The bitcoin and cryptocurrency space was once quite chaotic; in many ways, it still is. That’s not to say a little chaos is a bad thing. Often it’s the spark that results in impressive innovations. Many of the great ideas that have flooded out into the world and changed our perceptions result from great minds combined with chaotic ideas.
However, it’s hard not to wonder if this spark has been washed away by the “men in suits”. Has the dream of mainstream adoption and merely too much of what is or was arguably wrong with the traditional business world snuck in?
Old Stories and Pipe Dreams
The early days of bitcoin read like a peculiar mix of hope, enthusiasm, and potential with those sitting on the outside slowing, taking more notice of this oddity sitting on a knife’s edge, waiting to see which direction it fell. So many great stories came out of the early days.
So many moments that probably didn’t feel all that significant at the time became rolling metaphorical balls of snow collecting headlines and drawing attention the more they began to matter to those affected by them in the years to come.
Everything from the message hidden in the Bitcoin genesis block to bitcoin pizza day is now essentially lore to inside the community and fascinating oddities to those looking in from the outside.
Even in recent years, there’s been this lingering dream of adoption by the masses, something that many people associate with the arrival of the traditional sectors in both finance and technology. Few things used to cause pumps like talk of vague partnerships with outsider companies or tech behemoths showing interest in a particular project. While more subtle, you could still see the buzz caused in recent months by the discussion of PayPal potentially adopting bitcoin in some fashion.
When you step back and look at this growing desire to be part of the norm, does this shake off the early anarchistic and privacy-conscious roots of bitcoin and crypto, and if so was it inevitable all along? When did the outsiders want to become insiders? Was the dream too big at first that it felt more like an experiment than a potential reality where it didn’t matter until it suddenly did? It’s hard to say as even those around during these times will likely have subconsciously grown and adapted their views over the years. I’m not sure these questions even have a clear answer, but they do provoke curious thoughts.
Stubborn Hearts and Minds Set on Freedom
While looking back, it’s easy to lose track of what’s right in front of us and what’s been here all along. With this recent surge of interest and activity in decentralized finance (DeFi) alongside the seemingly ever-growing peer-to-peer (P2P) trading community, perhaps things haven’t changed so much after all.
For a while, it felt like the race for the theoretical highest transactions per second, or chasing the various other hype trends that came and went was often the priority. Yet, many projects are now actively being built on. As a result of this shift from promising the world back to actually trying to change it again, some projects have begun developing bright and thriving ecosystems surrounding themselves. It’s easy to point to all the action happening on the Ethereum network right now. Still, it’s even more interesting to look to projects like Polkadot, Kusama, and other newer “blockchain canvases” and seeing everything that is evolving from those. Not to say bitcoin has lost its shine either. Every day that goes by, the security it bestows upon its users alongside the broad power it provides in terms of self custody makes a progressively louder statement.
The pursuit of financial freedom isn’t always optional; it’s essential to thrive or even survive for many. It’s easy for a lot of us to forget this. One of the reasons it’s vital not to give away any more financial freedom and privacy than you need to is that it makes it harder for those already at a deficit somehow. Thankfully, this attitude is still strong among the many projects exploring decentralized governance, decentralized finance, P2P trading, and much more in the rapidly shifting and moving cryptocurrency scene.
For many cryptocurrency users, freedom is being lost, but it hasn’t been lost entirely with privacy in a similar position. As time has passed it just takes more consideration about how you use cryptocurrencies to make the most of the potential they have to empower you in these areas.
The P2P trading community started (at least in some ways) likely out of necessity. Still, it’s a community that has evolved along with increased adoption as more people every day are getting involved in crypto in one way or another. One P2P exchange in particular (and my recommendation) LocalCoinSwap, is leading the charge forward exploring ways to continue providing as much freedom as possible by delving into new avenues like multi-custodial trading, and consistently increasing access to new payment methods to help retain the independence to authentically trade your way, whatever requirements you have, and whatever roadblocks you face.
Money isn’t Always Tied to Influence
Just because you still hear rustling and chatter every time there’s talk of a sizeable non-crypto company or more traditional influencer entering the space, it doesn’t mean it moves the needle at the end of the day. Even though the men in suits can throw funding around, the amount of regulatory and internal red tape they often face trying to do so leaves them at the back of the crowd.
Those making the real waves tend to be those that are here exploring new ground or are otherwise making a place for themselves. Some earn influence through their development efforts or sharing ideas, others through growing communities, and sometimes even simply through their experiences being exposed to the volatile and frequently chaotic nature of cryptocurrency.
When a lot of those that have been in the community for some time have access to substantial funding of their own, there’s a strange power dynamic that I suspect will have been and continue to be a surprise to outsiders that try and buy their way into the forefront of cryptocurrency and end up instead having to settle for visibility where they can get it.
Those projects pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with blockchain technology and the companies that continue to ensure that the important traits of the early days continue to evolve will often be far too much of a leap for the men in suits. In light of this, too much bureaucracy and the fear of new ideas will undoubtedly result in less dampening of the innovation that can and is occurring around us. Whether this just allows for more innovation before ideas get slowed or hampered by traditional oversight and pressure or it merely allows for more growth before the men in suits have much influence, in either case, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain aren’t going away any time soon. Instead of waiting for your favorite conglomerate to get involved and attempt to sway your judgment of what matters and monetize yet another aspect of your life, look to those building, exploring, engaging with each other, trading P2P across not just borders but the world.
Look at what matters now, so we retain our freedom to explore and exchange. Look ahead, so we don’t lose that hint of chaos that has got us this far and will lead us to wherever it is we are going in the future.