James Duchenne, Australian attorney, founding member of Texas Coinitiative, and blogger for SatoshiLegal, quite cheekily responded to the recent pleas by MasterCard to the Australian government against Bitcoin today. Said pleas have culminated in two important ways: the video shared below from MasterCard’s Southeast Asia president Matthew Driver, and a letter to Kathleen Dermody, head of the Australian Senate Economics committee. Duchenne wrote:
Huge opportunities exist in [the field of decentralized currency] globally, so it’s very important for us to look, understand, put in question and compare the real benefits of our current mainstream payment technologies to the disruptive technologies entering the marketplace. If you’re a consumer or a merchant, a government, even a financial services provider, what’s really critical is that your, your clients’ or your constituents’ productive value is not eroded or co-opted unnecessarily, that you’re given the choice to control, absolutely, your own wealth and that the system you use is secure, protected and unforgeable.
Also read: MasterCard Attacks Bitcoin in Australia
Interestingly and unexpectedly, the protests of MasterCard in Australia almost coincide with a bill in the US congress, HR 5777, which is specifically designed to protect cryptocurrencies and businesses using them. One could postulate that Australia has been behind the times on a number of a digital rights issues, but it is important to note that simply because MasterCard is lobbying them, they have not yet taken any drastic moves against the possession or use of Bitcoin.
“The challenge for fiat currencies in the world we live in, is that they’re centralized by design and puts the value of your productivity in the custody of others,” Duchenne says in his article, which is a very valid point about the historical use of money. Oppression is a clever bastard, and in most, if not all countries you have never had a choice about what denomination to receive your wages in. Thus if the global market plays hell with the dollar, the cost of imported medicines or car parts or gasoline suddenly goes up for you but your employer has no impetus to simultaneously raise your wages. In America, employment and wage laws have historically been in direct opposition to the flourishing of the worker. A world where the worker has a massive array of choices as to which currency he wants to receive each paycheck in must certainly scare those who most benefit from the situation as it stands.
But fear is not a rational argument against progress and never has been, and those of us standing on the right side of financial history – firmly rooted in the future world beyond fiat currency and central banks – should remain unafraid of financially predatory groups like MasterCard and their reactionary attacks. Through patient dissemination of the truth and continued failure of central banks and governments to effectively manage our of economic lives, we will emerge one day as the harbingers of the new dominant economic mode. Driver asks:
If you think about it, cash is a problem for a number of countries. Cash really facilitates anonymity; it facilitates illegal activity; it facilitates tax avoidance and a range of other things that aren’t going to drive efficiency in an economy. Why does somebody need to be anonymous?
A question Mr. Driver might ask himself is who, exactly, says that anonymity is the greatest advantage of Bitcoin? What if one of the things we really like about it is that we don’t pay the ridiculous, excessive fees that banks and credit card issuers charge just to access our own money? And don’t get me started on the criminal rates of interest MasterCard charges on its credit lines.
It is important to note that Duchenne does not believe Bitcoin, as it stands, is quite ready for mainstream adoption. To whit:
“To say bitcoin is a perfect solution is incorrect. It is nascent technology, not ready for mainstream adoption and much has to be improved to get there. However, when the smartest people on the planet are working towards that aim, furiously and progressing at tremendous speeds, fighting its inevitability is at odds with the teachings of history.”
Indeed, but what is so nascent about it? Duchenne’s article doesn’t go into much more detail about that, making this snippet feel more like a disconnected concession than an assertion. Bitcoin is not perfect, no, and the technology is not complete – but to say that it is not ready for mainstream adoption is going a bit far. There is nothing so difficult in the use of Bitcoin for day to day transactions. A cab driver could accept payment in Bitcoin and then turn around buy gas in Bitcoin if the conditions were set right. The technological barrier to doing so would not be any more than accepting credit cards was decades ago.
Duchenne believes that MasterCard is being foolish because they could make use of it instead of railing against it:
“Bitcoin is a disruptive technology that can be used by MasterCard quickly to the benefit of all their consumers, so that they deliver the safest, simplest, smartest solutions.”
Certainly MasterCard would benefit more by harnessing the power of cryptocurrency and deriving some benefit than it will by investing resources in opposition to it, but it is hard to imagine a situation in which MasterCard would ever be able to get quite the return they have been able to shark from consumers in existing conditions. Credit card companies are one step above predatory pay day lenders. Their evil has been sanctioned time and again by government regulations which do not even consider the ability of a person to repay debts incurred through their use. In a situation where they are forced to compete with democratically produced currency in free markets, they might quickly flounder. Duchenne extrapolated:
Trust is a critical component of any payment system, so if you think about the idea of having money created by banks in a manner that you don’t even understand, recorded and kept up to date by the few behind secret doors and convoluted accounting systems, it’s completely legitimate to have some concerns about how that might be working for you. […] Further, bitcoin has its own prudential control over its system, it’s public ledger is available to law enforcement to track transactions that breach a country’s laws in a way that is impossible to do with cash and really makes it an unsuitable medium of exchange for criminals, as they’re currently finding out. In fact, it is in the interest of the big time criminals to argue against the adoption of bitcoin.
The article, which is very well done if this reporter might say so, ends on note of hilarity, taking MasterCard’s most famous “for everything else” marketing campaign and turning it against them.
More importantly, bitcoin is a choice. […] If you feel safer in the world of MasterCard or the fiat system, stay there. For everything else, there’s bitcoin.
What do you think about Mastercard and Bitcoin’s recent spat? Comment below!
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