Beautyon (Akin) rejoins me on the show to talk about the EU attack on Bitcoin and the confusing way people speak/learn about Bitcoin. We chat:

  • Misleading terminology (unhosted wallets)
  • Bitcoin as text & speech, not money
  • The map is not the terrain
  • What bitcoin builders can do
  • What happens to countries who refuse Bitcoin



Stephan Livera links:

Podcast Transcript:

Stephan Livera – 00:00:00:

Akin, welcome back to the show.

Akin – 00:00:01:

Thanks for having me, Stephan.

Stephan Livera – 00:00:03:

So, Akin, you wrote a great article recently, and I thought it was a good time to get you back on and chat and hear a bit of your views on where bitcoin is at today, as well as what’s happening with the EU and the bitcoin regulations around the world. So do you want to just set the scene? What’s happening in the EU with bitcoin regulations?

Akin – 00:00:20:

Well, a group of well meaning and very young and naive people have taken it upon themselves to try and redefine reality as far as it touches bitcoin. They’ve tried to cast bitcoin as a form of money and also wallets into two categories hosted and unhosted. The reason why they’re doing this is because they don’t want anyone inside the EU to be free to use bitcoin without their permission. And so this small group of people essentially destroying the entire European economy as far as bitcoin is concerned, in a vain attempt to try and hold back the flood of bitcoin. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s irrational, illogical and the polar opposite of what they should actually be doing, which is embracing bitcoin on its own terms, on bitcoin terms, so that the European Union can be part of the global network that’s very, very quickly emerging.

Stephan Livera – 00:01:28:

Great. And so from their point of view, what kind of regulations, what kind of rules are they imposing as part of this push recently?

Akin – 00:01:39:

They are trying to impose the same rules that apply to money transmitter services and money services onto bitcoin. And of course, bitcoin isn’t money, it’s just a database. And the tools that you use to transact in bitcoin. Of course, transact is probably the wrong word to send messages on the bitcoin network are not financial tools either. They’re not wallets or anything like a banking app on your phone. And because these bitcoin wallets look very much like banking apps, which are the subject of the essay that I wrote, all of these EU apparatus, all these civil servants, have conflated bitcoin with money in their minds, and they’ve used that as the basis of new legislation. And so in the EU, they’re going to try and ban what they call unhosted wallets, which means any tool that’s on a mobile phone or on a desktop where you have control over the private keys that are used to sign messages sent to the bitcoin network, they’re going to make that illegal inside the EU. And what they don’t seem to understand is that most of the internet services that you use today, whether it be WhatsApp, Signal, or even a browser, all use the same techniques to protect the user from being eavesdropped upon. It’s called public key cryptography. That means you have private key on your machine that only you have access to that encrypts your text or your phone call or your photos before they’re sent out and received by somebody else. I’ve got that actually backwards. It’s the public key of the recipient that you have on your WhatsApp. And you use that public key of the recipient to encrypt messages to them, and they use their private key to decrypt those messages so that only the recipient can unscramble the encrypted message and read it. Now, that’s the fundamental basis of two things. First of all, the privacy revolution which has swept across the whole world, it is not irrevocable. And bitcoin, those same techniques, when applied to a database that everyone shares, can be used to simulate money. And that’s what bitcoin is. Bitcoin is a very good simulation of money. And this fundamental and deep understanding is completely missed by the EU people who have written this law. They’ve taken the analogies that people use to contextualize services in bitcoin and made the mistake of thinking that’s what these things actually are, when in fact they’re not. And so what’s going to happen is they’re going to be sidelined, them being the EU. They’re going to be totally sidelined in this fundamental change in the way things are done internationally. And they’re going to be a group of laggard states who will grudgingly come along to bitcoin after the Silicon Valley of bitcoin is founded and is thriving. Just as with the internet, the real Silicon Valley has led the world into this new era. I’m not sure where this bitcoin Silicon Valley is going to be, but it’s not going to be inside the EU, because no CEO with one brain cell is going to incorporate in a jurisdiction where it’s not possible to write software to serve users correctly and most efficiently. They’re going to go to other jurisdictions. And of course, in software, you don’t have to actually be anywhere in particular to do it. You can be anywhere and have your servers hosted in a safe jurisdiction serving the entire world. This is already being done. Of course, the exception to this is the bitcoin mining, where a physical presence is required because the machines have to be in one place, churning away and wheezing away at the calculations. So they have my sympathy, but for the entrepreneurs that are writing software that uses the network, they can be anywhere. And they will choose to not be in the EU, because the EU is now run by a bunch of luddite, ignorant, antihuman people who are desperate to keep the status quo in place. Now, of course, they are free to do that, but everybody else is free not to deal with them, not to be in their jurisdiction and to serve the EU people as if they were in the EU. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Stephan Livera – 00:06:46:

As you mentioned, there are analogies that people use to convey and explain things about bitcoin. But as you made the point, there’s a famous saying as well the map is not the terrain. Right? And it’s perhaps a similar idea here that even though bitcoin wallets or the software is called bitcoin wallets and has coins. Maybe that’s not the right analogy for really what’s going on, really. It’s more like message signing and message passing forward and backward between each other. And so I’m curious, in your view, why are these EU legislators going down this pathway? Is it purely down to miseducation or do you believe there’s actually some form of malice or attempt to preserve their power?

Akin – 00:07:30:

It’s a mixture of ignorance and malice. And you’re absolutely right about the analogies and the map not being the terrain. There is no problem, or there would be no problem if there wasn’t a state to get in the way of everybody in using analogies to contextualize how a piece of software works. There’s nothing wrong with calling a bitcoin wallet a wallet or bitcoin money or anything you see inside of a bitcoin wallet arranged the way that it is. The problem is when a legislature takes that as the reality and then builds a case for new laws based on an analogy, that, that’s a big mistake. And as for these EU people, there is to answer the second part of your question, there is malice involved because these people are socialists, they’re anticapitalist and they don’t want anything to come in and disturb the way that things work that they already understand. They think every new idea is a threat. And seeing bitcoin as a very big threat. Which in some ways it is a threat to the status quo. It’s a threat to the banking rails. It’s a threat to the surveillance system that they very carefully put in place to monitor everybody so in a way that they’re actually correct to take the standard they’re taking because bitcoin does threaten the way that they run everything. And this is separate from the threat that bitcoin presents or represents in the wholesale replacement of fiat money. The euro is how the European Union controls not only people, but everything to do with statecraft. If the euro is replaced by bitcoin, one of the most powerful levers is removed entirely and they are not going to sit still and just allow that to happen. Similarly, the sanctions regime that these Western democracies have in place are totally destroyed by bitcoin becoming the world’s global international money, because anybody can send bitcoin to anywhere and nobody needs to know about it if you’re careful and do it correctly. So this is a sea change in how things are done. And so, of course, people are going to be frightened by it, even though in the end, the benefits to everybody in the EU, everybody all over the world, are going to be unimaginably great. The world’s going to be a fantastically improved place with the discipline of bitcoin in control of how economics is ordered. And so before we can get there, there are going to be people who are against change. And this comes to mind the scene from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with the Turbinia machine where they didn’t want to turn it on because they thought it would melt down Mars, but in fact, it would turn mars into a planet with an atmosphere. It’s exactly the same thing. Bitcoin is the Turbinia machine that, unfortunately for them, has already been turned on and the whole earth is going to be transformed by it, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Many of these legislative moves are seemingly done in a panic mode. They know that bitcoin is now unstoppable, and so what they’re trying to do is contain it and corral it a little bit so they can get a handle on what this actually means. But it’s too late. It’s in everybody’s hands. It has the potential of being in everybody’s hands and there’s no way to stop people from sending messages to each other. And at the end of the day, they might analogize bitcoin as being money or some other convenient way of trying to contextualize it. But the reality is bitcoin is a messaging system and messaging systems are notoriously difficult to stop. I’m sure you’ve seen the experiments where people are sending bitcoin messages by a short wave. There’s an infinite number of ways that bitcoin can be transacted because it is text. It isn’t money, it is text. And if once you accept that, then you begin to understand how difficult it’s going to be for the state to stop bitcoin, they completely fail in stopping software policy and movie piracy, and they’re going to fail in their attempts to stop bitcoin also. Once the tipping point is reached and a large number of people who have money are using bitcoin regularly, then it will be absolutely out of control. Pandora’s box is open and the monster bitcoin is flying out and you can’t close that box down again. It cannot be stopped.

Stephan Livera – 00:12:38:

And as you were saying around incorrect language or terms used around bitcoin, or perhaps the understanding around bitcoin, are there updated ways of calling these things? So as an example, what should we be calling bitcoin wallets instead?

Akin – 00:12:54:

Well, the way to answer this question, first of all, before we try to answer it, it’s important to understand that the people who write these tools have an absolute right to call what happens in them by any means they want. It’s totally up to them. There is no community consensus that bitcoin developers or software developers are compelled to obey. They can do whatever they want. That’s the first thing. Now, as for what terminology they should use, it depends on what the motivating circumstances that’s going to make them change the language. If the EU is hell bent on trying to regulate wallets, every single wallet developer will go to a lawyer and then that lawyer will advise them how to recontextualize what they’re saying in their wallets. And so that’s going to be the guiding force that’s going to change these wallets and how they present information to the user so they can stay out of trouble with the EU. And in fact, they might have an EU version of say, blue wallet that has only nonfinancial nomenclature in it, and a blue wallet for the normal people in the free world that has all of the ordinary nomenclature and analogies that we all know and love. So that, I think, is what’s going to happen. They’re not going to just wing it and come up with a whole bunch of new terms by themselves. They’re going to make absolutely sure that these antihuman EU apparatchs are not going to be able to point the finger at them and say, you are running a financial service. And the argument is going to have to be very carefully made, the language selected very, very carefully so that they stay out of trouble. And of course, this has nothing to do with the way that these bitcoin wallets work or the numbers that are shown to the user or anything else. All it does is it’s going to confuse the users tremendously because they will have a wallet on their phone, it will be updated and then all of a sudden all of the terminology will be different. And so I can imagine some of them will panic to think that something has happened to their bitcoin. And of course that won’t be the case. It will be exactly the same and the utility will be the same, only the language will have changed. And I think this absolutely has to happen because these EU people are not going to back down. They’re going to continue to insist that bitcoin is money and that bitcoin wallet providers are doing a financial act that’s covered by financial services regulations, which of course is not the case. And they’re not going to quit. They’re not going to quit until they’re made to quit. And bitcoin thankfully, is powerful enough to make them quit.

Stephan Livera – 00:15:51:

Now at this point, I could imagine a skeptic might be thinking, well hang on, I’ve heard to make an analogy in the case of say, tax cases and tax law, there’s this idea of the tax office or the IRS or whatever the tax agency is in the country, they might look at the substack over form. So as an example of that. In that case where they’re trying to go after somebody to try to say. Yes. You owe tax on this et cetera. Basically. Could the EU politicians. Legislators. Could they try to make this similar argument about substance over form and say. Look. Just because these bitcoin wallet developers are renaming their application into a viewer or a signer. We are saying actually substance over form. It’s still money. Therefore still financial services. Therefore still regulated. What’s your view on that kind of argument and the possibility of that happening?

Akin – 00:16:44:

That’s a very, very interesting question. And the way you’ve put it is to say it’s substance over form. So when these bitcoin wallets put a fiat number against the balance, or even show it as a balance, that is the form. The substance is the bitcoin network. The substance is the UTXOs. The substance is what’s happening under the hood, not what’s being represented to the user. So if we’re going to if these people are going to say the substance is what matters and not the form, then the argument is, well, the substance is this, the substance that. It’s a database. We don’t control a database. Our wallets don’t actually receive anything. It’s all entries on a ledger that this application is a window to. And so when we go to the form, their logic, the logic of the state breaks down entirely. So they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that they’re going for the facts about what bitcoin is and then also say that the facts say that bitcoin is money. They can’t do that. And so this is going to go to court. I’ve predicted for many years this is going to go to court, and the court that matters globally, because everybody follows the United States is the supreme court of the United States. And it will be proved absolutely, you can bet money on it, you can even bet bitcoin on it, that the supreme court will find that bitcoin is not money, it is speech. Once that happens, other nations in the world will follow and fall in line with that, and then the floodgates will be broken open for bitcoin globally, because all the regulations that are currently stifling bitcoin adoption will be thrown out. And then everybody can write the software tools that they want, release those software tools, and not have to deal with the onerous irrational, illogical nonsense that’s being used to stop people writing software. So of course, now there’s the other way people argue against this. They say that, well, the government is omniscient. The government is omnipotent. They can do whatever they want. They don’t have to follow the rules, they don’t have to be logical. Well, if you live in a country that has a government like that, you have my sympathy and you shouldn’t be living there. If the United States is a nation of laws and not men, which is what it says on the box, then they cannot regulate bitcoin. They cannot say that bitcoin is money, but it’s also not money. But it’s not just because we say so. The United States does not work like that on the box. And so this is why the supreme court is very, very important. As you’ve seen recently, they’re willing to do things that were previously unthinkable, like overturning Roe versus Wade. So if any supreme Court in the 20th century or 21st century is going to side with the reality that bitcoin isn’t money, it’s just a database, it’s text its speech, and the first amendment totally covers it is this supreme court. This supreme court is more likely to do it than any other. So I think it’s very important to bring this to the supreme court as quickly as possible, because, as you know, they’re not a bunch of young men, and they can be replaced with bad people. So we’ve already seen a very big bitcoin company go to court when they weren’t allowed to launch one of their financial instruments onto the market. They didn’t even wait. They just had the whole case ready in case the application was rejected. And I think that has to happen with ordinary bitcoin transactions and wallet services. We’ve got to go to court and force the state to behave, got to force these people to accept reality, can’t rely on them to behave rationally or in the interests of the public, because clearly they’re not acting in the interests of the public because they’re anti bitcoin. There is nothing negative about bitcoin. There’s nothing bad about bitcoin. Bitcoin is a positive and good thing for the entire population of this planet. And anybody who is against that is against humanity. And of course, there are people who are against humanity. They have to be stopped. They’ll be stopped in the court. When the law is behind bitcoin at a fundamental level, like the American constitution, then it will not be possible to stop bitcoin anymore. All the people who hate it, who rail against it, who want nothing to change, ever, will be silenced. And then it’s up to us to write the programs, construct the services, and do all the capitalistic things that need to happen to make sure every single person on earth has access to the power to receive and send bitcoin in a simple, unintrusive way where their rights and privacy are not violated by default.

Stephan Livera – 00:22:08:

And I’m also thinking now of examples where governments can be quite possessive over their citizens. And so, as an example, there was the example of BitMEX. Now, they were set up in Hong Kong. They did not even have fiat on or off ramps, and yet the US government still went after them for serving us customers. I’m curious, in your view, could the EU parliament or EU politicians try to take a similar approach and say, well, even if you are based outside of the EU, the fact that you are serving customers inside the EU, that’s what drags you inside our net or our jurisdiction per se. I’m curious if you see any risk on that side.

Akin – 00:22:57:

It depends what country your company is based in. If you have a company that’s based in the United States, no court in America will humor an EU attack on an American citizen or an American company. That’s absolutely guaranteed. So what this means is that if all the bitcoin companies on earth are all incorporated in Delaware or wherever people like to incorporate the United States now, the EU will be 100% powerless to stop them 100%. The only way that they could do anything about it is to go after individual citizens who are using bitcoin wallets outside of their regulations. And that would mean going after literally millions of people. We’ve already seen this with software piracy, which after over a quarter of a century, the state has totally failed to stop. The same thing will be true with bitcoin. Once an American company decides to do something, they are at liberty to serve people anywhere on earth in any way they like. You will see that many American websites don’t have this EU cookie directive shield that comes down when you go on to their website, because they know EU regulations don’t fly in America. They don’t roll like that to use their language. So the same thing will be true about bitcoin once there’s a court case that’s been won by the bitcoiners, and the supreme court has said that bitcoin is text no American court or humor anything coming from the EU. So when you provoke Americans like this, I’m sure you’ve been aware of the sorts of feelings it evokes. They start talking about surrender monkeys and all that sort of stuff. Just try it. Just try and come to America and stop Americans from doing things. You will find out that they don’t tolerate interference in their legal system or with their citizens by foreigners. They don’t tolerate it. So this is an opportunity for the United States to replace the fiat system with the US dollar being the default global currency. The reserve currency of the whole world. With this new system where all of the money of the world passes through the United States. Through the bitcoin businesses that are serving people globally. Through wallets and all sorts of other services. The likes of which are impossible to imagine. Now, that’s what America should be going for. It should be striving to be the number one country on earth for bitcoin. And all it has to do to achieve this is follow the law, follow the constitution, understand what bitcoin is. It isn’t money. There’s no such thing as sensible regulations on speech. No real American talks like that. And once you understand that bitcoin actually is speech, and the first amendment applies to it, then you’ll know it’s impossible to bring any laws to the table to try and regulate speech. It’s not going to happen. So this is why it’s very important to tell the absolute truth about bitcoin when we’re talking about these matters of law. Now, in the context of services, you can call bitcoin whatever you want. And in this piece that I wrote, I made the example of oil traders using bitcoin and denominating barrels of oil in bitcoin, and an app that shows you that an oil trading app would say that you have 100 barrels of oil, four one bitcoin, when in fact it’s the same bitcoin everybody is using for everything else. Bitcoin is a database you can use those numbers to represent anything you want. It’s up to you. So any law that somebody thinks is required to control Bitcoin shows they don’t understand what Bitcoin is, they don’t understand what math is. They’re computer illiterate and they’re going to make a mistake by default. So I don’t think that the EU is going to be able to control any American when it comes to the provision of services on Bitcoin. Now, of course, you’re going to get some CEOs who like going on holiday in France and they don’t want to be arrested when they get to Charlotte at all, and so they’ll block EU citizens from using their tools. But that’s up to them. They don’t actually have to do this. It’s a choice. And Americans, being free people have that choice. This is the most important thing. And actually, America is the best country on earth to be the number one country in Bitcoin because it has a constitution, because it’s a nation of laws and not men. And so I know I’m waving the American flag now, sorry, but it’s just a fact. America is number one. And if it embraces Bitcoin, the whole dollar era, the whole post 1971 Breton Woods, it will all be forgotten. And Bitcoin will have the great america will have the greatest next 100 years of maybe any nation in the history of the world.

Stephan Livera – 00:28:19:

So then, is it all over for EU companies? Let’s say Bitcoin serving companies in the EU, is it all over for them? And should they now be packing up and trying to set up outside of the EU? Or do you believe there’s still some role for advocacy, some role for education of EU legislators?

Akin – 00:28:38:

EU legislators have made their bed and now they have to line it. These companies that are doing software in the EU should leave the EU. You have to understand how much time, effort and money it takes to run a software company. It’s debilitating, it’s very difficult. Why should these people, just because they happen to live in the EU, make extra effort to do what other people are doing without having to do that effort? This puts EU companies at a extreme disadvantage because they have to think about two things at once, following all these ridiculous arcane laws, whilst their American counterparts and their counterparts in all these other three countries don’t have to think about that. They have more time to write the software, more time to develop their business models, more money to put into advertising and all those other sorts of things that help a business thrive, whereas their EU counterparts are spending money on lawyers, checking over the regulations amid five and all the other things that they have to do, which are completely ridiculous. So why would you not just give that up wholesale and move to United States? All you have to do is do the paperwork and then it’s over. So there’s nothing stopping people living in the EU from writing software for a bitcoin company. So in theory and in practice, you can live in the EU and have your chartuchari and everything else they have there, which is quite nice, and all of the business is being done abroad, so why would you not do that? At some point, people have to wake up and understand that the state is an implacable enemy. They don’t have your best interests at heart. They’re a bunch of socialists and communists and collectivists, and they absolutely hate bitcoin. If you don’t wake up and understand that, you’re going to spend the rest of your life fighting a losing battle where people in other jurisdictions will be fighting a battle to be number one in bitcoin, which is the battle that really needs to be fought by entrepreneurs. So my advice to anybody in the EU is to leave. And of course, once again, it doesn’t mean physically leave. You can stay there and enjoy the ski slopes and everything else, move your incorporation away from the danger zone, the radiation zone, that is the EU. Move to a free country where you’re free to develop your software, release it and serve people according to the market. That’s my advice to you. Given freely.

Stephan Livera – 00:31:24:

What about the question of mass adoption? If bitcoin were to be more adopted inside the EU, would that help?

Akin – 00:31:34:

I think it would help, actually. It would help a lot if everybody in the EU has a mobile phone, has wallet satoshi or Samurai Wallet or moon wallet or phoenix or one of these other very great wallets like Breez, for example. If everybody in the EU had one of these wallets, then the situation would be extremely different. No legislature, no apparatchik. Knowing that everybody in the EU has a bitcoin wallet would put their head above the parapet to call all of these people criminals, to call all of them tax avoiders. This is exactly the same as WhatsApp or signal or any of these other tools which are end to end encrypted. Nobody’s coming up and saying that all these people should have their messages revealed. The more people who are using bitcoin, the better. It makes everybody safe. And the baseline that people should accept and people should go for is a wallet of the type that I’ve just mentioned, including, of course, the absolutely wonderful Samurai Wallet where you control your keys. You’re not giving responsibility for the keys over to a company who can cut you off, just like a bank and cut you off. That’s not bitcoin, that’s something else. Now, I’m not saying that those people shouldn’t exist, which of course they shouldn’t, but it would be better for the whole world if everybody was on bitcoin wallet, where you control the keys and have absolute control over your money. Nobody can cut you off. Nobody can give the excuse that they received a letter from XYZ saying that your account should be suspended in. Bitcoin. There are no accounts, you don’t have to give your email address, your name or anything else. You only do that because you want to do that. And of course I suggest that you don’t do that. But in bitcoin you don’t have to do that and you have the same access to the network as everybody else has. You appear on the network. So it’s very important to understand how these things work, what it means to be in control of your own keys, which means in bitcoin, your own money, and why this should be the default for everybody. So in my dream scenario, everyone in the EU has a bitcoin wall of some kind. They’re transacting with bitcoin in a firestorm of transactions that happen every day, that’s unstoppable and they’re finding a way to get bitcoin. So this is not something that’s impossible, it’s not something that is a fever dream or a fantasy. It actually can happen because the same shape of tool, which is the wallet application, can spread to every EU user, just like signal and WhatsApp and everything else in telegram for hen’s sake. So it is actually possible to do. And this is why it’s so disappointing that the applications that are already widely distributed all over the earth chose not to settle on bitcoin as the synthetic money that is available inside the app. But once again, understanding bitcoin is a very, very difficult thing and there are no precedents for it. So it’s not like going to learn c, for example. It’s easy to make a mistake in how it should be formulated. And this is why you have some of these very, very big companies that have managed to make a success in the short term of themselves, but don’t give access to the private keys to the user because they see the they see the outside, they see only the shiny surface with the letter b in yellow. And think of that’s bitcoin. No, that’s not bitcoin. Bitcoin is a very specific thing. Key to it is the control of your own keys. And without that, it really actually isn’t bitcoin.

Stephan Livera – 00:35:52:

So focusing in on the consumer level software and hardware that is available in bitcoin today, do you see any issues with the way those things are being built up? What kind of issues do you see that people could improve on?

Akin – 00:36:07:

Well, it’s an interesting question. It depends on what the definition of the word consumer is. If we look at something like the iPhone, that’s a consumer, that’s a consumer phone, that’s a consumer tool. And so if we’re going to talk about any of these tools being a consumer tool, that’s the standard, because we know that apple has made it easy for billions of people to use very complicated tools like email. Email might seem like it’s not complicated, but actually under the hood it’s hideously complicated. Anybody who has tried to run a pop through your SMTP server knows that email is an absolute nightmare. And yet on an iPhone you can use email as easy as blowing off a log. This has to happen with bitcoin. Now, the current crop of services are trying very hard to move in that direction, to make their services easier. But it’s not something that’s trivial. It’s very, very difficult to do. And you need a team of people who are normal people to help you to guide the design process. Without that, you’re never going to be able to do it. So let’s look at a very good example of a consumer grade wallet, and that’s the pine wallet. And this wallet is in its interface that’s shown to the consumer as Apple-like, an interface as you’re going to find it’s. Totally beautiful developer up there’s, a man called Timothy and quist, I believe, and he has totally nailed the user interface for this bitcoin wallet. It’s intuitive, it’s beautiful, super easy to use. It uses the gestures of the iOS software to the absolute maximum. It’s utterly brilliant, and on top of that, allows the user to control their keys. So when it comes to consumer bitcoin, consumer wallets, pine wallet is a good example of the way that things should go. If everything goes into that direction, the adoption of bitcoin by ordinary people is going to greatly accelerate. Now, other wallets who haven’t had this design sensibility at their disposal doesn’t infer in any way that they’re not good or inferior. All I’m telling you is that as a person who runs a bitcoin company and has to deal with tech support, you would be horrified at how people fail to understand how these tools work, even though it’s you and me. Stephan it seems very, very simple, but to them it’s frightening, it’s hard to understand. And so there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of ground to be gained in making the user experiences of these tools as smooth as butter, as good as apple. It can be done. And I think it has to be done because expecting ordinary people to learn how bitcoin works and to learn these interfaces, which to you are very simple, but to the ordinary people are complicated. This is not rational. We have to come to them. We being the people who run big coin companies, our businesses have to come to them. We have to bring bitcoin to them on their terms and not expect them to use bitcoin on our terms. If we’re not willing to do that, then you might as well give up on trying to be a consumer bitcoin service. And once again, by consumer, I don’t mean just somebody who has money to buy something. I mean the apple user, the android user, the ordinary person, and in fact, even the people who are illiterate, those people will need to have access to bitcoin. Also. They have access to WhatsApp they can make phone calls. So there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to use bitcoin in a way that’s intuitive and doesn’t require any training. That’s the key. That’s the key to spreading this all over the world. And of course, the people who are literate in the west, they will take to it like they’ll cut through it like a hot knife through butter because it would be so simple, so intuitive. And so I encourage everybody to take a look at Pine for a glimpse into the future. It is extraordinarily beautiful and gratifying. And if you’re thinking about the future, it will be a source of reassurance that somebody is actually thinking about this, somebody is doing something about it and they’re knocking it out of the park.

Stephan Livera – 00:41:11:

So, again, let’s chat a little bit about Azteco. So do you want to give us a little bit of an overview? Where is the company at? Well, firstly, for listeners who aren’t aware what is Azteco, and can you just tell us a little bit about the company?

Akin – 00:41:23:

Well, Azteco is a consumer bitcoin company. We’re one of the first consumer bitcoin companies and we make it extremely easy to get bitcoin in a way that millions upon millions of people already understand. What we’ve done is we’ve reduced the complexity of bitcoin delivery into the form factor of a sheet of paper that comes out of an ordinary point of sale device. And what you do is you pay over cash or pay whatever way that the merchant requires. He prints out in a taco voucher for the amount that you want. You scan it with one of the ln URL wallets that we’ve integrated with and then you get the Lightning sent to you instantaneously. It’s as simple as that. There is nothing else. And so when people encounter Azteco, they always ask this same question. And this happened over and over and over again like a trope inside this company. Why isn’t everything as simple as this? Well, because people decided not to think about bitcoin, to call it money, to think they have to be regulated, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So if we think about bitcoin as we did by its nature, then it’s possible for us to create a business model where we treat bitcoin by its nature using only the required steps to deliver it. And that means a slip of paper coming out of a point of sale device. And of course, some of our merchants don’t like their waste paper. They don’t like buying it, they like printing it. Our system can show a QR code on a phone and then the person buying the bitcoin voucher can just scan the merchants phone and then the same process happens. So it’s paperless, it’s papered, it’s super, super flexible. And of course, we have an API, which has allowed us to integrate with many, many, many businesses all over the world where our vouchers are being spewed out of the point of sale devices. And making a lot of people very happy and breaking the hypnotic spell over the population about what bitcoin is, what it can be, and how easy it can be to get it.

Stephan Livera – 00:43:39:

And what countries is Azteco live in or where you have, let’s say, merchants or partners that you’re working with?

Akin – 00:43:47:

Well, if you go to the Azteco website, which is Azteco, look at our map. There are dots all over the place. One of the countries where there are no dots, but where there very soon there’s going to be a lot of dots, is the South American continent. So there’s going to be an announcement about that coming up very shortly. But we have 200,000 outlets in South Africa. Now, these outlets are in places called spasas, where they don’t have a street address. It’s kind of a shack thing. And they don’t have a street address, so they can’t be put on a map. But down there, we are available through 3 million bank apps. Time bank for one. And you can buy in a stick of it directly in one of these banking apps. So we’re serving the complete gamut of the South African society, from the poorest to the people who are fully banked and integrated into the financial rail system. And of course, if you’ve had any experience of sending money outside of South Africa or using a South African credit card, you’ll know that there are rules in place to stop you from being able to spend abroad. Bitcoin makes all that go away. Nobody can tell you where or when you can send or receive money. And of course, it’s super simple to receive money, you don’t have to be awake or go anywhere. It just arrives on your phone like magic. So this is a very big sea change in how South Africans are able to use their money. And of course, we’re giving the tools to people to be able to receive money in a way that they haven’t ever had before. This is an extremely wonderful thing. There are 60 million unbanked people in Mexico, for example. All of those people can be put onto bitcoin and they can be part of the international community that can become part of the financial rails at a cost of essentially nothing. And also they get the ethical part of it as well, in that they’re able to transact without permission or the leave of a third party. This is a very, very important thing. So Azteco was absolutely everywhere. Our map shows that thousands and thousands and thousands of dots, we are available in every single Canada post outlet. And those are about to be turned back on because the service was suspended for some spurious reason, but they’re going to be turned back on. But there’s 6000 of them in Canada where you can just roll in, hand over cash and get a bitcoin voucher. So we are doing our very best. And believe me, it’s not easy we’re doing our very best to make Azteco available all over the world where such things are permitted. And we’re going to do it. It’s going to be beneficial to everyone. I think that bitcoin is one of the most important innovations and services, I think, to build a service on in the history of the whole world. It’s going to change the way people think about money. It’s going to change the way people think about spending, putting an end to the consumer society and helping the environment and doing all sorts of things like that. I think this is a wonderful time to be alive and a great project to be involved in. And this is why I get very agitated and energized when people use the wrong labels to describe what bitcoin is. Now, in Azteco, we’ve come across our own version of this problem where people say that a slip of paper that comes out of one of our point of sale devices is bitcoin itself. Now, obviously, that’s ridiculous. A slip of paper is not bitcoin. A slip of paper is slip of paper. And so you cannot have two parallel systems, legal systems operating at the same time, where Amazon, itunes, Netflix and all these other people can have their vouchers being sold. And those, for example, Netflix, netflix voucher is not a television program. Essentially, that’s what they’re saying with bitcoin, because you have the word bitcoin on a slip of paper. Some people who are gravely mistaken believe that that slip of paper is actually bitcoin. And I know some of your listeners who are highly educated in bitcoin are shaking their heads in disbelief. Believe me, my friends, this is verbatim true story. So we have to fight against the ignorance that’s widespread in society, and that’s reached right into the halls of the literatures. And it’s why I get so agitated when people talk about sensible regulations and all this other stuff without taking into account what bitcoin actually is. And I’m afraid that once again. We’re going to have to go to court to force these people to stay in their lane. To stay in your lane. Stay away from the activities of free people. And let us get on with serving people with a product that we know works. With a service that we know is next to infallible. And that’s going to change the world for the better. If you try and get in the way of bitcoin, you’re not going to be able to stop it. History says so. We know that’s the case. All you’re doing is delaying the inevitable and allowing another country, an enemy country, to become the preeminent bitcoin nation on earth and with the repolarization of the world. Denying bitcoin and stopping bitcoin entrepreneurs is a very dangerous game, because bitcoin companies can move to any jurisdiction at any time they’ll start paying the taxes in those jurisdictions, the bitcoin transactions will be flowing through those jurisdictions and not yours. And that’s the inevitable outcome if you try and be clever when you’re not clever. Stay away from legislating. Bitcoin this is not a threat. I’m just saying that that’s what’s going to happen. And companies these days are very nimble, very agile, and they’re able to move from jurisdiction at the drop of a hat. So it’s very important to think hard about what you’re doing. Think hard about the oath that you swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Think about that. Don’t be an oath breaker. Don’t be an anti American, anti innovation character that’s trying to push innovation into foreign countries. Think. Think very hard. Tomorrow is coming. Bitcoin entrepreneurs can go wherever they want and people who are not Americans, who are bitcoin entrepreneurs, will innovate and suck all the money of the world into their jurisdiction, which quite rightfully belongs to the United States and its people. Being one of the best countries on earth, you’re not going to get multiple chances to get this right. You’ve got to get it right the first time. And luckily for you, you don’t even have to think about it. The Constitution has been put there to remove the need for you to be creative about legislation. So you need to heed those warnings, pay attention to your oath, follow the Constitution, and the rest will just happen like magic.

Stephan Livera – 00:51:36:

Fantastic. Well, I think that’s a great spot to finish up there. So, listeners, make sure you go and follow Beauty On. You can find him on Twitter. His handle is @Beautyon_. And as you mentioned, Akin, it’s Azteco Akin, great to chat with you today and thanks for joining me.

Akin – 00:51:54:

Thank you for having me, Stephan. I really enjoyed it.

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