By Jon Matonis
Monday, April 22, 2013
for a decentralized nonprofit project and I am proud to serve alongside
the other dedicated board members on such a historic effort.
Established seven short months ago, the foundation
has recruited bitcoin’s lead developer (transparency of compensation is
important), launched a grant program for funding bitcoin-related
initiatives, and coordinated a showcase conference
in San Jose. About 60% of our membership comes from outside the U.S.
and we are currently seeking partners for local chapters in foreign
countries which will increase global effectiveness.
Additionally, the foundation maintains an active relationship with
various press entities seeking information about Bitcoin and the role of
the nonprofit foundation. Since these inquiries come from around the
world, we strive to be inclusive and we enlist the voluntary support of
foundation members and regional affiliates for certain questions because
they would best know their local bitcoin markets. We also refer many
technical questions on cryptography and bitcoin mining to contributing
developers. Frequently and on short notice, the press wants examples of
bitcoin users in a particular country that are willing to speak openly
with the media and sometimes on camera so we do our best to accommodate
Media opportunities often lead to conference
opportunities. Ultimately, this work expands the market for bitcoin
education. Conference organizers and media outlets also reach out
directly to executives at existing bitcoin businesses and other
professional analysts that are known from previous appearances. If a
publication or television station seeks a certain individual for
political commentary, that can be found quite easily on Twitter or the
Bitcoin Forum. Social media has vastly increased the opportunities for
people willing to speak.
It’s not always about taking a position on political or human rights
issues. Mostly, it’s about freedom of choice in currencies and economic
education on bitcoin price movements, bitcoin exchange markets, bitcoin
merchants, potential regulation, and the differences between Bitcoin as a payments network and bitcoin as a monetary unit. Or, it’s about specific use cases such as asset protection in Cyprus or maintaining donation payments in support of freedom of the press.
The foundation itself is nonpolitical, so when an inquiry comes from an industry regulator, our role is to explain what is and what is not
possible in terms of potential regulation. I believe this approach to
be the most effective stance to take when confronted with regulatory
queries. Fortunately, Bitcoin transcends the conventional philosophy of
regulation by reducing certain aspects to irrelevancy.
For instance, bitcoin exchange endpoints where bitcoin interfaces
with national fiat money and the banking system is a possible point of
regulation due to current AML and KYC guidelines in most countries.
However, due to the nature of distributed computing, ongoing
transactions between individuals and companies would be technically
outside the scope of potential regulatory action as long as there is
electricity and internet connectivity.
Debates around gambling and personal drug use are moral issues. An
apolitical currency like bitcoin is simply a network protocol, like
email or telephone, so it is unable to express a morality.
To date, this educational approach has been effective because only
four jurisdictions and one central bank have published any formal
statements on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency — Norway, Australia, France, United States, and the ECB. With the exception of the recent U.S. FinCEN regulatory guidelines, all of the reports have been explanatory in nature.
Open source development projects while extraordinary in many respects
are actually not very good at “staying on message,” whatever that
means. And with Bitcoin, there’s no reason that they should be because
there isn’t a single message. The diversity of what attracts different
people to Bitcoin is one of its greatest strengths. Free market
economists admire the separation of money and government while
audit-minded accountants relish its public traceability. Even Paul
Krugman secretly covets bitcoin’s abstract nature for a future Federal Reserve digital currency.
However, being against dissenting viewpoints on regulation, being
unwilling to confront any form of taxation, or being anti-financial
privacy does not make one a neutral bitcoin advocate as some have
suggested. Those positions are the worst sort of bias because from the
outset they wrap ideology in what is politically correct and easily
digestible by the masses. Furthermore, it can be disingenuous and
Either way, Bitcoin is the honey badger of currencies and the
protocol rolls on. Hat tip to Gavin Andresen for locating this media