As ICC earlier reported, US president Donald Trump has banned US citizens from trading in the Venezuelan-government backed Petro cryptocurrency. This isn’t like a chat ban, though. It’s a law. They have to send some guys after you if you decide to ignore the law, and of course, in this editorial, I don’t mean to suggest that you should. It’s clearly a bad idea to tempt the federal government.
Yet, it does present us the rare opportunity to discuss the ultimate power of cryptocurrency over the traditional fiat system. While I personally have no stake in Venezuela, and thus no particular reason to trade in the Petro, aside from potential speculation which I’m willing to forego in the interest of being off the radar of the government, it seems evident to me that anyone who does wish to trade in it will have no problem doing so. The beautiful and most basic nature of cryptocurrency is that it is semi-anonymous.
Adding in technologies like Monero, it becomes easier and easier to transact in truly private ways where the governments of the world will have one hell of a time interfering with whatever it is you want to do.
Of course, the new power we’re given through the miracle of cryptocurrencies requires us to be quite responsible. The point here is that one little government ban isn’t enough to actually stop an activity, not where cryptocurrencies are involved. The truly dedicated can send all the money they want today without any boundaries on it. They can even buy all the Petro they want — if they for some reason want it.
The role that cryptocurrencies play in international disputes like that between the US and Venezuela is still being defined. If cryptocurrencies create an obvious way around the banking blockade, it seems evident that some activities with cryptocurrencies will inevitably be made illegal. It seems even inevitable that there may even be attempts to ban cryptocurrencies. Again, such moves can’t actually rid the earth of the new paradigm. Instead, the more they’re banned and attacked, the higher their value will go. Risk breeds reward.
For better or worse, the nature of cryptocurrencies is to enable value to flow, regardless of extraneous borders or other issues. While issues like this bring to light the more controversial aspects of cryptocurrency, the fact remains: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies liberate transactions from government interference. While there is still plenty the government can do, the choice remains with the citizen as to whether they’re actually going to send and receive value or not, and this was not the case before the advent of cryptos. When banks and money services were the only options, it was trivial for governments to stop the flow of money to areas they had decided to punish.
Now, in the days of Bitcoin, it’s actually the citizens who have to decide whether money will go somewhere or not. Arbitrary decisions by leaders, well-intentioned or otherwise, now only play a role of determining the type of punishment a person might receive. The decision as to whether money will flow certain places is in the hands of the people with the money rather than the people with the guns. While this is Bitcoin keeping its promise of “be your own bank” in action, one wonders what would happen if Bitcoin were used in some full-scale flouting of federal authority.
Although Bitcoin and other borderless cryptocurrencies are constantly under some form of attack or another, there are pain points, such as exchanges and bank accounts of users, which are always vulnerable. It would seem, then, that the practical usefulness of Bitcoin as a form of protest or facilitation thereof only goes so far.