For a few cryptos more: the Wild West of crypto finance
Americans raced westward across the frontier 170 years ago, hoping to strike it rich in the gold rush. Greed and lawlessness transformed this promised land into the Wild West, where the few profited off the many’s dreams.
Fast forward a century and a half, and growing distrust of banks, along with technological innovation, gave rise to a new dream – a digital gold rush beyond state control – amidst the global financial crisis.
Satoshi Nakamoto – or rather the software developers who used that pseudonym – wrote the source code for what they hoped would be a decentralized digital currency. Their white paper from 2008 demonstrates a strong interest in technology, particularly cryptography, but not necessarily a thorough understanding of payment and money issues.
They aimed to create an anarchistic utopia with a stable money that was not subject to public scrutiny.
Crypto-assets remain the talk of the town almost 15 years later. Many crypto enthusiasts are enthralled by the rise of the cryptocurrency market, and many believe they should take a chance on it. From miners to intermediaries, a new ecosystem has arisen, all vying for a piece of the digital money pie. Crypto advocates offer a paradise on earth, relying on an illusory narrative of ever-rising crypto-asset prices to keep inflows and hence the crypto bubble’s momentum going.
However, appearances can be deceiving. Satoshi Nakamoto’s ambition of generating reliable money remains a pipe dream.
Transferring crypto-assets can take many hours. Their costs fluctuate a lot. The ostensibly anonymous transactions leave a permanent record that can be followed. Contrary to the stated idea of decentralized finance, the vast majority of crypto holders rely on intermediaries. Payments are made using a traditional centrally maintained wallet in El Salvador, for example, which was the first country to embrace bitcoin as legal cash.
Crypto-assets are causing insecurity and volatility, which is the polar opposite of what they promised. They’re re-imagining the Wild West. “Chaos is a ladder,” says Littlefinger from Game of Thrones. This character’s story did not end nicely. However, it only takes a few people to reach the top of the ladder – even if their gains are only transitory – to persuade a large number of others that they are missing out.