‘People Are Just Too Stupid to Use Bitcoin Right Now’ (Op-Ed)
The biggest obstacle for Bitcoin’s mainstream push is not the technology itself but rather the public’s ignorance of the true nature of money.
[Editor’s Note: Cointelegraph is happy to announce that the following article has been selected as the winner of the FinTech article of the Month Writer’s Competition and the prize of 1 BTC! We have received some great submissions but ‘People are Just Too Stupid to Use Bitcoin Right Now’ by Sam Higgins was by far the most popular article among the contestants. We’d like to thank everyone who took part. Stay tuned for more contests and prize giveaways in the near future at Cointelegraph!]
The biggest obstacle for Bitcoin’s mainstream push is not the technology itself but rather the public’s ignorance of the true nature of money. To fully grasp the advantages of Bitcoin, one must first understand the current financial system and, to some extent, the history of money and banking as a whole.
“Ignorance is always afraid of change.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru
"People are just too stupid to use bitcoin right now,” I overheard someone argue at a bar a few weeks ago as we were discussing the potential of cryptocurrency. “Society’s understanding of where money comes from is the real challenge.”
Sure, this statement is crass and may sound like the premise of a bad joke, but after giving it some thought, I recognized an iota of truth: the public is ignorant of the other advantages offered by a trustless, decentralized, peer-to-peer system of payment because they do not grasp the inherent flaws of the current financial system and, more importantly, how money is created.
The Bitcoin ecosystem is still in its infancy and has received much criticism. We often hear that Bitcoin-related software is still too kludgy, complicated and not “Grandma-friendly.” Then there are the hoops a person must jump through to actually acquire bitcoin, not to mention the media-induced association with dark markets, drugs, and “illegal activity.”
Simply put, unless you are a contrarian or a tech-savvy rebellious teenager, there is little to no incentive for a regular person in the developed world to use Bitcoin compared to the tried and tested method of swiping plastic at the register.
Where Does Money Come From?
When asked, most people can paint you an abstract picture of how money comes into existence, i.e. the government or the central bank “printing cash,” while completely unaware of the for-profit private banking sector. In fact, 97% of all money is created by banks via fractional reserve banking.
Moreover, this ignorance extends far beyond the layman. For example, 71% of British MPs did not know where money comes from in a 2014 poll conducted by Positive Money.
“MPs have no chance of understanding the house price bubble unless they know these basic facts about money,” said Ben Dyson, founder of Positive Money. “The financial crisis was caused by banks that created too much money and lent it recklessly. We’re now in danger of repeating the same mistakes.”
In addition, most people fail to see inflation as a "hidden tax" forcing people to keep working and quickly spend before their cash lose