Click the link below to listen to the 63rd episode of my weekly crypto podcast ‘Two Minute Crypto.’ These are intended to be short, single-topic ramblings on some aspect of the cryptosphere. Consider dropping a like and or a review on iTunes or Podbean if you enjoy the podcast. Comments and critiques welcome.
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Deciphering China’s Blockchain Play – Part 2 of 5
Welcome to Two Minute Crypto. This week continues the series examining China’s stance on blockchain seeking to highlight how the Chinese Communist Parties’ approach to Bitcoin is a net positive for the long-term outlook of BTC.
This short format doesn’t lend itself to an in-depth exploration of each statement made. It is therefore inescapably dogmatic in tone and delivery. As always in the world of crypto verify don’t trust – research and lots of it will serve you much better than a surface acceptance or rejection of the perspectives placed before you by any pundit.
To begin – it’s useful to differentiate Bitcoin from the thousands of Altcoins that currently crowd the market. Where many cryptos claim to be distributed, decentralized and therefore uncensorable – BTC in a practical sense – actually is. There is no company, no active founder, no controlling entity and no state oversight. Bitcoin slipped the bonds of control and achieved the heretofore impossible goal of creating a viable alternative to state-issued fiat. To quote Friedrich Hayek:
I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take them violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something they can’t stop.
This is powerful stuff…and not easy to replicate. Though there is a great deal of potential across a range of blockchain use-cases – it is money, wealth storage and value transfer where the first wave of profoundly impactful change is possible. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency which finds itself placed to disrupt the current monetary system. It’s competitors though full of lofty goals may ultimately be viewed as both less ambitious and likely less impactful.
If you find yourself baulking at this statement of BTC supremacy perhaps take a few months to deeply analyse the cryptosphere, broader market fundamentals, and the current financial system.
OK, so BTC scene set – how then can China’s recent embrace of blockchain be seen as a positive for Bitcoin?
The answer is in a sense – obvious. As argued in Part 1 of this series – Blockchain as envisaged by the Communist Party of China – is first and foremost a tool of control. Whether China rolls out one or many blockchains – they will share a fundamental quality – oversight and beyond this – mutability. As long as the CPC retains power there will never be a truly independent state-endorsed blockchain network in China. If not the internet, then why blockchain?
Each and every iteration of blockchain regardless of function and utility will rest within the authority of the Chinese state. Vast sums of money may be made, investors enriched and efficiencies achieved but these databases will, at core, be tools for state supervision and coercion. China will not be alone in pushing the state blockchain narrative – authoritarian states the world over will do so and likely follow the ‘Beijing’ model. Beyond this, comparatively freer societies will likely see political embrace of ‘good’ blockchain while decentralized options are at least, at first, eschewed.
So how then is this good for Bitcoin?
Simply put – comparison. By direct comparison through time, most market participants will observe the superiority of a free, decentralized network over that of one controlled by their own government. As concrete examples of the ‘downsides’ of blockchain supervision become increasingly evident, the alternative embodied by BTC will be increasingly obvious. Investment will likely follow…
This might take decades to fully playout but the freedoms offered by Bitcoin simply cannot be replicated by a state.
Global market forces alone will drive a value divergence between BTC and state-controlled blockchains. It may well be that accessing BTC becomes all but impossible for the ordinary citizens of countries like China but the wealthy will find a way – as they do right now. Within China, BTC’s value will likely flow from both the top and the bottom – the top for profit, the bottom for freedom. It really doesn’t matter if ‘most’ individuals accept the state narrative as only a minority need to buck the yoke to lead to a strengthening of BTC as a viable alternative. Of course, outside looking in – the comparative desirability of BTC will likely not escape the market’s attention.
Bitcoin may have many a tumultuous year, it may be banned, attacked, forked and vilified but ultimately it stands apart from centralized state solutions and each passing year will likely serve to make that contrast clearer.
Thanks for listening.