Location: Los Angeles
Date: Friday 4th February
Company: USC Marshall School of Business
Role: Author and Adjunct Professor of Finance
Bitcoin empowers individuals, the threat to the state is clear. As the New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asserted in December 2020: “We must do everything possible to make sure the currency monopoly remains in the hands of states.”
As a response to Bitcoin, the major world economies are pilot testing CBDCs, and pressure is being applied to low and middle-income countries. In October 2021 the IMF stated in its Global Financial Stability Report that “Emerging markets faced with cryptoization risks should strengthen macroeconomic policies and consider the benefits of issuing central bank digital currencies.”
The privacy concerns emanating from CBDCs are being exacerbated by the same organisations promoting them; in another IMF statement in late 2020 they stated a person’s online search and purchase history is a suitable data source for undertaking a credit assessment. In addition, the anonymity of cash is known to be an issue for governments around the world.
Whilst there are obvious benefits to enabling better payments processes to citizens, CBDCs could also facilitate state controls on how and when people spend money. The Bank of England is considering using smart contracts within a CBDC; the FT raised concerns about the potential for severe restrictions on personal freedom mirroring China’s “social credit” system.
As we have seen, these fears are no longer being seen as theoretical threats that don’t apply to those living in western democracies. What is currently happening in Canada is giving even the most centred observers pause for thought. Bitcoin is the only obvious tool to provide freedom of currency denomination in a secure, trustless way, outside of the purview of Governments.
In this interview, I talk to the Author and Professor of Finance Nik Bhatia. We discuss the rationale for CBDCs and their limitations, a new form of heavily surveilled ‘free’ banking, Bitcoin as a discovery and a right, and how the Lightning Network makes Bitcoin a currency.