Crypto For the People, By the People: How Blockchain Subverts Today’s Entrenched Power Structures

Written by Gabriel Dusil, co-Founder & General Manager, Adel Ecosystem Ltd. & John McLeod, Founder, JEA Associates Ltd.

Mankind has been shaped by borders, whether physical, geographical, technological or financial. Societies have found ways to structure themselves into coherent and ordered blocks. Over the last few centuries empires have risen and fallen, wars have been waged and physical borders have moved. Governments, institutions and multi-lateral structures underpinning political and financial borders have remained intact.

The financial crash of 2008, shook public confidence in banks and government-backed financial institutions that saw billions of dollars, euros, and pounds spent on shoring up the financial system through quantitative easing. Public confidence in financial institutions and governments was at an all-time low. It is no coincidence that Bitcoin emerged out of this economic crisis where traditional institutions failed. A viable alternative was needed without the oversight of big-brother.

Blockchain services undermine traditional forms of governance because it’s decentralized and its users are typically anonymous. This assumes impunity from government and central banks. Anonymous actors are micro components of a growing ecosystem. To date, this crypto sphere has been relatively left untouched by the authorities of the “real-world”, where regulation typically lags innovation.

This raises real questions about how crypto’s services should be managed. Techno-libertarians envision utopian self-regulation, with codified rules that evolve with the technology. Anyone who denies these programmatic rules essentially forfeits their right to participate in this space. Crypto-anarchists envision a free-rule zone for blockchain businesses and unconstrained virtual currency commerce. Within this zone, blockchain businesses would operate free from government intervention and regulation. Bitcoin is essentially a sandbox experiment that is demonstrating how crypto technologies will be successful and be applied to real-world scenarios.

Bitcoin is a sandbox experiment, demonstrating how crypto will be successful.

Whichever form it takes, blockchain technology will need to entertain the notion of regulatory oversight, for it to gain mainstream acceptance. For this to happen, both the public and private sectors should have a seat at the same table, to establish a common ground for governance and enforcement.

Creating and adopting an agreed set of standards requires consensus from all major stakeholders. Internet’s protocols (e.g. TCP/IP, HTML, and Java) took years before reaching mass adoption. But eventually, this was achieved through well-constructed and easy to implement standards. Crypto coders redefining their own product lifecycle to accelerate adoption by excluding the powers-that-be from the socio-economic power pyramid. For the time being, they are at the pinnacle of this power hierarchy, with governments, banks and even citizens treated as outsiders. But history has shown that closed solutions are not scalable, to the same potential as standards. Any developer can set the rules of their homegrown blockchain. Have the geeks inherited the earth?

We have reached a unique point where the traditional power brokers who normally put the brakes on disruptive technologies have been sidelined in favor of a newly defined crypto power hierarchy. Neither governments nor banks control the crypto sphere, but they maintain partial control of cyberspace and the real world. Within the isolated world of crypto this hierarchy works, but if mass market adoption is the plan then consensus with the brick and mortar world is needed. The open question is whether this is in the interest of crypto coders, miners, and service providers.

Who could have predicted the spectacular rise in the value of Bitcoin and Ethereum just five years ago? A 100 US$ investment in Bitcoin in 2013 would now be worth 7000 US$ today[1]. Satoshi Nakamoto could not have predicted the creation of nearly 4000 virtual currencies on CoinLib[2] ten years after releasing his white paper and over 100 thousand token contracts[3] on the Ethereum blockchain. Only a brave person can envisage what the next five years have in store. It is safe to conclude, however, that crypto has proved its detractors wrong and its potential benefits to humanity are vast. Interoperability, scalability, security, and ease of use for the average person are all questions that need to be answered.

For the first time in history, people have the potential to break down the traditional borders that have divided them, whether geographically, technologically or economically. Individuals are empowered to create crypto services free from government regulation or any other centralized authorities. We have currency for the people by the people, and of the people, only time will tell which direction it takes, and who shapes its future.

Gabriel Dusil is a sales and marketing expert with over 25 years in senior positions at Motorola, VeriSign (acquired by Symantec in 2010 for 1.250 billion US$), and SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011 for 612 million US$), and Cognitive Security (acquired by Cisco in 2013 for 25 million US$). He is a blockchain entrepreneur, with strengths in international business strategy. Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and expert knowledge in blockchain incubation, cloud computing, IT security, and video streaming, and Over the Top Content (OTT). Gabriel also runs his own company, Euro Tech Startups s.r.o., and manages a professional blog at https://dusil.com.

John McLeod has spent nearly a decade working for a number of leading public relations firms in London, focusing primarily on PR management in the financial services sector. John’s expertise includes blockchain technology and the evolution of cryptocurrencies in financial services. That’s why he recently founded his own consulting firm, JEA Associates Ltd., which is specifically positioned to communicate the value proposition of this burgeoning technology. John has spent the past year successfully executing campaigns for a digital currency consultancy, decentralized financial solutions, and online payments platforms.

References

[1] https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=XBT&to=USD&view=1Y

[2] https://coinlib.io/coins

[3] https://etherscan.io/tokens?p=10

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