Written by Peter Keay

Senior Architect / Director of Globalization @ICO Alert, host @Bitgenstein's Table: Crypto Philosophy Podcast. Blockchain industry writer, marketer, programmer
June 27 2018

"If we don't free ourselves with the blockchain, they're going to imprison us with the blockchain."

"If we don't free ourselves with the blockchain, they're going to imprison us with the blockchain."

Nick Spanos speaks at World Blockchain Forum on the state of cryptocurrency.

One of the early movers in the cryptocurrency space is Nick Spanos. Founder of Blockchain Technologies Corp. and the Bitcoin Center — a live trading floor for crypto down the street from the New York Stock Exchange — Spanos has evangelized for Bitcoin and other blockchain projects for years. Most recently, he’s co-founded Zap, a way to connect smart contracts to the real world.

Like many of the more philosophical presentations at World Blockchain Forum, Nick’s talk had strong revolutionary undertones. Moderating influences may be moving in, for good or for ill, but the thought leaders in cryptocurrency still show their libertarian roots.

Nick charged onto the stage. He only had 15 minutes.

Here’s what Nick said in summary.

1) It’s early, and early isn’t always best.

MySpace fans, Napster fans, and Nick Spanos alike learned this the hard way.

In the early ’90s, Nick worked on building web-based solutions that would do away with hotels. Too early. Alas, Nick isn’t the founder of Airbnb.

But hey, if xkcd #827 were true, we might have never had the Bitcoin Center.

Blockchain technology is still so early in its development that the community cheers when features are released even when they are years away from having an effect on actual use cases.

“It’s like the wheel was just invented. We’re a bunch of cavemen throwing it down a hill and laughing that it rolls”

2) But the train is moving fast.

Maybe early humans inventing the wheel didn’t have to pay taxes and parking tickets, but they also didn’t have quick access to billions of dollars’ worth of stored energy and the collective engineering chops of thousands of excited engineers.

Plus, most spent the majority of their time just trying to stay alive.

Blockchain tech is attracting money and talent from all around the world. Even those who don’t understand the technology are getting dollar signs in their eyes and buying projects that may have no chance otherwise.

“I think the greed of everyone out there is going to push this over the top and allow us to free ourselves.”

3) And our innovation must be early.

Sure, it’s not always best to be early, but blockchain tech is a race. It’s an authoritarian government’s dream to have the level of immutable, permanent tracking that some blockchain projects allow.

Yet tyrants would do well to be afraid of the public, open-source projects out there.

“[This is] the first time in history of humanity that we’re allowed to actually take our worth and control it.”

And so Spanos believes, along with many people, that the various powers that be will use their influence and resources to attempt to re-route the cryptocurrency train — if we let them.

“If we don’t free ourselves with the blockchain, they’re going to imprison us with the blockchain.”

4) The legacy system was already in trouble, and this will be the final nail in the coffin.

Assuming the people and not the tyrants win the blockchain race, Nick says cryptocurrency means the current financial system is done for.

For one example, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are supplanting traditional Initial Public Offerings as the preferred way to raise capital. They’re cheaper, more straightforward, and potentially more open to the public.

“I think the IPO is gone already.”

Another example is current money transfer systems, which will have trouble competing with the instant, free (or nearly free), borderless payments that cryptocurrencies provide.

“Western Union and PayPal are going to disappear.”

I used to often get paid by Russian and European companies for translation. The paperwork was a nightmare, the fees were substantial, and the delays were haphazard. And even though the awkward SWIFT system is going to fight hard, its days seem numbered.

Nick Spanos pushed the point that these inefficient systems are done for — it’s only a matter of time before cryptocurrency takes them down.

“The legacy financial system is a bubble.”

So whereas the media has repeatedly held that some banks are too big to fail,

“I think Bitcoin is too big to fail, smart contracts are too big to fail, liberty is too big to fail.” (click to Tweet this)

We’ll be talking a lot about the revolution and the challenges it faces in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, reach out on Twitter or Medium: is the cryptocurrency revolution being crushed? Is it thriving? What “boss battles” are coming up for the blockchain community?

Tweet feedback to @bitgenstein or @icoalert.

Topics: Bitcoin, News, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Decentralization