Blockchain not bitcoin (E6)
In this episode of TO THE MOON, Max and Stacy arrive in the year 2015 when the notion of ‘blockchain, not bitcoin’ took hold in the media and on the Wall Street. This was the banks’ attempt to co-opt the distributed ledger technology of the protocol (and turn it into a permissioned wall garden) without having to compete with the actual power of bitcoin as a store of value. Giacomo Zucco compares this to when Bill Gates wrote in 1995 that the internet would not be important, that what would be important is the ‘information highway,’ and that banks are at the bargaining stage of their Kübler-Ross five stages of grief. The show turns to archival footage of Tony Gallippi of Bitpay discussing the banks getting involved in what they choose to call ‘blockchain.’ Caitlin Long reminisces on her detour down the ‘blockchain, not bitcoin’ path until she realized this was like trying to force ‘intranet, not internet’ back in the early internet days. Stacy also brings up the fact that banks are members of the Federal Reserve system, a walled garden in which they are entitled to freshly-minted money. The year also sees the rise of China as a power player in bitcoin mining and the production of mining equipment. China’s capital controls also sees bitcoin prices soar as residents attempt to circumvent the controls. Not to be outdone by the Chinese, New York introduces the BitLicense, which will ultimately drive out business. Caitlin Long explains that she is trying to help Wyoming introduce enabling laws rather than restricting laws as New York had done with the BitLicense. Bitcoin economist, Saifedean Ammous, explains the confusion on the meaning of ‘cash’ in the white paper title of “peer-to-peer digital cash.” The year ends with the final Silk Road auction by US Marshals who sell 44,000 bitcoins, thus ridding themselves of some of the hardest money the government had ever owned. Guests and archival clips include: Giacomo Zucco, Caitlin Long, Simon Dixon, Saifedean Ammous, Russell Brand, Nozomi Hayase, and Tony Gallippi.