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Roger Ver, “Bitcoin Jesus,” a former U.S. citizen, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion — one of cryptocurrency’s most prolific and early investors goes by many names.
Ver first heard of Bitcoin as early as 2011, and began investing in small crypto startups that have now become household names today (at least in crypto), including BitPay, Kraken and Blockchain.com.
As Ver was (and still is) one of the most vocal proponents of an increased block size — leading him to unequivocally align himself with the Bitcoin Cash fork in 2017 — he firmly remains a supporter of cryptocurrency as an instant, “basically free,” anonymous way to send money to anyone, anywhere in the world. Even if, as he notes, right now the corona pandemic seems to just be causing the crypto curious to spend more time on blockchain-based online poker.
As an incredibly early adopter of Bitcoin, what was your go-to way of getting people interested in the cryptocurrency way back in 2011?
My pitch for Bitcoin in 2011 is the same pitch for Bitcoin Cash in 2020.
You can send or receive any amount of money with anyone in the world, instantly, basically for free, anonymously, and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.
That description today is still true of Bitcoin Cash, but no longer true for Bitcoin.
Debunk a common myth or misconception in crypto that you often run into.
People seem to think I created Bitcoin Cash. I had nothing to do with the creation of Bitcoin Cash and I didn’t start promoting Bitcoin Cash until it became clear that Bitcoin wasn’t going to be allowed to scale to be permissionless money for the world.
When you were first investing in Bitcoin companies, what convinced you of a project’s soundness?
Seeing people naturally start using Bitcoin for commerce on the Silk Road provided the empirical evidence that Bitcoin was fantastic money, that people around the world would start to use without anyone needing to force them into it.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made that you’ve learned from (in crypto or in general)?
I underestimated how big an effect censorship can have on a community. I watched first hand as the small block Bitcoiners used censorship and propaganda against the big block Bitcoiners who supported free speech.
In a short amount of time, people went from knowing the truth to believing lies because they were repeated often and loudly enough while the truth and dissenting opinions were banned.
I suppose this is a large part of the reason governments in every country make sure to control the schools.
You’ve said before that observing the mini-economy of tobacco, stamps, etc. in prison gave you insight into theories of the origin of money. Can you expand on that? Were there any specific instances that served as important examples for you?
In order for something to be usable as a store of value it MUST have an additional use case outside of being a store of value.
The dollar is used as a store of value because you can spend them anywhere.
In prison stamps or tobacco are used as a store of value because you can mail letters or smoke them.
Bitcoin turning its back on its usefulness in commerce undermines its usefulness as a store of value.
If Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash are equally scarce, but Bitcoin Cash has the added benefit of being easily spendable at merchants, Bitcoin Cash will end up being the superior store of value as well.
Do you think that the coronavirus pandemic will end up highlighting the benefits of crypto over fiat?
It doesn’t seem to be having much effect other than more people using crypto online for things like blockchain.poker.
Has quarantine given you more time to practice jiu-jitsu?
No, because I need partners to train with. I didn’t get to train at all for two months, but recently things have opened up again and I’m training 6 days a week.
What’s a piece of advice to follow for those wanting to enter crypto? What’s something they should ignore?
Try actually transacting with crypto. Get some BTC or BCH and then buy something from Amazon at a 25% discount from Purse.io. (You will save more money by using Bitcoin Cash)
You can also try playing some poker at blockchain.poker.
Do you have a go-to retort that ends the block size debate for you?
The Bitcoin Cash discussion platforms support free speech. Bitcoin discussion platforms openly support censorship.
That’s all you need to know in order to figure out who has the better ideas.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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