Bitcoin angel investor and Blockchain business developer Roger Ver has worked tirelessly for a few years to promote Bitcoin in the mainstream press, and a few narratives about him seem to have stuck.
He began accepting Bitcoin very early on at his site, MemoryDealers.com, already a successful business.
He made a fortune in early Bitcoin investments.
His Bitcoin giveaways, including a 1,000 BTC donation to the Foundation for Economic Education, earned him the nickname “Bitcoin Jesus.”
We had a chance to speak with Ver this week, and we took the opportunity to dig a little deeper to get his thoughts on the current realities of doing business in Bitcoin and what he thinks the future might hold for the currency.
CoinTelegraph: Eric Bovim’s piece on you for Salon last month got boiled down in the headline to the idea that you fear for your life. How true is that statement? Do you feel there are specific threats against you or your freedom right now?
Roger Ver: I’m very upset with the way my statements were portrayed with that article. I discussed the philosophy of government with Eric. I explained that every government law is ultimately backed up with a death threat. Other than this, no one has been directly threatening my life. It is another example of media twisting the truth in search of sensationalist headlines. Salon should be ashamed.
CT: In an interview with the Two-Bit Idiot, you said that Ben Reeves from Blockchain.info had his personal bank account shut down because of his involvement with Bitcoin. What advice can you give Bitcoin users so they can limit their exposure to arbitrary force from governments or banks?
RV: The more you depend on Bitcoin, and the less you use the banks, the more insulated you will be from this kind of trouble.
CT: In that same interview, you said that the “other six billion” — those outside the developed world — would rather be their own banks than trust their money with their local bank. What information and technology needs to become available in the developing world so that everyone can have control over their own money? Who is doing good work right now to make that happen?
RV: Deeper penetration of smartphones, along with better Bitcoin wallet software will help bring Bitcoin to the rest of the world.
We will see both of those areas improving quickly over the next few years.
CT: You’ve also brought up an interesting dichotomy between “off-blockchain” companies that work with regulators and have fiat business models, and “on-blockchain” companies that are truer to the spirit of an unregulated, decentralized currency. You compared this to the walled-garden approach of iOS versus the open nature of Android.
The “off-blockchain” companies, however, appear to have a key advantage in that their business models are familiar, and their activities fit more neatly into a given state’s regulatory framework. The learning curve is thus much less steep, and they are easier for most of us to understand.
Is that a fair statement? If so, do “on-blockchain” companies need to become as user-friendly and understandable for people as, say, Coinbase?
RV: From an end user perspective, I think Blockchain and Coinbase have similar user interfaces. It won’t be long until people realize that keeping your Bitcoins in a wallet like Blockchain.info is much safer than entrusting them to someone else like Coinbase.
Coinbase is currently the best way to buy or sell Bitcoins in the USA, and I recommend them for that all the time, but people should keep their Bitcoins in a wallet in which they control the private keys. That is why I invested in, and recommend, Blockchain.info.
CT: You have been evangelizing about Bitcoin for a few years now. What has been the most successful message in getting people to understand cryptocurrencies? What is the best way to combat misinformed narratives such as “Bitcoin is just a game” or “Bitcoin is just for money launderers/drug dealers?”
RV: Bitcoin is the first time in the history of the world in which anyone can now send or receive any amount of money, with anyone else, anywhere on the planet, and they don’t need to ask for permission from a bank or government. This is world-changing technology.