Thinking of Bitcoin as just a digital currency is like thinking about the Internet as just e-mail. Its potential is much more exciting than that.
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I now continue the fight learn more at three m dot com, slash covert I guess listeners we made the episode you're about to here, because you asked for you sent us emails. many many emails over the west several months, maybe a couple years with questions like these. What is Bitcoin Bitcoin
bitcoin bitcoins. What exactly is a bit point? Can I get notices? It's a digital currency. I do know that it involves the internet self headscarves hurry. So what is Bitcoin strikes me that the world is currently divided into two groups of people, those who care a great deal about Bitcoin and either love it or hate it and those who couldn't care less now. The second group is large, but the first group is noisy and, as a result, you ve been hearing a great deal but Bitcoin in the media. You ve heard that it's a digital currency, crypto currency, technically, whose price has risen from
thou five cents per Bitcoin too much much higher value. Bitcoins Caracas had ten new record of nine hundred dollars. Today, you ve heard that Bitcoin was launched in two thousand nine after white paper on the topic was published a year earlier by a secretive person or perhaps group of people who go by the name, suppose she Knocker MOTO and who putting to news, weaken the latest attempt to expose the brains behind Bitcoin May he or may not be a sixty four year old, japanese american men living in LOS Angeles county added by Newsweek magazine as the creator back quite as now denying that his founder of the digital currency have nothin to do with corn. I was just junior doing something else? You may have also heard that, Twenty one million bitcoins will ever be circulated and that each coin is created.
A form of mining in which a powerful computer has to solve hard man, problems instead of mining basically was a way to break into the protocol a systematic way to die beat the currency. So you're not worried that say some but he's gonna have a whole lot of coins and flood the market overnight, which could then cause you're Bitcoin to be worth less. You may have even heard people call this mining wasteful. So it's just being a lot of electricity enough to power many many homes, I've I've heard estimates is highest. Three million homes could be powered with the electricity that goes to the queen mining. You ve probably heard that Bitcoin has enemies in high places. The? U S. Government, for instance, the Senator John Mansion is working to ban something called core and in governments abroad. A chinese government crackdown on domestic trading of the virtual currency bitcoin is starting to have an effect. You may have heard the alleged
criminals like Bitcoin, the ceo of one of the world's leading a bitcoin exchanges, bit instance, has been arrested in New York. The prosecution, Charlie Shrimp was involved in a drug money laundering skiing via the silk road website, and you definitely heard about the biggest haste in Digital, currency history was only virtual money by it is gone. The largest Bitcoin exchange declared bankruptcy in Japan. Today, the Mouth Cox Online Exchange based in Japan was hacked out of eight hundred fifty thousand coins of virtual currency. Earlier this week,. valued at near half a billion dollars. This incident produced headlines declaring that the Bitcoin Revolution is over. The sceptics say, thank God, what took so long while the boosters say,
you're kidding over Bitcoin Revolution hasn't even the gun. One way to look at it is basically about God has to fail for between two people go mainstream because my God was never set up to be able to take the country stream, which was what basically happening now so is Bitcoin headed for the mainstream or oblivion. What problem does solve, or is it a solution in search of a problem and perhaps most important? Should you care I'm happy from w and my see this is free economics, radio, the pot calves that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Governor,
I just say your name and what you do and since done so much that so amazing feel free to brag. Dont be superstar. Guy, you know from the MID West must always do your best. At least will you say your name at least No, So my name is Mark andreasen in a former life. I was an inventor an entrepreneur and, more recently I become a professional venture. Capitalist andriessen, VC, firm, andriessen, horrible has had a hand in a number of big name: tech companies, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. The very large number of the mobile outstrip the use of the time e commerce. We do a lot and lots of other categories into an attic UK end before for that and before that and before that you are doing things like helping build. The first browser that a lot of us who got on the internet was new started to use Netscape navigator before
mosaic? Yes, dear, that's right, group colleagues and I built a mosaic, which was the first one. It is a web browser in the early nineties and then later found it. A company called Netscape that basically built commercial versions in recent firm, has invested about fifty million dollars into Bitcoin related companies, one of which is quaint base a Bitcoin exchange and transaction service. It is a rival to the now defunct him out. So Mark Andreasen has quite literally a vested interest in Bitcoin. You say that interest, I say skin and the game without enough money money where my Mouth Hospital debate another day, So what could someone like Andriessen so excited about Bitcoin at the core of what Bitcoin is? Is the solution to a fundamental problem in computer science? That's been around for decades, but had never been seen before now? If you're, not a fan of computers,
This might get a little bit less interesting before it gets more interesting. The hang in there the problem, Bitcoin Solve says Andreasen was known as the byzantine generals problem, the metaphor. Basically as Europe, the generals and it doesn't empire and they surrounded a huge city and there's these encampments at the generals have all the way around the city and at some point there lay siege to the city, but they have a coordination problem which, as they have to be able to communicate with each other, to develop the battle plan to decide when to wash attack as other sending runners back and forth between the cities, the twist to it as some of the generals or traders, but none of the other generals, no, which wants her traders, and so the question is how You coordinate a significant number of people who don't know each other and dont trust each other being able to communicate securely and be able to basically establish digital trust, and, as you are probably well aware, digital trust as a concept, it's brand new late at the other one of those huge problem of the internet over twenty years, and who do you trust which, which websites to you trust which people? You trust me, do a transaction? Who do you trust
So this idea of the byzantine generals problem turns out to apply directly to the internet as a whole. One of the things as a cost, request, has been missing on the internet for twenty years is kind of a native concept of money right and so the ability to very easily pay. Somebody on and the ability to very easily charged for peace, a content, the ability to very easily exchange digital title or too little key or digital contract that, just by missing, as you have no mechanism for establishing trust and so Bitcoin basically holds out the promise of being the first solution to establishing trust over and entrusted network, But you may be thinking we remain. I've been using the internet for years to pay people online carry out all kinds of transactions is already a huge e commerce infrastructure and this what banks and quit companies already do. I think of the queen is really a revolutionary new technology that
in some ways way past due Susan, easy she's, an economist at Stanford. She also studied computer science, and she's an adviser to ripple another virtual currency, which is a bitcoin rival, but in Athens shall world we're still basically the system on decades old technology so it's really revolutionary. I think about the whole math based currency movement is that people are without a way that I can send an item value from one entity to another entity, securely, instantly and without a middle man. Until now, middlemen were necessary to fight what is called the double spending problem would say you download this radio programme and then you send a copy to a friend. Now you each have a digital cop, that's nice, but in the case of digital money, that would
be so nice you're not supposed to be able to spend your money and keep it to now. To avoid this, we relied up till now on a middle man like a credit card company or Paypal. What they do is essentially transfer? I use back and forth to make sure that digital money is not spent twice. The beauty of a new Currency, which is part of a virtual currency protocol, is the, What I'm moving from media. You is just an entry on a secure public ledger, not public leisure, as me pain by a set of computers all talking to each other using a protocol so I have to worry about some dank giving me, and I owe you and then taking that I owe you and handing it to another bank. Instead, if I make a transaction over the virtual currency, it it's just an entry Ledger so I don't need a middle man without knowing it other had it,
I can send you a unique piece of digital property that might be digital cash for digital key or digital contract. That's mark andriessen again. Do you need peace, digital property? I can send it to you without happens. Is the network basically validates the transaction and after the transaction is validated everybody else? The network is able to inspect that transaction and are able to confirm that I originally on that piece of property, and now you originally on a piece of property, and I didn't transfer it to three other people. At the same time I didn't lie, but the fact that I transferred it- you didn't lie about the fact that you now on it and basically everybody can can inspect this block any time they want and they can basically prove through the mass of that
I note that transaction actually took place. That's kind of the magic to the system. The blockchain that andriessen just mentioned is what Susan Eighty was describing earlier as a public ledger. It is a log of all transactions in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Now, banks and other financial institutions already have letters of their own, which let them transfer funds internally or with other trusted parties, but now it seems bitcoins blockchain technology could do this without the middlemen, which means faster and cheaper, and that actually opens up all sorts of economic possibilities, some of which we can talk about, but some lady, we probably have anything
imagine get ok. What sort of economic possibilities does that open up? Well, if you're in the retail, banking or credit card industry, mostly bad possibilities, those industries have made fortunes by taking a cut of every transaction which a virtual and virtually frictionless currency like Bitcoin, could perform for much much less now. What's the big deal about them? What kind of markets might benefit one. Is there remittance market? So here we have a poor people from developing countries go abroad, and then they, met their money back home to their home country to feed their children. Or their parents and families and the fees.
It can be? You know around ten percent mark Andriessen. Not surprisingly, sees a lot of potential upsides to some of that business will be transactions. Somebody business will be different contracts. Some of that business will be determined. he's digital signatures, and then a system will start to work itself into things like anti fraud or things. I public payments are things like micro payments with him an anti fraud. Aren't thanks in credit card companies already pretty. Did it antifraud, we'll credit card, for we actually know? Basically what credit card fraud costs economy, which is this? most of the credit our feet and so in our economy wide across all credit card transactions, you no credit card fees range universally between two or three percent. The majority of that is paying for fraud, and so one way to think about credit card fraud is credit card. Fraud is a two to three percent drag on the entire economy. It's an artifact of the fact that credit cards were never designed to be used, the weight of their being used today, credit cards never anticipated
mine transactions, credit cards by the way, the credit crisis, never anticipated malware running inside a cash register them in their way in eighteen. Fifty. That was an inconceivable idea, which is one which has been credit cards, were dreamed up, and so, if you have a payment system like Bitcoin, where you dont have the credential exchange and you have no risk of identity fraud and you have no risk of people being able to run transactions on your credit card. After the fact you could Bessie eliminate that entire category fraud now mark. I think one part of the Bitcoin story. That's confusing for people is that most of the coverage, at least in the past five or six months, has been about the volatility of the car. see itself a bit quaint as a currency right shirts. So it sounds to me like you're, saying the uses of Bitcoin being so wide and deep that we should all appreciate, or at least appreciate the potential of it. That said, the volatility of the currency
scares people and including scaring off some of the people that Bitcoin supporters like yourself, a probably like do not be so scared off, so it just makes me Maybe this is impossible. I just don't understand that the constraints wooden bitcoin as a transaction method as a kind of frictionless transaction, be better if it weren't also a currency or pegged to a currency, or is that not the way? This problem? have been solved, so it's a very complicated. We would have to take another six hours to go through this in detail. I give you a couple headlines, but first of all, Bitcoin can be used as a transaction system without being used as a currency. They can be used that way, and so the like little in the way that would happen is when you go to buy something on the internet. You basically do a conversion of dollars to Bitcoin. Send the money across the wire
and then the motion, on the other hand, immediately, can convert Bitcoin right back about what's a transaction fee on that. Yes, the transaction itself in that case is free, because between transactions that are free and then in the long run there will be very small transaction fees. Associate with that kind of thing. The main thing that you would pay for the transaction use case today is the feed strange, Bitcoin dollars back and forth. That today is running about one percent, but no, you can imagine those these coming down further quickly and then you get this interesting question. If your merchant would you rather pay the one percent or some one percent we able to exchange? Or would you be willing to bear the volatility for some period time, for example, until you can actually spend the Bitcoin and you might spend the bitcoin by buying something for money or suppliers? Are you my spend the bitcoin by having a refund programme a rebate programme, while two programme backed your customers or whatever it is, and so that will be part of kind of the economics that will determine you know who chooses to hold Bitcoin versus who chooses to us?
averted by towards democracy. Similarly, very shortly there we derivatives there'll, be Bitcoin derivatives and Obi Bitcoin assurance, and so as a merchant one of the things you ll be able to do his whole bitcoin and then by a derivative that protects you against currency fluctuations, which of course, is what people doing business internationally of you today. If you're doing business in Japan and you d want to bear the yen in a currency fluctuations, you buy derivative the protection from that- that's not quite available yet, but that will become very very shortly and that's one of the business opportunities that is clear. A big opportunity on top of the quaint. So what are the advantages of a currency and or a transaction platform that is not affiliated in any way with the government? So there are people, I will tell you that's a really really big deal like I think in the: U S, you know, with certain exceptions, like two thousand eight generally
the west in the? U S were blast with a fairly stable financial system, with a fairly stable monetary system with a fairly stable government. You know we complain about our government all the time, but like it works pretty well, I think the benefit to Bitcoin not being connected to a government is much greater in poorly run. Countries go all over the planet. Once you get us out of the? U S, there's, like you know a hundred and fifty countries that have what we consider to be some poor governance. Rainest are typically, they have you, no corrupt governments, and then you also have a lot of countries that have very badly run banking systems and very badly run central banks, and so I think, a lot of rest of the world outside the Eu S outside of Western Europe. There sure from how to demand from people to be able to do things that we take for granted like being able to exchange money without getting stolen. Be able to store money. Someplace where you know the central bank Kantos hyper inflated
So you can see why Mark Andriessen is such an evangelist for Bitcoin side from the fact that his firm has bitcoin investments. But what about the Mount Ducks exchange getting hacked death to the tune of several hundred million dollars? What about the potential criminal uses of a virtual currency whose was to be looking out for all coming up on for economics, radio, you'll hear from one man who is ready for that job our intention of financial services for the state of New York, and he knows what he's up against it very hard to transport, a million dollars hard currency overseas. You can just put it in a back back, get on a plane very easily, but it is very easy to do that now,
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from W and Y see. This is for economics, radio. Here's your host Stephen Dabbler So one reason we're doing this episode on Bitcoin is that, as we said at the top So many of you, readers and listeners asked for a bitcoin emphasis now also asked Bitcoin? When we were running our public radio, pledged DR asking you to go to free economics, dot com and make a donation which, by the way, you can still do and everyone in a lot of you, to say that pay, I'd love to make a donation, but I use Bitcoin for online transactions
we're Radio Station W and my sea does not accept Bitcoin. My name is Eric gain. I'm the senior director business development here, a dummy on my saying. So why doesn't w and my seeks Bitcoin Teslas doing it? Overstock dot com is doing it. A comic book shop and policemen Montana is doing it. So what would it take for w in my c to accept? Because I think it would take a turnkey provider that we could go to? That would essentially say. Yes, you can just put the subtle which it on your site, you set your prices in dollars. We will do all the translation on the back and we will take all of that headache off your shoulder design. They die the risk as well exactly so, we will guarantee that you will get a rate of this amount over the next month, because there's no now there's no swaps, there's no futures that we combined Bitcoin right now, so they would handle all of that and you,
we will make it. So you can do this, and overall, the net transaction fee is still going to be lower than every other credit for what you described. This has a little bit like a bank so who's. Ok, so I'm guessing that, as were speaking, there are hundreds, if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people. Thinking about doing exactly Have you know anything about these markets? I know of a few start ups that are exploring this again serving that kind of middle man. Risk mitigation function right, so we will guarantee a rate for the next twenty four hours and we will handle all the processing again. The actual technology to accept it does not Are they really just getting the dollars out of the other at himself if they popped up? None of them are firms I've ever heard of I have no idea what the capitalization is of any of those firms. I have no idea if it's like a guy in a basement, just might bitcoins are doing whatever, but
you know there's a name that kind of leaps off the page, and I go ok that somebody that we can do business with an absolutely a document it's so similar to what happened at the early web. It's it's almost exactly the same. That's mark andriessen again web pioneer, then Bitcoin. Whose do now in the early days, the internet, to almost all the big telecoms eight years. Have this thing I'll, never work almost all by the way that they can actually see. Yo said this thing I never work. The media sea is also. This will only take a quick start when we started Netscape we met with, the ears of the six major telecom companies and the six major media companies. We basically did a tour eleven or twelve left us out of their offices? adventurous, no way, there's just no way it's like. If you try to use this super slow, it doesnt work and this greater fuzzy and like I can't imagine- but you know like advertisers are never can advertise in this thing and, like consumers, are never going to use this the early days of the week when not primarily people talking about how great it was going to be there early days with a Weber Premier League people talking about all the bad uses. If you go back and pull the covers from ninety three
for our part, we can do that for you hear from NBC Today show in eighteen. Ninety four Katy Kirk Right gamble with writing, with the aid and then the ring around at. So that's what I said TAT such that it was about, but I've never heard around. I've never heard any more the limit set and then in southern Sudan and what I said and violence and NBC Anyone internet as that massive computer. I was the one that's became. Really big. Now we're. How does one it nobody? What are you toward like mail a lot of now to be fair. It wasn't just morning show host who didn't get the internet, the economist poker
men would go on to win the Nobel Prize. Here's what he wrote in eighteen. Ninety eight Red Herring magazine quote the growth of the internet will slow drastically as the flaw in met calf's law, which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants becomes apparent. Most people have nothing to say to each other by two thousand five, or so it will become clear that the internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine. I so maybe it's not fair to make fun of Paul Krugman either predicting the future.
As we ve said around here again and again is pretty hard, but that's kind of my point here for every person who tells you that Bitcoin is nothing but a bubble little blow up any day now or who tells you that Bitcoin is poised to solve every financial problem known to man? Neither of them have any way of knowing we'll have to wait and see, though I will tell you this one economist did talk about the future of Bitcoin before Bitcoin even existed it with me. Friedman, also a Nobel laureate in nineteen. Ninety nine, just a year after Paul Krugman told us, the internet was only a fat. I think that the internet there's going to be one of the major forces before reducing the role of governments and the one thing that some missing, but there will soon be developed, is a reliable iii cash whereby on the internet, you can transfer funds from a obey
without a knowing be or be knowing the way in which I take a twenty dollar bill and handed over to you, then there is no record of where it came from. you, you may get that without knowing who I am that kind of thing develop on the internet and that will make it even easier for people to use the internet. Russia has its negative side. It means the gang shares, the people are engaged in. Illegal transactions will also have a easier. Way to carry on urban the gangsters. It always comes back to the gangsters, even though gangsters have always done pretty well with cash, as have tax evaders, but still you can see how a virtual currency like Bitcoin could alarm not only the banks and credit card companies whose fees might get hit, but regulators and lawmakers like this, My name is Benjamin Landscape. I'm the superintendent of financial services for the state of New York
they're all around the Department of Financial services which overseas all banks? In short, companies and everything in between the state of New York. Ok, now I've read that your office overseas entities with a total asset value six point two, trillion dollars. Forestalls number eight six point: two trillion a gift Not only that, I ask you to have the ok. That's a lot of money. Bitcoin, therefore, as of today at least, would represent a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny drop in the biggest biggest biggest bucket? Why are you worried about Bitcoin, your why're, you concerned enough to think you might should be worried. I think I'm both concern, worried and excited about the coin. I think it has potentially a big a bright future
do it any could really eventually LISA technology could revolutionise or or at least improve upon our existing payment systems, and I think we're in a period where we're going to have just a lot of change over the next five ten years in mobile payments, in how we hear the collision between the traditional banking sector and technology, What recently organised a two day fact: finding mission to help his office right, some of the first bitcoin regulation in the United States. So what are they learn? It holds a lot of potential and as we design this regulatory scheme for Bitcoin for virtual currency, We want to make sure we are setting rules, the road that enable innovation to continue that allow, the sort of positives the potential
really interesting future. The bitcoin can have as away for people with special to engage in international transactions to happen and damp and efficiently but, at the same time, we learned from the land for some panel was very clear on this. There are very unique, tough challenges for law enforcement when it comes to virtual currencies and gave the example of its very our transport, a million dollars and hard currency overseas. You can just put it in a back backing it on a plane very easily, but it is very easy to do that now, digitally. using Bitcoin and with the uses of other technologies that there was testimony about things like what are called tumblers that make people even more anonymous. It's become a real sometimes for law enforcement to try and track down, whose engaging some of these transactions
lost keep lake. The economist Susan Hazy thinks Bitcoin could reshape the remittance market Right now there are thousands and thousands of new Yorkers. Very hard every day to send money back home to their families in whatever country there from can right now, they're paying fees for them. Wire transactions each week at the end of the week, seven eight nine percent that's a lot of money for people who often can't, afford it and lofty heard about that and show uses that he hadn't even imagined their work, some testimony about how one of the potential advantages of Bitcoin as a currency was that it was programmable who was a programmable currency and I didn't really understand that in I asked a couple different channels. What tat meant in could they expand upon it and stay one of a gentleman answered and said: well, you can, for example, color coded Metz, not literally, but in the technology.
the bitcoins you're using to have them, perform certain functions. Now it's code as well and he said at one point he said you know you could be in such a way that you would be paying for transactions and, at the same time, the code could be working on a cure for cancer and, again, I'm still trying to get my mind around that. I'm not sure I fully understand that, but I think there is clearly a colonel of very interesting programming, innovation, its built into virtual currency. That holds a lot of promise at fascinating. You know, when you said: color coding were my mind, jumped to I'm just curious. What you say about this in a let's pretended tat, the? U S. Government wants to give ten million dollars to some country too,
its people on Wednesday and the money shows up in cash on Thursday, well that cash can go to buy anything. Obviously caches. Fungible nets, what we love about it, that's what great about it, but on the other hand, if I could color code that Bitcoin or crypto currency so that it can be used actually to buy food, and we so and so on and not rocket launchers. Well, that's a great piece of that's a great ability for me to have a currency that acts like cassia. Yes- and I think my understanding, and it was really from the day to testimony one ask that question again about programmable currency, but that as well, The things that potentially you could have with the they also gave an example of a young person whose parents want then, when allowance, but
make sure it goes for certain things and not other things you could programme and in certain ways that would do that. I have to say I was surprised, look at excited too. I guess your Benjamin Muskie state regulator talk about how excited he is about the future uses of bitcoin or something like it. Quite unlike the view. taken by Alan Greenspan. Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank COIN Doktor Green Man Bitcoin. I have been on a tear up. Eighty hold this year, I thought on this aid Bitcoin in fact a muddle, guess so let me say that currencies to the exchange of all have to be back by something We're on the gold standard, gold and silver had intrinsic value, and could it be the new gold?
not really backed by anything. No, it has to have intrinsic value You have to really stretcher imagination to ensure What the intrinsic value that coin is you ask me: is this a bubble in Bitcoin yeah to bubble so there's a number of top economists are basically taken positions like that. That's mark andriessen again a little bit like dies watching tv is like it's all very interesting, but like whatever until another doctrines, I've been screen, amended art for itself, harmless. Stuff is all like, whatever technology gate, nerds whatever and then currency is the flat rate, and so the minute the word currency shows up like all economies broke up, because it is one thing that kind of zero experts on its currency and if they re I don't know they're like. Oh, my god. People's basic set of dollars for this thing is just a piece of federal currency. Like people just completely lost their minds, I dont think that they are looking at the underlying substance,
it is the underlying substance. The underline capability of this new technology that excites people like andriessen, maybe excites. You too, but odds. Are you haven't, heard much or thought much about that technology? What you have heard about is this runaway inflationary, possibly criminal, subject to her King weirdo, anarchist, crypto currency, and it has you confounded, maybe even frightened makes you feel any better. That's a lot of people are feeling a few centuries ago when another transactional- technology is the market. One of the characteristics of a new idea is all the experts who came up in the sort of old regime look out at last by the way the exact same thing happens, paper currency three hundred years ago. almost exactly three hundred years ago, a scottish economist, ironically named John LAW, basically invented this, create the time crazy idea of paper, currency or fear currency,
and actually he was laughed out of Scotland's. He was left out of the UK and he was laughed actually all the way to France, where he became the french finance Minister for King Louis Fifteenth and every kind of most on the planet three hundred years ago, thought that he was a complete and so I think this is just. This is the story. This is kind of a recurrent story. How progress happens? It does happened by the establishment of basically sitting up at once to say that's a wonderful idea like that's just not how it happens. It back. Assessors, here's, a riddle, name, an act, the millions upon millions of people do around the world, and yet most of them would rather not do. Yeah radically leg ten times I need a quiet. I've tried many times does not work. I fail. I need a healthier lifestyle. Weird, I think in nature.
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-13.