Is Crypto A World’s Greatest Scam?

I stumbled upon this video that someone who would want to learn more about crypto asked if this critique have its legs on ground, because when you do not follow the space closely, it is easy to convey one side and push it in the direction that is convenient to prove the (wrong) point.

Another reason why I took closer attention to it is because of the comment of another famous tech youtuber Marques Brownlee’s comment which says: “Best video of 2023, pack it up.”

Here is the almost full hour video if you want to watch it:

People used Ethereum to make their own cryptocurrencies

A unique insight in this video for me (although obvious, but not really when you think about it) was that Ethereum cryptocurrency is a more advanced bitcoin, and how people started using Ethereum to make their own cryptocurrency.

This is true statement, but the context is missing.

It was not the goal of the people who were creating these new cryptocurrencies on Ethereum to create their own cryptocurrency. They could do that before, there were cryptocurrencies before Ether. It was not even simpler or cheaper to create a cryptocurrency on Ethereum.

Here is how creating crypto on Ethereum works. First you have to choose which standard to use. For example, in 2017, the ERC-20 standard was the most popular. Those standards are sets of codes for smart contract which is telling him what cryptocurrency can do, and characteristics of it (number of decimals, amount, name and so on).

At the end of 2017, Ethereum approved the ERC-223 standard, which is better than ERC-20 for reasons of solving some potential discomforts and is much more efficient because it spends much less (gas fees) per transaction. NFTs for example are using the standard ERC-721.

Transactions cost, and automated transactions (which are following the execution of a smart contract) cost many times more than transaction which can me and you make while sending.

This is where Ethereum revolutionized programmable cryptocurrencies. By the way, that was also Satoshi’s goal, not just Bitcoin as virtual money, but programmable money. Proof of this is the poker application he put into the first version of Bitcoin, which was removed (not by Satoshi) through several later iterations by bitcoin programmers.

So what did people want to do on Ethereum? Decentralized applications. With their own cryptocurrency. Think of this like a slot machine. It’s a program, you insert a coin, and then some process starts automatically. The trick with decentralized applications is that if someone were to come and put a gun to your head and say turn it off, only thing left for you to say is “I can’t. I want to turn it off but I can’t.” That is how you know it is decentralized.

Ok… it’s simpler on Ethereum, but also more expensive than having your own blockchain – which is relatively easy btw, Bitcoin and Ethereum are open source, you can copy paste, change a few things and you have your own blockchain, with your own cryptocurrency!

However, safety is the key. Security comes from the amount of decentralization. And it costs to get a highly decentralized blockchain. By creating something on Ethereum, you automatically have Ethereum’s level of decentralization.

People are buying cryptocurrencies to become rich

The negative comment goes in the direction of people buying cryptocurrencies to make money. Nothing out of the ordinary, they saw that they could make money and got into action. This developed into a mania, which is what always happens when something revolutionary comes along. There was railroad mania, car mania, dot com boom.

Smart contracts can’t work like ordinary contracts without the judge (court)

In the video guy says that a smart contract cannot replace a legal contract because it needs a third party authority (the court) to determine its validity with the help of evidence.

This is a fundamental failure because it is not about putting a contract that is notarized, written by a lawyer on the blockchain. It is automation with an element of decentralization. This has nothing to do with “contracts.”

Now, of course, somewhere decentralization is useful more, somewhere less, somewhere at all, it’s even better (cheaper, more efficient) if this automatization is NOT on a blockchain. This will continue being the case for a while, but the time will come when it won’t matter. But, decentralization is absolutely necessary somewhere, and that in itself opens up some entirely new possibilities that could not be implemented before.

Cryptocurrencies doesn’t prove any ownership

He says that when it comes to proving ownership, literally everything can be done on the blockchain, so it’s pointless.

This is like someone saying that anyone can issue a diploma, so the diploma is pointless. Or that anyone can hand out a medal, award, declare the person of the year, so that’s pointless. Well, it is not pointless if you get a degree from Harvard or win the Wimbledon trophy.

He alluded to NFTs, but the fact is that for the first time ever, a digital thing can have an owner which is easily provable and usable. Just imagine being able to sell some software that you bought but you don’t need anymore. Or when you make an illustration to be immediately provable that it is de facto your illustration. Or you buy/earn some items in the game, and then you can sell them in an elegant way.

I wrote detailed guide about NFTs, where I explained in more details this in a part “But how NFT represents something?”

Cryptocurrencies have no use case

This is stupid, because you can send and receive any cryptocurrency, and that’s already a use case in itself.

Now what he probably meant was that crypto projects raised money through initial coin offerings, without having developed use case because it was not working what was described it will in the future be able to. Or, it’s been a few years and they’re still not being used for what they were “designed for.” Yes, some cryptocurrencies did not have intended use case before they ico-ed, but that TODAY there is not single crypto that can do what was promised to do is simply not true. There are actually lot of them, but the usage is so small that it is not reflected in the price due to the usage of the coin itself.

I already mentioned earlier that decentralization is not important for every use case. However, something else should be taken into account here, and that is whether it is a use case because it is legitimately needed, or whether they are creating a gatekeeper unnecessarily by making the coin necessary.

Who are the gatekeepers? These are doormen and guards, you cannot enter anywhere without their permission. Or they can be bureaucrats, lawyers, etc. without whose help you cannot do something that you could actually do, but you have to go to them and collaborate with them. This is of course a serious problem of tokenomics because it puts a friction on already complicated thing from the aspect of adoption.

Everything is centralized when it comes to cryptocurrencies

He put a guy at the end who is saying that there is centralization of exchanges, centralization of miners, centralization of wealth… which tells me that he doesn’t understand the point of decentralization at all. Just like many people ask me: how is it decentralized when the price drops 80% and more? I answer that price is not what is decentralized.

The fact is that bitcoin is decentralized, but everything around it is centralized. For example regulations are coming by which you have to identify yourself when you buy and sell bitcoin. You are doing that trade again on a centralized exchange. Let’s say now that you want to buy something with that bitcoin you have, that shop is on some server.

All this is not a problem for bitcoin except for the centralization of the miners, because it is the amount of decentralization that provides security to the bitcoin network. The rest is not a problem, because that is exactly the point of cryptocurrency as a protocol.

Because cryptocurrencies are networks, where those coins travel from one end to the other end of the network. It is very important that the protocol on which the applications are built is decentralized. This is where we come to the differences in cryptocurrency design, whether they are designed to function as a protocol layer or an application layer, but we will not go into that depth now.

So the point is that the protocol, that lifeblood of the ecosystem, should be uncompromised and that no one needs to monitor it or guard to ensure that everything is always clean. There is a famous crypto slogan: Rules without the rulers.

Cryptocurrencies will not have mass adoption

This is what his narrative was right before the end of the video. He is sceptical whether cryptocurrencies will find mass adoption. What is enough for mass adoption to him I ask myself. Is the fact that there are 100 million accounts on the crypto exchanges enough to be massive? Or that the largest decentralized blockchain data storage platform has 500 pib of space, which is 10-15 percent of Amazon’s commercial cloud system, which is the most powerful in the world? Or that the busiest blockchain averages about 3,000 transactions every second?

And no, this isn’t “cryptocurrencies doesn’t matter, blockchain technology is what matters and where breakthrough is.” Cryptocurrencies are also essential for the ecosystem to function. Not only because of the reward system, that can really be solved with fiat money or government currencies, although less effectively because we cannot program fiat currencies. It is because of governance. If it was only for a payment it would be a waste. Remember, programmable money, ding ding ding?

Cryptosphere coined the term DAO which is an acronym for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. These are people, so it’s not rules without the rulers. However, people should lead the development of the project and make decisions, nothing is static forever. Communities have already begun to spring up that function like this, if you want to enter you need a certain number of a certain cryptocurrency, and then through commitment or defiance you get new or lose existing crypto-currencies.

Finally, I am asking him and anyone else who thinks cryptocurrencies are a scam: How was any of this a scam? Because if it is proven that that it is a fraud in court, he will get money back and also earn interest on late payment. Unless the creators of the scam have skillfully hidden the wealth. Here we have the recent example of Sam Backman being prosecuted, and a bunch of others.

Crypto is no different from other markets. The human psychology is the same, there are fraudsters everywhere. And again, everyone is responsible for their actions, no one is forcing anyone to give money for anything. A crypto project fails, you knew there was a risk it wouldn’t work. The exchange was hacked or failed, again, you knew there was a risk. Even if you didn’t know, that doesn’t mean there’s no risk. Everyone would like all the upside without any downside, but that doesn’t exist in any market.

So to say it’s a scam because it’s high risk or because people like to speculate is absolute nonsense. Those who don’t want to speculate won’t speculate. Cryptocurrencies can be approached soberly with feet on the ground, you “just” need to know how. Such knowledge was always reserved for the already rich. In the USA you have to be already rich to be able to invest in a startup or a Venture Capital fund that invests in startups, by law. You need to meet the requirements to be an accredited investor.

ICOs are selling securities because cryptocurrencies are securities

In the video, the claim that the crypto tokens are securities, which are not sold as such, but they were and still are securities. In that case it would be a scam. But this is not the case. For some cryptocurrencies, the FCC immediately said that they are not security, and dozens were subpoenaed that they were, and the vast majority fell in court, the court said that they are not security. There is a Howey test which court used, which is used to determine whether something is security or not, and the FCC has given guidelines on the website specifically for cryptocurrencies. If they violate many of their descriptions, then they are probably security, but the FCC itself fences itself in says that only the court is competent to say whether something is security or not.

All this described is exactly why cryptocurrencies democratize VC-like investment opportunities, because for the first time in a long time, the common man has the opportunity to invest early under the same conditions and circumstances as by the tradition, privileged elite.

Conclusion

Why would he make such video? Why now? I think I know why, and that is a pretty selfish reason.

It is due to psychology of the masses. We are in one of many market cycles, and now people are pessimistic, and open to pessimistic views. Now whatever crypto news you open it is all doom, everything is failing. If someone would release something optimistic, it would just fly by unnoticed. Simply because now we are in depressive phase of despair. I am pretty sure this is the main reason why this guy released now this video.

About the author

Robert Bartus

Robert has a marketing background, he worked as internet marketing growth hacker. He bought first "altcoin" in the mid of 2014. From 2017 he worked for 2 crypto exchanges and dozen various crypto companies as advisor and community manager which gave him valuable insights about the crypto industry.

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