Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency in general, has exploded recently both in value and awareness. Much has been written and said with most of it negative. Cryptocurrency’s growth has introduced to many people what some call the future, unsurprisingly, they don’t like it.
Quite obviously, the bulldogs of old media hate it, the number of anti-innovation articles and bitcoin hating thinkpieces has risen dramatically over the past couple of months. What is more surprising and alarming, though, is the anti-future, anti-development attitude of those at the forefront of finance and tech. It would seem the generations that made their millions off the advent of the internet can no longer adapt to change. Without wanting to be ageist – which I am about to be – this is incredibly disappointing, these people have succumbed to the ideology that their parents have en masse, the very same that gives us nimbyism and the cause of most domestic problems in 2018: hatred of change and development. But this is no matter to the crypto-geniuses, while the victim of many attacks from the media (think parents’ basement-dwelling-sad-loser narrative), they will continue to rake in their profits without having to lift so much as a finger. And they won’t be contributing a penny to their national insurance.
But of course, good things never last, and the real killyjoys have to get involved. Activists, politicians and our benevolent government have joined together to push for regulation – great. This is to be expected from the left, anti-innovation is their brand; especially when bitcoin is the currency of smart, wealthy, right-wingers (I do wish I was one, I’m sure it’s because I’m not right-wing enough and nothing to do with my intelligence…). This is not at all what we should expect from our supposedly pro-business government though, but here we are, they’re planning legislation. Well meaning, I’m sure, it is claimed that the legislation is to stop crime and crackdown on the awful things that are done on the dark web. Even Europol though, the source the government is using to justify its approach, says only 3-4% of the £100billion in illegal money circulating is in cryptocurrency – what about the other 96%?
The last thing we, and cryptocurrency needs is regulation. Already we can see businesses adapting and embracing the revolution, which if we are honest is far more like a mindboggling slow change, I’ve even seen a coffee kiosk that accepts bitcoin. Regulation though will only stifle the development, and by all estimations do little to nothing to combat crime. We already know the authorities can’t catch criminals with real money – there are apparently 70 ATMs in London which are used to launder and move illegal money which we know of, but of course bitcoin is the real issue.
Clearly a new approach is needed, time, money and resources should probably be spent on tracking down those who offer the illegal services and god-knows-what on the dark web before you attack the currency itself, but that would be too logical wouldn’t it. Fundamentally the government should not be able to restrict cryptocurrencies in any way shape or form just because it is safer for the consumer, and by coming for bitcoin shows its ambition to reach its regulation into every sector possible, with only downsides for us. Regulating bitcoin because a tiny minority do bad things with it is like banning money because someone is buying drugs, banning sex because of prostitution, or banning cars after terror attacks.
In the end, this comes down to a much bigger issue, the culture war that rages between the unstoppable development of technology, and a ruling class that is unwilling and/or unable to keep up. The government needs to find its feet in the 21st Century, or risk being stuck in a terrified 90s phase where every new thing becomes a Y2K threat. Embrace the internet, don’t regulate it.
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