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Design for HOPE City, a planned technology park to be built at Prampram, Greater Accra Region

Here are transcripts of two interviews that were done with Ghana based Bitcoin pioneer Kofi Akosah @CryptoTraveler1 . Data from Local Bitcoins shows that Bitcoin use is growing exponentially in the places where it is needed, and Azteco will be supplying Bitcoin to these people.

Could we discuss your thoughts on the EU parliament’s move?

Of course. Whatever questions you have.

What’s your reaction to the EU parliament’s ban on Crypto anonymous?

There will be no effective ban on anonymous crypto, and its easy to explain why. Lets take a hypothetical example of Angelique and Joost. Angelique is living in Texas, Joost is in France. Angelique pays Joost to to do some creative work for her, and is paid one hundred Euros in Bitcoin. Joost now has 100 Euros in Bitcoin on his phone.

There is nothing anyone can do to stop him receiving it, or spending it. The wallet he is using was developed outside of the EU, and it’s on his phone, without permission. Now multiply this by 500,000,000 out of the 743,100,000 citizens of the EU, and you can see the scale of “the problem”.

There is no way that the EU can ever stop that many people from doing anything, let alone using something that leaves no trace because it is pure information. 100 euros times 500m users is a lot of money in circulation. And for those of you who say Bitcoin cannot scale to that number of users, you are gravely mistaken. Lightning can handle that many transactions with ease.

Prohibition is not the way to stop people from doing something. Most Europeans accept the bargain of Democracy and are willing to go along with taxation as long as its reasonable. They go along with it because they know the cash economy allows them to balance the onerous burdens of the state with their own needs.

Under the present conditions, life is bearable for EU citizens. Changing the balance of this equation, by outlawing cash and Bitcoin, will tip the balance against the State. Once the EU people understand what “cashless society” really means, you will see disruptions of historic ferocity. This move by the EU is equivalent to King Cnut ordering the tide not to come in. Bitcoin is inevitable. Not being able to control it is also inevitable. The best way forward is to adapt to it, rather than try to stop time itself from flowing; that is what the EU is trying to do.

So who is going to lose here? Bitcoin or EU?

Bitcoin is going to win, the EU is going to lose. There is historical precedent for making this guess. In France in the 1990s 128 bit encryption was illegal to use without permission of the State. You had to get a license, register your private keys and other very stupid things. Then, the web and SSL came along, and the French realised that the entire world was moving to SSL to protect on-line purchases. Dominiqe Strauss-Khan removed all restrictions on unbreakable SSL encryption, and now, everyone in France can use it, programme with it and benefit from it without restriction.

Once the rest of the world settles on Bitcoin, all the countries of the EU will have to follow suit, because if they do not, they will be cut off from international commerce. Imagine if Bitcoin becomes the currency of letters of credit and international settlements. For any EU country to restrict Bitcoin in any way would be suicidal; and remember, when people do contracts, both parties are normally identified.

Mandating that owners of Bitcoin private keys be registered adds nothing to security for anyone. Also it must always be remembered that criminal activity is a microscopic proportion of all digital communications. The overwhelming majority of uses are perfectly normal and conforming. Ruining the utility of a neutral tool like Bitcoin to catch, literally, a handful of criminals (which they never do) is totally insane.

These EU types are not that stupid. Bitcoin is being targeted because it is going to radically transform how people send and account for value. It has the potential to completely disintermediate the banks, just like WhatsApp and Skype disintermediated state owned telephone companies. Bearing in mind that there is nothing these companies can do to stop The Transformation, the rational thing to do would be to totally embrace Bitcoin just as they embraced the web, putting their services onto the network and becoming peers on the network. This would guarantee that they are not eliminated from the market, and have a future for decades to come, developing new services and adapting to the new reality. Or they can try to stop the rain from falling by shaking their fists at the clouds. The choice is theirs!

I submitted this to the UK government to advise them to take precisely this position and now that Article 50 is triggered, the EU has a stark choice to make. Britain can capture the Bitcoin ecosystem and become its natural centre, collecting a fraction of all Bitcoin transactions as they move peer to peer. No EU country will be able to do this, because their market will be distorted and sterilised.

Is it possible other regions will follow suit with the EU’s action?

Maybe, but it doesn't matter if one region alone doesn’t follow. Recently in Texas, a bill was put to the legislature guaranteeing Bitcoin as a right. If a bill like that is passed, then all Bitcoin companies will move to Huston and Bitcoin will be served from there globally. Also, countries tend to follow America, and if they say, “Bitcoin is A-OK” you can be sure other countries will say the same thing. Other countries will eventually realise it is in their best interests to accept Bitcoin and integrate it.

The really smart ones will start accepting it as payment for taxation. This is not as strange as it sounds; the longest running form of money was the Tally Stick, which was in use for 750 years in the UK. Literally, a stick of wood was issued as money by the crown, and it was that wood that was acceptable as payment for taxes. Immediately, these stick became valuable, and were treated as money, trading for gold coins. The parallels are perfect. Bitcoin is just like a Tally Stick, with its keys analogous to the unique ridged edges of the Tally. Bitcoin is the Tally Stick of the entire world. And you would have just as much success trying to stop people using pieces of wood as money as you would trying to stop them using Bitcoin. It simply will not work.

Will the move have a short term negative impact on Bitcoin price?

It will have no effect on the price. Everyone knows that Bitcoin cannot be stopped, and also, that its main markets are not in the EU. What this the EU is trying to do is prevent the inevitable, by putting anti-Bitcoin restrictions on companies that operate in the EU. What they don’t seem to understand is that EU citizens can work anywhere, release software anywhere, and are completely out of control. The price of Bitcoin doesn't matter; what matters is that Bitcoin can carry an infinite amount of fiat from A to B. Once it gets from A to B and the fiat is discharged either in money or goods, it has done its job; to disintermediate payments, make them more reliable and faster and cheaper.

The EU trying to regulate Bitcoin is completely insane. They admit themselves that the market in Bitcoin is very small. They admit they have no idea how the future will play out, but they are making decisions as if they have a crystal ball that is completely reliable. The EU thinking flies in the face of the history of the internet, the history of cryptography in the hands of the public, recent history in the face of Snowden, and the nature of software itself.

Judging by their absolute inability to stop movie and software piracy over 30 years, it is clear that the EU will totally fail to stop Bitcoin. And remember that the incentives to use Bitcoin, unlike the incentives to copy movies, is universal. Every single phone user will have a Bitcoin app on their phone, and if that client is Samouri Wallet, inspecting the phone will not tell you there is a Bitcoin client installed. Then if you take “Brain Wallets” into account, there will be millions of people who have Bitcoin stored in their heads spending them as needed with enumerated long passphrases. It is literally against reality to try and stop Bitcoin.

This is a sea change in how money is moved, stored, accounted for and transacted. There is nothing anyone can do to stop it, just like movable type, and every other technology that changed the world. What the EU must embrace is that these changes, even though they seem frightening at first, always have benefits that greatly outweigh the edge use cases. This will become obvious to everyone once The Transformation happens, and Bitcoin is just a fact of life. It will be as familiar as the green lock in your browser, and similarly taken for granted as “just the way things are”.

What responsibility is imposed on the Bitcoin community in this insane situation?

It is the responsibility of all participants in Bitcoin to tell the truth about it, and to make economic and software decisions to ensure that no State can harm Bitcoin or its users. It is up to everyone to educate, inform and to serve anyone who wants Bitcoin. No group should take it upon themselves however, to try and act as de facto “representatives” of Bitcoin in front of any legislature. This is illegitimate, since Bitcoin is a tool and not an institution or company or group.

No one has the right to go to any legislature and unilaterally proclaim that, “this is the right way to approach Bitcoin”. Even if you were to accept on principle that this is correct (it is not) whoever makes these approaches should, you would imagine, have a proper stake in either Bitcoin itself or a business that runs off of it. To have people that have no stake whatsoever, other than being the “Locutus of Bitcoin” to the State is simply absurd. There is no way such a group can have the correct incentives, because no matter what happens, if they succeed in their terms or fail, they lose nothing, not having invested any time or money in Bitcoin or its infrastructure directly.

Bitcoin businesses and developers have a responsibility not to do anything that harms any other Bitcoin user or the network. We do not even have to define harm to know this is a good principle. It is enough to work with the software and see what you can build with it and how you can profit and help people. If you are not doing exactly that, and are trying to influence how Bitcoin works or is interpreted, then you are doing it wrong.

Start a company. Write software, use Bitcoin. Integrate it into your business process. It is exactly the same as the explosion of businesses and people taking their place on the internet. Everyone did it without caring much what other people were doing, or whether or not they were doing it “wrong”.

Here is a good example. When the blogging craze took off, everyone started writing their own Blogs and publishing them for free. No one stood up and said, “Blogs must be regulated” and if anyone did, no one remembers them. Blogging changed journalism forever, and web publishing. The biggest news organizations are now using WordPress to manage their content.

All of this was done without reference to the State or regulation or busybodies running to legislators to “help blogging”. Bitcoin is no different to any other web service, and we know how web services and software become successful; let those same energies be shunted into Bitcoin and the world will change for the better. This is absolutely guaranteed.

Why is bCash100% anti-bitcoin?

If someone came to Accra, and said, “We are going to break up your government, and take over the running of this country…because we have more money than all of you put together. We do not care what you want or think “Ghanaian”, obey us, or you are free to go to Ivory Coast” you would say that that is “Anti Ghana” wouldn't you?

Sure, You’re right. From your perspective is this going to work? Will Roger & his cohorts suceed?

I do not have a perspective. Men who can think don’t have perspectives; they are interested only in the truth. There is absolute right and wrong, there is good and evil. Men from Ghana know this. Unless you used the word “perspective” to trigger me….YOU SUCCEEDED!

DId you enjoy this interview? Feel free to send a Bitcoin tip!↴


Bitcoin Oburoni was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.