Roubini vs Hayes: A Breakdown of the Tangle in Taipei
BitMEX has finally released the unedited video of its CEO, Arthur Hayes, debating noted economist, Nouriel Roubini, at the Asia Blockchain Summit earlier this month.
The 53-minute long discussion ventured into uncomfortable territories of both the bitcoin and mainstream finance. While Roubini kept his focus on the criminal nature of cryptocurrencies and their evangelists, Hayes projected them as a means to promote financial privacy.
Offering Risky Leverage Services
Roubini opened with a monologue about the “sh***y behavior” of the cryptocurrency industry as he spilled insults over Hayes for running an unregulated cryptocurrency exchange that offers highly risky leverage services. The economist compared BitMEX with businesses that cash on the stupidity of non-accredited, inexperienced investors. He added that BitMEX is an unregulated cryptocurrency exchange that offers highly risky leverage services.
They do not offer 5 times leverage, they don’t offer 10 times either. But they offer 100 times, so even a 0.5 percent move in the price could wipe investors out of their positions,” Roubini told Hayes. “Your business model is all what the cryptocurrency industry is all about: no regulation, no KYC, no audits. You can screw clients financially and it doesn’t matter.
A defensive Hayes admitted that BitMEx offers highly risky leverage services to clients but felt the practice was way too frequent even for a US-regulated entity. The CEO added that their exchange only pitted traders against each other while serving as a custodian to their assets as they go on trading.
I’m not trying to force anyone to use BitMEX. We don’t even do any marketing… Somehow, a few hundred thousand people who have found other oasis and started trading. We are not making people trade bitcoin. No one said you have to go out and own it. And then send it to us and use it as margins.
There is a reason why regulators allow only people with specific income slabs to become accredited investors. Some investments are highly risky and purely speculative. They could easily rip small investors off their savings, which is why investments like bitcoin are dangerous.
That is what Roubini told Hayes while explaining the ill-effects of exchanges like BitMEX, which to date remains outside the purview of the US regulators since it works from a so-called lightly-regulated Seychelles.
Now what happens with these unregulated exchange is that anybody can go to them, put leverage 100 times, and lose their entire financial wealth
He also claimed that he knows many individuals, including students, personally who lost their life savings and loan money after purchasing bitcoin during the 2017 bull run.
They all have been royally screwed
Hayes did not respond to how everyday investor lost money while betting on bitcoin. Nevertheless, the BitMEX CEO assured that working with Seychelles regulators is as okay as working with any other regulator in the world. Responding to Roubini, Hayes said New York is not the frontrunner of financial regulations.
Just because the US does something does not mean that everybody else needs to follow
On Why the World Needs Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies
A large part of the discussion witnessed Roubini and Hayes locking horns over the necessity of digital assets like cryptocurrencies. Hayes adamantly projected bitcoin as a tool that promises financial independence and more privacy. The BitMEX CEO discussed a hypothetical case wherein an activist – not liked by his government – gets his bank accounts and funds confiscated. If such a thing happens, then bitcoin offers a way to circumvent those bans.
That has happened even during the Hong Kong protests… In a centralized system, we want convenience. A decentralized, peer-to-peer blockchain system is not going to be as fast as systems like Alipay. However, it has a different use case. Privacy is expensive. And if you value it, you’ll have to pay for it.
The remarks followed Roubini’s attack on bitcoin’s scalability, wherein the economist criticized the cryptocurrency for processing merely five transactions per second. In comparison, payment processing companies like Visa processed 25,000 transactions per second. Roubini stated that even developing nations did not need to use bitcoin for payments since they already have cheaper, non-volatile payment alternatives.
Hayes defended bitcoin against scalability issues, stating that the cryptocurrency is only a decade old and has room to improve. He added that bitcoin could be much faster but people looking for privacy would still not use it for making payments.
The conversation later switched to private keys, a method using which a bitcoin owner retains 100 percent ownership of his holdings. Hayes projected the technology as a tool for people to be in 100 percent control of their money. At the same time, Roubini believed the solution is taking the financial systems back to the stone age where people hid their gold under the ground.
The cryptocurrency system is totally not secure… If somebody steals my credit card or bank information, then it takes me 30 seconds to call my bank and recover my funds.
Adding that bitcoin private keys lacked such “deposit insurance,” Roubini explained anybody can those “piece of papers” at gunpoint. Therefore, people can lose millions and billions of dollars in a puff, without any insurance to recover them back. It is equivalent to the times when people secured money under their mattresses.
It’s like having a big cave underground where you have to keep your bitcoins. And then, you have to write down private key on a piece of paper. Then you have to hide it somewhere, in the walls or mattresses and wonder whether or not the rats are going to eat it up.
Watching both Hayes and Roubini trying to grab each others’ throats was like watching a TV soap opera. Each side began with a promise of making knowledgeable points but, at the apex of it, it turned the debate into a curse-fest. Roubini remained an unapologetic basher who enjoyed insulting with his stern face, and even though his points about the bitcoin’s scalability, regulations, and security landed well, his Rambo avatar in the end washed down the efforts.
As of Hayes, the BitMEX CEO smiled and laughed through the debate, always bringing himself to discussing privacy and people’s right to non-sovereign assets. He could have discussed Lightning Network in response to Roubini’s remarks on bitcoin speed. There were also opportunities to project bitcoin as a solution against the so-called banking cartels, inflation, and whatnot – as a fellow evangelist Andreas Antonopolous would have done. But Hayes didn’t.
Overall, it was a very poor debate. It didn’t address the heart of the problem: how to organize the money creation and regulatory institutions. Nevertheless, even a poor one has a winner in the end.
Who do you think won the ‘Tangle in Taipei Crypto Spat’? Lets us know in the comments below!
Video courtesy of Youtube @Bitmex