This is a transcribed excerpt of the “Bitcoin Magazine Podcast,” hosted by P and Q. In this episode, they are joined by Joe Hall to talk about Bitcoin Amsterdam and his experience seeing bitcoin being used in Africa.
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Q: Could we discuss what were those things that you were like, “No, Bitcoin doesn’t work because of this,” and then it took you having that experience in Africa to then see and shed those biases?
Joe Hall: That’s a really interesting way of putting that question. So how did I undo my biases? I think part of it is getting burned. We’ve all been a little bit burned or rugged by shitcoins. Like many other Bitcoiners, I shitcoined first. There are still some tokens in some wallet somewhere that I can’t sell because there’s no liquidity because it’s just been completely rugged to zero. That’s the personal experience.
I’m a journalist, so I’m all about primary sources. Seeing my driver, for example, which was the example I gave [at Bitcoin Amsterdam], he’s the first guy to really show me that Bitcoin works and it’s used in this way. We all talk about censorship-resistant money and money that can’t be debased, money that can’t be stolen. As long as you’ve got your seed phrase, you’re set.
This guy called Giam, he used to be our driver at Bloomberg. He would drive us to work every day. We used to have quite long chats about Bitcoin and crypto, and he effectively orange-pilled me. The big thing for him was that the government can’t steal the money from him, whereas they can easily steal the money that’s under your mattress or they can debase your currency as they’ve done with the West African Franc or the CFA in the past. Alex Gladstein did this amazing piece about the West African Franc, which is like this horrible colonial hangover currency.
The French sort of concocted when they gave back power to their colonies in West Africa. Basically, the notes are printed and designed in Élysée in France, which literally means that some white guy sat in some university in France and he’s drawing palm trees and coconuts thinking, “Oh yeah, this is what we should put on the note in West Africa.” It’s like the most fucked up, racist thing you can imagine and this is still what is on the paper. It’s just hilarious when you think about the fact that they are printed in Paris and shipped over to West Africa.
This is just one example of how messed up this whole currency situation is. It’s one of the things that really riles me up about money in general, fiat-backed currencies. In the West, we have it bad, but in a lot of emerging markets around the world, the situation is deplorable and we must do more to help people realize what is money and why bitcoin is a money in which we can opt out of the current horrible, controlling system.
The thing about Bitcoin and crypto is it’s evidence based. Do you know Paco in India, the bitcoin runner? He’s the guy that’s traveling around the world using only bitcoin. He’s currently on his 22nd country and he’s trying to hit 40 countries in 500 days. He’s awesome. I catch up with him regularly just to see what his stories are like and we have quite similar interests. He was saying today that the Bitcoin community in Africa is massive. It’s one where people realize that bitcoin is a natural currency. You can buy a beer with it, you can pay a taxi with it, you can do all these sorts of real things. You’re not gonna buy your beer with dogecoin, are you? Yes, people do it for the stunt, but it’s not like you’re gonna see a “doge accepted here” sticker around the world. People are just gonna laugh at you.
The fact that it does have this first mover advantage and the fact that it does have this critical mass adoption, that there’s no real going back from that. Despite cardano’s best marketing efforts, particularly in Africa where there’s a huge cardano community. It’s awful. They’re like buying up universities and being like, “Oh, we’re gonna put your ID on the blockchain.” The guy’s an excellent marketer. Charles Hoskinson knows how to build a business. But you got to ask, “Why can’t we do this all with Bitcoin?”
P: And the answer is, you can and should.