Facebook coin is the second creepy uncle at the crypto wedding this year, after JPMorgan picked out Lady In Red by Chris de Burgh and winked at the maid of honor.
Nate Popper’s New York Times piece provided confirmation by Facebook ‘insiders’ of a crypto play, native to WhatsApp, that could allow users to send money instantly. And mass adoption doesn’t come much more massive than Facebook.
So why does it feel as though the bride’s halfway to Tucson, and we’re standing around at a chapel in Memphis?
Because for many of us, cryptocurrency isn’t just about money – no matter how weird that may sound.
The movement toward decentralization has been fueled by the excesses of banks, and the surveillance capitalism of tech platforms that have derived untold billions in profit from ‘extracting the essence of you’ and selling it to… well, everyone.
Some of us believe in that movement.
In the last three months of 2018, U.S. banks made $62 billion in profit. If every adult in America had contributed equally to that figure, we would have paid the banks $243.00 per person – almost $1,000 per year each, at that rate. (And to put it into context, the average American driver only spends a little more, $330.00 per quarter, on gas.)
Meanwhile, the consensual exchange of convenience for privacy has made Facebook an enterprise whose platform has facilitated election fraud and ethnic cleansing, live-streamed murder and suicide. It must be the envy of covert quasi-military agencies.
Those extremes have arisen because the vox populi hasn’t been raised to support an alternative. What alternative could there be?
But now we have cryptocurrency. We have a technology to quell our current societal tendencies toward Orwellian corpocracy.
Projects that protect our data have sprung up; projects that seek to create censorship-resistant access to information; projects that will provide financial inclusion in emerging markets.
We (and I mean those of us who are here for more than just profit) are not anti-capitalist; we are pro-liberty. And cryptocurrency represents the chance to claw back some of our own power.
And although some are here to get-rich-quick, many of us have at least some notion that the democratization of finance is a core component of our personal freedom: that empowerment is economic, not just political. (And possibly even that unfettered capitalism is virtually indistinguishable from rabid communism.)
Usury is an overused word in crypto these days, but the facts are simple: banks have become greedier than ever. The technology that social media companies offer is not worth the price we pay for it.
Which is why the entrance of monolithic entities like JPMorgan and Facebook should not be cause for celebration among crypto aficionados. “Lending the sector legitimacy” is no counterbalance to the usurpation of our sector for their continuing profit and power.
If we think for a single moment that the cause of decentralization is advanced by Facebook’s implementation of a cryptocurrency, we need to think again.
Decentralization is the process by which authority is removed and reallocated. It must be expected that centralized organizations will resist this movement.
And how would they resist? From the outside?
I dunno. Maybe I’ll ask this Greek guy with the big wooden horse who just popped over for a cup of sugar.
The author is invested in cryptocurrencies.