The only thing most bitcoin advocates want is a better system to control personal finances and monetary policy. And some pizza wouldn’t hurt.
Masks can poison you! 5G causes cancer! Bill Gates wants you microchipped. The earth is flat. Vaccines will kill you. Covid-19 is just a ploy to delay November elections (in the US only), and Bitcoin is a governmental ruse to shift society to cashless. Frankly, it would be nearly impossible to write one succinct article dispelling all of the wildly inaccurate conspiracy theories that 2020 has brought us. Maybe a novel, but surely not a quick news blurb. So, let’s just focus on one for now- the theory that the dubious global elite has tied their efforts with governments and scientists to create a cashless society.
There are two glaring superficial reasons that keep this particular myth from being true: One, many users have bitcoin as an investment, which means that without some kind of fiat transition, they’re not making any profits. Two, bitcoin doesn’t have to be cashless. As it’s possible for crypto stores to be converted into many types of bearer bonds or tangible tokens. More on that in a bit. In reality, most bitcoin supporters, even the newer investors that spend most of their days on Bitvavo shuffling around their intangible funds, invest in bitcoin because it represents a better financial system- not necessarily a cashless one.
Bitcoin is a Better System
Most bitcoin supporters aren’t anti-cash; instead, staunchly anti-government manipulation. The centralized banking system that is in place across the world is perhaps the most dubious of our current systems. If you’re genuinely looking for conspiracies- look no further than your local branch. Banks and governments have been behind some of the most devastating economic downturns of our history. Using our money to finance massive market flops, illegal investments, and to lobby for practices that make it difficult to transcend lower- and middle-class stations.
Consider the fees required to wire money to a family member. The restrictions placed on withdrawals. Just look at the subprime mortgage crisis, or hyperinflation in places like Greece and Argentina. Particularly when considering the federal banking system of the United States, you could go down a rabbit hole of poor practice and questionable ethics that could last for days.
What bitcoin represents is a financial system that is fully decentralized, meaning there is no central banking system to control your funds or skim your money to line its pockets. The ledger is public- meaning that any user can physically see, in all the glorious transparency, where their money has gone, where nearly every bitcoin in existence is, and what how the market is performing at any given moment. It’s pseudo anonymous, so no personally identifying details are required to transact funds, keeping you safe without having to pay someone else to do so.
The cryptocurrency is borderless, so fees and wait times for cross-border transactions are non-existent. It’s also inflation proof- meaning that there is a finite amount of bitcoin in existence and no more could ever be created. Keeping it free from the mayhem that things like quantitative easing practices can cause. Bitcoin’s famous white paper is perhaps one of the most elegant and succinct rebuttals to traditional banking practices that has ever been written. So it’s not that bitcoin owners want a cashless society- they want a society in which their money is theirs, and they don’t require paid goons to keep it that way.
So, What About This Cashless Society Business?
The cashless society myth came about shortly following strict lockdown legislation and suggestions that came in the wake of Covid-19. As cash works as an impressive fomite for the virus (and several other filthy things), retailers and governments worldwide promoted the use of card and contactless payments, reducing the transmissibility of exchanged bills and coins.
As people (again, particularly in the US) jumped quickly aboard, coin shortages were noted as fewer were spent into circulation. Making it difficult for those who needed, or wanted, to pay in cash to do so. Especially if they didn’t have an exact change. Like most conspiracy theories, this particular myth was born out of frustrations and irate misunderstanding. While living in a cashless society doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for many of us, and only a dwindling amount of the population still primarily relies on anything but debit and credit cards, it does raise concerns.
Most critics of cashless societies point out that without cash, there is no anonymity, allowing for any transaction to be tracked. While this is definitely true of traditional fiat systems, you’ll remember how it’s not true for bitcoin. It can also wreak havoc for those that are unbanked, or increase the incidence of digital fraud- which as far as centralized banking practices go, is something that happens incredibly often anyway. It also creates a dependency on a centralized system.
Can Bitcoin Be Cash?
While bitcoin is a digital currency, and therefore currently intangible, it doesn’t have to be. Bitcoin is fungible and can function anonymously. Wallets and digital assets can literally be printed on anything. Public wallet keys could easily be printed onto paper or coins. The hash codes for bitcoins themselves could be printed onto tangible objects, making them tradable. But it doesn’t stop there.
Cryptocurrencies could reasonably become tokens for tradable assets. Meaning that, given the right conditions and systems, we could go back to a true barter system, trading tokenized work hours for a jug of milk. Or tokenized cattle, wheat, lotions, textiles- literally any asset- could be traded for another. Bringing us back to a barter system that is outside the bounds of centralized control. Leaving only the workmanship, effort, or goods to be traded without the middlemen taking a piece of the action.
While we may be a long way off from tokenization of tradable assets, we’re not that far away from a cashless society. But what sets bitcoin advocates apart, is that they’re looking for a decentralized financial ecosystem. Whether it’s printed on paper or not.