Bitcoin Fixed the Broken Financial System?
Bitcoin, the world's first decentralized digital currency, revolutionized the financial world at a time when the adverse effects of financial corruption were becoming abundantly clear to the world. Families that had trusted, invested, and adhered to the existing legacy systems were losing their savings and, worse, their homes.
This new technology provided the average person with a pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, electronic cash system, where person A could transact digitally with person B from across the world, privately and without relying on, trusting, or losing custody to a centralized authority.
Over Compliance Attacks Bitcoin Ethos
Sadly, the rise of centralized exchanges and creeping "Know Your Customer" (KYC) regulations are diluting this decentralized ethos, drastically changing the perception of Bitcoins use-case to a vast proportion of the newer community. Many no longer favor Bitcoin's original cypherpunk values, instead choosing to use it as a regulated, government-approved, and fully surveilled investment product.
Newcomers are often blissfully unaware of the transactional sovereignty Bitcoin offers, instead favoring a "stack and HODL" approach used primarily for financial gain. Some will refuse all forms of spending, referencing cases like the "Bitcoin pizza"; others believe themselves to be financially sovereign but make only novelty purchases or send micro-tips via custodial platforms.
"I hope it's obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them." - Satoshi Nakamoto
Mass Adoption, At What Cost?
As people's priority of convenience, compliance, financial gain, and mass adoption takes center stage, the original ethos of Bitcoin is becoming lost as the demand to tightly weave it into centralized systems increases. We are seeing a surge in services that choose to overregulate where no regulations exist, marketing compliance, and surveillance as beneficial features rather than what Bitcoin was created to escape.
As platforms over-regulate in an attempt to solidify their footholds and profitability in the regulated market, those holding on to Bitcoin's cypherpunk values are often seen as nefarious or having "something to hide." This is an attitude we expect to see in an Orwellian world, where a desire for privacy, sovereignty, and free speech are projected as criminal acts.
Surveillance is the Enemy of Privacy
Some believe that surveillance over all transactions to protect against a potentially nefarious 1% is a worthwhile trade-off to ensure the value of their bags is unaffected by potentially negative media attention, with a lack of interest in how it affects those who rely on Bitcoin's core values.
As public perceptions about Bitcoin privacy change, corporate "privacy companies" find excuses as to why "a little bit of compliance" is good for Bitcoin, leaving only those with solid convictions for the transactional freedoms it offers. Those fighting to provide the tools "they" don't want you to have rather than accommodating conformity at the slightest hint of friction.
Cypherpunks Write Code.
Privacy-first Bitcoin projects like Samourai Wallet and RoninDojo stand firm in providing the tools users need to transact privately, securely, and in a fully sovereign manner. As others focus on investment, compliance, sponsorship, popularity, and profitability, Samourai and Ronin continue developing tools that focus entirely on the privacy requirements of those wanting to use Bitcoin as was intended on the streets.
"We are privacy activists who have dedicated our lives to creating the software that Silicon Valley will never build, the regulators will never allow, and the VC's will never invest in." - Samourai Wallet
Those over-regulating Bitcoin play a part in what will eventually become restrictive financial law. As legal regulation becomes more stringent, impacting the profits of these "compliant privacy companies," you will likely hear them preach about cypherpunk values in an attempt to gain support from the same communities they helped regulate.
Supporting Bitcoin compliance is a one-way street. You cannot claim to prioritize your users' privacy and sovereignty after already bending a knee. There is no neutral middle ground where all can be pleased; if you want to contribute effectively to the sovereignty of Bitcoin's future, you have to be prepared to act, not wait for permission.
Who will you support? Those accelerating government compliance for personal gain and market share, or those working tirelessly to maintain Bitcoin's true ethos, developing tools that prioritize their users' privacy and sovereignty, regardless of pressure?
This post was an opinion article written by KYC3 (opinions my own).