The Bitcoin Vision: Lost but Found, and Being a Part of it
In 2013 and 2014, the Bitcoin community was much more united than it is now. Back then, the community's excitement level rose when businesses announced they were going to accept Bitcoin. It was sign of legitimacy taking root when companies such as Microsoft, Overstock, Expedia, and Newegg started accepting Bitcoin - as well as the many other businesses Bitpay, Coinbase, and others brought aboard. The community eagerly awaited for the next big company to start accepting Bitcoin, as one major criticisms at the time was "what good is it if you can't spend it anywhere?" As this was a valid concern, the community consensus was unanimously in favor of accelerating business adoption.
Back then, the vision for Bitcoin was one of worldwide adoption and use, and the most obvious use-cases were for it to be accepted by businesses, and to be used as a remittance vehicle. After all, it was vastly superior to current money transferring methods as well as traditional payment methods. With transactions settled almost instantly at very little cost, it was easy to see why the community's optimism levels were so high. Bitcoin had unparalleled disruption potential, and it could really change our financial system - and the world - for the better. Even with a gloomy price forecast setting in after the 2013 bubble, the community stayed strong and held onto this worldwide adoption vision with conviction.
How times have changed...
The leadership of today no longer seems to share this vision. They are no longer focused on disrupting the existing financial system, nor do they care if remittance or business adoption grows. Somewhere along the way, they have lost their way. For example, one of the leading proponents of legacy Bitcoin, Samson Mow, was quoted saying, "Bitcoin isn't for people that live on less than $2 per day."
Also, in a recent Forbes article written by Laura Shin (found here); Adam Back, part of legacy Bitcoin's leadership, described his vision for Bitcoin as, "one in which users can run their own nodes and control their own private keys rather than entrusting a company."
Diving further into the article, Adam Back says, "he chooses to align with the so-called small blockers or 1x side because Bitcoin’s “differentiating value is the payments that you can only make with Bitcoin” — transactions in which you don’t have permission to send money, where you’re concerned about transacting for privacy reasons or where the receiver doesn’t have a bank account."
These statements are very concerning for a number of reasons. For one, Bitcoin, just like the internet, has the ability to reach everybody in the world. To limit its use to people that are already financially well-off, rather than taking its global, low-cost reach to the less well-off citizens of the world (those that could really use it), would be absolutely wasteful.
Additionally, it would be wasteful if Bitcoin was only used by people that run their own nodes. The average, everyday person is not technologically proficient, and they are not going to participate in Bitcoin if they have to learn how to run their own node. Worldwide adoption will only happen if it is made easy, and companies holding private keys for their customers makes participating very easy for the non-technically savvy (Users can always move their Bitcoin into a wallet under their control when they're ready to do so). If custodian companies like Coinbase didn't exist and if every user was required run their own node, it is unlikely we would ever achieve worldwide adoption. It simply wouldn't stand a chance.
Going further, Bitcoin's "differentiating value" is not just limited to those transacting for privacy reasons or because they don't have a bank account. Yes, Bitcoin does have differentiating value because of these privacy-based reasons, but they are not the only factors attributing to it. When Bitcoin's capacity isn't limited, it has differentiating value for ALL payments, remittances, and transactions. Bitcoin is vastly superior to the legacy financial system, and when something is far superior to something similar in nature, that itself is something of differentiating value. Bitcoin is exponentially faster, and it is - or can be - exponentially cheaper. Attributing Bitcoin's differentiating value to only privacy-based reasons is really selling Bitcoin short.
Now, if Bitcoin was limited to users who run nodes and transact anonymously, then sure, the 1MB blocksize would likely be sufficient. But doesn't that seem like a waste of potential for a technology commonly labeled as the internet of money? Shouldn't we attempt to maximize its potential? This user certainly think so.
To accomplish this, the network must remain free from transaction backlogs. Transaction backlogs create a congested network that causes fees to rise, and when fees rise, people and businesses are priced-out from using it; and like the internet, nobody should be prevented from participating. After all, the more people that use it, the more valuable it becomes; and if everybody in the world uses and accepts it as money, its maximum potential can be realized.
This makes one wonder why someone would not want to reach Bitcoin's maximum potential and avoid transaction backlogs with their high fee consequence. Why would someone want to price people out from using it? Why would somebody want to limit the number of potential use-cases? Why would someone want to make Bitcoin useless for payments and remittances? Why would someone want to take the most advantageous properties of Bitcoin and make them worse? Why would someone want to limit Bitcoin's usage to only privacy-seekers and technologically proficient users? What incentives would motivate them to take this position? The answer to these questions seems to be found in Laura Shin's Forbes article, where she is told the following by Adam Back:
"While he agrees the community should try to scale Bitcoin so everyone on the planet can use it, he says that will happen with so-called second-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network and the product his company is working on, side chains, in which transactions don’t occur directly on the Bitcoin blockchain but are settled on it. (Blockstream plans to sell side chains to enterprises, charging a fixed monthly fee, taking transaction fees and even selling hardware)"
This type of business model functions better when fees are higher than when they are lower. If on-chain transaction fees are high, their sidechains are more worthwhile to adopt. If on-chain transaction fees are low, their sidechain services are of less value (It should also be noted that the Segwit implementation makes sidechains easier to implement). To this observer, it seems they are catering to their own interests rather than the interests of the world. To this observer, it doesn't feel right. It feels like an abuse of power. Fortunately though, we have the upgraded transaction capacity version of Bitcoin in Bitcoin Cash, and legacy Bitcoin's leadership is powerless to stop it. They will be forced to compete with the high capacity, low fee Bitcoin network whether they like it or not.
The unfortunate part of this scenario is that Bitcoin Cash is currently dwarfed by legacy Bitcoin in all areas of adoption; the advantages of Bitcoin Cash over legacy Bitcoin are unknown to most, and legacy Bitcoin has the "brand" advantage along with investment momentum. It is still very possible that the best man does win in the end, but it will take effort for this outcome to materialize. Therefore, if you agree with Bitcoin Cash's vision and would like to aid in accelerating its adoption, the following has been written for you.
How you can be a part of Bitcoin Cash's success
There are a few things anyone can do to help increase adoption levels of Bitcoin Cash.
For starters, you can simply show your support by supporting those who are actively working on it and/or have expanded the user base in some way. As achievements are made in the ecosystem, show your appreciation to those that helped bring them to life. Positive reinforcement is the best kind of reinforcement, and accolades are always appreciated. Breeding a positive, encouraging environment is especially important considering the toxicity that has built up within the Bitcoin community over the past few years. With positive reinforcement becoming commonplace in the Bitcoin Cash community, a friendly, inviting atmosphere will be built, and this will result in others wanting to join in and contribute themselves. This was the type of atmosphere Bitcoin once had, and the Bitcoin Cash community's goal should be to bring it back.
You can also use your own personal strengths and skills to assist in adoption growth. If you have talents that could be useful in accelerating adoption growth, use them. If you can code, build something useful with it. If you're a business owner, accept it. If you write, post your writings on Yours. If you're an entrepreneur, build a business that integrates it. If your talents are in marketing, promote it. Understand your talents, collaborate with others, and use them to make a mark in whatever way you can. Everybody is unique and talented in their own way, and it's up to each individual to figure out how to use them.
If you aren't sure of how you could utilize your talents at the moment, you can purchase products from companies that accept it; and equally as important, you can always use your voice. Spread the word. Increase awareness and help educate others by touting its benefits and what it aims to do for the world. Educate others and educate yourself as well. Learn as much as you can, because the more you know, the more you can help others.
Going into specifics, if you would like to assist in adoption growth, reaching out to businesses that would benefit from Bitcoin Cash's high-capacity, low-fee features would certainly be helpful. Of course, reaching out to the "low-hanging fruit" would be the first, and best, strategic starting point. The "low-hanging fruit" in these circumstances would be the businesses that already use Bitcoin, but whose business models have been negatively-effected by the mismanagement of it. Those are the types of businesses that are most likely to consider adoption; understand the superiorities, and actually benefit from incorporating it.
Legacy Bitcoin may not want them, but Bitcoin Cash sure as hell does (and it wants YOU too).
Thanks for reading.
(Behind the paywall is a big-money idea for accelerating Bitcoin Cash adoption growth through the Yours.org social media platform)
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