Brian Armstrong, a former intern at IBM, consultant at Deloitte, software engineer at Airbnb and current CEO of Coinbase, stated while asking eth users to keep Token – a new WeChat Pay like eth based app – as “positive,” that:
“Bitcoin still has a black mark against it if you look at what big banks or more traditional folks in law enforcement think. Ethereum has a blank slate, and that is a chance to reach a mainstream audience.”
He is probably referring to bitcoin’s early association with fringe movements which employed highly confrontational rhetoric against both governments and banks, openly proclaiming bitcoin would be some sort of Trojan horse for the advancement of their own unworkable ideology.
In response, the media framed bitcoin as a sort of criminal’s tool, not least because back in 2013 some would publicly proclaim the “dark market” is bitcoin’s target market. That’s not necessarily true. Bitcoin is a technology, with its philosophical basis likely finding root in the very mainstream Hayek.
However, the currency has been going through two years of debate where, among many other trade-offs, one of them is whether to favor mainstream users at the expense of fringes or fringes at the expense of ordinary users.
The end result, so far, has been a stalemate, but the length of decision making has opened the opportunity for the currency to be considered in a more colorful way after some strong bitcoin proponents were incentivized to see what other offerings can provide.
After vicious debate where prominent bitcoiners unashamedly used tyrannical censorship, criminal DDoS, bug exploitation, underhanded secret meetings, and so on, what they saw is no more than a slow, expensive currency, that is in many ways static and “dumb.”
While, on the other hand, they experienced eth, which is as good as instant and has as good as free transactions, as well as deploying dynamic codable money, bringing to reality the full power of this technology.
It is extremely interesting, however, that Armstrong can now so openly express this view. Not least because in the bitcoin land dirty tactics such as troll armies, smear campaigns, two minutes of hate, are par for the course.
But that he has the courage to say it clearly indicates at least some in this space have learned an incredibly important lesson that should, even at a cost, be stated. This technology is for the benefit of all. Primarily tired fathers, worried mothers, as well as mischievous teenagers.
If criminals find a use for it there is little we can do and certainly not any more than BMW can do when criminals use their fast cars. They are humans too who like everyone else would like the coolest tech, but, they’re not ethereum’s target market, nor would they expect any friendly treatment from the platform.
For ethereum has clearly stated its position on this matter when some argued the DAO thief should be given priority and let go with his loot. Some 90% of the community resoundingly said no.
So ethereum isn’t quite a blank slate. It has clearly communicated to the world that in any trade-off ordinary users would be given priority over outright thieves. That’s a significant reason why the platform enjoys the good reputation. Not least because the community espouses a philosophy of “political neutrality.”
Many thought bitcoin would gain that place, with Zcash getting the heat on the “black mark” angle, with some giving an analogy of Zcash being Tor, bitcoin Firefox. It seems, however, the first blockchain currency might itself become Tor, with ethereum being today’s Firefox/Chrome.