This is a transcript of the Podcast – The History and Future of Bitcoin with Roger Ver – You can listen the audio here
Nye : What is going on everybody? What is going on? It is your boy
Nye : Welcome to another episode of Evolvement, the financial podcast where we talk about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and the future of our financial systems. Thank you to our sponsors Unification. Unification is trying to solve the issue the enterprise blockchains face. Enterprises, developers and users who require the immutable function of blockchain without being subjective to market volatility. They do so by applying work chains, independent blockchains deployed via an expansion log. To learn more, check out unification.com. I want to give a shout out to our second sponsor, Resistance. Resistance is a decentralized exchange, driven and supported by its privacy oriented blockchain. Users can trade almost any cryptocurrency privately, securely, and directly through a user friendly security focused dashboard. Check them out at resistance.io.
Nye : Today, I’ve got a very, very special guest on the line, the legend himself, Roger Ver : . Roger, how you doing man?
Roger Ver : Great to be with you. Thank you.
Nye : I’m glad to have you on the show. I appreciate you taking the time to jump in here and to talk to me a little bit about the past and hopefully the future as well, and what’s going on in this space.
Roger Ver : There’s more stuff going on in this space every single day than any human being can keep up with. So it’s pretty exciting.
Nye : It definitely is. There’s probably not going to be very many people that don’t know who you are, but can you just give a little introduction about yourself, and I’d also like to start off the podcast with the question of, how did you first hear about Bitcoin? What was the first introduction for you about Bitcoin and this whole movement that’s happening?
Roger Ver : Sure. So, I was the very first person in the world to start investing in Bitcoin and blockchain related startups. My company Memorydealers.com was the first establish business to start accepting Bitcoin for payments way back in February of 2011. Today, I’m the CEO of Bitcoin.com. I heard about all this for the first time on a radio show called freetalklive.com, which is on more than 150 radio stations across the US. It’s basically libertarian oriented radio show or podcast that I’ve been enjoying listening to for over a decade now. It’s a great show and I’ve been enjoying following everything that they’re talking about over there. But my background was in computer science and economics. I had the right background to understand and appreciate that Bitcoin was going to start being useful as money. That made me to jump in so early and get involved in such a big way so early on.
Nye : When you first got involved and when you first found out about it, what was the thing that really caught your interest? Were you hesitant about it at first or was it something where you heard about what Bitcoin was doing and about the potential of all of this, and you instantly saw what it could potentially become in the future?
Roger Ver : Yeah, I think it was pretty close to instant there. I heard about it on a Free Talk Live in reference to the Silk Road, and the people who were buying and selling illegal drugs with … The radio show was talking about the Silk Road and they were interested in the Silk Road. But for me, I wasn’t interested in buying or selling drugs. What caught my attention is like, “What the heck kind of money could they possibly be using to do this on the Internet?” I looked into what kind of money they were using on the Silk Road and it was this thing called Bitcoin. Then I started looking into Bitcoin and I had enough of a computer science background to understand how it worked, and that it couldn’t be shut down or turned off unless you turn off basically the whole internet and keep it turned off.
Roger Ver : Then I had enough of an economics background to where I knew that people were going to start using it as money. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that people would start using it as money, because there was … Unlike the US dollar because there was a limited supply of Bitcoin, I knew that as more people started to use it as money, the price would go up over time. So my first step was to buy a bunch of Bitcoin, and my next step was to start investing in businesses that would build the tools to make it easier for normal people to start using Bitcoin as money. Sure enough today, lots and lots of people are now using things like Bitcoin Cash and other currencies as money around the world. It’s really, really exciting to have seen that happen, and to know that I’ve played a role in making that happen.
Nye : That’s awesome man. That’s really awesome. When you first heard about Bitcoin, did you see any potential faults in it? I think that as the network’s grown and as things have changed over the years, there’s definitely been some things that have shifted and changed. How about in the very beginning? Did you see any potential faults or errors that could occur in the network or in the growth of the system?
Roger Ver : Like most people, the very first question I had is, well, can this scale to be money for the whole world? So I went on the original Wiki page or the FAQ page on Bitcoin.org back in 2011. Anybody today can still go over to internet archive and take a look at the history there. They lay out very clearly how Bitcoin could scale to become money for the entire world on chain by just allowing the blocks to become bigger year after year, just in pace with Moore’s law. So, I was satisfied, “Wow, this can scale to be money for the entire world.” Never in my wildest dreams at the time did I think that a bunch of people would be hostile to the idea of allowing Bitcoin to become money for the world, which is what happened at this point.
Roger Ver : But that’s all another story. I’m a fan of anything that works and now there’s a couple of thousand competing cryptocurrencies. I support anything that works to bring more economic freedom to the world. I’m sad and heartbroken that it wasn’t Bitcoin, and that Bitcoin has had most of it’s first mover advantage destroyed by this internal civil war and scaling debate. But that’s, I guess, a subject for a whole nother podcast. I’m sad for Bitcoin specifically, but I’m incredibly optimistic and happy and excited about cryptocurrencies in general. I guess that’s where I’m at today.
Nye : I love it. Even talking a little bit about that, we all know that the original purpose of Bitcoin was peer-to-peer cash. That’s kind of why you moved into the Bitcoin Cash creation and what you’ve done with that. Right now there’s a lot of economics that are coming into the space. They’re discussing the potential of Bitcoin being a store of value. Do you have any feel like this? Do you feel that’s kind of true? Do you think this is like an evolution or do you think this is like something that’s moving away from Satoshi’s true vision?
Roger Ver : I think anybody that thinks that Bitcoin can be only a store value and doesn’t need some additional use case hasn’t studied economics. If you look at the reason everybody uses the dollar as a store of value is because you can spend it anywhere. If you aren’t able to spend the dollar anywhere, nobody would use it as a store value. The reason people use anything as a store value is because it has some additional outside use case. With Bitcoin, the outside use case was that you could spend it anywhere and use it for payments online and use it for payments. The fact that the current Bitcoin campus hostile to that additional use case means that they’re going to destroy its ability to be useful as a store of value as well.
Roger Ver : If something like Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum or Dash or take your pick, winds it being usable and spend them all over the place, that’s the currency that everyone’s going to use as a store value as well. I’m really optimistic on the cryptocurrencies that are targeting being useful for payments in commerce. Those are the ones that are the most interesting to me. I think people that think that Bitcoin is going to be used only as a store value and not be usable in commerce, I think you need to pick up an economics book, instead of the origin of money.
Nye : Interesting. Even as people start to come up with things like Lightening Network and things like that, are these things … do you find these things irrelevant? Do you think that Bitcoin has gotten to the place where even these things won’t help it scale or do you think that there may be still some potential with these new implementations and new technologies that people are trying to implement?
Roger Ver : I wish Lightning Network good luck, but it’s basically vaporware at this point. There’s less than 8,000 people, I believe. Last time I checked, which was last week, there were 8,000 people in the entire world running a Lightning Network nodes. That means there’s less than 8,000 people in the entire world that can use lightening network in a semi-permissionless way. There’s a lot of other people that are using custodial wallet, where you’re just trusting somebody else to do it for you. But that’s no different than using Paypal or a bank or this and that. So, there’s 8,000 Lightning Network nodes in the world at the moment. Bitcoin.com adds more new Bitcoin Cash users in a single day than there are a Lightning Network users in the entire world.
Roger Ver : So man, I guess credit to where credit is due for the Lightning Network fanboys promoting a bunch of vaporware, but I want things that work right now today and Bitcoin Cash works right now today, and so does Dash and so does the Zcash, and so do you know a bunch of these other ones for that matter. But I still had to make a BTC transaction yesterday because there were still … there’s still a bunch of infrastructure build to that, paid $2.80 for that transaction, and I’ll tell you exactly what the transaction was for. I was sending the BTC to an exchange to buy more BCH. Nobody wants to pay an extra couple of dollars per transaction. Lightning Network, maybe it’ll work someday, but when it is ready to work, it’ll work better, faster, cheaper, more reliably on Bitcoin Cash and well on BTC. I guess that’s the nicest I can say about Lightning Network.
Roger Ver : I guess the part that it’s not so nice is they literally delayed the worldwide adoption of cryptocurrency by several years by promoting some vaporware and delaying the actual adoption of something that was working and working incredibly well and getting adoption all over the world. That’s really frustrating for me as somebody who owned a whole bunch of Bitcoin, and owned Bitcoin.com and was the first person in the world to start investing in this space. Of course, I wanted Bitcoin to be successful and to become money for the world, but a bunch of people without an understanding of economics derailed that. So, oh well, we can’t change the past. We can only work to build a better future, and I’m busy every day building a better future on Bitcoin Cash because I think it has the best shot at doing that. But, if I thought a different cryptocurrency would have an even better shot at bringing more economic freedom to people all over the world, I would gladly be promoting that day in and day out as well.
Nye : Totally. I hear you man. I hear you. I can hear the passion in your voice, so I can definitely really appreciate that a lot. Recently, there’s been a lot of action going on with Bitcoin Cash. First off, I definitely want to know what’s going on with it right now, but I also want to touch upon what’s going on or what has happened in the last six months. You guys went through a fork, you separated it from a couple of the people who were also previously associated with Bitcoin Cash. What happened with that? Was that more of a difference in personal opinions or philosophy or was this just a difference in how you believe the code should be run or the project should be run?
Roger Ver : Yeah, I don’t know. There were a bunch of minor differences that all added up to a difference that was, I guess, worth getting a divorce over, and so that community is split. At the end of the day, more choices in the market are a good thing. I wish the Bitcoin SV camp, I wish them the absolute best of luck with their project. But it’s not one that’s as interesting to me as Bitcoin Cash. But I wish everybody good luck with their cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin Cash has a lot of really awesome stuff being built on top of it that I’m really excited about. One that we’re going to launch hopefully this month in April, local.Bitcoin.com, will allow anyone to buy or sell anything anywhere in the world permissionlessly using Bitcoin Cash. There’s not really a good word in the English language yet for this new technology that we’re using.
Roger Ver : The word we’re using to describe it right now is like self custodial escrow. Usually when you use an escrow, that means you have a third party holding the funds whereas with this, you can hold the funds yourself as the escrow agent, but no party has the ability to cheat the other party. So it’s actually an escrow, but it’s an esker where you don’t have to trust anybody else to do it. So you’ll be able to buy and sell Bitcoin Cash for any payment method anywhere in the world. WeChat Pay, Alipay, cash deposits, wire transfers, or you can buy and sell things that … cars or houses or your clothes or food or anything you want using this platform and I’m really excited about it. You can see the way it’s all described and working or will work very soon over at local.Bitcoin.com.
Nye : That’s awesome man. That’s awesome. What other kind of cool things you guys have going on with Bitcoin Cash right now? What else are you building?
Roger Ver : I think our wallet is the big deal as we have almost 4 million wallets created on our platform. It allows you to send or receive any amount of Bitcoin Cash with anyone, anywhere in the world instantly, basically for free, permissionlessly, and you don’t have to be online to receive the payment or anything like that. That’s impossible forever on Lightning Network. I think Bitcoin Cash works right now today. Again, I wish the Lightning Network fanboys good luck, but the product isn’t there yet today. Bitcoin Cash works right now today. It’s lightning fast. It’s dirt cheap. It’s fantastic cash for the world. So I’m really excited about it all the commerce that is taking place on that. Another one of my favorite websites is purse.io that allows you to use Bitcoin Cash to buy anything you want from Amazon, and a 20 or 30% discount. That’s a really substantial discount just by using Bitcoin Cash over at purse.io is that website.
Nye : That’s awesome man. That’s awesome. I’ll have to go check that out. Back to the questions about the fork. With the fork, can you explain a little bit of the difference between what’s going on with ABC and SV. What is it that you guys are doing different than SV and what do you believe makes you have the … or gives you the competitive advantage over what they’re trying to do?
Roger Ver : I think the big competitive advantage that Bitcoin Cash has over Bitcoin SV is still the same big competitive advantage that BTC has over BCH and BSV. So, that big competitive advantage is that bigger network effect. The network effect is incredibly important. That’s why BTC still has the top spot, is because it has the biggest network effect. I think that network effect will be overcome in time by Bitcoin Cash, just like Myspace’s network effect was overcome by Facebook later and Friendster network effect was overcome by Myspace before that. If you give your customers a bad user experience, they’ll find some other platform to use. I think we’re going to see that happen with BTCs bad user experience, driving users to use things other than BTC. With Bitcoin Cash versus Bitcoin SV, I don’t follow Bitcoin SV that closely.
Roger Ver : It seems like they’re trying to make something rather called metanet and put everything on the blockchain. To be honest, I don’t think you need everything on the blockchain. I can’t really speak to what they’re doing because I don’t follow it closely and I don’t know, but I can speak closely about what Bitcoin Cash is up to. We’re busy trying to build permissionless peer-to-peer cash for the entire world to be able to use as money in a way that can’t be censored or stopped or controlled in fast, cheap, reliable, private ways. If that wasn’t amazing, an awesome enough, there’s also an entire giant token ecosystem forming on top of Bitcoin Cash. The token transfer is on Bitcoin Cash or in order of magnitude, cheaper and faster than token transfers on things like Ethereum or other platforms.
Roger Ver : So, peer-to-peer cash for the world and an amazing scalable token platform for the world on Bitcoin Cash. I think that’s a pretty powerful compelling use case. Then the network effect isn’t anything to still laugh at either. We have the biggest players in the crypto coin ecosystem, pretty much all have full support for Bitcoin Cash. So we have blockchain.com, Bitcoin.com bitpay.com, coinbase.com, the list goes on and on and on of the biggest players in the crypto coin ecosystem all have full support for Bitcoin Cash. I think most of them their heart is with Bitcoin Cash because most of the people that founded these early businesses like Coinbase and blockchain.com and myself Bitcoin.com. We wanted Bitcoin to be peer-to-peer cash for the world. If your crypto coin isn’t trying to be a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, I think it’s pretty disingenuous to call it Bitcoin.
Roger Ver : That’s exactly what we have going on with Bitcoin today. They don’t want it to be a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, yet they want to use the Bitcoin name and branding and network effect that people like myself and all the other early Bitcoin adopters spent our time and effort and money and resources to build up. So, I think, it’s all the OGs that originally made Bitcoin popular to begin with. The vast majority of them are great big giant Bitcoin Cash fans today, and are busy building infrastructure on top of Bitcoin Cash. So I don’t think people should underestimate Bitcoin Cash, just like the people at Friendster underestimated Myspace, and Myspace … I’m sorry, the people in Myspace underestimated Friendster and the people at Myspace underestimated Facebook. I think I got that right.
Nye : Yeah. Now, I got that. I understand exactly what you’re saying and to kind of bring it back to, I mean, October 2017, I’m sure that that things were brewing a lot earlier before then. What was the trigger that you saw either in the Bitcoin code or the Bitcoin community, or just the ecosystem of cryptocurrency in general, that you said, “You know what, this isn’t going the way that I think it needs to be going. I need to create Bitcoin Cash. I need to go out and then create this.” What was that main core inspiration behind all of that?
Roger Ver : Yes. So a lot of people have this misconception that I created Bitcoin Cash. I actually had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of Bitcoin Cash, and was actually very late to the promotion of Bitcoin Cash. Comparatively, I think it’s still early. So what happened is there was an agreement within the Bitcoin community. All the businesses that actually wanted to use Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system knew the Lightning Network wasn’t ready and that we needed more scalability right away or users were going to start having a bad experience on the platform. So the agreement everybody came to was that they would implement segregated witness, which is another upgrade or change to the Bitcoin protocol, and increase the block size to two megabytes. That agreement was reached. For whatever reason, they didn’t agree to do both at the same time.
Roger Ver : They, for whatever stupid, stupid, stupid reason over or naive reason, they agreed to do segregated witness first. Then when segregated witness was activated, then suddenly all sorts of trolls came out of the woodwork and said, “Oh, you thought we were going to follow through with the other half of the agreement for the two megabyte block size? No, we’re not, na, na, na.” So the second half of the agreement was aborted and it never came to fruition. I told people in advance, I said, “If you guys successfully scuttle the two megabyte block size increase of Bitcoin, I’ll take all of my time and effort and money and resources in Bitcoin.com, and we’ll start promoting Bitcoin Cash, which had already existed at that point, that the people behind Bitcoin Cash were worried that the second half of the agreement wasn’t going to be followed through upon and we were not fans of the technical changes that segregated witness made upon Bitcoin.
Roger Ver : So that was already existing. I said publicly, “If the two X part doesn’t happen, I’ll devote all my time and effort and resources to promoting Bitcoin Cash.” Sure enough, the trolls on the Internet and the people that were hostile to using Bitcoin as money for the world successfully aborted and the two X part of the upgrade. True to my word, I’ve done everything I can to support Bitcoin Cash since then. I’m really, really optimistic on the future of Bitcoin Cash, just like I think the founders of Myspace were really, really optimistic of being able to surpass Friendster when Friendster was having all their scaling problems, and just like the people at Facebook were optimistic about being able to surpass Myspace when Myspace was having their problems as well.
Roger Ver : It’s the exact same sort of problems, right? People left Friendster and left Myspace when the transactions, or the usage of the website became slow and unreliable. Well, transactions on BTC are now slow and unreliable and people are starting to look for other alternatives, and Bitcoin Cash transactions or fast, cheap and reliable. Well, Facebook was fast and reliable for people to use, and cheap in terms of the amount of time it took for you to wait for a new page to load. Those are the things that made people switch from Myspace to Facebook. Well, those are the same things that are making people switch from BTC to BCH.
Nye : Very interesting man. Very interesting. You’ve been around for a very long time. You’ve been one of the key proponents of a lot of this movement in terms of cryptocurrency, blockchain, all of this good stuff. You’ve seen a lot. You’ve been around probably for almost as long as almost everyone in the space. What do you see the space as now? We see a lot of different things happening. We’ve seen this whole ICO market. PE can kind of crash. We’re seeing the IEO market come in. We’re seeing security tokens come in. Do you have a perspective on all of these? Do you think it’s net positive, net negative or are you just more focused on what you’re building and you’re not really looking at all the other things that are going on?
Roger Ver : I think it’s all super positive and I think tokens are just getting started. People think the ICO craze is over. No, I think that’s just getting started. ICO, IEO, same difference. These tokens and people, any entrepreneur being able to accept investment from any investor anywhere in the world using crypto coins and tokens, that’s a really, really big deal. And this is just getting started. I remember in 2011 when Bitcoin hit $30 for the first time, everybody was saying, “Oh, this is a bubble.” Sure enough that bubble popped. In the short term they were right. That was a short term bubble, but in the longterm it was just the very early days getting started. I think the same is true of all this entire token ecosystem with all the ICOs and IEOs, and all that stuff. We’re just getting started and it’s still super, super early days.
Nye : Awesome man. I love it. Really, just one final question for you here. We see a lot of heat from the community, man. You get a lot of heat from the community. I personally applaud you on all the things that you’ve done for the community. You’ve been a proponent, like you said, from almost the very, very beginning of this whole creation. How do you feel about the Bitcoin/crypto community now? What’s your vibe with them? Do you feel like it’s … that things are going well in the community? Are you at odds with the community? Do you just not even pay attention to it? Also, second question as a followup is, how is the community now different from how it was a way back then?
Roger Ver : Way back then everyone was singing Kumbaya and it was wonderful. Now, I’m really, really ashamed of the BTC community. I’m ashamed because of the massive, massive amounts of censorship that are going on to this very day. The reason they’re doing it is because censorship works. It works at influencing opinion and influencing the way people think and their view of the world. That’s why governments love to run the scoring system. If they can run all the public schools and have kids from kindergarten through high school, they can indoctrinate them for 13 years of whatever it is the government wants them to believe. Now we had people on our Bitcoin, and Bitcoin after all, lots of threads on our Bitcoin. There are more posts deleted and censored from the threat then post through a lot on the thread.
Roger Ver : That’s how bad the censorship is over there. It’s done an amazing, amazing job of shaping the ecosystem and the thought processes of people that are in the ecosystem have. It’s really shameful that that’s allowed to go on and people aren’t speaking out against the censorship more forcefully, like the solution to bad ideas or people that are saying things that are wrong is more good ideas and a more free speech. It’s embarrassing to say the Bitcoin community is embracing and loving the censorship and there’s people that nobody’s speaking out against it, or very few are speaking out against it. It’s really a really a shame to see that, and embarrassing for the whole space I think.
Roger Ver : I feel like, I guess a lot of the antifascist social justice warrior types that are willing to punch people on college campuses or start riots to prevent people from being able to speak on topics on college campuses, I feel like they’ve entered the BTC ecosystem, and they’re using those same tactics to silence anybody with an opinion that’s different to them. Whereas on Bitcoin.com, we allow anybody to post anything, even if their opinion is totally different than mine. You’re entitled to your opinion, and if I disagree with your opinion, I’m going to use logic and reason and evidence and facts to try and convince other people why I think your opinion is wrong. I’m not just going to delete your post, whereas sadly the BTC community has taken the approach, if we have disagree with someone’s opinion, we’re not going to allow that opinion to even be hard. We’re just going to delete the posts.
Nye : What kind of censorship are you seeing right now? What kind of censorship are you experiencing? Is it around specific topics, or what have you seen?
Roger Ver : Basically, if anybody out there on Google and just Google, like Bitcoin censorship, and there’s a couple of articles documenting what’s been going on on our Bitcoin. Our Bitcoin is a really, really important platform. It has more than a million subscribers. It’s probably the place where more people get their Bitcoin news than any other website in the entire world, and probably more than most of the all the other ones combined. It’s a really, really big deal, and the censorship has been going full borne there for years to where literally if you post anything negative about Lightening Network or any critique of Lightning Network or any critique of limiting the block size, your post gets deleted. People aren’t even allowed to hear your arguments. Then they will attack you in and claim that you’re … they claim I’m a known scammer.
Roger Ver : That’s one of the things here. It’s a bunch of nonsense and if I try and refute that, they’ll delete my post there. The reason they claim I’m a scammer is because I say that Bitcoin Cash has more bitcoiness about it than the thing that everybody’s calling Bitcoin. If you look at the title of the Bitcoin defining white paper, it’s a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. The BTC Bitcoin camp is hostile to being a peer to peer cash system. They don’t want it to be used as cash. So how can they possibly claim to be Bitcoin when they’re hostile to being the very thing describing Bitcoin in the title of the white paper that describes what Bitcoin is, Whereas Bitcoin Cash explicitly, we’re trying to be a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. So, clearly Bitcoin Cash has bitcoiness about it than the Bitcoin, but they want to call me a scammer for doing that. If I try and present my facts and reason and evidence, my post will be deleted.
Nye : That’s crazy man. That’s crazy. People can get pretty hostile over the internet when they have a very little skin in the game. Hey man, I appreciate you coming on the show Roger. I really appreciate you jumping on it. It means a lot to me. You took the time out of your day to jump on to answer a few questions, to clear a few things up and I appreciate you man. Thank you for all that you’ve done for Bitcoin throughout the years.
Roger Ver : My pleasure Michael. Thank you for the opportunity and for anybody that is … if you’re a developer, head on over to developer.bitcoin.com. We have all the tools that make it super easy to start building a whatever apps you want. If you don’t have any Bitcoin Cash yet, go to free.bitcoin.com. We’re giving you a little bit away for free, anyone anywhere in the world, so they can see with their own eyes and use it on the … in their own device just how amazing this technology is to empower people around the world and share with a friend.
Nye : Awesome Roger, I appreciate you. Everybody listening, thank you guys so much for tuning in. This is another episode of Evolvement, the financial podcast where we talk about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and the future of our financial systems. I will catch you guys next time. Peace.