Former Chief Strategy Officer at Blockstream, Samson Mow, appeared on CNBC on Tuesday alongside Gabor Gurbacs of VanEck and Deirdre Bosa to discuss “The Role of Crypto During Geopolitical Unrest.” The trio discussed Bitcoin’s apolitical and censorship resistant nature and how it’s value proposition has become clear over the last several weeks.
As Russia advances into Ukraine, citizens in both countries are looking to move their money into stable stores of value. Following the onset of the conflict, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on Russia, including the removal of several prominent Russian banks from SWIFT, a messaging system used by banks around the globe to issue payments. After the announcement was made, the Russian ruble dropped nearly 26% against the U.S. dollar and images surfaced of Russian citizens lining up at ATMs. According to the crypto research firm Kaiko, the trading volume between the ruble and Bitcoin spiked over the last several days on Binance, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. In the Ukraine, the government set up a wallet to receive Bitcoin as a fundraiser.
That citizens in both countries are moving toward Bitcoin as a store of value is a sign that it’s ultimately an apolitical financial tool. In the interview with CNBC, Mow said “Bitcoin is free from interference. It’s apolitical money that nobody can control.” When asked how Bitcoin differs from other cryptocurrencies during times of geopolitical uncertainty, Gurbacs said that, while other tokens may help in specific use cases, “in the background, Bitcoin is quietly actually solving the problem.” Further, most other cryptocurrencies fail to meet the level of decentralization of Bitcoin. According to Mow, “these [other cryptocurrencies] are all centralized… Most of them can be shut down if you just shut down AWS. These are not censorship resistant monies.”
The importance of a censorship resistant monetary system has been on full display in Canada over the last several weeks. In response to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests in Ottawa, Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, invoked the Emergency Act, giving Canadian banks the power to freeze protestor’s accounts without fear of civil liability. Bitcoin’s open monetary network circumvents this form of financial censorship. Referencing the events in Canada and Ukraine, Mow said “in the last 4 weeks we’ve learned more about Bitcoin’s value proposition than in the last four years.”
Whether it’s political protest or kinetic warfare, Bitcoin provides an open, decentralized, censorship resistant monetary system that can provide some financial stability in times of geopolitical instability. According to Mow, “people want to be able to store their value, they need that store of value, and in times of uncertainty, Bitcoin is that answer.” He ended the interview by saying “I think Bitcoin will continue to appreciate and I think Bitcoin nation state adoption is going to keep accelerating,” adding that “the future is bright for Bitcoin.”