Obi Nwosu is the CEO and co-founder of Coinfloor, the UK's longest-running Bitcoin exchange. He has over 20 years’ experience building online marketplaces and bringing virtual currencies to tens of millions of people. Obi writes The Road to Bitcoin Hegemony, a weekly recap of some of the most impactful developments in Bitcoin.
A briefer than usual column this week as I’m recovering from coming off my bike. Don’t worry, I’m fine — but it could have been a hell of a lot worse if I hadn’t been wearing a crash helmet. As it is, I’m convalescing from a slight concussion, counting my blessings... and thinking about what’s truly important in life.
And yes, Bitcoin is important. But I’ve come to realize something I’ve always secretly known, which is that I’m not only driven by Bitcoin’s brilliance but also, the urge to help people find a better way of protecting their wealth. And I’m aware of my all-too-human shortcomings as an evangelist, and that there are only so many people I’m capable of convincing. That’s why, this week, I don’t want to talk about what I think about the Bitcoin landscape, but what you can do to support the revolution.
If you’ve read and enjoyed this column over the last nine months or so, I thank you for your time and loyalty. But how many people have I really convinced? You’re all loyal readers of the BTC Times, so at best I’ve been pushing at an open door. To take Bitcoin onto the next and final stage of its evolution — mass adoption — we need to convince the doubters: those who are ready to believe the half-truths and untruths; the ones who fear change and mistrust a technology they think they’ll never understand.
People, for example, who listened and nodded along to Bill Maher’s commentary on Bitcoin the other day. Bill is likeable, moderate, and funny, and that all gives his words weight... even when they’re wrong. When he describes Bitcoin as a “Ponzi scheme,” it packs an emotional punch because it reinforces what people want to think. “Phew, thank God for ol’ Bill — he really stopped me getting suckered into that one.”
I can’t compete with Bill Maher in terms of reach or the ability to craft a perfectly-turned put-down. I’ve only got technical knowledge and a decade’s experience in the industry, and that's only going to get you so far with strangers. But for all those who won’t heed me, or Michael Saylor, or even Elon Musk, there is one person they’ll listen to: you.
We all know at least one person who distrusts Bitcoin, yet whose blind faith in fiat is putting their wealth at risk. And we all have the technical chops and the market knowledge to provide a point-by-point refutation of the Bitcoin myths that refuse to die. Bitcoin is essentially worthless? Actually, its price rise is predicated on the finite supply of coins, unlike the ever-expanding glut of banknotes. It’s a haven for criminals, drug dealers and mafiosi? But the overwhelming majority of money laundering goes through regulated banks rather than unregulated crypto. This stuff is easy.
But it’s not just about the arguments; it’s about who’s doing the talking. I can extol the brilliance of Bitcoin every week in this column and convince not a single person. You can tell your mother or brother, show them that you gain nothing from your evangelism and that your advice comes from a place of love — and you can convince one person.
And if you think that the goal of one-on-one evangelism is simply to quicken the pace of adoption, then I haven’t explained myself well enough. Mass adoption is merely the side effect; what truly matters is that you’ve helped someone dear to you protect themselves from suddenly losing their wealth. It’s like if you suffer a break-in: you don’t just buy a burglar alarm, you phone your friends and family and convince them to buy one, too.
I’m very glad I was wearing a helmet when I came off my bike. But maybe I wouldn’t have been so sensible if my own brother hadn’t died from a preventable accident that, like mine, came out of nowhere. Sometimes, people need a nudge to do the wise, the smart, the sensible thing. And an argument is always more powerful when it’s based on altruism and love.
As the old African proverb goes: if you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito. That’s why I call on you to be mosquitoes: take wing, and bear the good news of Bitcoin to one person who will benefit.