The WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta’s e-mails surrounding the Clinton campaign has yielded something of interest to Bitcoiners: the Clinton campaign chairman was interested in accepting a digital currency as a donation.
In an e-mail to tech aide Teddy Goff, Podesta said that he was probably in favor of an alternative digital currency called Ven, as opposed to Bitcoin. Earlier in the e-mail thread, Stan Stalnaker of Hub, which utilizes the Ven digital currency, had written:
As we discussed, Bitcoin is being used on the Republican side and could be a useful tool, but we think Ven is a better choice for your campaign due to its environmental benefits, identity metrics and closed loop status. The [Federal Election Commission] has indicated that digital currencies are acceptable for donations in campaigns.
Then, Podesta wrote to Goff:
Essentially digital currency with a green angle as opposed to bitcoin’s libertarian Ayn Rand schtick. Would you get some members of your team to meet with Stan when he’s in NYC later this month to see if it’s worth a real conversation?
Goff assented that Podesta should set up a meeting regarding the integration of Ven, but nothing seems to come of any meeting.
Ven Versus Bitcoin
Ven is not a cryptocurrency on the face of it. It does not act as a form of digital cash. Whereas privacy is a paramount concern to the developers of Bitcoin, it seems one is required to own a Ven account in order to obtain or share Ven.
The fundamental divide between the “libertarian” side of Bitcoiners and the other side is whether or not this cash aspect is a good thing. While many feel that its no one’s business what one spends their money on, or who receives it, there has always been an element of the Bitcoin community which feels that compliance with know-your-customer laws is very important to the ultimate success of Bitcoin. Most notably among this group was former Bitcoin Core developer Mike Hearn, who eventually left the project over separate philosophical differences regarding the block size.
Ven is interesting in that it is tied to carbon futures. According to their own website:
The value of Ven includes carbon futures, so the more Ven in circulation, the more carbon assets held in reserve by Hub Culture. As Ven grows, so do abilities to fund environmental protection, with over 25,000 acres of Amazon rainforest protected so far.
However, this alone is a net value add for its users. People who own Bitcoin and wish to support environmental preservation efforts can simply send their funds to such efforts. At the same time, the creators of Ven do take inflation into account. Bitcoin being the ultimate deflationary currency, others which have come to follow it, such as Dogecoin, have witnessed the true backlash of inflation.
In a 2013 CoinDesk interview, Stalnaker said:
We minimize inflation risk by maintaining a 100 percent reserve backing for Ven in issuance – which means that for any Ven out in the world, there are reserve funds equal to the component value of the underlying basket. Inflation is slower than in normal fiat currency because part of the basket is commodities, but it cannot be totally removed because much of the underlying reserves are regular currencies, which are indeed subject to inflation.
In any case, it is interesting that the Campaign Chairman disabused the acceptance of Bitcoin due to what he perceives as a “libertarian Ayn Rand schtick.” While it is true that many libertarians and ultra-conservatives have a deep affection for Bitcoin, there is no reason to associate all of the Bitcoin community with libertarian thought. There are speculators with no real political feelings who simply believe Bitcoin to be a good investment. Perhaps Podesta suspected that the average holder of Bitcoin would not be in favor of Clinton.
But what does this say about Bitcoin’s future under a Clinton presidency, which seems more and more likely in the waning days of the election cycle? Will the federal government, under her direction, go after institutions which have fomented the digital currency revolution? One can only hope the likely president-elect will be smarter than that and will have less ideologically tone-deaf advisors than Podesta when she considers such questions.
Featured image from Shutterstock.