Bitcoin el salvador?
No Bitcoin won't Save The World, but perhaps it will make the world a bit better.
I was a very early adopter of Bitcoin. I started weeks after Satoshi’s whitepaper magically appeared in a cryptography mailing list.
If I still had the BTC that I mined at the time I would be very rich today, but I wanted to use and spend my BTC to stimulate the nascent Bitcoin economy. I have written Bitcoin software, consulted and participated in many projects. For years I made a good living as a journalist and editor for the Bitcoin trade press.
Been there, done that. At some point I lost interest and stopped. What pushed me out was the attitude of those for whom Bitcoin was the most important things in the world. Or maybe the only important thing. Or maybe the God of their religion.
I have edited (out) suggestions that wars and natural or social catastrophes were “good for Bitcoin” and therefore Good. Good! With an exclamation mark of course. Many exclamation marks.
I really wish for less exclamation marks and more question marks in the Bitcoin press. At some point I was really fed up. In fact, this is the first post about Bitcoin that I have written in years.
No, Bitcoin is NOT the most important thing in the world. Sorry for the true believers in the Bitcoin God out there, but many things are much more important than Bitcoin. MUCH more important.
Having said that, I think Bitcoin IS important. Not the most important thing, but an important thing. Bitcoin is also a good example of how radical, unexpected technological innovation can be a social force for good. A parallel economy relatively independent of Big Government and Big Business, with working interfaces to the mainstream economy, can do good to many people.
And this is the role of Bitcoin in my religion: one of many tools that we can use to make the world a bit better. And we can use all our tools together to make the world much better, a little bit a time.
I used to say that Bitcoin would really take off after being adopted by a nation state (even a small one) as official currency. Not a new cryptocurrency issued by a central bank (like China is doing), but the real Bitcoin independent of nations and central banks.
This is what is expected to happen in El Salvador in a few days. There are dissenting voices and event protests of course, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. But this could be a real game changer.
Poor families in El Salvador could live with Bitcoin remittances sent from family members abroad. This happens already of course, but will be much easier and safer when Bitcoin is officially supported by the government.
I took the cover picture at a place that accepts Bitcoin in a food market. These places exist everywhere, but only tech-savvy people can buy there. If the Bitcoin plan in El Salvador goes through as planned, eventually everyone will be able to use Bitcoin to buy food and things.
El Salvador could become a player and a first mover in the new economy that, one way or another, is bound to emerge. It’s evident that things can’t continue as they are now. We need to experiment with many alternative economies. Many will fail the real-world test, but some will work. The move of El Salvador could enable and protect many new business models that are only waiting for something like this to happen. This would attract wealthy foreign investors to the country.
I’ll hopefully wait and see is Bitcoin will become el salvador (the savior) of El Salvador, and then of other nations as well.
UPDATE: Financial Times, El Salvador becomes a crypto laboratory with bitcoin gamble. “El Salvador will on Tuesday become the first country in the world to make bitcoin legal tender… citizens will be able to shop, pay taxes and buy land using the volatile cryptocurrency.”
Cover picture by the author.