Bitcoin: Here it is ‘held’: crypto assets between anti-system ‘mavericks’ or tocomocho fools | Technology
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After a week of comings and goings between the organization, the CNMV, political parties calling for its suspension, and morning and afternoon gatherings calling experts of all kinds to give their opinion on the matter, a massive crypto event was held in Madrid last weekend which, despite the controversy, turned out to be one of many insubstantial meetings that take place throughout the year in the capital. Neither the failed attempts to connect with a cardboard metaverse, nor the table of Salvadoran politicians, as full of patriotic fervor as they are lacking in knowledge, made this festival unforgettable. What he has left us with is an old debate between a certain way of understanding the crypto world, that in which the protagonists see themselves as mavericks who fight against the system —while they make a fortune on the way to Andorra— and the rest perceive them as the fool of the tocomocho scam, in which the Dunning-Kruger effect works in perfect harmony together with greed. In this scam, the victim suffers, at the same time, deception and shame in a moral turn that ends up protecting the scammer. No one wants to admit that he is so greedy and dumb at the same time.
Like any open debate in recent years, we find ourselves before irreconcilable sides. For those who do not understand, despise or mistrust cryptoactives, Bitcoin is a tongo like the moons of Raticulín, an invention without meaning or path when not a scam that hooks our young people to games of chance. To this group the recent cryptocrash and cryptocorralitos imposed by some operators are giving them great moments of disproportionate reason. Bloody May and wild June have left the battlefield littered with corpses, some of them like the UST stablecoin and Terra (LUNA) cryptocurrency. This asset, which was sold as safe, immortal and collateralized, left 99.99% of its value in three days, mercilessly sucking all the money from its investors. The suspension of withdrawals or “pause” of operations of Binance, Celsius, Babel Finance, the Spanish fintech 2gether and Coinbase, have left a battered market and a trail of layoffs. In the case of Coinbase, a loss of 80% of its value on the stock market and 18% of its staff on the street. In the case of Celsius, as was feared, the story has ended with a suspension of payments, and the pause of operations, in an impossibility of recovering the money invested.
The debacle has not been minor. As Forbes pointed out, we have seen the collapse of a trillion dollar market that has vanished. The free fall of Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies has led to the massive shutdown of mining machines, flooding the market with equipment at rock-bottom prices. Ethereum miners spent $15 billion on graphics cards that they are not going to get back. As if that were not enough, the FTC has quantified crypto scams at a billion dollars between January 2021 and March 2022. More than 46,000 people have lost their money and almost half of those scammed were captured by an ad, post or message on social networks. As if that were not enough, it seems that the initial decentralization and anonymity of bitcoin were also a hoax.
At least all this has a positive side: the shutdown of mining machines means a reduction in energy consumption equivalent to a country like Austriaand a reduction in carbon emissions by 110,000 metric tons of CO₂ per day.
This panorama is far from discouraging the believers who, faced with the devastating data, consider the critics of the crypto thing a few boomers, savings book meat that resist change. This team is not monolithic: we have cryptobros, who have come here to “hold with eggs”, the romantics of cyberpunk and the practical ones. There are those who have been in this since Satoshi went to school and those who have joined to do business. The underlying technology is used for everything, who wouldn’t want a blockchain in their life? And the romantic miners who mined at home to the rhythm of Antonio Molina were replaced by farms on the Yangtze that used their hydropower to produce cryptocurrency. They all have something in common, from faith or interest, and that is that they believe that crypto assets have a place in the human imagination.
How to reconcile this discussion of skeptics and believers loaded with evidence, data, and, what is more important, testosterone present in some and longed for in others? Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett and her Seven and a half lessons on the brain establishes something disturbing and fascinating in equal parts: our brain creates realities to which we give them their own entity. Like the lines on the ground that we call borders and on which we build countries, languages, citizens and for which we are willing to kill and die. Or like money. “Most of our lives are spent in a made-up world,” Feldman maintains. “We live in a city or a town whose name and whose boundaries are the work of people. Our postal address is written with letters and other symbols that were also devised by people. All the printed words in all the books use these invented symbols. We can buy books and other goods with something called “money”, which we represent by pieces of paper, metal and plastic, also something completely invented”.
If we can accept that immigrants exist because of the lines we draw on maps, we can also admit that cryptocurrencies, crypto assets, are just as real as euros or yen, albeit with far fewer years of tradition. Someone will tell me that the euro is an invented social reality with which you pay for electricity and that with the dogcoins can’t even buy a coffee. Certain. But what separates one and the other is time, and, most importantly, trust. Our creations work in reality because we trust them. And trust is built from its usefulness, with time, certainty and repeatable good results over that time.
The discussion we should have regarding crypto assets is not about whether we uncritically and sectarianly believe in them, like some of the attendees at the crypto event over the weekend, or whether we hate them because we don’t understand them or they question our way. of doing things, like some of its critics, but whether they are useful, sustainable, reasonably safe and respect fundamental rights. Most of the financial products are also incomprehensible, but we trust them because they are regulated and, every time they fail, they are regulated more.
The EU and MiCA (acronym for “markets in crypto-assets”) recently approved and which imposes obligations on crypto asset service providers or CASPs (crypto asset issuers, exchange platforms, etc.), which will be subject to licensing and supervision. Stablecoins, such as the defunct Terra/Luna, will also be subject to quasi-bank supervision, as the European Banking Authority (EBA) is assigned this task. To avoid Nigerian scams, advertising must be “fair, clear and not misleading.”
It is not the only regulation. The tax administrations of the world have been hunting for crypto assets as if they were money, establishing notification and payment obligations on their returns. If money was invented, as the anthropologist David Graeber maintained, to pay taxes and not to solve the problem of bartering, cryptocurrencies exist by the grace of the Treasury.
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