Buterin Calls Mandatory Acceptance of Bitcoin in El Salvador Counter to Crypto’s ‘Ideals of Freedom’
This is something weve actually talked about a lot on the show there seem to be these two camps of people. One is just blindly cheering anything that happens in el salvador because they really like bitcoin and the other side saying. Actually, we dont like coercion and force and its counter to the ethos of cryptocurrency, and you know bitcoin aside, the mandatory acceptance of it is not okay, so lets read what vitalik actually said. He said it in this reddit forum. He says nothing unpopular about this opinion. Making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space. Additionally, this tactic of pushing btc to millions of people in el salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education, is reckless and risks a large number of innocent people getting hacked or scammed. Shame on everyone: okay, fine ill call out the main people responsible, shame on bitcoin maximalists, who are uncritically praising him, so some pretty strong words there im gon na throw straight to the group for your take on on all of this. I definitely have some thoughts but ill, throw it to you to start off with whats your take yeah. I totally agree with vitalik when it comes to education, thats, something weve spoken about a lot on the show. You know a lot of the people in el salvador. This is the very first time that theyve been exposed to bitcoin and so to launch this project and say: actually you have to use this if youre, a merchant, big or small and if you dont, youll, be faced with repercussions from the law is absolutely ridiculous.
The article, though points to some confusion so were talking about article seven, which says all merchants need to accept bitcoin uh, no matter what, but then the president tweeted, i think, last month saying article seven is actually you know: dont pay attention to it anymore. If you dont want to accept bitcoin its no big deal so in the article theres, actually a quote from a salvadorian merchant saying: well, the law is one thing and, and twitter is another thats, not a direct quote, but thats. Also something weve spoken about on the show, and – and so i can only imagine how merchants in el salvador feel you know if its written in law, i would probably abide by that, rather than what the presidents saying on twitter. So this just brought up a whole bunch of confusion for me um. I would really love to see article seven be abolished or at least changed, but uh. I know me, i see you nodding or nodding away there. I can either toss it back to you or david. Did you have your hand up, yeah, yeah, so um? I? I guess i kind of have a middle ground position here um, and i think that one of the things that maybe gets excluded from these conversations is that the definition of legal tender is that everybody accepts it. So if youre talking about the the legal, no i mean this is this is what happens when you have a dollar and everybody has to take a dollar um and uh.
So i i do wonder if theres a gap there but naomi you seem to be disagreeing. Are you yeah and i think, thats a big confusion in the crypto space? So in the united states, for example, there is no law saying that at your business you cant put up a sign that says bitcoin only in el salvador prior to this law. You could also it was perfectly legal for you to put up a sign that says bitcoin only on your store, so legal tender does not equal coerced tender and, i think, thats an important distinction. So in the u.s i could put up a store that says us dollar cash. Only. I could put up a sign that says you know euros only in cash. I could put up a sign that says card only these all perfectly legal. What uh el salvador has done is actually something slightly different. Article seven is a quite a rare thing that very few countries have actually adopted that says. If someone offers this to you at a point of sale transaction, you must accept it which actually isnt the case with most places around the world that isnt a part of legal tender laws uh as theyre. You know normally done across the world at all um. So i think that thats, one of the main confusions that you brought up jen, is that you know that theres this strange idea about like legal tender laws and coercion, people saying well, people were already forced to accept the us dollars its like well, actually thats its Just not true people could have put up signs and said you know they accept bitcoin.
Prior to this, the other point i get to be incorrect every couple of years, so thats, my one, i think. Well, we all do we all do david, but the other thing um that that is confusing about all of this is that people are saying its kind of this orwellian double speak. Where theyre saying you know once id say well, you know people must accept bitcoin and then the other sides saying no, they dont have to accept it. They can exchange it for anything they want and youve got to break apart those two parts of the sentence, because theyre total non sequiturs accepting something and being able to trade it for something are two separate steps right. Yes, they have to accept bitcoin if theyre offered at a point of sale transaction as per article 7. Yes, they can immediately transfer it no ones debating that they can immediately transfer it. But a lot of the bitcoin community is using the second step to say it. Doesnt matter about the coercion, because you know they can immediately transfer it, but the point of the coercion that has a lot of people up in arms is, first of all, as patella pointed out, you know forcing a business to accept a specific cryptocurrency is counter to The ethos of uh cryptocurrency the ideal of freedom in money um, but also theres, the point of you know all of the hassles involved. You know in order to exchange it like.
First of all, you have to have an app thats set up theres a technological barrier. There perhaps people dont want a techno, a a digital implementation of us dollars. Perhaps they dont want that, but they dont want to go into a system thats kycd. There are all kinds of things that go along with this. Perhaps they just want cash right. At that moment, and if someone offers them bitcoin, theyre legally obliged uh to actually accept that bitcoin instead of the cash. So it is coercion, no matter which way you look at it and i dont think anyone should be cheering with this. So im completely on board. With vitalik um, but you know its like people like eric ball, hes have also tweeted about this and said you know there are two things going on: bitcoin is being propagated around the world and its going to be propagated by good people and bad people, and its Great that bitcoin is being propagated, but we also have to look. You know we dont necessarily have to cheer the salvadorian uh el salvadorian government um. You know for what theyre doing. I think that what the crypto community is doing wrong is blindly cheering them and kind of whitewashing. What theyre doing lets lets actually acknowledge what theyre doing, which is coercion, its an authoritarian regime lets also, you know, be happy that bitcoin is around the world, but you know the ends. Doesnt justify the means to a lot of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, but dave ill, throw it back to you yeah, so, just to kind of complete these, hopefully more correct.
Half of my thought: um, the uh, the leaving aside the sort of crypto values and coercion element um. I i do think it if you look at it from a kind of adoption curve perspective where maybe this is not something that they want people to be able to do tomorrow, but its something they want people to be able to do a year or two from Now and theyre going to approach enforcement. From that perspective, it is important to remember that, if you, you know, have a group of people who are using the same currency, that there is a certain network effect that you want to achieve, so that its easy for them to trade amongst themselves. So i agree that the coercive elements of this, to whatever degree thats accurate, are incorrect or or shouldnt be praised, but um, you know a mechanism of some sort for getting people on board the system, so that everybody is is actually able to exchange with each other. From a purely practical, non ideological perspective does have to be acknowledged as something that you know might have some necessity, rather than whether or not its good yeah. I agree with that david. I i do see the practical, um implementation of that being a good thing. I think like where vitaliks coming from obviously hes come from it from the principled standpoint is coercion. You know and doesnt justify the means there, and you know a lot of people would say.
If bitcoin can stand on its own merits, then there should be no coercion needed uh. If this is something that a lot of people see value in then youll get those network effects youre already getting that in certain uh areas of the crypto community. Where you have good network effects, you dont need coercion and, honestly, i think that bitcoin maxies are doing themselves a disservice by holding to this uh coercion side of things saying that its okay, like bitcoin, could stand on its own two legs.