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December 5, 2016

Coinscrum MiniCon: Andreas Antonopoulos — Currency Wars and Bitcoin Neutrality


Andreas Antonopoulos, technologist and author of groundbreaking book “Mastering Bitcoin,” was the keynote speaker at Coinscrum MiniCon in December 2016 at Imperial College’s Clore Theatre in London. He discussed currency wars and Bitcoin’s neutrality in them. Andreas explained how in the couple of years leading up to 2016, a currency war was raging that he believed would change the trajectory of bitcoin. In these currency wars, “billions of people are tossed around like pawns in a geopolitical game.” He went on to identify the biggest offenders, saying,
“Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, India, Turkey, Pakistan, the Ukraine. What do these countries have in common?…[They are] currently embroiled in either domestic or international currency wars. And the people in these countries are hostage in these currency wars.”
He used the example of India, where Prime Minister Modi announced that the two largest denominations of the rupee would no longer be legal tender and would cease to exist in four hours, removing 88% of cash in circulation in the country where 95% of transactions happen in cash, 60% of people have no bank account and 25% of people have no ID to open a bank account.
Andreas went on to warn,
“There is a global war on cash going on. We have reached that point in history where it is within the grasp, within the vision of world governments to once and for all eradicate cash, cash being the ultimate peer to peer transparent, private form of money that allows individuals to transact locally within a community is now being eradicated in favor of digital transactions on platforms that allow for surveillance, control, confiscation, and negative interstate rates. And all of these things will follow very closely once cash is no longer part of the picture. That’s their hope. Hopefully you’re joining me in ruining that dream.”
Andreas also discussed bitcoin’s role in these currency wars, which is to provide an exit for people.
“In these currency wars, there is one force that stands neutral as a safe haven, as an exit strategy, as an opportunity for people to say, ‘You know what, you go ahead. I’m going to opt out. And that’s bitcoin. Bitcoin is now standing at the precipice of becoming the safe-haven asset for billions of people around the world who for the first time will have the opportunity to say, ‘I see where you’re going, I don’t believe in your nationalist BS. I see the exit sign. I’m going to go this way.’ And leave and opt out from these experiments. And that’s going to dramatically change the trajectory of bitcoin, it’s going to change the technology of bitcoin, it’s going to change the economics of bitcoin.”
As people opt out of the currency wars and into bitcoin, there will be consequences.
“But this new proposition, that some people are going to get to opt out from these crazy nationalist experiments, these currency wars, is not going to be taken lightly. Bitcoin is going to represent in many of these countries a direct affront to sovereignty, and when sovereigns see a direct challenge to their rule, to their decisions….they will apply the full force that they have in order to fight that threat. They will fail. But it’s not going to be easy. When these things start happening, the equilibrium between currencies changes. We’ve already started seeing this.”
Andreas talked about how countries are killing their own people because of currency controls and the destruction of their own monetary system.
“They will tell you that what we are doing by encouraging people to use bitcoin, is we are traders to our nations. We are criminals, we are thugs, we are drug dealers and terrorists. Don’t believe me? Look up what the Indian government has said just in the last two weeks about people who trade gold on the black market — terrorists, criminals, thugs. I’m just a coder, I’m just a talker. I’m not a terrorist, I’m not a thug. But if I have the opportunity to build an exit from this system, then I will take that opportunity because I know who the real terrorists are.”
Andreas explained how we are watching Gresham’s Law in action, as the bad money keeps circulating and the good money has completely disappeared from the economy, particularly in India, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, adding about the population:
“And when they get bitcoin, they’re going to HODL. They’re going to bury that so deep to make sure that they have the good money saved for their children, for their future, and they’re going to trade the bad money for bitcoin. And nowadays all money is bad money. That’s where we’re going. Cash is being eradicated around the world as a scourge. But they can’t win that game because cash is something we can create, electronic cash, self sovereign cash, verifiable cash, digital cash, peer-to-peer cash — bitcoin.”
Andreas expounded on bitcoin’s role in the currency wars, saying:
“Bitcoin is not taking sides in these currency wars. Bitcoin is going to be the Switzerland even when Switzerland is no longer the Switzerland. And bitcoin will be the only Switzerland left standing. Because eventually you will have gold confiscations [by PM Modi in India]…You do not take a political side in this fight. This is not about being pro-Modi or anti-Modi. This is not about being pro-Erdogan or anti-Erdogan. It’s about being completely neutral. Bitcoin isn’t taking a political stance here. The only political stance it’s taking is individuals should control their own money.”
Andreas was asked how much of his wealth he has tied up in bitcoin, and how much others should have invested in it, in response to which he graciously said,
“A percentage that is equivalent to your understanding of how the technology works and your ability to absorb the risk that it entails, which for most people is a very small percentage…My small savings that I do have are invested in bitcoin. 100%.”

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Paul Gordon
Following a 20+ year career in financial markets, Paul first became interested in Bitcoin in 2011 and helped to establish one of the world's first Bitcoin meetup groups, Coinscrum, in 2012 since when he has grown the community to over 6,500 members, hosting over 250 events and introducing many of the leading projects and thought leaders in the industry.  Paul currently produces the weekly Coinscrum Markets video podcast series and is an active investor and advisor to a number of crypto and blockchain related projects.

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