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McAfee on BTC, Exile & the US: ‘No Way the Current System Can Survive’

John McAfee speaks with Cointelegraph about Facebook’s Libra, the importance of privacy and why he hasn’t paid U.S. taxes in eight years.

When people outside of crypto think of John McAfee, they think computers, cybersecurity, anti-virus software. But in the world of crypto and blockchain, you think of a yacht in tropical waters, passionate — and sometimes, admittedly, inebriated — tweets on tech and crypto… and an enviable amount of partying. 

When I called McAfee to talk on record, he was sitting at a table outside a cafe in Cuba with palm trees and patches of blue sky behind him. 

We talked about McAfee’s presidential campaign in the United States, his relationship with the U.S. government, cryptocurrency mass adoption and why he’s actually a patriot in exile. 

Olivia Capozzalo: You tweeted recently that Libra is a “grotesque distortion of the original intent of Cryptocurrency — economic freedom.” 

John McAfee: Libra is a universal, digital identification that’s going to be rolled into the cryptocurrency, meaning that everything that you do with that currency can be monitored and traced back to you. 

Now, I’m a firm believer in privacy and even anonymity when it comes to our financial transactions. 

We each have the right to earn a living and to do what we wish with the money that we earn. I mean, if not, then we are still under the control of the financial system we’re trying to escape from.

That is the purpose of digital currency: to give control of currency back to the people rather than to governments and institutions that can control the currency that we use. 

Watch our interview with John McAfee here:

And you need to understand how important currency is. If we don’t have freedom of currency, we don’t have freedom of anything.

To get that freedom, we have to have a decentralized system, and we have to have a system that provides a degree of privacy — because without privacy, then we still are controlled.

The reverse of privacy is a system where everything that you do is known. This is what Facebook has produced.

Please God, we cannot tolerate this. Now, they can produce it, but we do not have to use it.

Please understand that using Facebook is the abdication of everything that we have worked for for almost 10 years. So understand what it is, let them do what they want, but please, God, do not accept it as your standard of currency.

It will be the end of your freedom and the end of your privacy.

Exile in Cuba

OC: So, you’re in Cuba right now. Are you getting a sense of cryptocurrency use there or people’s relationship to crypto or blockchain.

JM: Well, keep in mind Cuba is a very unique country. It’s the only communist country in the Caribbean area — the closest communist country to America. Cryptocurrency has had very little impact on the economy here, on the people. And very few people understand it or know anything about it. 

For safety reasons, I’m trying to keep my mouth shut here and talk about crypto in other parts of the world because I really have no choice of anywhere else to go.

But, I can’t go anywhere. I was run out of America; I went to the Bahamas. I went to the Bahamas because America was charging me with income tax violations. 

Well, it’s true. I haven’t paid taxes in eight years, and I never intend to pay them again. 

To me, they are unconstitutional in America and they’re illegal. 

I went to the Bahamas because they have no income tax at all. According to international law, you cannot extradite someone from a country where the crime that you are extraditing them for is not a crime in that country. So, if you have no income tax, not paying it is not a crime. 

So, the U.S. then manufactured a bunch of other things — murder, money laundering and racketeering — which every country would have to extradite me for.

Their intent was to drop those charges as soon as they collected me and delivered me to America, and then continue to prosecute me on income tax. Now, I don’t want to play those games, so I came to Cuba. 

Cuba has never extradited an American citizen and if they extradite me, it would be an extraordinary exception.

OC: Can you explain your stance a little bit more about income tax? Why do you say it’s illegal in the U.S.?


Our constitution states very clearly, Congress shall pass no laws to inhibit, restrict or in any way hinder an individual’s ability to earn a living. 

Now, if you’re taking 25% of my money, if you’re making me work for you — the government — for one quarter or one third of the year, I insist that is inhibiting my ability to make a living. 

OC: So, you’re running your presidential campaign in exile. And the base of your campaign and your personal ideals is economic freedom, as you’ve been describing.

But on the other hand, Cuba is actually very low on the economic freedom index. I’m wondering if you see any contradiction in that.

JM: Well, not in the least. Let me ask you who creates that index? Is Cuba asked about it? Do people come to Cuba and actually study what’s happening here? Let me tell you something: This is the most entrepreneurial society I have ever been in. 

Yes, the government does restrict absolutely everything in terms of your making a living. However, there is an undercurrent just below that. There is an economic, entrepreneurial system, which I have never seen before. It’s the same thing in every communist country — in Russia, it was the same. 

So, you know people are making $20 a month, and yet, they’re buying cars that cost $60,000. Now, how do you do that? Ask simple questions, right? They’re doing it by being creative, by adhering to the laws of the government and at the same time, managing to make a good living. 

Keep in mind, America has strangled the Cuban economy for 63 years through embargoes. They can’t get building materials, they can’t get paint to paint their frigging houses. They can’t get parts to maintain their cars. 

One of the first days I was here, I bought a Bic lighter and along the bottom were seven tiny, little holes. And I asked the person: What is this? He said, “Oh it’s been refilled.” They will refill a throw away lighter seven-10 times until the flint wears out. It costs $0.10 to have them refilled, rather than $2 to buy a new one. I’ve never seen creativity like that before. 

So, people all band together to figure out how they can live. Jesus, I’ve never seen anything more entrepreneurial. 

So, do not buy America’s garbage propaganda, because I promise you: All those indexes, they have to pass the U.S. government’s approval. 

They have the airplanes, the bombs, the battleships. They tell the world what to do. They think they are the world’s policeman. So, don’t buy all this s— about being that low on the index. How do you know? Come here and take a look. I promise you: You will be startled.

Running for U.S. president

OC: I want to ask a little bit more about your plan to run for president of the U.S. If you were president, what would the role of cryptocurrency be in the U.S.?

JM: Okay, let me start off by saying this is my second run. I ran in 2016 under the Libertarian Party. I lost to Governor Johnson for the primary nomination. I did not want to win in 2016. 

In 2016, I thought the largest problem America faced was it was lagging behind in cybersecurity. So, I spoke on the national stage for a year about that and that’s all I talked about. 

Now, I could not possibly be president even if I had a platform, even if I wanted to, if I dressed in a business suit and didn’t curse. No matter what I did, I can’t be president. Jesus, God — I’m John McAfee. However, I can certainly run for president. 

So, let’s not talk about what I would do the first day in office. Let’s talk about what I’m going to do while running, which is to raise awareness — not just in the U.S., but around the world. 

I want to educate people about how fiat currencies are their prison and the means that governments use to make a society of slaves.

This is a terrible situation. You have a prison of the mind — certainly in America. And this is what I want to educate people about. We take control first of our economy, of our currency, of our ability to survive, buy food, clothes and shelter. Without the currency, you cannot do that. That is how you’re controlled. So, this is what I’ll be talking about.

McAfee vs. the U.S. Government

OC: Last month, you tweeted about having terabytes of incriminating data on corruption in governments. Could you go into a little more detail about what kind of data we’re talking about and how you got the data? Can you share some of it or reveal some of it?

JM: Let me give you an example of the kind of data. I was in the Bahamas. The U.S. government had manufactured these charges against me to get me extradited from the Bahamas so they could try me for the IRS crimes. The people who operate illegally with the U.S. government in the Bahamas were the head of the police force and the head of the armed forces in the Bahamas.

So, I outed those people. They both had secret bank accounts. I published the name of the bank, the account numbers on the secret accounts. The deposits that came in to these accounts, the dates, the amount and from who and the withdrawals in cash totaling many times their annual salary. So, now I’m wanted in the Bahamas.

This is hard data that I have on almost everybody in the world. Why? Because people tell me everything. When someone finds out a piece of information, I’m probably the first person they gave it to. I have it on everybody, Okay? I don’t want to bring anything down. I’ve never had a problem with the CIA other than that they keep harassing me. 

The CIA is as fragmented as any other element of our government, there are decent people and there are crooks. 

And believe me, I could bring down the U.S. government, like I almost brought down the Bahamian government. 

OC: How does the CIA harass you? Have you seen people following you?

JM: Oh, my security sees them all the time. They alert me to them: “Oh, this car is following us,” and I say, “Well, get the license number.” I have it checked out and it’s always owned by some obscure element of the U.S. government. 

Of course they’re following me — God almighty, I am a rebel. I’m an outrage to the stability of the U.S. corrupt government. Not the whole government, good Lord. There are some decent people there. But unfortunately, there are many indecent people. James Comey of the FBI. Jesus, God. One of the most corrupt individuals in the world — a total scumbag.

I mean there are many people in high positions that can control what’s going on. Now, I haven’t released anything. However, if anything happens to me… absolutely. I’ve got dead man switches everywhere. Within a day of my disappearance or untimely death, there will be every newspaper in the world pouring through more documents than they could have 100 people pour through in 100 years. 

So, no — it will be chaos. But right now, I just want to be able to live happily, try to make a better world for my children and grandchildren and fish from time to time.

OC: It sounds like you’re succeeding at the moment.

Promo in the crypto industry

OC: You’ve openly spoken about promoting projects, and often on your Twitter, you’ll do a video about a particular company. Can you talk a little bit about your vetting process for these companies, given our industry is known for seeing a large number of scams?

JM: Well the first thing I do is I have the company checked out.

I would say 90% of what’s happening in crypto is a scam.

The problem with that is, since it is, trolls and others can point to anything and say, “That’s a scam,” and people will believe it. It’s a very complex and subtle interchange of energies. But the first thing I do is I say, “Are you real? Are you people real?” and have the people checked out. It’s a very trivial thing: Have you ever been in jail? Have you ever run out on another company and left people hanging? It’s simple.

But before I even do that, it has to be a project that appeals to me. 

Then, I do my thing. And people call them scams — or I don’t care what they call them. I’ve checked them out. They’re doing the best they can. They don’t all succeed. There is not a universal success rate for anything in life. But they all attempt it. They all try and they all have good developers and — for whatever reason — if they do not, it’s not because there was a scam or because they weren’t trying. It’s simply because it didn’t work. 

OC: Do you generally invest in the companies that you promote?

JM:  No, I do not. I wish I was in a position to invest. Keep in mind, especially now that the IRS has shut down all my banks, I’m living hand-to-mouth. So, no. But what I invest is my time and my advice. 

I think my advice — you know, coming from a 74-year-old man who’s been in business since he was 23 — is worth something. And people generally take my advice. 

People do stupid things — I don’t know why. They’re looking for the money before they build the product. It doesn’t work that way: You’re not going to sell something that doesn’t exist. Or, they won’t put the product out soon, so they can get the money now rather than making sure it doesn’t have bugs. 

Listen, you have to have a solid product, because if you put something out and you promoted it and it’s got a bug, then everybody fails. You’re dead in the water after all of this work. Wait another two months. Advice like this is just invaluable to young people.

Mass adoption of crypto

OC: What needs to happen for people to use cryptocurrency on a mass scale?

JM: We have to have more friendly user interfaces. You’re not going to get the average plumber and give him a crypto wallet and say, “This 150-digit number is an address. It means something. You must copy it somehow or take a picture of this.” 

No. Please, God. That scares people. We need something that has a name. Frank Smith. Okay, I want to send Frank Smith 50 Bitcoins or five or a fifth or whatever. That’s cool. By the way, I don’t think crypto trading is the end-all for crypto. I mean, that might be the entry point, but the end-all is where we f—ing buy things with the crypto that we have, for heaven’s sake, rather than trading it constantly. But that’s coming… that will come. 

I think in 10 years there’ll be no fiat anywhere in the world. Everything will be electronic, everything will be cryptocurrency. 

In five years, I think the majority of people will be using crypto for the majority of their purchases. I mean, already you can buy houses, cars, almost everything with crypto — some services even. 

You can even buy prostitutes — both male and female — with crypto these days. I think in two years time, we’re going to see a quadrupling of both the number of businesses that accept crypto and the number of people that are using it not to trade, but to actually buy and sell.

OC: But people also need to be convinced that cryptocurrency is better for them to use than fiat currency.  

JM: Here’s an example — and if this doesn’t sell you, nothing will. Let’s say I’m doing business with somebody in England or Germany — in another country — and in order to get started, I’ve got to make a down payment. All right, so I’ve got to get out of bed, get dressed, hop in my car, drive to the bank, fill out a bunch of forms, sign them, get approval from the bank and they will say, “Well, within 24 hours, it’ll be there.” 

Or I can not get out of bed, grab my smartphone — even if I do have to copy and paste a 150-character string — push send and go back to sleep. I’ve got 60 seconds versus an entire hour. 

Which would you rather do? This is one example. Please, God. It’s so superior to our current system that there is no way the current system can survive. 

Bitcoin price predictions

OC: Recently, crypto analyst Mati Greenspan pointed out that there is an 86% chance that Bitcoin will be worth less than 50K by 2020. Are you concerned about the bet that you made?

JM: No, good Lord. Listen, anybody with common sense, and who can add and subtract and multiply, actually can count the total transactions in the world every year. And look at the number of dollars and yen and British pounds and euros and Chinese yuan. So, that’s about $2,000 trillion. There’s only 21 million Bitcoins and actually 7 million of those are lost forever. 

If Bitcoin were the only currency, it would be worth a trillion dollars per Bitcoin. Now, it’s not the only currency.

Take the growth at this point, the number of users and the fact that it’s going to be three times as large by the end of 2020. If it’s not worth a million dollars, then something’s wrong with math. 

I can’t lose this bet. It’s not possible mathematically. Understand, the market is an artificial thing right now. As Bitcoin gets more and more utility, it will be less artificial and more real. And it’s getting that way right now. So, to those that go “nah, that’s impossible,” please go back to school and take fourth grade math — that’s all you need. Figure it out.

OC: All right. Well, I think that’s all I have for today. Thank you so much for your time.

JM: Thank you very much.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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How Tyler Winklevoss Converted His Biographer Into a Bitcoin Believer

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are portrayed as the good guys this time in Ben Mezrich’s new book.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

I don’t normally write the stories here at Cointelegraph — I edit them. But when I got an email from a publicist asking if I was interested in speaking with Ben Mezrich, author of “Bitcoin Billionaires,” and oh, did I want the Winklevoss twins to jump in on the interview? I couldn’t say no.

Ben had the lucky chance — as he calls it — to already have an in with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, as they had been portrayed as the Men of Harvard, slightly “bad” guys in his book that ended up being adapted into the film “The Social Network.” As Ben tells it, after he saw The New York Times article about their bitcoin billionaire success, a book about their crypto escapades that picks up right as their court battle with Mark Zuckerberg ends seemed to be an obvious next step.

The timing for the publication of “Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption” couldn’t be better or more coincidental. The book spends almost 300 pages detailing the journey of how the Winklevoss twins have succeeded in crypto to the extent that it has wiped away the stain left by their battle over Facebook’s origin with Zuckerberg, only to then coincide with Facebook’s public unveiling of the Libra cryptocurrency project.

However, Ben’s latest book involving both the Winklevii and Zuckerberg — which was reviewed by Cointelegraph this week — reverses his previous narrative of Zuckerberg as the good guy and the Winklevii as his opponents. But, as Ben explained, it wasn’t the writing that got it initially wrong, but the reality that changed the perspective over time. He told me:

“I think reality flipped everything on its head, not just in the writing of it, but Facebook went from being something that everyone saw as this revolution and Zuckerberg as this revolutionary that was going to free the internet and make us all happy, into something much more nefarious, and Zuckerberg is now somewhat reviled.”

And Zuckerberg’s cryptocurrency project has not been without criticism from those that align themselves more with the cypherpunks of the 1990s than with the Winklevii of today. That is an important distinction that Ben makes in his book, shown through the twins’ highly skeptical attitudes toward the manic bitcoin passion of Charlie Shrem and the slightly dangerous libertarianism of Roger Ver. The twins, albeit very sincere bitcoin believers, could kind of care less about the sacredness of decentralization.

When asking Tyler Winklevoss about Facebook’s Libra project, I expected potential scorn, derision, maybe even thinly veiled frustration about losing some crypto limelight to a past adversary. But Tyler surprised me with his even keel:

“So, first off, I think that Facebook being in this space is huge validation for it.”

I waited for him to continue.

“I think that if you are a company in 2019, and you don’t have a crypto story or game plan, it’s kind of crazy. And if you don’t, I’m sure you’re scrambling around to get one.

“Ultimately we think it’s great validation in the space. I’ve read some of the technical papers and whatnot and it looks like it is evolving and they’re still figuring out exactly all the details. But there’s a plan to start, in some way move it to more decentralization.

“It’s still really early, and this is all one big experiment and iteration on the evolution of money. And I think it’s really healthy that people are trying different approaches. It’s not necessarily one size fits all.

“If you’re trying to be digital gold, decentralization may be the most important thing. If you’re trying to be more like a currency, then perhaps you can give on decentralization for speed. So I think it is really good. All approaches are very valid and we’ll sort of see how it plays out.”

On the straight and narrow

The main takeaway from Tyler’s comments throughout our entire conversation was regulation, regulation, regulation. Once you got past the “bitcoin does gold better than gold” standard line, he was ready to explain his somewhat unusual (what I would dub “hodler traditionalist”) views.

For starters, he was not onboard with my joking idea about selling “Bitcoin Billionaires” for actual bitcoin:

“Maybe you shouldn’t buy it with bitcoin, because if you believe in bitcoin, it is going to only appreciate in value.”

According to Tyler, there is no reason for bitcoin to even become a medium of exchange or a “good currency” because of “how regulation is allowing that to play out, at least in the U.S.”

And now that he’s started speaking about regulation, he gets on a roll that is nevertheless persuasive despite being well-practiced.

“We need to speak the same language as the largest funds and players in capital markets today,” Tyler said over the phone, in as far a cry from a cypherpunk as can be found. “I think it’s just really important to do things the right way. And that may not be the fastest way in the short term, but I think in the long term, it’s the one that ultimately will bring in the right audience and be the pay-off in the long term. Our sort of motto is: Look, we’re just trying to be the fastest tortoise in the race. And we’re playing on a game board that not everybody else is necessarily playing on.”

“We’re playing chess and, you know, there is checkers, but that’s a different game and we’re not playing that.”

What bitcoin lacks

When asked about the upcoming Bakkt physically-backed bitcoin futures testing, as well as the seemingly never-ending process of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision on a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), Tyler continued to play the role of the tortoise in it for the long haul:

“I think that people, traders, investors and consumers will ultimately want to see the same opportunities to express opinions through financial instruments in bitcoin as they see in gold. But because we live in the world of cryptocurrency, there may be much more, too. There may be decentralized exchanges and more decentralized finance applications that you can’t create outside of the crypto world.

“I think you’d expect to see what exists in gold but also much more in crypto.”

This attitude toward regulation, compliance and doing things the “right way” came from the twins’ negative experience with now defunct crypto exchange Mt. Gox, when they first started acquiring their bitcoin hoard. This is the main goal of the Winklevoss’ cryptocurrency exchange, the New York-based Gemini — to do everything the opposite of Mt. Gox.

And according to Tyler, doing things the right way is really the only way:

“We don’t believe in hacking our way around regulation or being too clever about it. We are transparent. We go into the front door, not the side door or in the back door. And that’s been our strategy and our DNA from day one.”

Ben Mezrich’s interest is piqued

According to Ben, Tyler’s passion for crypto and its regulation, obvious even over the phone on a group call, was one of the things that got him interested in the story and kept him interested:

“If there is a really, really smart person who gets incredibly passionate about something and everyone else is telling him that he’s wrong, that often leads to that thing that changes the world. People who are very smart get truly passionate about something, and you have to wonder why. How did they get so into this? That’s sort of rabbit hole that you go down.”

In fact, Ben — who admits that he knew almost nothing about cryptocurrency before he began this book — has become a bitcoin evangelist in a way that is abundantly clear both in the book and in our conversation. He tells me this on the phone with the conviction of a true believer:

“There’s no question that cryptocurrency is the future. That’s the way we’re going. It’s the science fiction money that we read about. And now, suddenly, it’s going to be adopted by everybody in the next couple of years.”

And Ben underlines that he was inspired specifically by the Winklevii, compliant, “right path” way:

“If you just talked to the Charlie Shrems and the Rogers of the world, it would frighten me, because it comes from this kind of crazy libertarian, anarchistic, Silk Road world, which is not something that would appeal to me, necessarily. But the way I think the twins came at it was completely different, and that perspective really won me over and it just made sense.

“The idea of digital money and the idea of digital gold — and something that you trust because it’s math and not people — just made a lot of sense to me.”

Ben’s goal in writing the book may have originally been to chase down his next interesting story, but his conversation with me sounds a lot like the Winklevoss twins in their early circuits of the crypto conferences — back when bitcoin was still in its nascency.

And according to Ben, people have seemed to take his past books to heart — as he noted that “Accidental Billionaires” and “The Social Network” actually launched many people toward Silicon Valley — which could spread the bitcoin gospel even further.

He told me confidently:

“I think this will launch all these people into this whole new world of money, and not just that, but the whole philosophy behind it.”

Tyler agreed with Ben’s assessment of the previous past influence of his books, noting that “if someone invested behind what Ben Mezrich found interesting, they’d probably have done pretty well.”

Ben concurred, joking that a hedge fund had once even wanted to rent him an office so that it could pick his brain as he searched for a new book topic. He didn’t end up taking the fund up on its offer.

Ben did add the caveat that “I foolishly never invest in anything I write about for a couple of reasons,” stating that he didn’t want to own bitcoin while also promoting his book, a highly moral stance for someone that also admitted he didn’t buy Facebook stock when writing “Accidental Billionaires” almost a decade ago.

Friend or foe?

I was curious how the characters that were portrayed in a more negative light viewed the book. After all, Ben had obviously gotten close to them in order to write a book that detailed all the various ways that BitInstant’s Charlie Shrem could be sweaty.

His answer also surprised me:

“Charlie loves it. Charlie read the book and the first thing he did was he texted me and said he cried, and thank you, thank you, thank you.

“I think Charlie’s a complicated character. So, even though you saw him warts and all, it really was his story. So, he liked it.”

Tyler chimed in to say, very seriously, that he and his brother Cameron are “cordial with everyone in the book. I’m friends with Eric [Vorhees], cordial with Roger [Ver], we’ve exchanged emails, obviously it’s no secret that we’ve had our differences with Charlie, but that’s all behind us now.” He went on, saying:

“I feel like we’re all cordial and respectful of the different viewpoints and opinions we have and paths we’ve taken.

“Everybody’s entitled to their different views and philosophies, and you know we don’t always have to agree, but we can respectfully have our differences.”

When I noted that his speech was more respectful than what goes on in crypto Twitter, he replied “someone’s got to set the example, you know?”

As for speaking with Zuckerberg for the second iteration of the Facebook-turned-crypto saga, Ben seemed doubtful, but as he said, “you never know, you never know.”

“I like to think of it like ‘The Avengers.’ You have ‘The Avengers’ as ‘The Social Network,’ and like the Marvel Universe, we go off into each character. Now, we’re talking about Wolverine, and next we’ll be talking about whatever. But it is really an incredible story that just keeps on going. And it’s definitely not finished yet.”

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Liquid CEO Explains the Gram Token Sale Is ‘Natural,’ Disputes Conspiratory Theories

Mike Kayamori of Liquid told Cointelegraph how it came to agree with Gram Asia on their exclusive deal for the coming Gram public sale.

It was a “natural” development.

That is how Mike Kayamori, the CEO of Liquid described an exclusive deal with Gram Asia on public sales of Telegram Open Network (TON), a decentralized network being developed by privacy-focused messaging platform Telegram. Kayamori told Cointelegraph how Liquid came to agree with Gram Asia. He also claimed that Liquid was the pioneer of initial exchange offering (IEO) and explained which advantages Liquid has in the IEO market.

“Everything is between Gram Asia and Liquid”

The upcoming IEO at Liquid is a public sale of gram, which is the native token of TON. The Liquid deal was not made with Telegram, but with Gram Asia, the largest Gram holder in Asia. Kayamori confirmed this by saying that “everything is between Gram Asia and Liquid.”

He explained the process of reaching the agreement as follows:

“It was natural. We knew the Gram Asia people. We also believed in Telegram Open Network and its community. […] A limited scope compared with $1.7 billion. But let’s do a proper public sale so that Telegram users and greater community can participate in before the actual listing that will happen in October.”

Telegram conducted a private token sale to accredited investors last March, reportedly raising a total of $1.7 billion. The company released a testnet version of TON last month and is planning to launch the mainnet in October.

As to the timing of the public sale, Kayamori explained that Gram Asia made “conscious efforts  to try to expand that ecosystem prior to having it listed.” He also added, “I think they wanted to wait until the testnet happens.”

Kayamori acknowledged that some people are questioning why they are selling it now. He said that “there is a lot of conspiracy theories.” Liquid will be announcing a statement to clarify some misunderstandings by media reports as to the gram public sale shortly.

He also suggested Gram Asia’s role as an incubator that works on the TON project and how it is part of the robust community of TON ecosystem.

The public sale is scheduled for July 10. As to the price or the amount of tokens for sale, Kayamori said it would be released about a week before the sale.

The sale will be available everywhere except for some 50 countries, including the United States and Japan. But Kayamori sees a high potential in the powerful combination of the TON network and Telegram’s 200 million active users:

“If you are a distributed app vendor,  would you want to be listed on top of Ethereum? or EOS? Or do you want to be built on top of TON? Ethereum is great. It is a gold standard of ICO. EOS is decentralized and good but who has 200 million active users already? […] The TON network app vendors building their applications on it, when it integrates into Telegram, that is going to be special.”

Pioneering IEOs

In 2019, major crypto exchanges such as Binance and Bitfinex are getting attention with conducting IEOs and raising a huge amount of money. But, in 2017, Liquid already did it with their own token, Kayamori insisted:

“We were the first exchange to offer IEO. This was November 2017, when we listed our own token. I mean when we did a public offering of our own token, at the time it was called ICO. We conducted that ICO on the exchange”

He was referring to the qash token sale in 2017, which sold 350 million qash tokens, equivalent to $105 million.

Already in 2017, Liquid already realized the importance of doing a token offering and raising capital by “someone who can validate, someone who can verify, someone who can do due diligence.” One of the problems with initial coin offerings (ICOs) was that token issuers “would just do it on their websites with zero KYC” — i.e., Know Your Customer compliance. As previously reported, there are a lot of ICO frauds cases.

Moreover, while Kayamori welcomes the recent development of the IEO market, he thinks Liquid has advantages:

“As a group of companies, we are regulated in Japan. We also have fiat on-ramps and off-ramps. I don’t think any other exchanges that do IEOs have fiat on-ramps and off-ramps.”

Although the upcoming gram token offering is taking place on Liquid Global, Kayamori believes that it can bring the “best practices” that it has nurtured in Japan, which is “one of the most strict and the most conservative in the world.”

Japan recently passed revised crypto laws, one of which, among many others, asks exchanges to hold clients’ funds in a more secure way.

Moreover, Kayamori pointed out the advantage of using stablecoin USDC for the upcoming sale. All proceeds from the sale will be held in USDC in the custody of Liquid until October. Kayamori explained that, by using USDC, investors can always check how much they have on the blockchain.

“We bring the lessons learned,” Kayamori promised.

Having done the first IEO in 2017 and being regulated in Japan, known for strict regulation, Kayamori sees that proper IEOs conducted by regulated exchanges will attract investors in the future. How will the IEO pioneer stand out in the increasingly crowded IEO market? We might get some hints from the public gram sale on July 10.

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Crypto is Taking Over the World, Bubbles are Normal; Shapeshift CEO Says to Blomberg

Crypto is making its way into the world of finance, slowly taking over an important part of the global markets. The recent Bitcoin (“BTC”) Bullrun seems to have attracted a substantial amount of fresh investors and this new wave of enthusiasm is very beneficial for the expansion of the ecosystem. This impression was shared by Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift in an interview for Bloomberg.

The well-known businessman and bitcoin bull said that not
only financial experts believe that the bearish season passed; from his point
of view, common traders also share this opinion and are venturing into the
world of crypto, albeit more cautiously:

“We’ve seen four or five of these bubbles at this point, so a lot of this is just cyclical. People wait until they feel the bottom is in and when they feel like the bear market Is over then they feel comfortable moving back into crypto. That´s probably the biggest reason why this is happening but often these things are just a confluence of many individuals making their own decisions”

Voorhees explained that bubbles are part of the typical behavior of an asset such as Bitcoin which is growing and settling in the industry. The experienced businessman explained that he is sure that cryptocurrencies are taking over the world. An opinion that has been shared by other investors such as Tim Draper and Mike Novogratz

Crypto is a Volatile and Heterogeneous Ecosystem

 “There have to be bubbles in crypto because crypto is taking over the world and it’s not just going to advance 5% a month without end” Said Mr Voorhees while calmly explaining why bubbles tend to be cyclical in crypto “There’s no way to go from a zero dollar asset onto one that is worth trillions without mass speculation and massive volatility we see in cyclical bubbles”

This graph shows the stages of a bubble. It seems very similar to the performance of the crypto markets
This graph shows the stages of a bubble. It seems very similar to the performance of the crypto markets

Voorhees also commented that there are already practical
cases for Bitcoin in various parts of the world but that most of those who use
it do so for speculative purposes. Finally, he explained that there are still
very few assets that can really affect the ecosystem since the gap in the
global marketcap is still too high:

 “In crypto you have to understand that even though there are thousand of these assets, it’s a very long tail and only the (first) ten or 20 have any importance at all and then there’s a lot that don’t really matter much, and they don’t really move the market”

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BTC Could Cross $10,000 in the Short Term, Celsius Network Founder Predicts

Brian Kelly Bitcoin BTC ETF

BTC is bullish and it’s easy to know the market is optimistic when enthusiasts, experts and analysts begin to share their predictions about the future of the markets and especially the price of Bitcoin and the rest of the altcoins available out there.

Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius Network Thinks BTC Can reach 10000 USD Soon
Alex Mashinsky

One of those who joined this trend is Alex Mashinsky, an early developer of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and founder of the Celsius Network. In a recent interview at the New York Consensus 2019, he told the Crypto Briefing team that he expects Bitcoin to reach $10000 in the next few days.

“The short ratio is still 52% … There’s still a tremendous amount of people who are short on bitcoin who haven’t covered. So I think we’re going to go above ten thousand before we see a correction. Because these guys are going to be squeezed out. We haven’t seen the pain yet. We have not seen them cover. They have to cover, and when they cover, they buy bitcoin.”

however, explained that Bitcoin has always defied the most important
prophecies. Despite basing his forecasts on market data, it seems that the only
predictable thing about Bitcoin is its unpredictability:

Everyone who said anything about Bitcoin was proven wrong. You want to make an ass out of yourself? Predict the price of Bitcoin.”

10,000 USD Seems to Be a Key Zone for BTC According to Many Analysts

This bullish sentiment is shared by an important number of analysts, however, each one has put the resistances in different points with 10000 as a zone of interest. An example is Mike Novogratz, who explained that Bitcoin (BTC) must first test the 6000 zone (which seems to have already surpassed) and then reach the 10000 Mashinksy talks about, however he was more cautious, explaining that he would be happy if they achieve that goal before the end of the year.

who also looks at the 10000 USD band as an important area to determine the
future of the crypto market is Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee. In a poll made to his
followers, Mr. Lee commented that once the 10000$ line is crossed the FOMO will
cause new traders to start seeing Bitcoin as an attractive option.

Bitcoin started a bullish streak that led him to surpass the 4000 dollar zone in April. Although the RSI suggests caution, the crossing of MACD shows that the bullish trend could last for quite some time.

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LTC Creator Says It’s Silly Not Having LTC Just Because He Doesn’t

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, shows no regrets for having sold all his LTCs. So he told LauraShin in an interview for the Ep. 116 of her podcast “Unchained”.

Laura Shin Hosts the "Unchained" Podcast, and recently interviewed Litecoin (LTC) Creator
Laura Shin Hosts the “Unchained” Podcast

Charlie Lee has been harshly criticized for selling his tokens in 2017 when LTC was in the midst of a bulllish trend that led it to reach ATHs. This decision led many analysts and enthusiasts to accuse Lee of not trusting his own project.

However, Lee has replied on many occasions that
he did so to free himself from the pressure inherent to market volatility in
order to have more time and willingness to concentrate on the development of
Litecoin at the technological level and as an ecosystem.

The Creator of Litecoin was blunt in his
response. He commented that from his point of view, it is very immature to not
buy or trade LTC under the excuse that he sold his tokens:

If you’re not holding onto Litecoin because I don’t have any, then your reason for holding and using Litecoin is just silly to begin with.

Although this happened two years ago, and Charlie Lee was completely transparent with the community, it seems that the sale of tokens is a burden he will have to deal with throughout his life, as his followers do not seem to forget or accept this fact.

The Creator of Litecoin (LTC) Is Not The Only One Who Sold His Tokens

This phenomenon does not exclusively affect
Charlie Lee, however, the community has been tougher on him than on other known
influencers who have done the same.

Recently, David Schwartz, Ripple CTO, received harsh criticism after selling large amounts of XRP. One user commented that this was a clear bearish flag, pointing out it was suspicious that Schwartz was selling XRP at such a low price.

However, unlike what happened to Lee, with
Schwartz much of the XRP Army came in his defense, going so far as to attack
the twitter user who shared this information.

Unlike Lee, Schwartz explained to the community that his motives were oriented towards a “de-risking strategy”, pointing out that having almost all his patrimony invested exclusively in XRP was dangerous for his future and that of his family and that there is no trader who recommends following this practice no matter how bullish a certain good is at the moment.

Lee spoke about other things, however one of
the most curious moments was when he explained that crypto currencies could not
be compared with traditional financial services because they have very
different characteristics:

Litecoin is both a store of value and a payment method. So you can’t compare that to Visa, which is not a store of value. Plus, you can’t compare cryptocurrency marektcaps with businesses.

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Winklevoss Capital Partner Sterling Witzke: Dollar Is Not Designed for the Internet, but Stablecoins Are

Winklevoss Capital partner Sterling Witzke spoke to Cointelegraph about the future of stablecoins, regulatory clarity in U.S. and a fair price for Bitcoin

Sterling Witzke has been working at Winklevoss Capital — a venture capital firm set up by the famous Winklevoss twins — for five years now. As a professional investor, she is very interested in financing early stage crypto and blockchain projects. She believes that stablecoins are perfectly designed for the needs of internet payments and will steadily gain popularity as the industry evolves.

We talked to Sterling Witzke about the future of fiat-pegged cryptocurrencies, the necessity of proper legal frameworks and the future of the maturing crypto industry.

Clarity is always good for an ecosystem

Ana Berman: How do you think, what will 2019 bring in terms of regulation? The question is related to the ads that Gemini recently launched, which said, in particular, “Crypto needs rules.” Don’t you think it undermines the whole idea of decentralization?

Sterling Witzke: The short answer is no. As you know from the slogans, Gemini is very pro-thoughtful regulation and believes that consumers in the crypto space deserve the same protection as consumers in other industries.

It’s all about making fair outcomes for all. It doesn’t undermine the original ethos of crypto to have regulations. The distinction comes with the companies that are built on top of the protocol. So, at the protocol level, it’s absolutely correct that you don’t need any more regulation and rules, because those are already built in.

You’ve got the math and the cryptography that dictates the rules on the protocol. The difference is that the applications and companies built on top of those protocols are run by humans, and we all know they are fallible. That’s where the oversight comes into play.

AB: The United States Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) has recently claimed that crypto will be its top examination priority in 2019. Do you believe the SEC will take some important steps this year?

SW: I hope so. I think that regulatory clarity, especially on things like security tokens versus utility tokens, is needed to get us towards mass adoption. I know there are several companies that were thinking about raising capital, but are now a bit hesitant because they just aren’t quite sure how to operate in a gray area. Such firms want to ask for permission rather than forgiveness, which is our model also, and thus we appreciate that. But I think that clarity is always good for an ecosystem.

AB: Many entrepreneurs participate in crypto initiatives, like draft bills, round tables, etc. Is Winklevoss Capital interested in proposing some regulation or maybe discussing it with legislators?

SW: Tyler and Cameron are very involved and proactively working with regulators to help form the way that these rules are made, which I think is very important. We don’t want government to come down with a heavy hand, as they might not understand the intricacies of the ecosystem.

I am not involved in the regulatory side, but Tyler and Cameron have been very active in the space for a long time. One of the most recent initiatives is the Virtual Commodities Association [VCA], which is a self-regulatory organization started by Gemini. I believe that its current executive director, Maria Filipakis, is actually from the the New York Department of Financial Services [DFS]. So, there is a lot of ongoing communication and collaboration with regulators to try to move this case forward.

Investors are dipping their toes in crypto, no one is taking the plunge

AB: As far as we know, Winklevoss Capital is mostly focused on the investments and the institutional side of the business. Do you believe there will be more Wall Street involvement in 2019? What do you expect in terms of institutional investments?

SW: I don’t think that 2019 is necessarily the year. The end of 2017 was so crazy. People tend to think of the space as moving at lightning speed, but the underlying development doesn’t move that fast. I think it takes a while for institutions to get comfortable. There needs to be a better custody, and any kind of healthy debt and credit markets to get those institutions really excited.

So, I don’t think that I would make a prediction that 2019 is necessarily the year. I think that a lot of investors are thoughtfully dipping their toes in, but I don’t really see anyone completely taking the plunge.

Crypto markets face healthy corrections, as any emerging industry

AB: CNBC’s Brian Kelly once compared crypto regulations to a ski track. Someone has to put a warning sign on a dangerous one, and the skier then decides whether to take risk or not. Do you think it is a relevant description of what’s going on?

SW: I think that is a nice sentiment. The majority of me believes in free markets and free will. Everyone should be able to invest in what they want to invest in. But the fact is that we have some responsibilities to protect people.

I grew up in South Dakota, for example, and crypto has not really made a splash in the Midwest, yet. In the end of 2017, I had lots of friends who bought Bitcoin at $18,000 or $19,000 and kind of lost their shirts. For such a new market, we need the same protections as we do with public equities. The precedent is already here, and there is really no difference.

AB: You just mentioned the bubble of December 2017. Do you think it was a necessary process — let’s say, a sign of development?

SW: One hundred percent. I think that lots of new industries need irrational exuberance to garner excitement and really get the word out there. Thousands more people now know of Bitcoin. That said, there’s no reason why Bitcoin should have been $19,000.

That was all irrational exuberance, bubble — whatever you want to call it. You could maybe argue that this is an overly healthy correction, but I think that a healthy correction was 100 percent necessary. It’s part of the traditional cycle of a new industry emerging.

It was necessary to move this base forward, because it got rid of a lot of bad actors. From the end of 2017 to the beginning of 2018, we saw every Joe Blow creating an ICO [initial coin offering] just to raise, in some instances, hundreds of millions of dollars, and then take off and drink a Mai Tai on the beach. But their investors lost everything. The people that are left and active in the space are really in it for the long term. They see the fundamental effect that blockchain will have globally for the next 100 years. These people are in the industry for the long term.

Bitcoin is a store of value, not a speculative asset

AB: What, in your opinion, is a fair price for Bitcoin?

SW: I won’t make any price predictions, but I am happy where we are, because we’re in a build phase in the ecosystem. I think that the speculators that drove the price up are now sitting on the sidelines. And again, the people that are left truly believe in an ecosystem and think of Bitcoin as a store of value rather than a speculative asset.

AB: So, the ongoing price correction, let’s say, when Bitcoin hovers around $3,500, is more or less a fair process, right?

SW: I think it’s a fair process. And we’ll probably be at these price levels for a while. There is a lot of underlying infrastructure work to be done with things like scalability, user experience, etc. Maybe not on the underlying infrastructure part, but on the top layer. People aren’t going to use these applications if we can’t make it foolproof and extremely easy to use.

Stablecoins are designed for internet payments

AB: As per recent studies, the era of ICO craziness is now over. Many believe the future is in tokenized assets and stablecoins. Do you share this stance?

SW: The short answer is yes. The dollar has been a great form of payment for a long time, but it was not designed for the internet age we are currently in. We need a stable currency that works with the blockchain and the internet. Fiat-pegged stablecoins bring us ability to purchase assets or to be paid dividends in assets that are not volatile.

The craziest example of using something like Bitcoin as a form of payment is the pizza that was bought for 10,000 BTC back in the day. At that time, it was $20, and now it is about $3 million. So, we need something like a fiat-backed stablecoin to be able to facilitate transactions on the blockchain. It’s a currency designed for crypto.

That said, I’ll give my plug for the Gemini dollar [GUSD]. The Gemini dollar is 100 percent backed by the U.S. dollar, and it’s the only stablecoin that has actually released their banking partner, State Street, and are very upfront about that. State Street can say, “Yes, with 100 percent certainty we have 100 percent of the dollars that back GUSD.”

AB: Can you please tell us something about Winklevoss Capital’s blockchain plans for 2019?

SW: Winklevoss Capital invests in both blockchain and nonblockchain-related startups. So on the traditional venture capital side, we invest in early stage companies, both seed and Series A across industries. We’ve done a little bit of everything from e-commerce to IT hardware, and international logistics, and everything else.

On the blockchain side of things, we think about investing very similarly. We’re not trying to be a hedge fund, we’re not flipping public tokens. We sat out of the ICO craze, we’ve already discussed. We’re looking for a really long-term companies and founders that are trying to build a company for the next decades. We’re investing very patient capital with a seven to 10 years’ time horizon. We’re focused very much on infrastructure. As I mentioned, we think that scalability solutions for things like smart contracts are really interesting.

There’s so many interesting applications, like the ability to prove identity and bank the unbanked, which involves 2 billion people that don’t have an official form of ID or can’t get a bank account. If you think about 2 billion people coming online, not a single existing protocol can handle that.

You can also think of Bitcoin doing seven to 10 transactions a second, Ethereum doing 10 to 15, as a maximum — that’s just not feasible. So, we’re looking at solutions that can solve that problem.

Blockchain will be in focus next years

AB: Could you please name any particular companies you’ve already worked with or would like to invest into?

SW: Not yet, unfortunately. It’s something that I’m actively looking for but have not found, yet. We have not made any investments in this space. I think it’s an area of focus over the next year. I’m hopeful that more and more entrepreneurs will be focusing on that problem because it’s massive.

There are so many applications for a blockchain in the U.S. and in developed countries — to make markets more efficient, to fix what I would call First World problems, etc. But, at the end of the day, when we’re talking about addressing the bottom of the pyramid and applications for that, there is a huge quality of life difference that can be more impactful. I’m looking forward to more entrepreneurs focusing on those applications.

AB: Apart from the social application of blockchain, could you mention some areas that are interesting? What are the most promising industries for blockchain?

SW: I think that remittances are also interesting, but this is a social application as well. Gaming is an industry that is really promising. If you think about developers, they’ve been operating digital economies for a decade. Nobody understands the digital supply and demand economics better than gaming developers, and so that feels like a natural adaptation of blockchain — things like nonfunctional goods within games.

Imagine a kid that spends all his time developing this gaming character and another person that really loves playing a game like Fortnite, for example, but doesn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to it. In that case, the kid could sell the character to someone who’s willing to pay. And, actually, that’s a good use case for stablecoins — defensible goods within gaming.

AB: How many years do we need for mass adoption?

SW: Most likely, several. There is a lot that needs to happen to the underlying infrastructure, and an amazing amount of things that needs to happen to usability before the average consumer is really using applications.

The interview was conducted at the sidelines of the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in January 2019. The panel Sterling Witzke took part in was called “From anarchy to adoption — are we selling out or really creating a better world?”

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2019 Will See Entry of More Institutional Players in Crypto, Says Asia Fintech PwC Leader

The fintech and crypto leader for Asia at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believes that many institutional players will enter the crypto space in 2019.

Henri Arslanian, the Asia fintech and crypto leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Hong Kong, has predicted that many institutional players will enter the crypto industry in 2019. Arslanian made this claim during an interview with Bloomberg published on Dec. 24.

When asked about his outlook on crypto for the next year, Arslanian said that he thinks “there’s a lot of exciting things that the crypto ecosystem is looking forward to in 2019.” Arslain explained that he expects the next year to be different from 2018 because of the increasing regulatory clarity.

Arslanian also declared that he expects “many more big banks” to enter the space, some by launching their own solutions, others by partnering with or investing in crypto companies. This involvement, he explains, will bring in “institutional level expertise” which — according to him — is much needed in the industry.

PwC is an international network of companies that provide consulting and auditing services. The company — which has its headquarters in London — was founded in 1849 and is one of the “big four” accounting companies. Their Hong Kong office has accepted Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for its advisory services since late 2017.

There have been already some announcements by major institutions, seemingly backing Arslanian’s claims. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Nasdaq — the world’s second-largest stock exchange — has confirmed its plans to launch Bitcoin futures in the first half of 2019.

Also, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), operator of 23 exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), announced that they plan to launch their Bakkt digital asset platform on Jan. 24, 2019.

However, there have been recently reports this year that several Wall Street giants have postponed their plans to move into crypto amid the falling prices of cryptocurrencies.

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Roger Ver Unfazed By Bitcoin Crash, Maintains Crypto Has Value

Roger Ver, CEO of and the de-facto face of the Bitcoin Cash (ABC) project, recently met with Bloomberg in an exclusive video. Ver, known for his hate for centralized entities, and radical libertarian thought process, and penchant for the Austrian brand of economics, maintained that cryptocurrencies still have value, even in spite of 2018’s dismal market trend.

Crypto Champion Roger Ver Still Undoubtedly Bullish

Roger Ver, one of the crypto industry’s earliest proponents, has long been a leading champion of this innovation. While he may have strayed to the ‘dark side’ (in the eyes of some) since August 1st, 2017’s infamous Bitcoin hard fork, he continues to laud cryptocurrencies for their groundbreaking potential and ability to disrupt centralized players.

He recently took this passion to the streets of Tokyo, Japan, where he was met by Bloomberg to conduct an interview regarding crypto’s most recent happenings.

The Bloomberg host, evidently referencing reports that November 2018 has been Bitcoin’s worst month in years (some say seven), noted that markets have been “chilly,” before asking Ver if a “floor has been reached.” The ardent CEO, quick to the draw, exclaimed that “nobody knows.” Ver then joked that this unpredictability regarding “up, down, or sideways” movements are just a part of cryptocurrencies’ inherent “fun.”

Doing his best to egg his interviewee on, the host went on to ask Ver about his “gut feeling.” The Bitcoin Cash proponent, who lauds BCH as the true digital cash, doing his best to specify a prediction, responded by stating:

I’m a fundamentals investor, so I’m investing [due to] fundamental [factors]. [In the] long-term, the future is brighter than ever [for cryptocurrencies]. There’s more awareness, there’s more adoption, and there’s more stuff happening all over the world. So, of course, I’m incredibly bullish on the entire crypto-coin ecosystem.

In spite of Ver’s positive comments on the cryptosphere, the host, who didn’t seem all too sold on crypto, asked Ver if the $530 million hack of CoinCheck and/or a notable Japanese Bitcoin Ponzi scheme have undermined this innovation’s viability or credibility. Interestingly, Ver turned the question right on its head, noting:

If anything, I think its brought additional awareness to the ecosystem. The fact that such big players (institutions) are involved, and hackers are trying to hack it, means that cryptocurrencies are worth something. if it wasn’t worth anything, or if it wasn’t useful, hackers wouldn’t waste their time… So, if anything, it’s just a bullish signal that cryptocurrencies are here to stay for the long-term.

Ver: Self-Regulation Makes Sense

The host went on to touch on the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA), the nation’s equivalent of the SEC, and the approval it gave to Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) to self-regulate local crypto exchanges. Ver was asked if such a move is logical, and unsurprisingly, the anti-government commentator said that self-regulation makes sense.

The chief explained that the industry knows itself best, making self-regulation presumably better for all parties. He added that in the end, the JVCEA will be incentivized to establish proper guidelines, as the firms in the consortium have a vested interest in the continued success of cryptocurrencies. More specifically, presumably drawing hints from the countless Japanese exchange hacks, Ver added that “not letting bad things happen to their users” is evidently a good choice.

Speaking out against regulatory measures imposed by bureaucrats, Ver noted:

To think that a politician in some government office somewhere knows more about how cryptocurrencies work and how to keep them safe from hackers, I think is just naive. So of course its the industry participants, that know the most and have the most skin in the game.

Concluding his comments, touching on what could send cryptocurrencies assets higher over the long haul, noted:

I think we need to build the tools to make it easier to use cryptocurrencies, as money, to buy and sell things, and to pay their bills, and pay their rent, and even pay their taxes.

Title Image Courtesy of @gebhartyler on Unsplash

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The SEC's Hester Peirce Isn't a Bitcoin Champion, Just a Regulatory Realist

Regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission shouldn’t be acting as gatekeepers to new technologies like bitcoin, according to Commissioner Hester Peirce.

Peirce’s remarks, made during an interview with CoinDesk, follow the agency’s decision to confirm the 2017 rejection of a bitcoin-tied exchange-traded fund backed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, which reinforced the argument made in a publicly-issued dissent published alongside last week’s announcement.

According to Peirce –  who was sworn into office this past January and previously served as a staffer in the U.S Senate – the decision actually does a disservice to investors who are operating in the market.

“From my perspective, we need to be mindful of what our role is, and it’s not to be the ones who decide which innovations and which technologies get through and which ones’ don’t,” Peirce told CoinDesk.

She added:

“I think that’s a very dangerous position to put ourselves in, and I think it really does harm investors because it denies them opportunity.”

Perhaps unintentionally, Peirce’s dissent made her a kind of hero in the eyes of the crypto community, netting comparisons to the effect comments made by Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chief J. Christopher Giancarlo had on his own social media following earlier this year.

In the days following what were perceived as his positive remarks about the technology, Giancarlo was quickly dubbed “Crypto Dad,” a nickname that’s now been extended to Peirce, who some have sought to label the “Crypto Mom” of seemingly supportive U.S. regulators.

But according to Peirce, her statement on Friday wasn’t intended as a remark in support of bitcoin; rather it’s in defense of new technologies and the people who invest time and resources in developing them.

“I’m not taking a view whether bitcoin is going to succeed or fail. I’m excited by the fact that people are thinking of new ways to do things,” Peirce told CoinDesk. “Bitcoin is one of those things, blockchain is one of those things, other cryptocurrencies – but again I’m not weighing on any particular innovation or any particular asset.”

Requirements satisfied

According to Peirce, the Winklevoss proposal was worthy of approval.

In both interview and in her Friday statement, Peirce argued that Bats BZX Exchange, the exchange that filed the proposed rule change and pushed for a review following the rejection by agency staff in March 2017, had satisfied the requirements as dictated by the Securities Exchange Act.

She argued that it was wrong for the agency to focus on manipulation in the spot market for bitcoin and that the risks in question were taken into consideration when BZX made its pitch to the SEC.

“I think the exchange, in making a decision to list this particular product, had looked into whether it thought investors were interested in it, and if investors are interested in it, I don’t see why we should stop them from having access to it.”

Indeed, in her Friday statement, Peirce contended that “approval of this order would demonstrate our commitment to acting within the scope of our limited role in regulating the securities markets.”

“If someone is trying to raise money for a legitimate project, as long as the person explains what he’s trying to do and what he’s going to do with the money that reveals everything material that investors need to know – I don’t think we should stand in the way,” she later told CoinDesk.

Nothing to follow?

Support or not, Peirce’s remarks earned her a big boost in Twitter followers, which as of the time of writing stands at roughly 15,800. Data from analytics site SocialBlade shows that at the start of the month, her follower count was at 1,275, representing a 1,139 percent increase.

And while she clarified that she’s not an advocate for bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, she said she finds the work around the technology “really exciting.”

“It’s not that I’m supporting any one asset, it’s just that I’m supporting the ingenuity and the creativity and the curiosity that’s motivating people to invest their time and money in these new technologies,” she said. “I think that’s exciting. But again, I can’t weigh in on any particular asset, including bitcoin.”

But according to Peirce, the crypto-faithful who are following her shouldn’t expect too many fireworks.

She concluded:

“It’s that my guess is that most of those followers will find most of my tweets very boring. Most of them are about very dull regulatory things.”

Hester Peirce image via YouTube/Elizabeth Warren

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.