This is an opinion piece by Stephan Livera, host of the “Stephan Livera Podcast” and Managing Director of Swan Bitcoin International. This is an adaptation of an article of his speech for BitBlockBoom 2022 in Austin, TX.
We live in an age of immense change and money is broken. But on the bright side, we have this monetary technology, Bitcoin. On the other hand, many people don’t understand the point of bitcoin because they are trapped in fiat mentalities.
Consider this short GIF above. Are Bitcoiners Like This Man “Pushing the Train Unnecessarily?” Is it all going no matter what we do?
Is bitcoin inevitable?
Sometimes the way people talk about it on Bitcoin Twitter is like “Bitcoin is inevitable”, and that raises an interesting question. Is it? In which way? Could we all sit back and do nothing?
Not exactly. Bitcoin still needs things to sustain itself as a system: code review and maintenance, miners securing the system, users and HODLers giving it value. Maybe in some global sense Bitcoin is not absolutely inevitablebut it is extremely likely to win based on certain qualities, e.g. scarcity, neutrality, openness, etc. But whether or not Bitcoin is inevitable depends a lot on real people doing the things that support the system.
So what can you do?
You can drive adoption or technological advancement in and around Bitcoin. You don’t have to be a developer to contribute either. You can:
- Test, review and provide feedback on bitcoin apps. Many have a community of developers and users in Telegram chats or Mattermost servers.
- Organize or contribute to your local Bitcoin meetup
- Invest in Bitcoin businesses or work there
- Do foreign language translation of influential bitcoin content
- Fund Bitcoin Development and Overhaul
- Get published in non-Bitcoin media to spread the word outside Bitcoin circles
Don’t underestimate the power of normalizing bitcoin usage among your friends. As a quick example, if you’re having dinner with friends/family and someone picks up the bill by paying in fiat, you can offer to set them up on the Muun, Breez or Phoenix wallet and pay them back via Lightning. It’s possible that over time, this accumulation of sats is helping to trigger “bitcoin greed” in that person. In the best case, you can create a new Bitcoin HODLer/stacker.
Or do you have friends and family overseas that you send money to? Don’t be afraid to use bitcoin to do this, and let them sell that bitcoin for cash in their local markets if they need to. Chances are they can sell bitcoins for a slight premium in their local markets. Or they could use voucher sites such as Bitrefill.com to indirectly spend bitcoins on what they need.
Another idea is to find a local cafe or bar where you regularly host your bitcoin meet and offer to take bitcoin payments. If you bring him revenue in terms of paying customers, he will be more likely to give you the time of day. Don’t forget that Breez has a built-in POS mode that merchants can easily install and use as an app on their phone or tablet. Or, of course, for larger setups, they could use payment solutions like OpenNode or IBEX Lightning. For non-custodial setups, if they are tech-savvy, you can setup BTCPay Server.
Be upfront about where we are
We are so, so early in terms of bitcoin usage. I understand that I sound like a broken record saying this, but it’s really true in terms of the number of users in the world.
Especially if we are talking about non-custodial use, the number of UTXOs as I write this in August 2022 is around 85 million. This is actually an upper limit of non-custodial bitcoin users. Of course, there will be custodian users whose IOU coins are represented by a platform, and there will be users who have many UTXOs, so the actual number of unique Bitcoin users on-chain will be fine. less than 85 million in a world. nearly 8 billion people.
For this reason, it can be difficult to get traction in bitcoin payments, as very few people in the world even have bitcoins to make payments. But it is also an opportunity to grow the scene and build the peer-to-peer economy of bitcoin users.
Technology adoption and public attitudes
Going back to this idea of Bitcoin’s inevitability, public attitude towards Bitcoin matters to Bitcoiners. Although the Bitcoin Project may continue, individuals may suffer if singled out by the government. Additionally, the many people who today suffer from high inflation or financial censorship would continue to suffer if Bitcoin were not reasonably available.
An interesting historical parallel may be in how ideas changed history enabling the industrial revolution. In her “Bourgeois Equality” series, Deirdre McCloskey argues that it was liberal ideas – and notions of equality and dignity – that did this. Cultural attitudes towards merchants and trade have changed, leading to a massive increase in human prosperity and living standards over the past hundred years. Big ideas can really get things done and the bitcoin community’s idea of digital sound money is one of the biggest.
Or consider another analogy – if nuclear energy technology is criminalized, then humanity is less able to benefit from nuclear energy. And remember that nuclear energy requires an ecosystem of talented engineers to support it as well. Likewise, Bitcoin requires humans to maintain and advance it.
So ideas and culture really change the world, and you can contribute to Bitcoin without necessarily being a developer.
So let’s all go ahead and push the train!
This is a guest post by Stephan Livera. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.