ALT currencies – digital commercial, blockchain, crypto – bitcoin, diem

You can’t talk about blockchain and not bring up CBDCs and stablecoins

  • digital commercial currencies – blockchain, crypto –  bitcoin, diem  -see also  1/12/2021 Facebook risks meta flop, metaverse developers say  By Elizabeth Howcroft

“Facebook risks missing the point of metaverse – and a coming shift in consumers’ behaviour – if it fails to permit digital ownership, according to some of the virtual world’s pioneers…”…  19/11/2021 metaverse: how I built a virtual reality for my students – by Gary Burnett    9/2021 Metaverse Technology: Unpacking the Hype   by Jon Radoff   Building the Metaverse – There’s enormous hype surrounding the “metaverse.” This article is about understanding why — and more importantly — breaking it down to the elements so you can understand some of the specific technologies and experiences that are creating the excitement.   5/11/2021  Zuckerberg’s metaverse: Lessons from Second Life By Joe Tidy
…”One resident I met was Rei.  Our avatars bumped into each other after teleporting to a seaside world modelled on a strange rundown 1960s Scottish fishing village. He told me he had been spending time in Second Life for about four months after “getting curious about all this metaverse stuff”. Rei is not a fan of Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse.  “They’ll want to control everything. But I think the people should be in charge and it should be fully open,” he told me. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of the newly renamed company Meta, addressed these concerns when he announced his grand plans. “It’s a future that is beyond any one company. That will be made by all of us,” he said in his Facebook Connect keynote. Other large corporations, including Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox and even Nike have announced plans to enter the metaverse in some form…”…   2/11/2021  Facebook wants to build a metaverse. Microsoft is creating something even more ambitious – Rather than ruling one metaverse, Microsoft wants its Mesh platform to be the glue that holds a multiverse of many worlds together  By Mark Wilson

“Microsoft Teams has 250 million users worldwide. And starting in 2022, they will be able to take meetings in virtual spaces, by donning virtual-reality and augmented-reality headsets.  Instead of simply streaming live video, people will be able to appear as cartoon avatars of themselves, with facial expressions expressed in real time, including smiles and frowns. And yes, they have permission—you have permission—to get as angry as your little cartoon heart desires….”…   2/11/2021  Mark Zuckerberg says he has a grand vision for the future, but he really just wants us to stay at home and spend all our time and money trapped in his virtual fantasy-land  by Paris Marx  17/9/2021  Some early crypto enthusiasts have bailed on the sector, saying the movement has bought into hype without understanding the technology’s limits 8/10/2021  Why Zuckerberg’s ‘second realm’ is a potential $3.1tn opportunity by Sam Volkering  
…”Over the last 12 months a schism has taken place…  A division between four of the most powerful and wealthiest men on the planet. On the one hand you have Branson, Bezos and Musk. All three of these world-famous billionaires have developed rocket technology to escape the confines of our measly planet.  Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX have all had their big, well publicised flights to the edge of space. On the other hand you have “the hoodied one,” Mark Zuckerberg. Instead of developing technology to leave Planet Earth, he’s working on something that could re-create it. What I mean by that is, Zuckerberg is creating a new form of internet. And it has one fundamental difference to the internet you and I use every day… You see, Zuckerberg’s re-imagining of the internet isn’t something that you simply read or browse to experience.  It’s a new sort of digital realm that you are INSIDE of. Scraps of news about this ‘second internet’ give us some idea of its scale: Way back in 2017, when the stirrings of this new breakthrough started to surface… Harvard Business Review called it a“foundational technology”, which could “create new foundations for our economic and social systems.” Forbes magazine claimed in July 2020 that this “will have massive implications for society”. Wired magazine said in January 2021 it is arguably “as big a shift… as the telephone or the internet”. I’ve been sharing tech opportunities with ambitious investors for a decade – and this has my senses tingling.  So, I recently recorded an investigation into this ground-breaking new tech. My investigation took me 132 miles across the country to the unlikeliest of places. Somewhere you would never expect a world-changing new technology to be hiding. You can  watch it here: “The New Money Secret”…”   8/2021 Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse already sucks – Facebook’s Metaverse ambitions reveal an alarming lack of imagination and a less alarming love of tech buzzwords   by Gian M. Volpicelli   3/8/2021 The Monetary System of the Future – The monetary system created by ruling elites, cherished by oligarchs and scorned by the rest of us can’t be fixed. Attempting to do so would only recreate some altered version of the status quo. Instead, we can create something new entirely.   By Brian Nibley

…”Rebuilding the system is the third option and the one we’d most like to see the world shift toward.   The monetary system of tomorrow could be based on a deflationary bitcoin standard rather than an inflationary fiat standard. Workers could see their purchasing power increase over time as a result. Other cryptocurrencies could be allowed to compete freely on the market. Central banks would lose their monopoly on currency creation. The monetary system of tomorrow could empower people to become their own banks and reduce or eliminate governmental influence over personal finances. Some economists have asserted that doing so could be key to creating a sound money standard. Famed Austrian economist and 1974 Nobel Laureate Fredrick Hayek once said:

“I don’t believe we shall ever have good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of the government, that is, we can’t take them violently out of the hands of the government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way, introduce something that they can’t stop.”

Cryptocurrencies seem to fit that bill quite well. …”…   30/7/2021  Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn Facebook into a ‘metaverse company’ – what does that mean?

….”The term “metaverse” is used to describe the vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world. The idea was first conceptualised in 1992 by the American novelist Neal Stephenson in his science fiction classic, Snow Crash. It foresees the internet as a 3D virtual living space, where individuals dip in and out, interacting with one another in real time.

Many in Silicon Valley still view the metaverse as the future. For example, Google is heavily invested in augmented reality (AR), which is where you use technology to look at the real world but with digital 3D objects layered on top. And rumours swirl that Apple is building products like glasses for experiencing virtual spaces.

But Facebook appears the most committed of all to this new vision. In his quest to turn Facebook into a metaverse company, Zuckerberg is seeking to build a system where people move between virtual reality (VR), AR and even 2D devices, using realistic avatars of themselves where appropriate. Here they will work, socialise, share things and have other experiences, while still probably using the internet for some tasks such as searches which are similar to how we use it now….”…  29/7/2021 The Metaverse’s Emerging Economics – The coming media-internet – aka the metaverse – will change how economic value is created and distributed, says our columnist.  Lex Solokin
…”In an interview with the Verge, he tells us of Facebook’s plans to contribute to the “metaverse” – a development rooted in the company’s Oculus virtual reality division, but also connected to the DNA of social networks and identity. (For prior reading, see our essay here, interview with Outlier Ventures here or their full thesis, and Matthew Ball’s essays here.) …
There is no discussion of the internet of value, of blockchain-based money and software. Given that Libra/Diem ended up as a collateralized USD bank money, perhaps deeper fintech and DeFi (decentralized finance) metaverse platforms are still under wraps. Or perhaps that is something for those other, non-Facebook metaverse participants to bring to the table. Zuck says this global community must be open-source and interoperable, connected to thousands of third-party actors, and it can and will not be built by a single player alone. It is multiplayer by default …
For the cryptonauts out there, the interesting bits are the infrastructure plumbing. Something has to compute all that’s in the digital world. Something else has to deliver permissionless identity, financial services and exchange. Something else has to store all the data and serve it up to a billion people and a trillion robots. If you understand Ethereum, you understand where all this is going from an economic perspective. …
For Facebook, however, it is about the mushy human psyche at scale – connected into tribes through social networking and pictures of sunsets and evening dinners. In that slice of the world, the company mediates identity through logins, battles the monsters of misinformation with more than 30,000 staff and who knows how many advanced machine learning algorithms, and sells the Oculus hardware bundled with modern entertainment experiences. If Facebook lives on a digital, decentralized blockchain in the future – likely not of its own making – then the least it can do is continue to own distribution and the human dopamine receptors.

What’s a bit more novel is to notice how the alternative to work is beginning to form. The venture capital bingo euphemism for making money in virtual worlds is called “the creator economy.” The brightest example of virtual worlds crashing through the legacy physical one is Axie Infinity, a crypto based Pokemon-like video game. Since the end of last year, if you lived in the Philippines, or likely anywhere else in the world, your local minimum wage paid you less than playing Axie. …

The formula is pretty clear – a 10,000 generative print of digital avatars that look good on a Twitter profile, cost ETH (+4.28%) 0.1 to mint, and very quickly appreciates in value, leading to a speculative run-up. Everyone is buying the signal of participation in the non-fungible token game. In fact, it is the price of admission. A collective game to build social capital and credibility in the metaverse is well underway. Of course, Facebook wants in. It digitizes, mechanizes and weaponizes our connection to each other.”  29/7/2021  IMF intends to ‘ramp up’ digital currency monitoring – The fund will greatly expand to cover all aspects of digital currency while also working with related financial institutions. by Max Moeller 22/7/2021  MARK IN THE METAVERSE – Facebook’s CEO on why the social network is becoming ‘a metaverse company   By Casey Newton
…”The metaverse is having a moment. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. Earlier this month, The New York Times explored how companies and products including Epic Games’ FortniteRoblox, and even Animal Crossing: New Horizons increasingly had metaverse-like elements. (Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been discussing his desire to contribute to a metaverse for many months now.)  In January 2020, an influential essay by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball set out to identify key characteristics of a metaverse. Among them: it has to span the physical and virtual worlds; contain a fully fledged economy; and offer “unprecedented interoperability” — users have to be able to take their avatars and goods from one place in the metaverse to another, no matter who runs that particular part of it. Critically, no one company will run the metaverse — it will be an “embodied internet,” Zuckerberg said, operated by many different players in a decentralized way. …”…   15/7/ 2021 — My wild ride into the crypto world. How I bought a virtual horse, raced him, and got a first-hand look at the delights and dangers of NFTs.  Frank Partnoy



Basel Committee consults on prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures
Basel Legits Crypto  10/6/2021  Basel Committee consults on prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures  11/6/2021  Global banking regulator urges toughest capital rules for crypto  27/5/2021  Diem plans to replace USD stablecoin with gov digital dollar – Christian Catalini, the chief economist of Diem (formerly Libra) said that the recently announced Diem USD stablecoin is only intended as an interim step until the U.S. Federal Reserve issues a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or digital dollar.   5/5/2021 Wealth Inequality in Cryptocurrencies – Jeremy Neiman

FT 5/2021  bitcoin bubble too good to miss? – Eva Szala

FT 4/2021 bitcoin boom fuels fight over money creation – Brendan Greely  2/5/2021  Diem’s chief economist breaks down its plan for a central bank-centric stablecoin network  by Aislinn Keely 

The Diem Association’s top economist provided new insight into how it’s redesigning its stablecoin project and its plans to monetize it. Head economist Christian Catalini explained that the Diem stablecoin is intended to be a stand-in for CBDCs. Diem will then be monetized as a payments infrastructure wherein CBDCs can integrate with the protocol.   2/5/2021   Amazon hires ex-FCA officials ahead of rumoured cryptocurrency launch – The US technology company has grown its team of financial regulation experts over the past year –  by Hannah Boland

Amazon is poised to seize upon the recent surge in interest in cryptocurrencies, bringing in a team of British financial regulation experts amid speculation it is on the brink of launching its own digital token….   17/4/2021  You can’t talk about blockchain and not bring up CBDCs and stablecoins  –  Economies are currently experiencing the development of brand new ideas around CBDCs, stablecoins or private digital currencies.    by  Steve Billinghurst

There is continued significant interest in central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, at this time — not from the blockchain and crypto community but actually from a core group of some of the most influential central banks, including the Bank of England, the Swiss National Bank, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Canada, the Swedish Riksbank and the Bank of International Settlements.

Related: Did CBDCs affect the crypto space in 2020, and what’s next in 2021? Experts answer

The confirmation in late 2020 from the United Kingdom’s chancellor of the exchequer (the head of Her Majesty’s Treasury), states that the United Kingdom will draft regulations for private stablecoins and research CBDCs, demonstrating the momentum that this topic currently has. China has undoubtedly emerged as a leader in its development of CBDCs, having recently proposed that there be a global set of rules that addresses issues such as interoperability between jurisdictions.

Related: How the digital yuan stablecoin impacts crypto in China: Experts answer  20/4/2021  Bitcoin’s Catalyst: Dogecoin Is The Real Threat To The USD – by Vincent Ventures 

Valued more than Barclays, Dogecoin is making a mockery of the USD-backed global financial system. It’s a joke. Dogecoin reflects the dangerous nihilism of Gen Z. –  Dogecoin’s ‘parody of money’ is enough to make bitcoin look like a serious and disruptive financial innovation, galvanizing the view that Bitcoin can become a powerful reserve asset. – The recent sell-off is a measure of ‘regulation paranoia’ among bitcoin investors. These fears are overblown, particularly in the context of the IMF’s laissez-faire views on cryptocurrency.

To be sure, dogecoin is little more than an internet joke, which is why you can’t trade it on the Winklevoss-backed Gemini. This precisely the point. An entire generation of investors is speculating on their own meme currency, which is essentially a parody of money. Behind dogecoin is a rebelliously nihilistic and perhaps dangerous idea that meme money is no more real than actual currency. It may be a joke, but it’s a powerful one.

…because the FinTech revolution questions the two forms of money that we just discussed, coins and commercial bank deposit. And it questions the role of the state in providing money.

We are at a historic turning point. You–young or not so young–doesn’t matter. But bold entrepreneurs gathered here today, You are not just inventing new services. You are reinventing the history of money. You drawing a completely new future actually, and we are all in the process of adapting.

A new wind is blowing and it is that of digitalization… …and this is key: Money itself is changing. We expect it to become more convenient, more user friendly. Perhaps even less serious-looking. We expect it to be integrated with social media, readily available for online. And person-to-person use including micro payments. And of course we expect it to be cheap, safe, protected against criminals and prying eyes.

So what role will remain for cash in this digital world… …even cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, etheruem, and ripple are vying for a spot in the cashless world, constantly reinventing themselves in the hope of offering more stable value and quicker and cheaper settlement.                  -Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, 11/25/2018

Every buyer of dogecoin is (perhaps unwittingly) making a statement about the legitimacy of the Bretton Woods world order, something we have discussed at length previously. The zoomer generation is having a good laugh while exploring the intersection of central banking and technological disruption.  2020  The stablecoin printing press that’s just getting warmed up By Stephen McKeon, Derek Schloss

Earlier this year, Collab+Currency established a position in LUNA, the token backing the Terra ecosystem of stablecoins. We are long term holders who are bullish on stablecoins generally and Terra specifically. In this article we will abstract from the technical complexities (which can be found here and here) to focus on an overview of the market for stablecoins, why we’re excited about Terra’s approach, and what the future holds.   5/4/2021   Here are two other great forms of cryptocurrency that are currently performing well and are worth looking at when you’re considering investing in cryptocurrency.

Cardano –  This is a form of cryptocurrency that many people aren’t actually aware of despite how good it actually is. It was created and backed by plenty of research with an in-depth approach by engineers, mathematicians, and cryptography experts. Funnily enough, Cardano was actually co-founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the five initial founding members of the booming cryptocurrency Ethereum.  He became upset and disheartened when he saw the direction that Ethereum was taking so he decided to leave and that was when Cardano was created. Essentially, people like Cardano because it is backed so heavily by experience, research and scientific formulas and is an attractive currenct to invest in. It is said that the in-depth research is the reason behind its rapid success that is essentially the backbone of the entire cryptocurrency. In years to come, Cardano is definitely a cryptocurrency to look out for.

Bitcoin Cash –  One to keep in mind and to consider for your potential crypto portfolio is Bitcoin Cash. It was one of the first on the scene and also one of the most successful hard forks of Bitcoin and still remains this up to the current day. Bitcoin Cash has played a significant part in the history of altcoins and is one of the main reasons they are still successful.  In the world of cryptocurrency, a fork takes place when debates and arguments commence between the miners and developers and both sides are looking for an agreed outcome that cannot always be reached. In these circumstances a digital currency is then split, the original chain remains true to its original code and the new chain then begins life as a new version of the prior coin, complete with changes to its code.   12/2020   You can’t have your cryptocurrency and spend it too (without somebody noticing) – Are crypto-assets going mainstream or staying in the virtual shadows? Common sense dictates that increased and transparent regulation is inevitable –  by Tyler Cowen  – The more utopian scenarios for crypto, whether proponents realise it or not, rely on the notion that crypto remains simultaneously fringe and mainstream. That will be a hard trick to pull off.   2017  Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism – Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.  by Ian Bogost, 

The Social Life of Bitcoin  2017  Nigel Dodd – LSE  –  Abstract  – 

This paper challenges the notion that Bitcoin is ‘trust-free’ money by highlighting the social practices, organizational structures and utopian ambitions that sustain it. At the paper’s heart is the paradox that if Bitcoin succeeds in its own terms as an ideology, it will fail in practical terms as a form of money. The main reason for this is that the new currency is premised on the idea of money as a ‘thing’ that must be abstracted from social life in order for to be protected from manipulation by bank intermediaries and political authorities. The image is of a fully mechanized currency that operates over and above social life.

In practice, however, the currency has generated a thriving community around its political ideals, relies on a high degree of social organization in order to be produced, has a discernible social structure, and is characterized by asymmetries of wealth and power that not dissimilar from the mainstream financial system. Unwittingly, then, Bitcoin serves as a powerful demonstration of the relational character of money.  –  read or download article here

The Social Life of Bitcoin 2017  Nigel Dodd  LSE  – Abstract  deutsch  (google &caw transl) 

Dieses Papier stellt die Vorstellung in Frage, dass Bitcoin „vertrauensfreies“ Geld ist, indem es die unterstützenden soziale Praktiken, Organisationsstrukturen und utopische Ambitionen hervorhebt.

Im Mittelpunkt dieses Papiers steht das Paradoxon, dass Bitcoin, um als Ideologie erfolgreich zu sein es in der Praxis als eine Form des Geldes zum scheitern verurteilt isr. Der Hauptgrund dafür ist, dass Bitcoin’s Währung auf der Idee vom Geld als einem „Ding“ basiert , ein Idee die abstrahiert vom soziales Leben um vor dessen Manipulationen durch Bank- und Staats-Intermediäre geschützt zu sein. Es ist eine vollständig mechanisierte Währung, die über dem sozialen Leben und operiert.

In der Praxis hat die Bitcoin jedoch eine florierende Gemeinschaft hervorgebracht Um seine politischen Ideale zu verwirklichen, ist ein hohes Maß an sozialer Organisation erforderlich um die Wahrung zu produzieren, hat eine erkennbare soziale Struktur und ist gekennzeichnet durch Asymmetrien von Wohlstand und Macht, die sich nicht vom Mainstream-Finanzsystem unterscheiden. Unbeabsichtigt dient Bitcoin insofern als ein starke Demonstration des relationalen Charakters von Geld.  –   hier 2019 Artikel bei Mittelweg lesen oder runterladen   2019  Facebook’s Libra: Does the World Need Frictionless Money?   by Michael Pettis  –  Facebook seems to think its new digital currency Libra will be used mainly for purchasing goods and services and for current account transactions. But it will probably be used mainly for capital account transactions. Do we really want to eliminate frictional costs on the capital account?    2019   A Chinese digital currency is the real threat, not Facebook’s Libra   10/2019   Payments giants abandon Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency          10/2019  How the wheels came off Facebook’s Libra project   2/2021   k/news/amazon-set-to-launch-its-own-bitcoin-rival    10/2019  Royal Mint unveils solid gold debit card – but is it worth the £18,750 price tag?   3/2020  MMT, Crypto and the New Nature of Money    by Sofia Blikstad

It is ironic that quantitative easing is reinforcing Bitcoin when it was born in opposition to a policy of scarcity, says Arcane Research’s Sofia Blikstad.

“Since leaving the gold standard, money has essentially been backed by faith in the issuing government. This would be the preface to now-fashionable Modern Monetary Theory. No longer having to fear the shortage of gold, governments are free to print the money needed to fully employ their available resources. In other words, MMT views currency as a public good rather than a medium of exchange.”   2019   Bitcoin, The Alternative to the Modern Monetary Theory

“The problem is not too much money printing, the problem is too little debasement because inflation remains very low.”  So argued Nouriel Roubini, a left leaning economist who effectively in one sentence has somewhat summarized a new Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) that is gaining traction among the Davos men.

“The experience with the money printing of the central banks in the past decade has led to a rethinking for many observers. Although central banks have pumped trillions of dollars into the markets and have created new debt for states, companies and households, inflation is slowing down and interest rates are still at extremely low levels. … Not a few experts demand a general inventory of economic theories of money in the face of paradoxical conditions. The printing of money by the central banks and debt of the states is no longer a danger in this brave new world, but rather a promise. The new formula that combines both is MMT. That stands for Modern Monetary Theory.”    ….  Bitcoin, cryptos, and the idea of free market money more generally where everyone is free to issue a currency and to manage it, are an alternative to this command economy because the value of money here is not implemented by the force of taxation, fines, or licensing requirements, but by the free choice of potentially billions of actors around the globe who by the regard of their own interest judge every second whether the service cryptos provide is useful to them or otherwise.    …   So within the very limited constraints of the current financial system, we have no interest in taking any position regarding MTT. But if the view is enlarged to include potential alternatives, it appears somewhat clear that MTT – or whatever other centrally commanded fiat system – will go wrong and as that is the case, then it appears somewhat clear that cryptos are at least an insurance which guarantees freedom for there is no abstraction here beyond: let it be 21 million coins. scroll down  4/2020   Bitcoin’s luster grows  Bitcoin has never looked more like “digital gold” than it does now.  By Galen Moore    –    Consider: Despite the popularity of the “gold 2.0” narrative, for most of its recent life bitcoin has shown a negative correlation with the price of the yellow metal. …

… If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. Bitcoin is a risk-on asset, a venture bet on a future technology that most people in the world have never used. Unlike most such investments, bitcoin is fairly liquid. It makes sense that in times of crisis, it’s one of the first things sold to raise cash. That’s what happened in March, apparently, and bitcoin’s safe-haven narrative took a hit.” …   2/2021  Is bitcoin’s huge price rise the canary in the global coal mine?  The price of bitcoin has surpassed $50,000 for the first time, as institutional adoption makes it an increasingly mainstream asset. But could its huge price rise presage serious and fundamental changes to the global order?  by  Alex Rankine

Bitcoin’s fans love the fact that it is decentralised and supply is limited: only 21 million bitcoins will ever be created. That is attractive in “an era of extraordinarily loose monetary policy”, says Eoin Treacy of Yet in other ways it remains painfully limited. Transaction speeds are so slow that it is impractical as a way of making payments. One day engineers may solve the scalability problem and create “a much better product”. But “right now it is what we have”.    … No one knows which digital currency will ultimately be king, agrees Rana Foroohar in the Financial Times. It could be bitcoin, a competitor such as ethereum or “some yet-to-be-invented” cryptocurrency   1/2021  Bitcoin may “break down altogether”, according to BIS general manager Agustin Carstens, who has also poured cold water on stablecoin projects such as the Facebook-led Diem and argued that if digital currencies are needed they should be issued by central banks.  Bitcoin is “more of a speculative asset than money” that should perhaps “be seen more like a community of online gamers, who exchange real money for items that only exist in cyber space,” says Carstens in a speech on digital currencies to the Hoover Institute.     2/2021  How Institutions Will Take Crypto Mainstream –  If bitcoin is anti-establishment, what happens when the establishment joins the party?  by Eva Lawrence

We have seen significant players from the traditional finance sphere starting to recognize this paradigm shift. Morgan Stanley is considering betting on bitcoin with its $150 billion investment arm. BNY Mellon and Deutsche Bank are offering crypto custody. And JPMorgan concedes it will have to be involved in bitcoin. Banks are receiving interest from their clients, seeing the gap in their offering and not being involved is now too much of a risk.  2020   Bitcoin (BTC) Predicted by Henry Ford 100 Years Ago   3/2021   ‘Absurd’ video of bitcoin mine hooked to an oil well sparks outrage – but it’s complicated
‘We want to accelerate away from fossil fuels. We don’t want to make fossil fuels more profitable,’ one critic told The Independent    02//3/2021 Do one in five Britons really now hold crypto? With interest in bitcoin surging once more, one speculator urges newcomers to ‘do their research’ –  new report suggests as many as a fifth of Britons could now hold bitcoin – up from around 3% in 2019   2020    Bitcoin’s bumpy revolution may be only just beginning    1/2020 Tesla CEO Elon Musk Blasts the One Thing That ‘Gets Crypto People Angry’

“I’m neither here nor there on Bitcoin… I thought [the Bitcoin whitepaper] was pretty clever.”  Musk says crypto supporters should acknowledge a hot button issue – that digital assets are used for illicit as well as legitimate purposes.  “This sort of gets the crypto people angry…  How Bitcoin’s vast energy use could burst its bubble  By Justin Rowlatt    Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina‘  By Cristina Criddle   2019   Bitcoin hailed as success by China in dramatic shift in attitude

8/3/2021   2021  ‘Digital tulip’ or new asset class? Bitcoin’s bid to go mainstream   27/2/20121   Coinbase Mafia Shows How Tight a Circle Holds Sway Over Bitcoin     By Matthew Leising 

Most of the U.S. crypto power players have links to exchange –  Bored at work, Ehrsam traded Bitcoin from Goldman’s bathroom

Coinbase Global Inc.’s filing to become a publicly-traded company provides a glimpse into the remarkably small circle of mostly men who command the incredibly lucrative digital landscape.  This U.S.-based power list starts with Brian Armstrong, the now billionaire chief executive officer of Coinbase, and his co-founder, Fred Ehrsam, who went on to create Paradigm Operations. Fellow billionaire Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz’s Chris Dixon, are among the original venture capitalists that will reap large windfalls from the direct listing of the exchange.

Even though verified users of Coinbase, the largest U.S. digital-asset exchange, jumped 34% to 43 million last year as Bitcoin more than quadrupled, control of the largest cryptocurrency remains narrow. Less than 2% of the anonymous ownership accounts that can be tracked on Bitcoin’s blockchain control 95% of the digital asset, according to researcher Flipside Crypto.

Included in the influential group of U.S. holders is Dan Morehead, who founded Pantera Capital Management in 2003 and launched the first U.S. crypto fund in 2013. Digital Currency Group founder Barry Silbert has created an empire that touches every corner of the crypto world. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss bought their first Bitcoin stake in 2012 when it traded as low as $8 and then co-founded Gemini Trust Co., the first crypto firm to be regulated by New York state as a trust.

Like many within this select circle, Ehrsam seemed perfectly poised to adopt the new digital world. He played video games professionally in high school, then studied computer science at Duke University before becoming a foreign-exchange trader at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. Yet he grew bored at the bank and as he looked for things that interested him after work, he discovered Bitcoin through a Georgetown professor’s blog. He was instantly fascinated.

“I would literally trade Bitcoin in the bathroom on my phone at Goldman,” Ehrsam said in an interview. Bitcoin was going for about $6 at the time, compared with a record $58,000 last week. Back then, the main way to buy it was on the now bankrupt exchange Mt. Gox or through intermediaries, and Ehrsam realized there needed to be an easier way to buy and sell crypto.

After meeting Armstrong on the Bitcoin subreddit forum, they started Coinbase in 2012 out of an apartment in San Francisco. Armstrong declined to comment.

Morehead remembered the early days of Coinbase as he was creating the Pantera Bitcoin fund in 2013. He’d been an investor for a while, taking huge macro risks on things like Russian privatization and farmland in Argentina, bets with very steep downside potential but that could also pay off enormously if successful.

“I was first attracted to Bitcoin as an investment, it was something really interesting to learn about,” Morehead said. In 2013, however, amassing a large stake in the new digital currency wasn’t easy.

“I sent $2 million to Coinbase, and I started trying to buy $2 million of Bitcoin,” Morehead said. “My daily trading limit was $50.” Pantera has grown into one of the largest holders of cryptocurrencies and has invested in over 50 startups, including Circle, Bakkt, Polychain Capital, Shapeshift and Zcash, according to its website.

In the early days, though, Morehead had to contend with the drugs and criminals narrative that dogged Bitcoin. He went to every major university endowment in 2015 when Bitcoin was at $100 to tell them they should have it in their portfolio.

“The conversation was all Silk Road, drugs, whatever,” he said, referencing the early black-market exchange shut down by U.S. authorities.

That dark element to Bitcoin didn’t deter Wilson at Union Square and DCG’s Silbert, both of whom were series A investors in Coinbase. The company’s shares changed hands in recent private transactions at levels that would value Coinbase at close to $100 billion, a person familiar with the matter have said.

Union Square has focused its cash on about 15 firms in two main areas, infrastructure providers like Protocol Labs and Helium and in other crypto investment funds like Polychain Capital and Autonomous Partners. Wilson declined to comment.

That’s a far cry from what Silbert has created at DCG. Among its nearly 300 investments and acquisitions it touches upon every part of the crypto market. Among them, it has stakes in Etherscan, the block explorer used for the Ethereum blockchain; Coindesk, a crypto news service; Genesis Global Trading, one of the largest over-the-counter crypto dealers and lenders; Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics firm; Decentraland, a virtual world built on Ethereum that sells plots of digital land and has its own cryptocurrency Mana.

Silbert also created the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in 2013, which is the largest crypto investment product with assets of about $31 billion. Silbert declined to comment.

A lack of a career on Wall Street helped the Winklevoss twins approach Bitcoin with an open mind, Cameron Winklevoss said.

“Tyler and I didn’t have 20 years of capital markets experience when we came to Bitcoin,” he said. “We were very open to this possibility and that’s how we’ve always been, driven by curiosity.”

The brothers famously battled Mark Zuckerberg over the early fate of Facebook, an experience that left them with lessons about Bitcoin.

“In the early days of Facebook, in watching and being a part of that ride, we saw the power of networks, and so many people dismissing social networks as a fad,” Winklevoss said. Yet he’d watched as 90% of the Harvard University student body signed up for Facebook within 48 hours. When Bitcoin came around, the twins recognized the same forces at play.

“It’s a money network,” Winklevoss said. “What happens when you put an economic incentive around that network? That’s possibly the most effective network in the world.”

For Paradigm’s Ehrsam, the size of Bitcoin and crypto in general has exceeded his wildest dreams. If you’d told him in 2012 that Bitcoin would top $1 trillion as it did at one point last week, “people would think you were absolutely insane,” he said.

“The idea of a new digital money seemed very strange to most people because a new money has never come about in our lifetimes, at least as Americans,” Ehrsam said. “So you’re not used to seeing a phenomenon you’ve never seen before.” That will eventually change.

“It just takes time for a powerful new idea like that to permeate society and build trust in it,” he said. 2019 Money and Democracy: Why You Never Get to Vote on the Most Important Part of Society by  Jamie Redman