Is Cryptocurrency a social evil? Or can it be a force for positive global change? If we are to believe some of the narrative from the mainstream media, cryptocurrency is simply all about Bitcoin and it’s price. It’s about men sitting at home in their pyjamas, promising their families they will become millionaires, ruining the lives of those around them, whilst contributing nothing to the world.
In this article we will take a look at some highly ambitious cryptocurrency projects and see why the politicians and the mainstream media should give the crypto market more credit. We wish to dispel the myth that all cryptocurrency projects are just about making fast and quick money. The cryptocurrency markets are innovating and a lot of these projects are aiming to create social good.
This article is not meant to be counter propaganda on behalf of the cryptocurrency market. We simply want to provide the facts, so you can form your own opinion.
- 1 Viewpoints Outside The Cryptocurrency Markets
- 2 Negative Views On Cryptocurrency In Politics
- 3 Positive Views on Cryptocurrency in Politics
- 4 Cryptocurrency and the Mainstream Media
- 5 Politicians and Mainstream Media Seem Obsessed With Bitcoin
- 6 How Cryptocurrency Technology Can Create Good In The World
- 7 5 Cryptocurrency projects that are changing the World positively
- 8 Has Bitcoin Already Done Some Good In The World?
- 9 Conclusion
Viewpoints Outside The Cryptocurrency Markets
Outside of the crypto industry, we can breakdown cryptocurrency commentators into three different groups:
- Negative viewpoints towards crypto in the political arena.
- Positive views on Cryptocurrency in politics.
- The mainstream media.
All three players are exceptionally important when it comes to shaping public opinion on Cryptocurrency markets. Politicians in particular wield significant power when it comes to regulation of the space.
We will first examine each of these groups thoughts on crypto, before examining examining the social good that cryptocurrency can bring to the world.
Negative Views On Cryptocurrency In Politics
On the 14th march 2018, the US subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment held a committee to discuss cryptocurrency. Brad Sherman addressed the committee on behalf of banks. We think that he does a great job summing up all the negative views on cryptocurrencies in the political arena. Mr Sherman had the following to say about cryptocurrencies:
“Cryptocurrencies are a crock. What social benefit do they provide? Well.. they allow a few dozen men in my district to sit in their pajamas on the couch all day and tell their wives they are going to be millionaires.”
“They help terrorists… and criminals move money around the world. They help tax evaders. They help startup companies commit fraud, take the money and 1% of the time they actually create a useful business. But then again… I dare say that some tiny percent of all larceny and crime helps finance something that turns out to be useful.”
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“It hurts the US government in two ways, our control… ability to have the dollar be the chief means of international finance, is what has underpinned our ability to impose sanctions and stop tax cheating and furtermore when we have people take risk, we don’t encourage gambling. We encourage investment in the real economy.
But when you buy a Bitcoin, are you financing a new factory? No. Your gambling on its value for no social benefit. Now I know, this bit.. Errr… that these cryptocurrencies are popular. they’re popular with guys who want to sit in their pyjamas and tell their wives that they are going to be millionaires. And, they’re popular with those that have read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead and believe these are the new canons… the new divinely inspired documents of our age. But they are harmful and they are harmful in one other way and that is synerage. Is the benefit that the US government gets by issuing currency. It is the float, it is the fact we do not pay interest on newly created dollars. We lose that as well.”
You may have read Mr Sherman’s statement and have been nodding in approval or shaking your head thinking he is wrong. Either way, having an open mind and having an informed viewpoint is always a good thing.
Mr Sherman reveals his thoughts on cryptocurrencies in the US subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment.
Positive Views on Cryptocurrency in Politics
On the 18th of March 2018 the Financial Stability Board (which was chaired by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney) stated that “The FSB’s initial assessment is that crypto-assets do not pose risks to global financial stability at this time.”
The chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission made a statement to the Senate Banking Committee on Feb 6th 2018. The statement revealed that the CFTC would take a “do no harm” approach, when it came to cryptocurrency regulation. J. Christopher Giancarlo continued by saying that this is a “new digital era” for the financial markets and that cryptocurrencies have resulted in a “paradigm shift” in how the world views payments and financial processes. He went on to say that ignoring such innovation “will not make them go away, nor is it a responsible regulatory response.”
Mr Rounds then went on to ask if Bitcoin was “A commodity? Or are they a security? Or are they both?” Mr Giancarlo explained that Bitcoin has characteristics of multiple different things. He goes on to say:
“My 30 year old niece, who has bought Bitcoin years ago and she is a HODL. She says I’m going to own it, I don’t know what’s going to become of it. But I want to hang on to it. She’s not a fraudster or a manipulator, she’s just a kid and believes in it and I was fascinated talking to her. I think she represents a lot of folks that think there is something in this, I want to hold onto it. In that record, from our point of view, it’s a commodity.”
In politics, it is very clear that some do see value in the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space. Mr Giancarlo makes it very clear that just because his niece holds Bitcoin, she should not be called a manipulator or a fraudster. Honest “kids” who just believe in Bitcoin, should not be tarnished with the same brush as terrorists or fraudsters.
Maybe you disagree. But many of you will probably know honest, hardworking people who own Bitcoin. Just be aware that if you believe that all bitcoin owners are scammers or terrorists, that you are probably giving this label to some people you know.
Christopher Giancarlo explains how not all Bitcoin holders are fraudsters to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking.
Cryptocurrency and the Mainstream Media
Much mainstream media reporting seems to be led by what that will get a lot of clicks or views. Therefore, it is understandable that much of the reporting on cryptocurrency is:
- Bitcoin is dead.
- Bitcoin hits a new all time high. Or here’s our guide to buy Ripple at $3 a token.
In both situations news outlets will get a lot of interest in their stories. However, we must be aware this is their business model and the media cannot be expected to have detailed knowledge on cryptocurrencies. Their job is to simply report the news and stories that will get a lot of interest from the general public. We must accept that clickbait titles and publishing extreme stories are the cost of ‘free’ news.
As the general public consuming this media, all we can do is be aware of the agenda of news channels. If any blame is to be levelled at the media, it is probably that whilst their revenue models incentivise them to create sensational stories, they could give more coverage to proponents of cryptocurrency to give the public a more balanced viewpoint.
Politicians and Mainstream Media Seem Obsessed With Bitcoin
We cannot deny that there are concerns about cryptocurrency when it comes to it being used as a means to finance terrorism, launder money or avoid tax. Bad people will always use tools to serve their illicit ends. However, criminals are probably using US dollars more than Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, to fund their criminal endeavours. This point is often forgotten by critics of cryptocurrency.
Politicians and mainstream media have one thing in common: They overwhelmingly focus on Bitcoin. We are sure most people won’t even be aware that Bitcoin only accounts for 44% of the total cryptocurrency market and that this figure has been as low as 32.5%. What this means is that there are 100’s of billions of dollars of valuation in cryptocurrency projects other than Bitcoin.
The innovation in Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cryptocurrency. We think that if more coverage was given to other projects in cryptocurrency, then there would be more recognition for the innovation happening in the space.
How Cryptocurrency Technology Can Create Good In The World
Much has been written on cryptocurrency prices or the death of Bitcoin. It’s nearly as if the only thing that matters is the price of cryptocurrencies. We are sure that founders of many cryptocurrency projects are horrified by this idea.
What many people do not know is that there are plenty of exceptionally talented people in the cryptocurrency space. These people are working on the cutting edge of technology and trying to solve real world problems.
Bitcoin rose out of the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis and has gifted the world blockchain technology. In simple terms, this creates a public ledger of transactions and removes the need for a middle man to verify the transaction. Cutting out middlemen saves on cost and a public ledger means that transactions can be policed. There are also a number of business benefits of cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin enables people to freely transact value across the world. In the developed world we may take this for granted. What many do not know is that out of the 7.6 billion people on the planet, 2 billion are unbanked. Before Bitcoin, the only option open to economic migrants was to use expensive money transfer services such as Western Money Union. Bitcoin empowers these people with an alternative.
Ethereum’s innovation in smart contracts has gone further to cut out middlemen. Smart contracts have enabled the exchange of assets without the oversight of an expensive third party. This innovation really does have the potential to change the lives of many people for the better.
We will go over 5 cryptocurrency projects that are trying to make the world a better place. It’s on you to make your own decision on whether cryptocurrency can make a positive contribution to the world.
Do Technology Projects In Cryptocurrency Make The World A Better Place?
5 Cryptocurrency projects that are changing the World positively
We’ve put together a list of 5 impressive cryptocurrencies that are trying to benefit the World by using technology as a means of progressive change and advance.
PowerLedger – The Cryptocurrency Project Taking On Renewable Energy
Project Type: PowerLedger has created a peer to peer marketplace for renewable energy.
The Social Problem Power Ledger Is Tackling
Unfortunately, most scientists agree that our burning of fossil fuels over the last 140 years has led to significant climate change. The warning signs are flashing everywhere, with NASA reporting:
- Carbon dioxide levels up to 407.61 parts per million.
- Global temperature is up 1.8 °F since 1880.
- Arctic ice is down 13.2% per decade.
- Land ice is down 286 gigatons per year.
- Sea levels rise 3.2mm per year.
During the life cycle of the earth there have been 5 mass extinction events; one well known one was the extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientists have warned us that humans have created a sixth mass extinction event through biological annihilation and global warming has played a significant role in this.
This is not all doom and gloom; it’s not too late for us to reverse these trends and for us to take up the responsibility of being custodians of the planet. Part of the solution is burning fewer fossil fuels and replacing this with renewable energy.
About The PowerLedger Project
PowerLedger is a cryptocurrency project that has created a peer to peer marketplace for renewable energy. It incentivises people to produce clean energy by cutting out energy companies and increasing the rewards for individuals producing renewable energy.
Powerleger leverages blockchain technology by using it to track every single piece of electricity running through the system. The tracking starts when the energy is produced and ends when its either sold or used.
Producers of renewable energy can now sell directly to buyer and get a better price. Users of PoweLedger also enjoy the transparent renewable energy markets, automation and auditable transactions.
The project has backing from the Australian government who partially funded Power Ledger with a $8 million contribution. Co-Founder of PowerLedger, Jemma Green, had the following to say about the Australian government’s support:
“We are really delighted to see the federal government supporting Australian innovation, and recognising the role blockchain can potentially play for more resilient and efficient ecosystems”
PowerLedger has also partnered with the Thai government backed renewable energy company BCPG to bring peer to peer renewable energy trading to Thailand. The project is already making waves and looks set to go from strength to strength in the future.
Global problems require global solutions and that is exactly what PowerLedger is trying to do. It’s up to you to decide if this is a worthwhile endeavour and if there is any social benefit generated.
Power Ledger Offical Video
Wabi – The Cryptocurrency Taking On Counterfeiters
Project Type: Wabi has created a system to track goods and products throughout the supply chain, so that product authenticity can be verified.
The Social Problem Wabi Is Tackling
There are over $460 billion worth of counterfeit goods circulating the world economy. This obviously creates a significant loss of revenue for genuine product manufacturers. Many people will not have an objection to things like counterfeit handbags in themselves, but even these products are commonly made in appalling and exploitative conditions.
Many people are not aware of other products that are often counterfeit. Wabi was born out of the outrage and damage that counterfeit baby milk spread across China in 2008. The counterfeiters added a toxic industrial compound to the baby milk and this lead to 6 infant deaths, 54,000 infant hospitalisations and a reported 300,000 infant victims.
In China, a lot of fake goods are sold as real ones and a lot of the times the shops themselves think they are selling the original. The problem is that the supply chain is compromised and people cannot verify if a product is real or not.
Other cases include a Chinese gang selling fake medicine to hospitals. The counterfeit products included things like desperately needed cancer treatments. Most people are unaware of the scale and damage counterfeiting can cause, but we hope you have a reasonable grasp of the problem.
About The Wabi Project
Wabi is all about supply chain integrity. This means that a customer in the shop can be assured that the product they pick up in a shop actually came from the official manufacturer and is not counterfeit.
Because Blockchain creates a public ledger that cannot be changed, it is very well suited to verify supply chains. Wabi links physical goods and digital assets, then tracks this on the blockchain in a publicly available record and does this all at an acceptable cost.
Wabi also spent a lot of time developing a secure, physical label capable of withstanding the rigours of transport and that can be easily identified as being tampered with if a counterfeiter tried to compromise the product. The label is added to products as soon as they are created in the manufacturer’s factory and includes data such as a unique encrypted ID, location data and product code.
Shoppers can simply download an APP from the Apple App Store or Google Play then scan the QR code on the Wabi label. All the information on the label will then be visible to the shopper who can then determine if the product in their hands is counterfeit or not. The App will actually give the shopper a warning if the data on the label does not match the records Wabi holds.
Bitcoin has gifted us the technology to build systems to hopefully negate the profit incentive of counterfeit products and hopefully prevent repeats of the China baby milk scandal.
What the Chinese public think of the Wabi counterfeit solution.
MedicalChain – The Cryptocurrency Attempting To Make Healthcare Better
Project Type: securely store accurate health records.
The Social Problem MedicalChain Is Tackling
In the early 2000’s, the UK government gave the green light to the creation of a unified patient record system. The idea was simple: to digitise and centralize patient records. The system was abandoned in 2013 and was heralded as “the biggest IT failure ever seen”. The scrapped project has cost the UK tax payer £10 billion and is one of the greatest ever examples of government failure.
The true impact of government failures like this can be seen in studies in 2014 / 2015 reporting that 9,000 hospital deaths a year are avoidable and that’s just in the UK alone. The well respected UK newspaper The Guardian reported that these deaths are “attributed to poor care such as inattentive monitoring of the patient’s condition, doctors making the wrong diagnosis or patients being prescribed the wrong medicine”.
Other reports based on 2015 data concluded that UK healthcare cuts were responsible for 30,000 excess deaths in England and Wales in 2015 alone. That £10 billion wasted on a failed patient record system could have been used to prevent these deaths.
Preventable deaths like these are a tragedy and their scale suggests they are beyond the influence of any individual hard working nurse, doctor or other healthcare professionals. Can the government do more to protect its citizens?
It’s the job of brave pioneers to step in and use the latest technology to fix what the government cannot and that’s what MedicalChain is trying to do.
About The MedicalChain Project
MedicalChain is all about providing a decentralized platform that facilitates the fast and secure exchange of medical data. If medical professionals are unable to access your full medical record, they cannot give you the safest care possible. In the UK, a doctor in London cannot access the records of a patient visiting from somewhere as close as Cambridge, let alone Wales or Scotland.
A third of NHS IT leaders believe hackers have gained access to patient data in the current systems, with many “NHS trusts struggling to keep pace with the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks”. The confidentiality of your health records is vital; if it gets into the wrong hands, it can impact on your insurance quotes or even your job. Many contracts have termination clauses that can be triggered due to health concerns.
The MedicalChain project stores data securely on the blockchain. The security of blockchain technology is evident by Bitcoin never being successfully compromised. MedicalChain also empowers people by giving them control over their health records. Access to this data must be granted by the data owner (yourself) and can be done through your mobile, secured through blockchain technology.
MedicalChain also strives to improve healthcare access by acting as a platform for telemedicine consultations, which can be used by a doctor with full access to your health records. Wearable devices can be used to ensure doctors can access lifesaving information when treating vulnerable or unconscious patients.
The revolution is just beginning and MedicalChain is already being trialled in NHS hospitals right now.
Medicalchain project video.
Stellar – The Cryptocurrency Banking The Unbanked And Unlocking Human Potential
Project Type: To provide low cost financial services to the world’s unbanked.
The Social Problem Stellar Is Tackling
Most of us in the developed world take having a bank account for granted. There are 2 billion people in the world who are unbanked right now. Just imagine if your bank account was taken away tomorrow and you could not open up another account elsewhere. How would you get paid, pay your bills, pay for food or start a business? Let this just sink in.
Being unbanked leads to opportunity inequalities. Sure you might be able to be paid in cash, but isn’t that more time consuming than just getting a wire transfer? If you are paying for electricity on prepaid coin fed meters, then this is significantly more expensive than paying by direct debit. Paying more or having to spend more time to carry out basic tasks causes economic inequality and limits opportunity.
If we zoom out a little, it is exceptionally difficult (if not impossible) to operate a business and not have a bank account. Most small businesses require business loans to get off the ground and pay suppliers. The majority of unbanked people are living in developing countries. The lack of banking services significantly reduces the likelihood of small businesses prospering and creating employment opportunities in local communities. Even in developed countries like the USA, 53% of the workforce is employed by small businesses.
Stellar aims to give the world’s 2 billion unbanked people access to low cost financial services and help fight poverty by giving them the opportunity to unlock their potential.
About The Stellar Project
Stellar is building a payment platform that connects users, payment systems and financial institutions. The network has been designed to be open to everyone.
In practice, the Stellar platform operates very similarly to PayPal, but with lower fees and there is no requirement for a bank account. The Stellar currency, called Lumens, is then transacted on the platform and can be converted into local currency or major currencies like USD, EUR, GBP AU or Yen.
The key to making a difference in developing countries is mobile support. Even in developing countries where access to laptops or desktops can be difficult, most people have a mobile device. Stellar has ensured that they have mobile support for this very reason.
Hopefully you can see the benefits of Stellar for the the world’s unbanked and how this project can help in providing equality of opportunity to a vast amount of untapped potential.
Substratum – The Cryptocurrency Trying To Preserve Freedom Of Speech & Access To Information
Project Type: the creation of a fair internet with freedom.
The Social Problem Substratum Is Tackling
Many of us in the West take freedom of speech and individual liberty for granted. What some of us are not aware of, is the erosion of this freedom by our own governments. For example, on December 14th 2017 in the US, the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate Net Neutrality Rules. Net Neutrality was put in place to keep the internet free and open to US citizens. It was everyone’s right in the US to allow people to access and share information without governmental oversight.
Net Neutrality also made it illegal for US internet providers to choke citizens internet speeds or block websites, content and data that people wanted to access. Without such protections, US internet users are at the mercy of their internet provider (who is likely being leaned on by the government). Unfortunately, it seems that ‘Free World’ is gearing up to censor and restrict freedom of speech and access to information.
China have been innovators in online censorship by deploying the Great Firewall. This means is that China’s entire population has heavily restricted internet access. In China you cannot even access common sites like Google, Facebook and YouTube. The Chinese can only get very limited information about events such as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Even blocking Winnie the Pooh.
Tight restraints on information deemed political is a major restraint on free speech which restricts the information that the public use to form opinions. Censorship allows new narratives to be formed within countries and governments; ‘Fake News’ is free to prosper without the truth being accessible to act as a counter.
The goal of the cryptocurrency project Substratum is to ensure that the people of the world are free from oppressive government censorship and to preserve freedom of speech.
About The Substratum Project
Substratum is a decentralized internet. It is an open network that allows anyone to share computing power to the network. Instead of having centralised data centres that can be controlled by governments, Substratum allows anyone to host websites and applications. These hosters who share their computing power with the network are rewarded in cryptocurrency, which can then be converted into local currency.
The great thing about Substratum is that anyone viewing Substratum hosted content will be entirely free from censorship. The only way for the network to be properly broken, would be to confiscate every computer in the world (which seems far fetched).
From the perspective of a casual user, Substratum has been designed with ease of use at its core. In fact, no technical knowledge is required to use Substratum and users will not know the difference between ‘regular’ internet and Substratum hosted content, except for the lack of censorship.
The ability for anyone to use their spare computing power to host content and earn money for doing so. This means that we could use our computer hardware more efficiently and earn a few bucks in our sleep.
The whole Substratum project is about preserving freedom of speech, the right to view content without censorship and to provide a means of generating passive income to everyone in the world.
What you need to know about Substratum.
Has Bitcoin Already Done Some Good In The World?
A significant number of Bitcoin critics argue that it has no utility in the world. We disagree.
If we take a look at the Greek bailout crisis in 2015, the government imposed severe capital controls on it’s citizens. These included:
- A daily withdrawal limit of €60 from ATM’s.
- €1,800 limit for payments to foreign banks.
- In the first half of 2016 the greek government raided its own citizens bank accounts and confiscated an average of €530 from 151,000 bank accounts.
In the face of these oppressive restrictions, many Greeks turned to Bitcoin as a safe haven. Bitcoin trades from Greek citizens surged 79% on Bitstamp (one of the larger cryptocurrency exchanges back then) and German exchange Bitcoin.de saw a ten fold increase in Greek registrations.
In the dark depths of the Greek bailout crisis, many Greeks saw Bitcoin as the financial shield to protect them from aggressive government capital controls. Some people may see this as cheating the system. Others may think that Bitcoin gave honest, hardworking people an escape route to flee oppressive government controls.
In a more recent example, Bitcoin provided a safe haven to many from Venezuela’s hyperinflation. The situation in Venezuela was and is truly horrendous, with many resorting to eat their own pets in order to survive. Bitcoin provided a way for some Venezuelans to maintain their purchasing power to buy essentials and continue running their businesses in the face of economic armageddon.
News.com.au reported how “John Villar has bought two plane tickets to Colombia, purchased his wife’s medication and paid the employees of his start-up business in Venezuela” with Bitcoin.
There is no doubt that some bad people are using cryptocurrencies for illicit means. We suspect this is significantly lower than the media make it out to be. Criminals will use whatever store or transfer of value they can, including traditional currencies like the US dollar.
To us, cryptocurrency is about social justice, empowering the unempowered, trying to solve the world’s big problems and, most importantly, protecting freedom and liberty in the world. Yes, some people are just throwing their money at cryptocurrency to make a quick buck. Others are like J. Christopher Giancarlo’s niece and are “just kids who believe” in a cryptocurrency project and want to support it.
After reading this article, it’s up to you to decide if cryptocurrencies provide a social benefit or if everyone involved in cryptocurrencies is a loser or a criminal. It’s your right to have your own opinions and the freedom to express your thoughts.
Many in the cryptocurrency space will fight to preserve freedom and opportunity for everyone in the world. It doesn’t matter if you support cryptocurrency right now or are completely opposed to it. Cryptocurrency is pushing technological boundaries and attempting to make the world a better place. Maybe this experiment will fail and be consigned to the history books. Only time will tell.