Bitcoin threatens both the financial elite’s monopoly over the economy and the online web of payment systems which have been used as a tool to crack down on free speech on the Internet, Amir Taaki, a bitcoin software developer, told RT.
On Wednesday, The US Department of Homeland Security seized a payment processing account belonging to Mt. Gox, the largest international Bitcoin trader over claims the monetary exchange service had falsified financial documents.
The US government has never hidden the fact that it is closely watching the virtual currency, which international regulators have thus far failed to keep a lid on.
But while banks and governments have treated the Bitcoin payment system as an “existential threat” to current financial system, Taaki argues that the virtual currency epitomizes real free trade and is a necessary tool to maximize the benefits of a free and open market.
RT: You're at the heart of the Bitcoin system - could you explain for us in a nutshell how Bitcoin works, and why anyone would want to take part?
Amir Taaki: The basic gist of it is, there is this
network of people worldwide, and any person that joins the Bitcoin
network is responsible for upholding it. The Bitcoin is
actually a form of money, like the dollar, euro or pound, but it’s
virtual currency on the Internet. It is a type of currency which is
not overseen by central banks, governments or states, and there are
no restrictions on how you can use it. You can send it to anyone,
anywhere in the world. A person can download Bitcoin
software, get set up with it in five minutes, and start accepting
payments from Iran or North Korea. It’s proper free trade, not the
fake kind where you need to register corporations or companies, and
then you’re shut out of the market because of regulations: No! It’s
the kind of money where anybody in the world can participate. It
might be alright in the West, when anybody can set up an account
and get a Visa or Mastercard, but it’s not the same. Paypal alone
is blocking access from over 60 different countries worldwide.
Bitcoin does not have any of these restrictions or limitations. The
payment system is used as a political tool to shut down speech on
the Internet, and that’s why the Bitcoin is so important.
RT: Still, to many people the whole Bitcoin system seems to be very complex – how do we know that it’s safe and can be trusted?
AT: The Bitcoin system is a really simple system because it’s based off this concept of open source. I can download the source code for Bitcoin and you can read through it. It’s like how someone [can read] French or Spanish or English – I can read the source code and see that it does exactly what it says it does. It’s something really powerful when I have Bitcoins stored on my computer and I send it over the Internet direct to someone without any middleman whatsoever using software that I wrote myself, completely. When I have a bank account, I don’t know what happens in that bank account. I don’t know who I’m dealing with or all the middlemen and institutions there. Bitcoin has none of that. It’s total control over your money.
RT: As we've heard, the U.S. government has raided a business involved in Bitcoin transactions - could it stop BitCoin althogether, if it was determined to do so?
AT: No, and this is actually great news. So far they’ve been moving covertly, in the shadows, pushing Bitcoin here and there, and this is the first time they’ve actually played their hand and made a move against Bitcoin that’s out there in the public. Bitcoin is a tool which threatens the powers of all of these institutions which have the economy rigged [in their favor]. Yesterday, I was in Canary Wharf, there are these police and they’re not even real police. They look like police, they dress like police but they’re not – they’re security guards. And they were going around harassing us when we were going to the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] to ask questions. They will make moves against Bitcoin, because it does threaten this power that they have; this monopoly over the economy.
But Bitcoin is a tool, which, if done right, cannot be censored. You can’t stop people from doing trade with each other. It’s a proper tool for free trade. I’ve been saying for a long time that we need to build Bitcoin in the underground market and things like what has just happened in the US prove this is true. We need a foundation for Bitcoin, and the underground economy doesn’t only mean drugs or guns or weapons. It means normal things like people doing trade with each other – local business sending goods to each other and trading. There’s a lot more to the underground economy than just the common picture which is painted out there. It’s something which allows people to progress and to actually create the kind of wealth and business that should be possible in a truly free market.