist. While this post by Arianna Simpson is not indicative of the entire culture, it is a cautionary tale for those who may want to take part in a meet-up or seminar. Furthermore, new users trying to ask questions in forums or IRC chat rooms are bombarded with invective, and posts like this one casting a negative light on BTC receive countless defensive replies. If bitcoin users don’t want to be seen as sexist, insular nerds, then the change begins from within.
How someone who wrangled a TechCrunch byline could be so unfamiliar with the tech community at large to think that what Simpson experienced is any way unusual for a tech meetup of any kind absolutely baffles me. Our author is either inexplicably ignorant about the problems which plague the tech sector in general, or is being disingenuous in an effort to make bitcoin look especially bad.
There is no impetus for the average user to dump money into an unregulated system that appears as volatile as the currency of some banana republic run by a capricious dictator.
How about a 4,000% increase in price or an escape hatch for people living under oppressive regimes?
And perhaps the biggest whopper of them all:
I understand the value of the system as a .zip file for wealth.
Well, no, you clearly don’t. This is where the legitimate branding opportunities come in. Bitcoin is probably going to help the wealthy the most and first. That’s just how things work. However, that doesn’t mean bitcoin doesn’t eventually offer the most promise to the poor. Here’s how.
1. Smart Property
Smart Property, built on the Bitcoin protocol or protocols based on it, has the potential to open up worlds of credit and contract previously unavailable to people who are low-income, homeless and otherwise not currently deemed “credit-worthy.”
2. Money remittance assistance
Remittances are a huge deal for people in developing nations. And bitcoin makes them cheaper and easier than ever before.
3. Innovative charity
How odd that our author would say, “Forums like /r/bitcoin on Reddit are endlessly effusive, crowing that this cafe is accepting bitcoin and this dentist is filling cavities for bitcoin,” and yet totally miss the most exciting thing on /r/Bitcoin. The subreddit makes up the vast majority of funding for Florida’s mosteffective and innovative homeless shelter, whose operating budget is almost entirely made up of the cryptocurrency, obtained via donations from reddit users.
This post originally appeared in Bitcoin Magazine.