Money Reimagined: Bitcoins Tug of War as Wall Street Moves In

Saturday 12 December 2020, 3:27 AM AEST - 2 months ago

This battle, pitting corporate interests seeking to profit from the Bitcoin systems disruptive potential against an anti-corporatist dream for a human-first financial system that bypasses institutional middlemen, has been in play for some time. But with bitcoins latest price rally, the fight has intensified.

Now, Wall Streets heavyweights are moving in. And to many who hail from Bitcoins cypherpunk roots, those guys are the enemy.

The engagement of Fidelity, Citibank, BlackRock and now MassMutual need not be the death knell for a humanist Bitcoin dream. Theres still a pathway to a fairer, more open, inclusive financial model, even with those institutions increasingly investing in and engaging with bitcoin services. But the route to that idealized future is less direct and, inevitably, involves more intense competition.

Its also not clear whether these competing visions can coexist in the long run. Either way, in the medium term – which may last decades – the tensions will persist and intensify. Who ultimately wins, and how, is what matters.

To be clear, many long-term enthusiasts for bitcoin are cheering the arrival of these big names.

Partly thats because their participation has boosted the cryptocurrencys price, which keeps bitcoin HODLers happy. Its also because these newcomers are finally comprehending the core value proposition for investing in bitcoin as a digitally scarce store of value. That offers vindication for all whove been telling this story for the better part of a decade.

But theres still an inherent conflict between the interests of regulated, compliance-conscious institutions, which will support the imposition of regulations and controls to ease their own participation in it, and those that see such rules and constraints as exclusionary barriers to entry for a wider swath of humanity.

A lightning r ...

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