Obi Nwosu is the CEO and co-founder of Coinfloor, the UK’s longest-running Bitcoin exchange. He has over 20 years’ experience building online marketplaces and bringing virtual currencies to tens of millions of people. Obi writes The Road to Bitcoin Hegemony, a weekly recap of some of the most impactful developments in Bitcoin.
Plenty of people fancy themselves a Frank Sinatra or Celine Dion, especially after a few drinks. But I don’t need a stiffener to get me up on the mic: I love karaoke, and on any given Thursday evening you’ll hear me singing classics such as “I want it that way,” “Don’t stop believing,” and even the Disney classic “Let it go.”
I don’t care whether my friends or other patrons give me the thumbs up or “nul points” — for me, what matters is doing the songs justice by belting them out with belief. But of all my party pieces, by far my favourite is “Never Enough” from the musical spectacular The Greatest Showman.
And it was during a recent rendition that I realized how relevant this ballad is to the Bitcoin debate. Because nothing is ever enough for Bitcoin’s detractors. Whatever we do, they’ll always want more. That red herring about “dirty Bitcoin?” We could show them receipts that the entire network is 100% renewable sourced and they’d come up with complaints about commercial waste from the production of mining equipment. (They’d probably tweet it from their rare-earth-powered mobile devices, too.)
Or were the time and cost of Bitcoin transactions to fall to pennies and seconds they’ll move the goalposts again, asking why it’s not a matter of milliseconds or fractions of a cent.
There are two ways of looking at this. We can either give it the full Chris Crocker (“Leave Bitcoin alone!!”), or we can recognize it for the unintended compliment that it is. If Bitcoin wasn’t a threat to the old orthodoxies, there would be no point attacking it. And if our revolution was really heading in the wrong direction, surely it would be better to leave us to make mistakes without being interrupted.
Just because Bitcoin will never be enough to its detractors doesn’t mean we should smile and roll our eyes. The steady drip-drip of new demands — that Bitcoin be greener, or faster, or more fungible — is not meant to convince the converted but to dissuade new entrants. The strategy is simple but effective: set up a strawman, construct a false narrative, and sow uncertainty. The goal is to keep as many people trapped in a failing financial system as possible.
But Bitcoin has its own version of “Never Enough:” our incredible, insatiable, evangelical desire to dispel malicious myths and educate people. Yes, we’re just as guilty of wanting more. If we weren’t so ambitious, we’d be happy with Bitcoin’s current status as a rival to gold, trusted by ordinary savers and major institutions alike as a store of value. But that doesn’t satisfy us: we won’t rest until Bitcoin is the reserve currency of the world; after that, well -—we’ll shoot for the Moon and then Mars… once Elon opens a bus service.
So, there are two sides to “Never Enough.” But which way up will the coin land? That’s an easy one. It’s a question of heads we win, tails they lose.
It’s always more powerful to say what you’re for than for what you’re against. But that’s especially true in this case. Just look at what Bitcoin’s detractors are opposed to: they’re against financial self-sovereignty, against innovation, and against people’s privacy. And what are they for? Inflation, centralization, and control. Small wonder they’d rather distract attention from their unedifying vision of the future by moving the goalposts for Bitcoin.
My message to bitcoiners is simple: let our implacable opponents dream up new, increasingly obscure reasons why we’ll never win. Fight the untruths and misrepresentations wherever you see them, and know that we’ve got something even more powerful than Bitcoin’s technical brilliance on our side: the philosophy of freedom and self-sovereignty.
And while our opponents seek smaller and smaller reasons to attack Bitcoin, continue to dream big and sing Bitcoin’s praises at the top of your lungs. Because we’re not on the Road to Bitcoin Mediocrity. Even Hegemony won’t be enough.