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Anything Can Be Money

This is a response to Anthony Pompliano's article that Ethereum(ETH) can't be money.

What we know and understand as money is changing and will continue to evolve and change for years to come. What crypto brings to the table that will fundamentally change how we view money is transparency. Transparency of supply, transactions, rules and awareness of rule/protocol changes. When you talk about what makes something money you look at common characteristics like unit of account, medium of exchange and fungibility. I would even add that because Bitcoin(currently) has no native privacy capabilities, the fungibility of Bitcoin is already in question as many government entities have blacklists for UTXOs. There are no qualities about Bitcoin that make it uniquely qualified to be money when compared to Ethereum, Dash, Bitcoin Cash, Monero or any mature and operative cryptocurrency. This also goes for the notion that gold is money but silver, copper, palladium, sugar and wheat are not. Anything can be used as money if a community of people agree. When reality takes hold, gold and other physical elements are not practical to actually be used as money because usability is severely hampered. In order to actually use gold as money you would need it to be a reserve for an IOU(currency) which enables the problems we have today. An efficient and useful money will be native bound to the protocol and this is why Bitcoin, Ethereum and all cryptos are far superior to gold(or any precious metal) as money. Cryptocurrencies enable the trustless and transparent binding of money and currency.

Pompliano's primary basis for Ethereum not being money is rooted in a theoretically fixed supply for Bitcoin. This is nothing but a current state assumption and something that can't be guaranteed to be the case in 5, 10, 50yrs. Pompliano also mentioned inflationary schedules as a basis for something being deemed fiat. The notion that fiat has an inflationary schedule is not accurate as USD has no schedule itself. Bitcoin (and many coins) have an inflationary supply schedule and that is far better and more transparent than fiat currencies. The idea that Bitcoin has a fixed future supply as of this writing does not dismiss the fact that it has an inflationary schedule until ~2140. Pompliano also states that Bitcoin's monetary policy hasn't changed as part of his argument for why Ethereum isn't money. While this isn't a requirement to be money it would require him to ignore an inflation bug from 2010 which drastically changed the monetary policy and supply but was soon changed by the stakeholders of Bitcoin at the time. Bitcoin's supply changes everyday and will continue to do so for the next 120yrs assuming nothing changes in its protocol which is not a safe assumption. Fixed in the future today does not mean fixed in the future forever.

We have gatekeepers in the digital asset and cryptocurrency space who are focused on propagating a narrative about what money is and worse yet the idea that only one thing can be money. These gatekeepers are using their social media clout in this space to drive a narrative that only Bitcoin is or can be money in crypto. They often confine lengthy discourse to maximalists who present weak arguments with limited rebuttal. Most people in this space are speaking based on financial incentives and portfolio allocations. Those with enough social, economic and political influence can easily propagate a narrative to limit dissension. Keep in mind that the very ethos of crypto means that decentralization must occur at a macro level and a single coin being the unit of account will only enable more moats and gatekeepers to form around Bitcoin while limiting innovation, decreasing flexibility and most importantly enable censorship. How we measure unit of account will very likely be bound to the capabilities and functions offered to investors and users of a protocol.

Developers, influential community members, projects, ecosystem spokes and miners/stakers exist for all coins and are all forms of gatekeepers with different priorities. In crypto it is far less about whether or not you change but much more about knowing when things change and what the new rules are. Keep in mind that this is all human driven and humans have a limited life span. Neither Pompliano nor I can tell you what Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash's or any coin's supply or capabilities will be 120yrs from now and neither of us will be around to know. What we're lacking today is not a fixed supply but transparency and knowing the rules of the system we're in, especially when they change. People evolve and thus communities, stakeholders and networks will evolve. Pompliano seems to forget this human fluidity and speaks in a very static sense. In fact I would posit that due to Bitcoin's rigidness and community driven inflexibility that Bitcoin has a lower chance of long term viability because it is an all or nothing proposition focused on a now limited narrative.

With cryptocurrencies anything can be money so long as it provides you the ability to store production, derive and use capabilities of the network and deliver the aforementioned transparency properties. In fact the focus of this space is more so the potential for a new economy where a coin is the unit of account for a platform protocol which enables complex financial products(e.g. DeFi), trustless business logic execution(smart contracts), disintermediated functionality, and flexibility for innovation. The goal for crypto is to replicate and outperform existing economic systems. We're going to need far more than peer to peer transactions to accomplish this. We're going to need to mirror financial capabilities and products of traditional economies and also leverage smart contract and governance capabilities delivered by protocols like Ethereum, Tezos, Cardano, Dash and many other reputable networks which all have their own communities focused on creating their own native economy. Currently you can not build a native economy on Bitcoin so yes while it can be money among its community members, due to it being very limited in trustless capabilities, Bitcoin probably has the longest road to forming and growing a native trustless economy. Economic development and growth is what drove the dollar to being the dominant force that it is today. Moving forward keep an open mind and question everything anyone tells you. The economic rules are being changed to enable freedom and flexibility and some people are trying to limit that potential with false narratives about money.


For more background on why maximalism and gatekeepers do not help crypto adoption check out my YouTube video on this topic:

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5/23/2020 2:10 AM
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