My 6 takeaways from Satoshi Roundtable

1. Bitcoin matures as a financial asset

Remembering my chats with two CEOs, a CTO, and a fund manager at the conference, it’s clear to me that Bitcoin is coming into its own as a financial asset.

2. The Segwit impasse: a Chinese-Western cultural deadlock?

A couple miners from China, and some people close to them, were present at the conference. It was difficult to get straight answers about why Chinese miners refuse to implement the Segwit soft-fork. One person said it was “too complex.” Another intriguing answer was that “if [Bitmain CEO] Jihan doesn’t do it, no-one will.” Someone familiar with China said that “Chinese miners just wants bigger blocks”—which gave food for discussion, because Segwit is an actual block size increase.

Source: https://geert-hofstede.com/china.html

3. Outright trolling is less toxic than subtle misinformation

At the conference, people’s assessment of Bitcoin’s culture and dynamism varied widely. An attendee stated bluntly: “this community is toxic.” Others praised examples of productivity, courage, and diplomacy in the community.

4. Trust is in perpetual flux

Another thing that struck me was the diversity of opinion when it came to what business and tech solutions are to be trusted. Some used intermediaries to help store their coins, others only trusted open source software and hardware wallets. Some relied heavily on exchanges because they believed in liquidity and diversification, others believed only minimalism and self reliance would help them survive and prosper. Some believed hard-forks are out of the question in a post-DAO world, others think they are inevitable or desirable. And so on.

5. Ransomware negative catalyst for Bitcoin regulation

Bitcoin, as the first successful pseudonymous e-cash, allows hackers to monetize their attacks. This has lead to an explosion in ransomware attacks that victimize virtually anyone: luxury hotels, subway systems, even Washington D.C.’s CCTV video recording systems. The FBI estimates that the revenues of these crimes amounted to $1 billion in 2016. A side effect is that security firms are now proactively building up Bitcoin holdings in order to pay clients’ ransoms (if deemed the best solution).

6. Bitcoin devs embrace permissionlessness, power forward

Despite the palpable disappointment that Segwit may not be activated for quite some time (or ever), Bitcoin development is thriving. Lightning, Sidechains, Mimblewimble, Smart Signatures, Joinmarket… each of these projects continues to produce breakthroughs on a regular basis. Meanwhile, applied crypto-technologies that are currently more in the altcoin sphere, such as zero-knowledge proofs, ring signatures, and proof-of-stake, are also being thoroughly explored.

Conclusion

Even with serious short-term challenges on the scalability and regulatory fronts, Bitcoin is healthier than ever and is developing at a rapid clip.

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Tuur Demeester

Tuur Demeester

Economist & investor. Mainly Bitcoin.