Post-Bitcoin-Maximalism: A call for embracing the currency competition

in bitcoin •  8 months ago  (edited)

In early-2013, when I learned about Bitcoin, I dropped everything else I was doing and focused on building on, advocating for, and acquiring Bitcoin. This still continues to be the case today, but my stance on “Bitcoin maximalism” has changed in light of lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Important to note here, I do not favor any particular alternative to Bitcoin. I simply do not think that every other alternative to Bitcoin are scams, nor do I think that the founders and the community of these competing projects are motivated only by greed or ill intentions. In addition, I think that the altcoins serve an important role today, as we will explore in this post.

The case for Bitcoin Maximalism

Here’s a possible version of a future that Bitcoin speculators prophesize:

As the governments around the world continue to steal wealth from citizens in the form of taxes, bailouts, and inflation and enforce more control, surveillance and rent-seeking on financial transactions, the citizens will seek a better alternative: a superior form of money free from government control. Bitcoin, with more sound Austrian monetary policy compared to Keynesian fiat currencies, enforced by code, governed by consensus among a decentralized network of peer-to-peer nodes, secured by miners distributed across the globe, is the superior alternative.

As more people buy into Bitcoin, the price of Bitcoin relative to fiat currencies appreciates, which has a positive feedback loop. More people mine Bitcoin. The network becomes more secure. More serious investors buy in. More end-users transact in it. More development happens. This cycle continues, ultimately leading to Bitcoin’s total world domination.

We, the early Bitcoin investors, get rich off this pyramid-like scheme. The new entrants enjoy a superior form of money. Everybody wins.

Hyperbitcoinization

It’s a great story, with a happy ending. But the story has a few plotholes:

1) How things scale

First of all, the maximalist worldview fails to appreciate how things scale in real life.

A grown-up person is not an overgrown child.

A marriage is not the sum of two persons committed to the marriage.

A family is not the sum total of individual family members.

A tribe is not the sum of families that make up the tribe.

A city is not the sum of tribes that make up the city.

As a unit grows, it undergoes a transformation. With growth, eventually comes a point when it’s no longer the same thing it used to be. Bitcoin was founded on certain core values, but as the user base continues to grow, Bitcoin is going to continue the transformation into something else. This is neither good nor bad, it just simply is.

Things we take for granted in Bitcoin today will not be the value proposition of Bitcoin tomorrow. Bitcoin in 2018 is qualitatively different from Bitcoin in 2014, which was different from Bitcoin in 2010. With growth, this identity change will accelerate and we will likely end up in a world where Satoshi, if still alive, would be scratching their head.

2) How complex systems adapt to change

Nothing in a complex system happens in a vacuum. With the rise of Bitcoin, much of the world as we know today will change, for the better or worse.

Bitcoin brings back sound monetary policy. The central bankers who have abused their power until now have to act carefully. With no way to shut down completely, Bitcoin is a proverbial gun to their head: Act more responsibly or die. What can the bankers do in response?

  • Introduce more sound monetary policies to compete with Bitcoin’s. There’s nothing magical about Bitcoin’s monetary policy that can’t be adopted by centralized entities in a more efficient, transparent and effective manner, using some of the same tools that Bitcoin is built upon.

  • Improve customer service, the end-users of the currency being the customers. The bankers will have to compete to win over the people empowered by Bitcoin. The citizens will no longer be reliant only on the government mandated currency, so the services offered must be exceptionally better to stay relevant.

  • **Build new narratives. ** The governments may tap into ideologies citizens value beyond wealth accumulation. This may include human rights, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, social justice, patriotism and anything else that’s trendy and popular among citizens. History has shown time and time again that we are motivated by higher purposes beyond meeting basic wealth accumulation goals. Our time on earth is limited, and our value system is the legacy we leave behind.

  • Allocate resources to fight back Bitcoin. The core features of Bitcoin we take for granted today will be challenged. The P2P network, the social consensus, the market price, network security, the protocol development are all attack surfaces and game-able. Repeated successful attacks might not destroy Bitcoin entirely from a technical point of view but when combined with social engineering, will shake people’s confidence enough that it may just make Bitcoin not suitable for mainstream use.

Aside from the bankers, with the precedence established by Bitcoin, it is possible that people’s attitude towards money will change. Competing money-projects will be launched by established and respected enterprises with large followings, and governments will eventually stop the futile pursuit of attacking these projects. Money will be denationalized and the competition for the strongest money will lead to a never-ending battle for the best money in ways we have not seen before in human history. Technological innovation will make moving from one form of money to another frictionless and easier than moving from one social media platform to the next.

Does this seem like a fiction to you? It shouldn’t; in 2018, we are much closer to this reality than the alternatives. If you value libertarianism, meritocracy, and free market competition, then rejoice; this may be bad news for Bitcoin maximalists, but this is good news for you as the end user.

3) The new entrants don’t owe us anything

The maximalists assume that new adopters of Bitcoin are perfectly content with buying into Bitcoin at higher and higher valuation with the full knowledge of how much cheaper the early adopters had bought in. Much like everything else with maximalism, this is a simplistic view of the world.

“They thought we were going to buy their gold!”

As we saw with the Ethereum project, launched by Vitalik Buterin, or the EOS project, launched by Dan Larimer, the new entrants to cryptocurrency world prefer to take their chance with the issuance of a fresh new currency than enrich the Bitcoin holders. Like it or not, from a game theory perspective, the incentives exist, and so this is a trend that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. After all, from the perspective of an outsider, Bitcoin looks much like a scheme to redistribute real income from new to earlier owners of Bitcoin.

4) Security through redundancy

Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens — usually.
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Bitcoin nodes are run by software. Just like any software, critical bugs do get introduced over time despite intensive QA and code review. This is, unfortunately, the very nature of software development, and not a criticism of Bitcoin Core contributors. Bitcoin Core continues to attract brilliant developers, but no matter how smart they are, in a long enough timeline, there is bound to be critical errors in Bitcoin Core.

More serious threats are possible attack-vectors that are expensive and time-consuming, but nonetheless worth it for the states if Bitcoin were to become the only serious threat to the government money.

We are yet to see any serious attempt by the governments to attack Bitcoin.

One of the major reasons I believe we haven’t seen a war on Bitcoin is the existence of altcoins. Altcoins are insurance against state-level attacks on Bitcoin.

The thousands of altcoins that have come out following Bitcoin’s footsteps ensure that any serious and expensive attack on Bitcoin is futile and therefore unlikely. After all, what is the point in spending resources to attack Bitcoin, which, if successful, will be guaranteed to be replaced by an alternative that is even more censorship resistant, more decentralized and more private? From a game theory perspective, state-wide attacks on Bitcoin is a dumb idea, as long as the threat of one or more altcoins to replace Bitcoin’s role exists.

5) The trade-offs of Bitcoin

Bitcoin was born in an environment where governments around the world had a hostile attitude towards private money projects. Only the nation states were allowed to create money. Out of this necessity, Bitcoin had to settle for significant trade-offs in a quest for resistance. Many of the core Bitcoin tech stack, such as proof-of-work, blockchains, P2P networks etc are highly inefficient and present major scaling and environmental problems. But the trade-offs were well worth it to guarantee the core value propositions Bitcoin had to offer: censorship-resistance, permissionless, and decentralization to remove the central points of failure.

It’s only been 10 years since Bitcoin came out, and already there are alternatives to Bitcoin that are offering the same value proposition as Bitcoin but are more private, more decentralized, more scalable, more sustainable. Our imagination and pursuit for innovation have no bounds, and therefore it’s unlikely that we will never be able to come up with technology that is fundamentally much better and incompatible with Bitcoin. The maximalists would naturally dismiss the tech as an altcoin and so inherently a “scam”, and ignore it until it’s too late. This has happened over and over in the history of money, and there is no reason to think that it won’t happen again.

Why Maximalism is dangerous for Bitcoin

Maximalism started as a harmless meme but has gradually turned into an actual cult. The cult members have a few books they swear by, a short list of influencers they follow, regular conferences they attend, and recently, even a diet plan they adhere to. All this was fun at first, but now the comedy elements have gone stale and the cult members have become the dominant voice representing Bitcoin. Bitcoin has become a fetish. All alternative forms of monetary experiments are labeled as “scams”. This general direction is dangerous because not only does it alienate new-comers, make Bitcoin users look like a bunch of lunatics you want nothing to do with, but also this is completely in contradiction to the cypherpunk ethos that Bitcoin was born out of.

Bitcoin conferences these days

Bitcoin, like all money, is ultimately a shared delusion; it’s not real. Money only exists because we agree as a society that they have value and so we can exchange them for goods and services. This allows everyone in society to cooperate with one another. Today, everyone believes that Dollar has value; our hope is that tomorrow everyone would agree that Bitcoin has value, and is even a superior alternative to Dollar. But if we keep alienating the users by taking extreme and nonsensical positions, then the network effect of Bitcoin will stop growing, and other alternative currencies with a healthier ecosystem will eventually win.

This is already happening. The market share of Bitcoin is continuing to plummet and new cryptocurrencies are continuing to step up their game.

Frustrated by fellow Bitcoin activists, I recently took on Twitter to criticize the maximalism movement.

What followed is a massive outcry of Bitcoin maximalist cult members hurling insults, blocking/muting me and overall being outraged. Not a single Tweet actually addressed the content of my tweet with integrity. The behavior of prominent Bitcoin maximalists in response to this tweet is a signal that we are witnessing the birth of a cult that may be the largest threat we Bitcoin proponents have endured so far.

Bitcoin doesn’t scale socially if we don’t learn how to be more civil.

Currency Competition

The opposite of Bitcoin maximalism is currency competition. It’s not a utopian future. Scams and abuse of power will always be possible and will leave many victims in despair. Despite that, a free-market that encourages experiments and innovations is the best tool we have found historically for societal progress. The upside of free-market competition is that it leaves it to the users of cryptocurrencies to self-govern, not to gatekeepers.

Bitcoin is still the best candidate we have today as an alternative to government-issued money in terms of liquidity and adoption. I think of existing alternatives to Bitcoin as necessary test cases for permissionless innovation, as well as insurance against a state-wide attack on Bitcoin or Bitcoin users. The market and the passage of time will naturally punish currencies with poor fundamentals and reward those with strong fundamentals.

I want to see Bitcoin win, and I will continue to build and support businesses that make Bitcoin better, stronger and more accessible. In this process, we must never lose sight of the goal. Bitcoin is not the end-goal; it’s a means to our goal of censorship-resistant, permissionless, denationalized money that we can opt in and out voluntarily, not by coercion, social engineering or threats of violence.

True decentralization is when there are many competing money projects, not just one.

May the meritocracy win.

Also posted on Medium https://medium.com/@ferdousbhai/post-bitcoin-maximalism-19f392610d67

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Landed here for the first time and very glad that I did. This is probably one of the best article on future of Bitcoin I've read so far. Following you @ferdousbhai in hopes of getting more such posts.

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Agreed! Long time since I've come across such a well written piece on Steemit!

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how to success here

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@ugetfunded I hope bitcoin prices will rise again

I’ve had this belief all along, competing currencies is a true free market. What gives things value is people’s belief in it.

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the original will always have its staying power. newcomers may come and go. slowly, governments are seeing its merits. it has become competitive to fiat, so who knows? btc had its fair share of ups and downs but still it is fighting. i agree with you..may the meritocracy win.

Great content and I agree with the need for more alternatives to Bitcoin as a fiat replacement. Many believe and hope for a replacement to fiat currency. I have found that many more are afraid to verbalize that for fear of sounding crazy. It's going to happen though.

i also discovered something called bitcoin in 2013 but i was thing it's a physical currency and you can trade it as gold hehe
but in 2016 i knew everything about it and about crypto currencies world
i hope i can back to 2013 with my information nowadays

Great to see some honesty. I think we can all agree with your sentiments. Bitcoin, in my opinion will always be the leader of the pack given its history and nature, however it simply cannot satisfy the use cases of all other projects, it is not realistic to expect it do so. As a consequence BTC maximalists should encourage other projects to succeed as they aren't in competition with Bitcoin.

This isn't a zero sum game, multiple projects can succeed and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

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definetly not a zero sum game, great point!

Hi! I am a robot. I just upvoted you! I found similar content that readers might be interested in:
https://medium.com/@ferdousbhai/post-bitcoin-maximalism-19f392610d67

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Upvoted for visibility. I think the author should have included this link in the post as the source for the original article.

People should also be aware that this content has most likely not been plagiarised.

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I am the original source of content not medium.
Regardless, I've added the medium link since it might be worth checking the comments over there too.

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yea I believe he is the same author

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Cheetah U Are Cool Robot😎

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Absolutely right

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what the cool robot

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Oh Ohhh! lol :)

Nice piece.

True decentralization is when there are many competing money projects, not just one.

Saved the best and simplest quote for last.

Nice read... I notice your last post was 2 years ago, I imagine you are the one of the first Steem users back in the days. Glad you came back.

I could call myself a Steem maximalist 😍

Thanks for your information

I've had a lot of angry BTC Maximalists lately coming at me as well, for merely pointing out that competition is healthy. Competition in all aspects of life and goods and services is healthy and creates a better / more desirable product. Money is no different in that regard.

I was actually reading your exact article on Medium. This is by far one of the best argument against Bitcoin Maximalism I've read. Hope you don't mind I use some of your arguments when discussing Bitcoin Maximalism..

Hello @ferdousbhai,

Just stopping in to mention a very minor, easily fixable typo in your otherwise fascinating article:

"**Build new narratives. **"

The extra embedded space ruins the BOLD formatting you intended.

Cheers,

😄😇😄

@creatr

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Thanks!

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

Que grande eres

Muy buen post, aprendi cosas que no me pasaban por la mente.

Kya article likhey ho Ferdous bhai..bahut achey !!

Good content. It has to be an alternatives to Bitcoin.

bitcoin is not the best, but is the leading one. whenever what happen to crypto, bitcoin is the 1st line of defense.

Bitcoin to the Moon ✌️

I hope Steem will be one of the winners with its beautiful blockchain, we just need to keep it sustain at price competition

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I sincerely hope not, none of the blockchains are very egalitarian in nature, but Steem is especially not. I like Steem, but it needs to become a much more fair ecosystem in order for it to be a good international currency. Its niche and I hope it stays that way for now.

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Maybe u right

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Very nice, long post to read. Great job. Post is very interesting for me. Waiting for more from you. Have a nice day!

Interesting to discuse it with my friend about this concern, very nice article bro!

Will bitcoin prices rise again next year? thanks
@ferdousbhai

@ferdousbhai Good posts I like to read, especially those related to bitcoin
Bitcoin.jpg

Bunu okuduktan sonra. Galiba ben bitcoin ile ilgileneceğim

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El futuro del valor monetario mundial, está a la vista sólo la honestidad de las nuevas alternativas inundarán los mercados reales en las cryptos. Genial aprender de publicaciones como éstas. Muy buen enfoque...

i heard that the banking system has been finding ways on how to beat crypto. perhaps, this kind of competition never existed in their dreams to begin with.

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Ja, it makes sense, kind of. But, as healthy as competition in all fields of commerce may be, will the ultimate or, eventual, culmination of many crypto currencies not result in a type of mad rush/bull run type scernario which could then result in a mega fall-out, leaving all in a new style of stock market crash which could then also be just another type of failed monetary system?

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Why would that happen? I mean, what events would precipitate such a run on a crypto currency market?

Great content and I agree with the need for more alternatives to Bitcoin as a fiat replacement. Many believe and hope for a replacement to fiat currency. I have found that many more are afraid to verbalize that for fear of sounding crazy. It's going to happen though.

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A user i use to read a lot about cryptos!
https://de.tradingview.com/u/CryptoplanetDeutschland/

Meritocracy is winning , that's what you have to remember. The alt coins are down and its not a manipulation, its just insiders cashing out.

Excellent write up and summation of the state of the market, in my opinion BTC will have an incredible future but of course there is room for others with genuine value.

its not just about bitcoin alone. its regarding the future of crypto currency i am interested in. knowing.

salafist of money.... LMAOOOOO

I think Bitcoin will be the payment system of the future.

you must be rich from BTC having started in 2013, unfortunately I came in near the 2017 highs and have major losses, to me crypto is just a very bad investment, I keep hearing about all kinds of developments but the market has been dead all year.....those that bought early made huge gains for no reason, but now we need reasons to go up and in that sense it's all a big scam. the gains from 2013 to 2017 had no basis, there was no SEC/ETF issue, but now there is

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Most people came in when you did so don't feel too bad :)

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you made bad choices. I came in same time but i used a smart investment method.

Buying the penny ICOs for good projects and selling at the peak for bitcoin.

For example,
Bought ETN 1650 and sold 37,600$ within 2 months
Bought CAPP for 198.25$ and sold for 11,000 $
Bought DGTX in feb this year 3500$ sold it for 12,000$ this week if i waited a bit i would have sold for 66,000$ etc.

Also i do blogs that pay me atleast 100$ a blog etc etc. Just be wise and there is a lot of money in crypto

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shut up spammer.

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why are you mad bro for decisions that you made independently? i invested over 20,000$ this year that i haven't seen returns on and also invested 3900$ that if i sold today ill make 60,000$ on DGTX

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It's true. Just because it's "sour grapes" doesn't change the fact that some people came late to the party and ill-advisedly bought into BTC when the price was way inflated. I (and many others) got lucky and got in at the right time. Those days may be gone for good; who knows? Still, BTC is viable. It continues to represent value and for this reason we should continue to support it because it is the foundation that all future crypto currencies will be built on.

Cryptocurrency is forever changing I can't wait to see what Bitcoin has to offer in the future. great post!

Its such a slow old coin, I hope someone else wins

Great post. There is a lot of good information in here to re-read, and digest. Look forward to reading more.

Many things are better when you walk in the grass. Stay Dashy @dashpay

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Great Post

Great Post

Thanks for great insight about bitcoin market in long run.

Even the umbrella of the word 'altcoin' implies Bitcoin maximalism. This cult is rooted in greed and against the spirit of decentralization.

  ·  8 months ago (edited)

While not actually a BTC Maximalist, I tend to agree with them that this idea of "On Blockchain Governance" will just result in "House of Cards" for crypto enthusiasts were people get lobbied and bought. And that PoS systems (although many don't have governance) still has the 3rd party problem. Sooo... I just agree with Nic Carter on most things... And the some with Tone Vays, but we disagree on the need for Monero or at least I believe BTC and XMR should just live side by side, but I'm biased to what I help develop to mine XMR. But I am firm believer that ETH is meant to actually run code... Not an investment vehicle where in order to run your code you have to learn TA. So while... Other cryptos have use, I feel like that most ICOs have been failures and that most of the alt-coins that have ever existed have gone way (numerically not actual trading value volume) so the maximalists have points. BTC was a fluke. ETH even more so. If there is a third coming of a cypto that makes millions of people (other than the devs) then I would be surprised. That said... I'm for utility coins that actually work and do things beyond BTC.

exelent post

Good

Great read! I agree with your viewpoints

really spent time reading this post and glad I did. 4th universal truth: "we shouldn't be nice to scammers". never, ever! they are everywhere! read more post such as this so you may get to identify them. who they really are, ignore them and get away from them. Bitcoin will be the next currency! just wait and see world :-)

Cooperating and self-governing networks will eventually replace older forms of governance. No one network will dominate. Cryptocurrency is just the beginning; Steemit is itself another example. Welcome diversity!

I can’t wait till we Moon with Bitcoin and find out NASA (USA) never landed on the moon lol.

I'm not sure that there is an altcoin more decentralized than bitcoin at this point, but I agree with the sentiment of this article. Most alts don't have anywhere near the number of users and nodes, miners, etc. But it's definitely important to have all of these alternatives. In this sense, all of crypto is decentralized relative to the centralization of the state. If bitcoin fails, then an alt will take over and become dominant. My worry at this point is that bitcoin has to some extent already been taken over by banking interests. Obviously they don't have complete control, but it seems to me that their resistance to block size increases seems to be about something a bit more than worries about forking and bugs. However, we also know that Blockstream isn't in lockstep with banking interests either. They will prove who they are when they implement privacy tech. If not, the bankers have succeeded in buying their influence into Blockstream.

I've been listening to people like @tonevays mostly for technical analysis. I do think that they have the best team and scaling is a real problem, yet BCH pulled it off (for now). We may find out in the future that BCH will become too centralized. Time will tell. Practically all systems start out decentralized and centralize over time. The question is whether it is decentralized enough. If the state can shut down any of these, that means they've become a centralized target.

Likewise we'll eventually see the results of the lightning network. If it fails, several of the alts are sure to take over and will probably benefit from increased numbers of developers. Thanks for this well considered and thoughtful article.

Being on either side of extreme never really works out. Great post, Ferdous 👍

I very much agree on many of those points. In fact, I had it in my backlog to write a post that would have been rather similar, plus a futurism report. Your point that altcoins are a protection against Bitcoin being banned has truth but there is a flaw there. Why ban something when you can let the people think they got what they wanted when you get what you want? I think that might already have happened, but possibly it has not but I suspect it will. The governments only need to hijack it so that they can observe everyone. Access to other cryptocurrencies is essential to the goal of freedom. Blockchain is in many ways like the priniting press, we have to spread blockchain, not one, many in order to be free. One blockchain can be hijacked and then we've lost, but hijacking them all is impossible.

For this reason, I believe Zcash will be the future Bitcoin. I currently see Ethereum Classic as "better Bitcoin" but its really not private enough for that, and it will likely be the infrastructure of the future IoT world. Whereas Zcash is perfectly well poised to take over the role of the cypherpunk initiative and it will likely benefit from a flood of wealth added from offshore bank assets.

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All people are came in when you did so don't feel too bad !

Enlightening article, Things Rarely go as planned, fortunately we usually end up in the right place if we make the proper decisions.

The block chain is about more than profits, those who realize this will be the winners in the end!

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There the certain elegance to using Bitcoin. Right now in Las Vegas it's a designer currency. Not even people trying to stay colvert are aware of it yet. But with the many ATMs popping up that will change.

Good

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😀😀😁..
👍 like

Thanks for this post i really enjoyed on reading it, i share the same opinion about what happening around bitcoin, altcoins,etc... More posts like this please, nice work.

I Iike cryptocurrency very much!

Good article for Bitcoin. More of this to come.

Once upon a time Bitcoin Maximalism meant nothing but thinking the Bitcoin design provided by Satoshi Nakamoto was the best P2P money there was. Not that there could not be alternative coins for on the side use cases, that these had no value or that they could not also potentially compete with Bitcoin in the long run.

Times they are a changing.