Digital currency in perspective. Three views.
During our news reporting, interviews, articles, academic life, and networking, we made some interesting connections and friends from all walks of life. So why not do a special interview with some of our connections we’ve build up? That is the exact thought we at Bitcoinist had.
However due to the high status and fame these people and their companies have, we will not use their original names. These prominent people speaking out for or against a digital currency will have an influence on the price of said crypto currency and the stock price of the companies where there people are working.
The first one is Alysia. She has a very high up position in a famous international bank. The second one is Jan. He is a Professor, economics and international law, at a university of the top 50 of the best universities of the world. He is also a member of numerous think tanks and is a prominent player in many boards of directors of national and international companies. The third and certainly not least is Els. She has recently graduated with two master’s degrees, one in computer sciences and another in economics, from an international renowned university.
Serge: Thanks for sitting down with me and doing this interview. Everyone here has heard of the term “Bitcoin, altcoin and digital currencies”. What are your viewpoints on digital currencies?
Alysia: For me and the people I work for this digital currency business opens up a whole new set of possibilities. Bitcoin is the most famous crypto but there are other digital currencies, called alt coins, like Blackcoin and Dogecoin. This is an exciting time, though there are some obvious problems with the digital currencies. The security is problematic. Hackers can hack someone’s online wallet or exchange and plunder it. Agreed, the recent Apple break-ins are also on my mind, but still, leaked photos or plundered bank accounts/wallets, I think the latter is more problematic don’t you think?
Furthermore the need to control every bit of data is a bit frightening and has an Orwellian theme to it. If we go out and walk around I suggest to everyone to count how many surveillance cameras there are trained on the public. Everyone has a smartphone and a microphone in their pocket (at least we in the technologically advanced society have). It is easy for some naughty hacker or even more sinister government organisation (under the guise of national security of course) to tap into our phones and start sifting through the gathered information. So I think a semi-anonymous digital currency speaks to nearly everyone who is concerned about their private life and their finances.
Jan: I think this whole “digital currencies” business is just a fad. Yes this fad is currently going strong but nevertheless these “currencies” do not have any formal backing. They do not have any backing from the banks or financial systems, nor do they have any precious metals reserves. Furthermore these “exchanges” are created by faceless people, who aren’t backed by any government. Who isn’t to say that they are criminals or terrorists? That would make each and every one of you using that service an accomplice of terrorism or criminal activity. So for me these “digital currencies” are something not to be meddled with.
Els: Well I have a “wait and see” mentality. I see a lot of potential but there are also some things that are making me hesitant to use digital currencies. However I think there are a lot of possibilities, if these currencies are used correctly.
Serge: Do you think digital currency can make a difference in our society? Are there any pointers and ideas that should be implemented?
Alysia: Like I said in the previous question, it will make a difference and is making a difference. However I think that laws would validate and recognise digital currencies for what they are. I will not go into the details and strategies being implemented by the bank I work for. I can tell you that most of the actions are now behind closed doors. The banks in general are trying to understand Bitcoin and other altcoins.
Here we encounter a big problem. Objective reporting is not to be found in the crypto community, except in certain high educated people. Now most of your readers might take offence from my views but there is so much BS floating out on the internet. It looks like “digital businesses” and “developers of altcoins and such” are actively bribing sites to write good reports about them. Coindesk and CoinTelegraph are a couple of sites which seem to have a big problem with this.
Remember that the community is being scrutinized by CEO’s, high educated people from different backgrounds, etc. The fact that most articles can be classified as “very biased” doesn’t give a good signal to real business leaders and Venture Capitalists alike. Most of these people are interested in digital currencies as a whole but are scared off by these subjective articles and the rotten apples in the digital community.
Now not all “news sites” are bad or write subjective articles. I can name a few that have my preference and I can tell you that others, like Venture Capitalist friends of mine, are reading the following sites: Bitcoinist and CryptoArticles. Both sites do contain about 95% of objective articles. Both sites report things and back them up so other people can read them too if they want to. That both sites remain with the facts and do not speculate too much, does show they are on the right track.
I especially liked your article about the pro Bitcoin countries: Belgium. This is an article that shows how a decent article should be written. That is also one of the reasons why we use your site as an information source. We also use other sites, like CoinTelegraph and Coindesk, but we know these sites are subjective. I do not say every single article of Coindesk or Cointelegraph are bad but here is how it goes and how I see it. Day 1: you get seriously good articles that are well written and based on facts. Day 2 is just the same as day 1. However from day 3 onwards you get subjective and very biased “articles” and the quality just plummets to below 0. I could go on and on about the inadequacies of Coindesk and Cointelegraph but I won’t do it. I will give both sites advice: HIRE better writers that have a university background. Claiming that you are a PhD student at Brown university and writing sentences that are 9 lines long does make most academics laugh at you ( especially here in Europe). So I suggest that if you want to hire “journalists” please go the extra mile and do some research. Have they written anything prior about BTC or altcoins? If not ask for a kind of “draft article”.
Furthermore I hope the governments around the world would get a move on about the legislation and regulations for businesses and banks concerning Bitcoin and other crypto. There are such great opportunities out there but if the governments do not work together with the crypto community to create laws and regulations, it will all be for nothing.
Jan: Being a professor gives me a very different perspective than most. Instead of just breaking down things because “I’m a professor, member of the high society and an authority figure” I did some research on the whole digital currency hype. I quite agree with Alysia’s assessment on the news sites.
The first site for news about this “crypto” was Coindesk. I was astounded they call themselves a news site. Even if you ignore the spelling mistakes, bizarre sentences, bad grammar, excessive use of points and other signs, it is immediate apparent that this is just a propaganda site. If these “writers” would have to write articles, papers or theses which I had to correct, I would have failed the whole lot of them. If you can’t write without mistakes you should stay away from writing things. Don’t get me wrong, nobody will fuss over an occasional typo, but if one sentence is 9 lines long, then there is something wrong with your writing style.
If I look at Coindesk’s articles, I do have the distinct feeling that nearly every article has been paid for. As such, these articles are worthless since they have been influenced. I’m also a bit disappointed about this because Coindesk may have been created with good intentions but greed can corrupt much. I dug into this “paying for an article” practise. I found out that prices range from 6 BTC-40BTC. Personally I think the 40 BTC mark is a bit ludicrous and is not correct. However, if we take a general price of 10 BTC for badly written articles and some ads, it is still too much for what a company is receiving, in my opinion.
The second site is Cointelegraph and others like it. All of these sites have a big problem, namely a lack of professional, high educated journalists/writers that can write English. I do have to make some positive comments though (for the Cointelegraph website). I like the drawings but I absolutely HATE the color of the backgrounds. Green, yellow, purple, blue, etc., to a professional this looks like colors that belong on a child’s toy. Still, color can be a good thing if you can implement it successfully. However in its current configuration it is not great or good at all.
Now there are some sites that I “like”. Bitcoin Magazine and Bitcoinist are a couple of “information sources” that are giving out decent news. I would not go as far as calling the articles in Bitcoin Magazine “unbiased” or “objective” per se but it is going in the good direction. Bitcoinist on the other had is more objective as far as I can see. Plus they found a balance between color and news reporting.
Another site that I like is CryptoArticles. I do like their scientific and objective approach but then I expected nothing less from you, Serge and Jean-Pierre. Alysia referred to your article of Pro bitcoin countries: Belgium. I found your analysis superb. In law it isn’t black & white at all. Furthermore, you looked up the laws and regulations yourself because laws have a lot of nuances. This hasn’t happened with the other articles that have been written about it. For example, some amateurish writer from Coindesk actually wrote that “Belgium is accepting Bitcoins and is opening the doors to digital currency”. If you can’t examine, analyse or read a foreign language then stay away before you humiliate yourself and your news agency.
As for what I would love to see in the “digital currency community”; well there are a couple things. The first one is some legislative actions would be a good start. However, these laws should not be created by one group or another. I think the best way to get a “fair” set of laws is that everyone should come together and hammer out some agreement that may eventually be a basis of a law or a set of laws. If digital currency wants to succeed, it needs to crawl out of the dark obscurity of the illegal circuit and should be brought into the light of justice and legislation. That is what I like about the Belgian Bitcoin Association. The Belgian government is including and listening to them concerning Bitcoin and altcoins.
The second thing I would like to see is that news sites would get better writers or even journalists, like JP and yourself. Yes, JP didn’t have the “writing expertise” you had but you didn’t have the technical knowhow of the altcoins. You both educated each other and made something great and you are sharing it with the rest of the digital community. I find this excellent, though I’m a sceptic of this whole “digital currency” business.
The third and last note has a more or less objective view on crypto. The only way to move forward for the digital currencies like Bitcoin and Blackcoin, is to educate people. This can only be achieved with professional writers like yourself and JP ( there are also others that have done a good job, mainly people who own small and mid-sized news sites). We people tend to shy away from new things, myself included. So the only way to get “digital currency of the ground” so to speak is to educate the whole world.
Els: Well I have a different perspective than the other two people. I do agree with most that they have said but I would like to give my views on the matter. Having graduated only recently I have had some huge bills to pay. I used the advice, mostly concerning investment, that you, Serge, gave me and made some great returns on them. Books for university can be expensive and with the earnings from the solid investments I was able to finance nearly all of the course material, books and even a part of my monthly housing accommodation fee.
So I view digital currency as a real currency. I made some purchases (bought Amazon gift cards for the books and even used Western Union to get some of my investment out into the “real world”) with Bitcoin and also some altcoins like Blackcoin and Dogecoin. As for the future, who knows? I only hope that I can use crypto for other types of purchases. I did read about the MissBitcoin project on one of your reports. I would love to hear more of that. Also the fact that you are directly involved with the Bitcoin comic is also very exciting. I would love to see the English publication of this comic.
We at Bitcoinist would like to thank our 3 guests. We know this interview was on short notice but nevertheless we are very grateful for this opportunity to give voice to your opinions and views. We would like to tell our readers that the views of our interviewees may not correspond with our own on the subject. We are of the opinion that the critics have the same rights and values as the enthusiasts.
By giving a voice to the critics on our digital currency news site we create a better understanding of the why’s and the problems the critics have. That way we, as a community, can get feedback on the weak points and act on them. We are all members of the crypto community so why not improve what we already built up?