Do We Really Need a Bitcoin Revolution?

When Satoshi Nakamoto created the Genesis block on January 3, 2009, he included a timestamped message:

"The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks"

The Occupy Wall Street movement was just beginning and the recession was starting to unfold. Banks were closing, people lost their homes and many were buried under a pile of debt they couldn't possibly repay. It was a dark moment however short it was in terms of history's epoch.

Out of the ashes, came a curious thing: bitcoin.

It was a virtual currency that stoked and romanticized anti-establishment fervor. It was peer-to-peer, censorship resistant, decentralized, pseudonymous and erstwhile untraceable.

At the time of its inception, it was this rogue flair that attracted its core supporters. Cryptographers, cypherpunks and people who were really good in math and computers. A movement was born.

But as time went on, this anti-establishment fervor eventually died down. Bitcoin, on the other hand attracted nefarious entities whose sole purpose was to exploit Bitcoin's strength: anonymous and borderless transactions.

Schemes that harped on, distorted and perverted Bitcoin's strength blossomed. The trading of bitcoins for illegal goods and services became rampant. The dark market thrived until - it didn't. 

The Fall of Dark Markets, the Rise of Regulation and the Entry of Institutional Investors (2015-2015)

With the downfall of Silk Road and subsequent copycats, a clear message was sent - both the authorities and institutions were taking notice. It can be argued that something changed in Bitcoin 's character sometime in 2015. 

Here's a few:
  • IBM shows interest in Blockchain technology for digital currencies (Reuters 2015)
  • NY Department of Financial Services Establishes NEW YORK CODES, RULES AND REGULATIONS for Virtual Currencies (NYDFS 2015)
  • BitLicense Came Into Effect in New York (Wikipedia "Bitlicense")
  • Circle Internet Financial Receives NY BitLicense from regulators (Reuters 2015)
  • Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange opens for trading (Fortune 2015)
Meanwhile, Bitcoin's early mainstays and personalities met different fates:

What this meant

This meant that 2015-2016 saw a change in Bitcoin's character. It was no longer "merely" the medium of exchange or virtual currency for people with the intention to hide financial transactions. Suddenly, IBM was interested in blockchain technology. Suddenly, government offices noticed that they had to control this, before it got out of hand. And what's the best way to "control" something? 

Own it. 

Now detractors may say that Bitcoin is decentralized and therefore cannot be co-opted or totally controlled. In its entirety, maybe. But with its individual parts, yes. Bitcoin is a combination of many things. Each of those things has a weakness.

The process of mining is an inherently physical act with the need of physical machines. The exchange of Bitcoins needed a physical act as Bitcoin had to be converted to fiat. Bitcoin's code had to be centralized in the sense that there is only one repository. There are forks, yes, but most of these rely on the developments in the Bitcoin Core software. More on this later.

As Bitcoin was slowly co-opted from many different aspects, the notion of Bitcoin as a society changing "revolution" that grew from the ashes of the Occupy Wall St. movement slowly dissipated. This would eventually lead to the massive changes from 2017 to 2018.

Do you think the Bitcoin of today, is still the same Bitcoin made by Satoshi Nakamoto?


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