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The Bitcoin Rabbi Exclusive: I Envision a World Where Bitcoin Is a Dominant Reserve Currency

The Bitcoin Rabbi Exclusive_ I Envision a World Where Bitcoin Is a Dominant Reserve Currency

Michael Caras, popularly known as the Bitcoin Rabbi, recently published his children’s book, entitled ‘Bitcoin Money: A Tale of Bitville Discovering Good Money’. Through this publication, Caras aims to bridge the age gap between children and the conventional followers of cryptocurrency, by condensing his ideas into simple analogies and illustrations.

Tweet announcing release of the book: Bitcoin Money

Drawing parallels between Bitcoin and Judaism

Caras is an orthodox Jew who teaches Judaic subjects in a Jewish Day school. Apart from his religious beliefs, he finds himself quite intrigued by Blockchain and the world of cryptocurrencies, with a particular interest in Bitcoin.

Drawing parallels between the several thousand years of tradition in Judaism and Bitcoin, Caras referred to the transmission of Jewish traditions from generations to generations as a ‘chain’, in a way similar to the Bitcoin blockchain which has a network of nodes and miners. According to him, this can be compared to the relationship between grand rabbis and the average person.

The book has received a lot of positive feedback from several Bitcoiners. Giacomo Zucco, director of the BHB Network, said:

 “It’s better than many books for grownups. I look forward to giving it to my daughter in a couple years.”

Pierre Rochard, founder of Lightning Power Users also commented on the illustrations:

“With beautiful illustrations and engaging plot twists, this book teaches timeless economic lessons.”

Max Hillebrand of World Crypto Network said:

“This book is a crash course on the economics and ethics of Bitcoin and why it is important, conveyed intuitively with easy examples of children playing and exchanging. You really hit it home!”

Caras initially thought of writing this book to introduce Bitcoin to his seven-year-old daughter through catchy illustrations. Later, he received a good response from the elders of his family who obtained a basic understanding of the currency without any intricacies. Although it helps to bridge the differences between children and adults, he believes children still have an upper-hand in becoming well-versed with the emerging cryptocurrency as they find themselves more familiar with technology.

Bitcoin as “good money”

The economic aspects of Bitcoin are highlighted in the book by tracing back to the history of currencies and comparing Bitcoin with the fiscal qualities of all types of currencies. Caras believes that people have a basic knowledge about the pros and cons of different kinds of currencies and his book emphasizes on this aspect by introducing Bitcoin as a solution for the deficiencies in other forms of currencies. He hopes that through this book, people become aware of Bitcoin and come to an understanding of “why Bitcoin is good money”.

When asked about the future prospects of Bitcoin, Caras told Bitcoin News,

“I expect to see the awareness of Bitcoin to grow rapidly in the coming decades and generations. All studies show that younger people are much more positive about Bitcoin than the older generations. I think that the verdict is still unclear on the entire Blockchain/crypto/digital asset industry, but I can envision a world where Bitcoin is the dominant reserve currency, or at least a major player in world finance.”

Bitcoiners meet at the NYC book launch

Photo Credit: Bitcoin Money Media Assets

 

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Can Animated Series ‘Bitcoin and Friends’ Make Bitcoin Fun Again?

Can Animated Series 'Bitcoin and Friends' Make Bitcoin Fun Again_

A hand reaches out in the dim, a keyboard clack. Command lines flood up on a screen to the tinkling of electronic clatter. An orange sphere enters view, the command to awake received. No, wait, a coin. With a marking below his face perhaps interpretable as the ‘B’ alphabet.

A confused, shaky greeting is the first utterance from ‘B’ as its creator looms over him. A cryptic message is issued. Then he is abandoned. Left to discover who or what his nature is in an unforgiving world.

Yet ‘B’ is not without friends.

It’s a take on the first scenes from the trailer of “Bitcoin and Friends“, the fan-funded animated series from Uncle Chris Productions that tells the implausible story of Bitcoin went from obscure code to world’s most popular digital currency and geek darling of the internet. At least, that’s one way of looking at it.

For those who’ve seen it, it’s the opening of Episode 1: Tears of a Clown, freshly released to the public yesterday. It tells the story of a coin who wakes up alone in New Jersey amid the chaos of the 2009 financial crisis. After meeting ice-cream truck driver Jones, they go in search of his father.

What happens in the episode is a lot less sanitized than the previous description.

Making Bitcoin fun again

Producer Robert Allen told Bitcoin News that the guys behind the new series were from a diverse range of backgrounds, from video production to banking and “all united in our deep love of Bitcoin, comedy and cartoons”.

Asked about the inspiration behind Bitcoin and Friends, Allen said:

“The story of Bitcoin and crypto is so colorful that it was an obvious treasure trove of good comedy and compelling characters and stories, so we knew we had to do something with that. Definitely, it was a long time coming and it needed to be done. We hope the community feels the same and embraces what we are creating.”

Bitcoin, Bitcoin News is told (we asked), is also “100% binary” and has chosen not to self identify. Uncle Chris, creator and director, and the voice actor for the central character Bitcoin, hints at some of the other messaging in the show:

“In the pilot episode, we start at the beginning of Bitcoin in 2009 and wanted to show the frailty and uncertainty of those early days. Bitcoin will become more powerful and confident as the season progresses.”

The location of New Jersey, “a nice in between and cross-section of America”, was also deliberate: “We wanted to show the struggles of many in a rust belt town but also wanted to be close enough to NYC to have some scenes there as well.”

Wholesome fare for Bitcoiners and Nocoiners

The guys behind Bitcoin and Friends wrote the cartooon with the main aim of creating a compelling story and to entertain people. Bitcoin News asked if the people involved were actual Bitcoin users and supporters. Allen’s response was that it didn’t matter, and that people shouldn’t take themselves or others too seriously:

“…we hope to also educate non-crypto people about Bitcoin and related technologies and bring them into the space. We think it could be a good entry point for the non-initiated. We also hope the show will be a bit of a pressure release valve for the crypto community at large… We don’t think an actor has to be a Bitcoiner to be involved with the project. After all, how do you spread the word about Bitcoin if you only talk to other Bitcoiners?”

That said, there are some clear indications of where the loyalties lie for some members of the crew. The “core team” consists of Uncle Chris, Jumper Jake, Broccoli Rob and Berdian Torres, with some choosing to use pseudonyms as a homage to Satoshi.

Will Japanese school girls ditch Hello Kitty for Bitcoin and Friends?

Bitcoin may have friends but he can’t finish his story without his fans. As a fan-funded production, Bitcoin and Friends are seeking donations in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. Rob (Allen) explained:

“We have several seasons outlined and hope that the show catches on so that we can continue to produce episodes. For those who enjoy the show, we ask that you please help us get the word out and donate to help us cover the production costs. Bitcoin is already famous, but we want school girls in Japan to replace their Hello Kitty gear with Bitcoin and Friends merch someday soon!”

Will there be a happy ending for Bitcoin?

“Are you talking about a reach-around?” Rob winks. “The story of Bitcoin is still being written, but we are hoping for a very happy ending.”

 

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Image Courtesy: Bitcoin and Friends

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Winklevoss Twins Reaffirm Commitment to Bitcoin ETF

Winklevoss Twins Reaffirms Commitment to Making Bitcoin ETF a Reality

The Winklevoss twins have renewed their commitment to bring about the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the US. This happened during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) event on Reddit yesterday, the first organized by them since 2015 – around the same time their Gemini crypto trading platform was launched.

In the past year, many investors were overwhelmed by the downtrend in the cryptocurrency markets and focused more on price measures to determine success. However, in the midst of misrepresentation of valued propositions, companies were making progress in their development timeline. One such company was Gemini.

According to Cameron, 2018 was a banner year, as the company was able to hit major milestones and considered it a successful growth period for the industry.

Though Bitcoin – the flagship cryptocurrency and the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization – had suffered a hit and dropped by approximately 81.98% during 2018, the twins are still confident that the cryptocurrency is “most likely the winner in the long term… Bitcoin is certainly the OG crypto”.

During the AMA session, a Reddit user asked the twins about their previous bullish speculation price of USD 40,000 for Bitcoin in the last AMA, to which Tyler responded saying:

“Our thesis around Bitcoin’s upside remains unchanged. We believe Bitcoin is better at being gold than gold. If we’re right, then over time the market cap of Bitcoin will surpass the [approximate] 7 trillion-dollar market cap of gold.”

For the take-home, the twins did leave the attendees a hint of what cryptocurrency in the future should look like: “Success is a future where the internet looks dramatically different than it does today (i.e., decentralized and open) and your money does things that your current money cannot do (i.e., it works like your email).”

In another response, Cameron said: “I can see a future where everything (including fiat) is crypto (e.g., Gemini dollar).”

With respect to derivative markets like the ETF, the twins said they understand the regulator’s concerns as related to “increased marketplace surveillance”, and are currently taking steps to address those concerns through inclusive surveillance on their platform.

Moreover, they said that efforts are geared towards making cryptocurrency safe and clear of all stigma: “Marketplace Surveillance is commonplace in equities and derivatives markets — so we aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, just bringing best practices into crypto.” They further reassured that they were “committed as ever to making an ETF a reality”.

The Winklevoss twins are not the only ones motivated by crypto adoption. During the past weeks, institutional investment portals have been making appearances, with the likes of Coinfloor’s CoinFLEX, Overstock’s securities trading platform tZERO’s patent, Japan’s Bitcoin ETF, and imminent Bakkt all hitting the headlines.

 

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Exclusive Interview With Waqar Zaka: Celebrity TV Host Turned Bitcoin Philanthropist Praises ”Revolutionary” Technology

In a Bitcoin News exclusive, Pakistani reality TV host Waqar Zaka explains how he turned his journey from national celebrity into one of Bitcoin philanthropy.

Zaka’s spot as presenter and head of content on his show gave him a huge following of fans in Pakistan. He likened his platform to Fear Factor on MTV in the US, getting famous for doing self-titled ”crazy things” like putting his head in a crocodile’s mouth and kissing a cobra.

In 2014 a start-up called bitLanders approached him to promote the project in Pakistan, offering to pay him in Bitcoin. ”Before that, I had no idea what it was,” he told Bitcoin News. He quickly came to learn that cryptocurrency could have numerous significant implications on society, thinking ”this is something that could be really amazing.”

Conquering crypto in Pakistan

His mind turned to how the concept could be applied to help disadvantaged people in regions such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Syria, which are facing enormous issues when it comes to transferring money. Zaka took it upon himself to use his platform to educate the people of Pakistan and those around the world of how the technologies can be utilized in the aid of others.

It was not always an easy task, and he faced accusations of selling a Ponzi scheme or pursuing a financially self-interested cause.

But, a lot of people had confidence in him because of his national celebrity status in Pakistan, approaching him for advice on where to invest. This had problems of its own, as there were at the time a lot of crypto-related Ponzi schemes and multi-level marketing scams in the country and he needed a better way of helping people educate themselves.

Zaka started a campaign in the country to teach people about cryptocurrency and blockchain, which caught the eye of the likes of Consensus and CoinTelegraph. They labeled him a ”crypto influencer,” but not even he likes that title much.

In Pakistan, money laundering and corruption are pervasive issues, and Zaka started to use his newfound crypto fame to pressure the government into implementing blockchain banking services aimed at clamping down on this. Anybody sending money from the country would have to be reported with the hopes this would prevent money laundering.

”I believe this technology can actually change the future of Pakistan,” he said.

Blockchain refugee work

In 2015 Zaka went to Myanmar. This was the first time any Muslim was able to get into the region. He said he got in through simply using ”jolly good tourist attitude.” Once there, he took 55 families who had no house or passport or ID and moved them to settle in Nepal.

The next step was to educate them about Bitcoin and how they could receive money to ensure their financial security and self-sufficiency.

He also visited Syria and helped move families to the neighboring and far safer nation of Turkey. People were happy to support and trust his charity because blockchain donations meant people could see exactly where their donations were going.

However, Zaka says the work he is doing with the refugees is not enough, largely because the Bitcoin market fluctuations means that refugees are losing confidence in the cryptocurrency as a store of value.

It has also proven very difficult to share a lot of his crypto knowledge: ”For people who have not had much education at all, how do you teach them about wallets’ private keys? It is very hard and in very early stages. But, they need basic blockchain knowledge so they can earn through their mobile.”

Waqar Zaca pictured with Rohingya child refugees

Zaka says that his Bitcoin philanthropic efforts are nearly unique, and he hardly sees anyone else using blockchain for good:

”I’m not saying I’m the only one, but as far as I have seen in my research, it is not often used for very good causes. Whether more people will get involved or not, it depends on social media influencers. If people with platforms start showing how it can be used for good, like with refugees, only then will we see the benefit.”

He jokingly suggests that if Oprah said something about blockchain’s charitable use cases people might listen. ”Only celebrities can make a difference otherwise it will take a lot of time,” he reasons.

 

Waqar Zaka pictured with Fouzia and one of her five children. Fouzia lost her husband in the Syrian war. 

The TenUp project

In 2017, many people were asking him to invest in different coins. With an engineering background himself, he wanted to support local Pakistani engineers. ”They are all amazing and economical,” he said, ”meaning they work great as freelancers. But people weren’t hiring them as CTO’s or blockchain developers.”

So he came up with the idea of TenUp, ”like the double high five” he explains. Zaka has a huge, trusting following which may prove crucial for the token: ”A successful coin is always built around communities.”

TenUp’s technology is basic, ”no rocket science,” a simple payment transfer method, with the hopes to grow in the long run. Despite offering no technological breakthroughs, the token has huge goals in terms of philanthropy.

Its main aim is to provide free technical assistance to projects in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The TenUp team headed by Zaka wants to create blockchain applications that can help people, especially working with refugee projects. One project in the works right now is managing blood donations, recording how long people are waiting and who should be receiving blood next.

The coin is not the central focus, ”It’s like a share,” as Zaka describes it. The focus is on becoming the token used in the international charity sector.

”Some people looking to invest in TenUp ask, what will I get? I can’t promise you anything,” the project is not a get rich quick scheme, but based on the solid foundation of philanthropic work.

For Zaka, it is imperative that TenUp can become a stable coin, with a stable rate on CoinMarketCap. Then, Zaka wants to use it as an example to show his friend, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, with the hopes of pushing him towards issuing a state-backed crypto.

”To become a success story, you need to become successful first,” he says in acknowledgment that there is still a long way to go.

Waqar Zaka pictured with his team from TenUp

TenUp also wants to give free services to all of Pakistan in order to help the local tech industry. Zakar explains that it will be legal to buy the token in Pakistan because investors will need to use authorized bank transactions for purchases rather than use Bitcoin or Ethereum. That means official affidavit can be issued for ownership to be authorized. This is the first time a cryptocurrency is being sold like this in Pakistan that Zaka is aware of.

The initial coin offering (ICO) is scheduled at the end of November, while the token will be listed in December on TradeSatoshi.

Could a crypto call center be the answer?

One of the perks of TenUp is that it will have its own four language call center with trained staff to directly respond to any issue.

”If something goes wrong with your credit card you can go yell at someone. If I lose my private key where can I go? Human trust should be there. If a human is not there, crypto will not boom,”  Zakar shared with Bitcoin News.

Those answering the phones will be trained to offer advice not limited to TenUp: ”If you have a problem with any crypto, and you are a stakeholder in TenUp you can call through the app and they will try and help. A responsible person should be there to educate you not just about TenUp, but about the entire crypto world.”

Because of this requirement of human contact, Zakar believes that centralized exchanges will ”obviously” succeed over their decentralized counterpart.

”This entire concept of decentralization will not work for humans. People want to call and see who is on the other side. Centralization like Coinbase is very, very important.”

To learn more about TenUp you can visit the website, or follow Wakar Zaka on social media to keep up with his philanthropic efforts.

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Images Courtesy: Waqar Zaka

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Art (r)evolution: Empowering Artists with Blockchain, Celebrating Bitcoin’s 10th Birthday

Crypto Culture

a BitcoinNews.com series

Part 2: Art (r)evolution in Paris showcases international Bitcoin-themed art

In the second installment of the Bitcoin News Crypto Culture Series, we look at Paris’s own cryptocurrency-themed art exhibition, Art (r)evolution, and speak with several of the artists involved.

Friday 5 October marks the final day of the cryptocurrency-themed art exhibition in Paris, Art (r)evolution, organized by French artist Pascal Boyart to celebrate Bitcoin’s tenth birthday. Bitcoin News caught up with him to see when he found himself involved in the space and how decentralization is becoming a powerful phenomenon in the art world.

”The art world is similar to the rest of the economy”

Pascal became familiar with Bitcoin in 2014. Once he came to understand the technology, he became a passionate follower and a proponent for the potential changes it can bring to society. He told Bitcoin News, ”It can change a lot because lives have become so controlled by central authorities. Decentralization is a big thing, and it can help to free us by taking back the control of our own money.”

”The art world is similar to the rest of the economy,” Pascal continued, saying that he sees it as an entity divided into two parts. One of these parts is disconnected from the real world and reserved for the international elite where ”art is just a pretext to play the Medicis without Michel Ange”, as he phrases it.

But the other part of the world is where he believes people can find passion and creativity, with not so much Medicis. One cannot flourish without the other, however, and that is where blockchain and cryptocurrencies find their place: ”We need to connect with both parts again, patrons and artists. That’s why taking back some power of the middlemen is good for creativity. Decentralized cryptocurrencies can bring some financial freedom for the artists who want to innovate. It can help artists to have a more direct relationship with the people who truly love art.”

 

Pascal’s artwork displayed at Art (r)evolution

 

Fighting populism and the FAANG

Josephine Bellini also showcased some of her crypto-themed artwork at Art (r)evolution.

She first became aware of Bitcoin while she was studying finance at college in 2014. The professor asked the students if any of them owned it and only a few foreign exchange students from China raised their hands. Intrigued, she followed up and did some research into the basics of this new phenomena. ”What really blew me away was the fact that no central entity controls Bitcoin and it is ‘controlled’ by the users,” she told Bitcoin News.

After trying unsuccessfully to purchase some Bitcoin for herself, Josephine took a step back from the market but the underlying ethos remained with her.

”Fast forward to early 2017 and my circle of friends had started talking about Ethereum non-stop,” she shared, saying it was at this time she made her first cryptocurrency purchase. ”That is pretty much when I dove head first into the crypto rabbit hole and discovered that blockchain/DLT had massive implications for our future and society.”

And with that sentiment, Bitcoin and blockchain can help usher in social change, fighting populism and the FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), as Josephine puts it. She sees the technology as enabling ”cheap trust”, a new form of economic institution that can replace those established forms prevalent when opening a bank account or obtaining a loan, which can also be abused by those in power.

She explained, “We are now able to take every function in the financial world and transform it into code that sits on a secure blockchain, thereby enabling cheap trust.”

In the art world

For artists, cryptocurrencies and blockchain may well prove to be an irreplaceable tool for taking back power. In particular, Josephine thinks that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will play a significant role in the art world. NFTs are digital tokens that represent ownership of a physical or digital item and can be used to represent anything from university degrees or housing deeds to pieces of art.  

Blockchain has a host of different use cases for artists. Josephine listed several of those she found most prominent for the technology: selling artwork on the international market, a decentralized, transparent “artnet” platform to sell work, buying part shares in art pieces, and tracking the history of artwork on the chain to minimize forgeries.

According to Josephine, when art is sold through galleries, the gallery will often take up to 50% of the payment, sometimes more: “Blockchain will eliminate the need of the middleman, allowing artists to reap the full extent of their work.”

thankful_for_today, by Josephine Bellini

 

Bitcoin in Josephine’s art

The foundation behind her art can be tracked to the cryptosphere: “All of my artwork is influenced by crypto and its ethos.”

Art is the way that she opens up the conversation with the audience, whether they are familiar with the topic or not. Speaking of one of her pieces, in particular, ”Filter” which depicts a woman wearing a gas mask lined with the Bitcoin white paper and shredded pieces of US dollars in the background, she says it makes her feel empowered; many can surely relate to that imagery.

Josephine explained her art to Bitcoin News: ”I have found the way to breathe in the truth while living in a corrupt society, I have found a way to control my own financial future… filter fiat into cryptoassets – cryptoassests that I own, and cannot be taken away from me. Viewers can and should create their own meaning of my artwork. Whether the viewers’ reaction be positive or negative, I hope to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question what we consider to be societal norms.”

 

To read more about the artwork and artists exhibiting at Art (r)evolution, information is available on their blog.

 

 

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Image Courtesy: Pascal Boyart, Josephine Bellini

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P2P Exchange Bisq: “It Doesn’t Get More Decentralized Than This”

With a recent surge in so-called decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platforms, peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange platform Bisq appears to be one of the very few to attempt serious decentralization.

Once the favored method of exchange, P2P volume has fallen over the years but with increasing privacy and security challenges on centralized exchanges, some like Bisq see a revival in the concept of direct exchange via P2P.

Felix Moreno is one of just a few individuals who work on the decentralized P2P exchange platform Bisq openly. Most people working on it volunteer their services anonymously and for free. Why? Because, as Moreno told Bitcoin News, it is the ”holy grail” of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bitcoin News caught up with Moreno to discuss the logistics of running a nearly entirely decentralized exchange, why they will have to fight tooth and nail to keep it that way, and why know-your-customer (KYC) regulations are really just a way for the government to get into your pockets.

Moreno’s experience

He has been in the Bitcoin world for a long time, suffered through the Mt Gox fiasco and various hacks and scams before, and now wants to do his part in minimizing these experiences for others.

”What do we need that can make exchanging as decentralized as the Bitcoin network itself? This is the closest we have gotten to that ideal,” he said. This is one of the most interesting projects Moreno says he has worked on, both making him understand what makes Bitcoin special and what potential decentralization can unlock, Moreno explains his belief that Bisq’s founders really try and live up to this standard.

A return to private exchanges between crypto users

Bisq founder Manfred Karrer shared these comments about the platform: ”To enable a privacy protecting exchange between fiat currencies and Bitcoin, it is crucial to keep your Bitcoin untainted. Protection of privacy is here directly related to security. There is a long list of hacks of centralized Bitcoin exchanges. In such events, your personal financial data including your residency address can end up in the hand of hackers and criminals. The only protection is to not store user data.”

The Bisq project is open source, operating entirely with the help of informal collaborators besides the founders. There was no initial coin offering held to raise funds; the few who helped contribute the minimal funds pre-launch did not do so expecting to see their money again. The mission getting these people so excited is an ambition to create a platform like BitTorrent but instead of offering music, offering a cryptocurrency exchange for all coins, between people and users instead of companies and banks.

Right now, you can buy and sell Bitcoin and altcoins using dozens of fiat currencies but with more users, this could potentially become hundreds. The platform uses multi-signature transactions on Bitcoin smart contracts to block in escrow the Bitcoins that people use as a security deposit, so there is a mutually assured destruction for both partners in the trade if they don’t complete it correctly.

The privacy measures do not much change the process of using the platform, Moreno detailed: ”There is a local wallet in your computer under your control so there is no way that runners of the project can access it. You can fund the wallet at the moment you want to make the trade by just scanning the QR code and depositing funds straight away.”

Bisq Founder Manfred Karrer

In terms of decentralization, what makes Bisq so different from other exchanges?

Bisq does not require you to have an account or share your information with a third-party company. Your information is stored locally in the Bisq Client, an application that you need to download onto your computer, and only the minimum of this is shared with the trade counterpart and nobody else. For example, if you are trading with fiat, your bank details will be shared. A Bitcoin-Monero trade, on the other hand, will not even share your name with the trading partner, only your wallet address.

”There is no way we could turn into a KYC financial surveillance company because there is no company, there is no one the SEC can send a subpoena to. There is no one in charge,” Moreno explained.

Privacy is crucial for them. Moreno outlined the main issue with centralized businesses: ”Big companies leak large amounts of user data every week, and the ones who are not leaking are the worst offenders, accumulating social media and search engine data to sell to advertisers in the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is something from (the book) 1984.’

Privacy, he added, is especially important with finances due to the risks of theft, fraud, and rich Bitcoin traders that could become susceptible to phishing scams if their data is shared. He also recognized that there are different degrees of decentralization with Coinbase at one end, Hodl Hodl somewhere in the middle, and then Bisq.

”Ideally, Bisq is so successful that it will be copied by a lot of people and because it is open source code this will be easy. I’m fine with that, that’s the spirit of open source,” he explained.

A dying kind

Moreno pointed out that even companies that have tried to offer decentralized platforms, such as Shapeshift, reach a certain level of success and then have to ”ignore the ‘no account needed’ hashtag”. They may not want to impose KYC, he said in the case of Shapeshift: ”I know Eric (Shapeshift CEO), he’s a great guy, really believes in privacy. But once you run a company with dozens of employees and investors you cannot take the legal risk. Shapeshift is incorporated in Switzerland so technically the SEC doesn’t have anything to say about it in theory, but in practice, the long reach of American regulators extends at least over half the world if not more… I don’t think he has a choice.”

Bisq Co-Founder Chris Beams

It is not perfect

There are risks to this level of decentralization and the platform itself is not perfect. For one, it exposes Bisq to scammers that in some other places can be stopped with an identity check, but it uses a set of incentives and smart contracts to minimize this risk. Moreno says he has used nearly every trading platform there is and has realized it is much more detrimental to scammers to have a security deposit there to lose than to ask for identification. Bisq has a double security deposit, which when trade is completed, both parties recover but if there are any issues they can lose their money.

One aspect that people may also not like is the fact you have to download a program to run on your computer.

”That’s like early 2000s, who does that anymore?” Moreno joked, clearly aware that this is a problem for some people. It is, however, the only way to exchange completely securely and to let people really have control of their own node, he said.

Some people might also not enjoy the fact that because they are completely in control of their own funds as any mistake is on the user: ”It’s like in the early days of Bitcoin when you send funds to the wrong address – you’re screwed. But that’s your responsibility and some people don’t want that.”

And then there is the issue of speed. You can not simply buy with one click when making a market order as you can on some centralized platforms; the multi-signature which is on the Bitcoin blockchain requires at least 10 minutes for confirmation. Then the speed depends on your payment network; some ways such as through a Revolut account will be quick, but international bank transfers can sometimes take five days or more.

Fighting to stay online, and why regulations are really there

While Bisq may avoid most regulations because of its decentralized structure, the path ahead for them is not easy: ”Bisq is going to have a very hard time surviving the way it is doing things… We will have to fight like hell and use every technological advantage to keep it up.”

If there is a company behind it, Moreno says, every exchange will get a call from local regulators who want first: full KYC and the source of funds for counterterrorism measures especially over certain amounts, and secondly: automatic data sharing like banks already have with tax authorities so they can ”go on phishing expeditions to see who isn’t declaring all their Bitcoin income or whatever”.

Moreno continued, ”KYC is not there out of the goodness of their hearts; it’s a slippery slope towards first identifying you, then getting money out of you. If tax authority lobbyists win, they will allow crypto activities to continue but they will be taxed and if financial industry lobbyists win, they will exclude competition so only big financial companies can run exchanges with proper licenses.”

Industry self-regulation

So is industry self-regulation the way forward? Well, Moreno thinks it could work.

He explained that now, more than ever, there is the opportunity to do it well by using smart contracts and setting up things such as automatic penalties for people who break the rules. ”That can get us very very far, much farther than all the preventative KYC regs”, he said, adding that reputation networks too have always worked because people care a lot about return trade.

”If people are completely anonymous, it’s very easy to have a selfish attitude, but if it’s someone you have some sort of relationship with, it’s only the psychopaths that are going to give that up for a short-term gain,” Moreno remarked.

Bisq Co-Founder Christoph Atteneder

Set the date: 20th September

Right now, trading volumes are comparatively very small: ”Bisq is at 183 on Coincap, it’s tiny.”

For euros and dollars, trading is decent but for some other currencies such as the Argentinian peso, there is hardly anyone on the platform offering pairs. ”Argentina really needs it but again, most people will not do the work of finding decentralized exchanges until they suffer a hack or find their account frozen,” Moreno noted.

To try and encourage traders, Moreno has planned a kick start virtual event on 20 September 2018. He is asking everybody who is interested to go on Bisq and place an ad.

”If you don’t want to trade just say ‘I’m here, I’m interested and when the time comes to buy and sell I will be here,’ especially for lesser used currencies. If we can get 4/5 people for these currencies, other people can see there are people trading around them.”

It may not be the fastest platform, the most accessible or provide some of the assurances that KYC compliant exchanges do, but as Moreno believes, ”Right now, Bisq is the best we have got by far.”

To find out more about Bisq, or to contribute to the platform, join the Slack or follow them on Twitter.

 

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Image Courtesy: Bisq

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