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.
Here’s an easy one. Which is more powerful — the pen or the sword? Or to update it a little, an assault rifle or an idea?
I’ve been thinking about this eternal philosophical question a great deal recently, especially in light of recent reports about the global “war on Bitcoin.” Because for all the enormous nation-state resources ranged against Bitcoin, history tells us that brute force can’t extinguish people’s burning desire for freedom.
Ho Chi Minh summed it up well in his warning to the French imperialists in 1946: “For every one of your soldiers I kill, you will kill ten of mine. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.” What Ho understood is that while a bomb may blow you to bits, no force on earth can resist an idea whose time has come. No weapon can change the way we think — or how we count.
Back in March I talked about Bitcoin’s “milestones of the mind” in its journey to become the world’s reserve currency. One of the most important of these is becoming a standard unit of account, when people stop counting in dollars and start reckoning in sats and BTC.
Once again, Bitcoin — or, rather, bitcoiners — have surprised me with the rapidity of our revolution. Perhaps you too have noticed the change? Where once people talked about the dollar value of their bitcoin holdings, now they are talking in terms of their sat-stacking milestones, or voicing their ambition to be part of the select "#wholecoiner" group — owning a whole bitcoin or more.
And it’s not just ordinary investors. Just look at Microstrategy’s press release announcing its latest investment last month: “MicroStrategy Acquires Additional Bitcoins and Now Holds Over 105,000 Bitcoins in Total.” Sure, they mention the dollar value in the body of the release, but where it matters — in the headline — they’re counting in Bitcoin.
Quietly but quickly, our unit of account is changing. And that’s important for a range of practical and philosophical reasons. As I explained earlier this year, becoming a standard unit of account is about acceptance and recognition by the financial community. This means that Bitcoin is establishing itself as a contender for the final lasting attribute of a world reserve currency.
To be clear, fiat in the form of USD, Euro, and GBP is still the dominant unit of account when it comes to paying for things. However, when it comes to store of value, fiat's high level of inflation and Bitcoin's fixed supply means people are increasingly looking to their stack of sats as a measure of their stored wealth.
But there’s something even more important going on here. Counting in Bitcoin cements the idea of the revolution in people’s heads, from where no weapon can dislodge it. The real “war” is not governments against Bitcoin, but the fight between fiat and Bitcoin for our headspace. Just as it’s impossible to express or even hold an idea if you don’t have the words to describe it, so the battle for hegemony will be won by the currency in which we count.
Bitcoin’s opponents are waging an unwinnable war, with the wrong weapons, against a movement they do not understand. They can curb exchanges, shut down mining operations, and slap punitive taxes on Bitcoin profits — none of that matters. Because the real revolution isn’t taking place at the level of regulation, or in the corridors of power: it’s happening in the head.
More and more people are counting in Bitcoin because they are counting on Bitcoin. If something is a unit of account, it means that it is truly trusted. As Bitcoin continues to persist, progress, and prevail, trust will only grow. It won't be long before everyone will be counting in Bitcoin.