Interview by David Berger, CEO of the Digital Currency Council, with Trace Mayer. Trace is one of the very earliest adopters of Bitcoin. He is a regular speaker at Bitcoin events, investor in core Bitcoin infrastructure and host of the Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast.
David: Trace, you’ve been following Bitcoin for a long time. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, you were one of the very first bloggers to publicly write about Bitcoin. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you discovered Bitcoin?
Trace: I have always been interested in money and being a digital native I knew the incredible need for a digitally native payment method so when I came across Bitcoin I was very interested. I became one of the first major thought leaders on the topic and began recommending it at around a quarter.
David: What has you so excited about Bitcoin that you’ve decided to devote so much of your time and professional efforts to educating others about it and promoting its adoption?
Trace: Bitcoin is a major technological advancement by being able to perform distributed consensus and programmable trust. This implementation, the first practical one, of triple-entry bookkeeping will lead to all types of advancements in the generation ahead and improved administration of capital.
David: That is a very exciting opportunity indeed. But what are the risks? There must be a flip side of that coin? What keeps you up at night?
Trace: Bitcoin is still in the experimental phase and it is extensible. Being able to figure out how to extensify the network while not introducing bugs or otherwise harming it is very important. I think solving some of the scalability issues is also very important.
David: What do you see as the government’s role in Bitcoin? Is there one? Is there a place for regulation? Do you see a scenario under which regulation could make the Bitcoin economy stronger?
Trace: Money and currency have always been highly politicized topics from Copernicus to Issac Newton to von Goethe, the Reign of Terror in France or Revolutionary War in the United States, the collapse of the Reichmark leading to the rise of Hitler, or the great tyrants Hilter, Mao and Roosevelt making gold illegal. At its core, Bitcoin is merely speech. Consequently, it will force the issues of the values we as humanity hold most dear. Topics like freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of transaction, rights against self incrimination, rights against unreasonable searches and seizures and many others. Since the main claim of governments is the protection of these rights therefore the government’s role, and any accompanying regulation, should be to protect the privacy and property rights of individuals.
David: Is it really fair to lump Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Roosevelt into the same class of totalitarian dictators?
Trace: Yes. As Mises explained sound money protects against despotic inroads on the part of government and belongs in the same class as constitutions and bills of right which also protect things like freedom of speech. This is why the United States Constitution enumerates this monetary protection in Article 1 Section 10 Clause 1. Gold and silver and not merely barbaric commodities but essential checks and balances in the political machinery which help enforce the bifurcation between the sword and the purse along with protecting by limiting in amount via chemical law by atoms the monetary unit against confiscation through inflation which is a form of taxation without representation or due process of law. The great totalitarian dictators like Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Roosevelt each attacked the Great Writ of Habeas with massive concentration camps where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were unjustly caged through instruments like Executive Order 9066 and attacked the great property rights protections like the monetization of sound money through instruments like Executive Order 6102. Great tyrants cannot allow for people to be able to either challenge their unjust detention or have economic freedom and independence. As applied to Bitcoin, great tyrants cannot allow for freedom of speech which has been held by the United States Supreme Court to apply to cryptography which is a foundational building block of Bitcoin. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court refuses to hear such monetary issues as illustrated with Fischer v. Dover in 1991.
David: When you were getting up to speed on Bitcoin, there were few resources to educate oneself. Today, there is a lot of information available in different formats. What is the focus of the Bitcoin Knowledge podcasts? What role do you see them playing in the Bitcoin information landscape?
Trace: On the Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast I interview the top people in the Bitcoin industry, mainly CEOs of various companies, about their specific areas of competency. Why learn about Bitcoin through the lens of a journalist who has spent 30 minutes researching this incredibly complex topic when instead you can listen to CEOs who are in the trenches?
David: You’re also an early investor in some of the leading companies in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Could you share with us the value that these companies are providing their customers?
Trace: Sure. Three of the companies I am most pleased with are Armory, Bitpay and Kraken. Armory is the best solution for generating and securing Bitcoin private keys. Bitpay is a merchant processor and absolutely crushing it with over 50,000 merchants including massive ones like Microsoft, NewEgg, TigerDirect and others. Kraken is the largest Euro exchange and also was recently awarded the MtGox receivership by the Tokyo Bankruptcy Court and MtGox Trustee.
David: Where do you see the next opportunity in the blockchain technology? What is the next frontier?
Trace: I think the concept of side chains that is going to be implemented by Blockstream is an area ripe for innovation. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with distributed consensus and programmable trust.
Trace: My pleasure.
David: Readers who enjoyed this interview should note that Trace will be speaking at Inside Bitcoins in New York City on April 29. DCC Members receive discounted admission and the session qualifies for DCC Continuing Education Credit.