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When we first decided to dive into the Bitcoin industry back in late 2013, the “industry” itself was very small, and it was still trying to find its identity. Was it a transaction network like VISA, or a cross-border settlement layer like SWIFT? Was it a commodity or asset class for speculators, or a store of value for investors? Asking or guidance for our business venture, should we approach the central bank or the SEC?
The answer to those questions, we soon learned, is no different from asking if the Internet is a communications channel, a publishing platform, or an information sharing network – it is all of those. We believe that Bitcoin transcends the limits of what we see as separate technologies today, for a future where all those financial applications or services mentioned above can seamlessly share a universal, interoperable, and openly accessible platform.
So, for the last three years, we built our business on this platform, the Bitcoin blockchain. We are not developing the technology itself, but building a commercial-use layer on top of it. As the flagship of our services, we have built, along with several other players in this specific use-case for Bitcoin, a network of cross-border remittance platforms that are able to seamlessly work together from all over the world without needing to use the existing inefficient and expensive intermediary services, which in turn allows migrant workers who send money home to their families to save a lot of time and money. It also enables B2B transactions for SMEs to enjoy the same benefits as well. We call this Rebittance.
The Bitcoin industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three years. In its current form, it has allowed many startups like us to flourish, and yes, we are still growing and expanding as we speak. Hell, we built our services when the price of Bitcoin was being flushed down the toilet and exchanges were getting hacked left and right. This never fazed us because we understood that these problems were the problems of third-party services and/or market forces, not Bitcoin technology itself. So what if exchanges get hacked? What if the price is tanking? As long as the technology was sound, we had nothing to worry about.
This is why we believe the rush to do a hard fork is irresponsible and selfish. We know it’s important for some to be able to buy their morning coffee with Bitcoin, but is it really as important as making sure that the technology does not suffer catastrophic consequences in the process of doing so? What is the rush? Right now, Bitcoin WORKS. And we know that it doesn’t just magically work – we understand that a dedicated team of hundreds of the smartest developers in the world are working day and night to make sure it works. The sheer amount of work required to just keep the status quo is quite staggering. The fact that personalities and politics are now becoming a threat to the existence of this technology means that maybe it is time to take a step back and look at where we are now as a technology and an industry, to where we want to be in the near future, as well as much further down the road.
Our stance on the Bitcoin hard fork is reflected by this blog post from the Bitgo team . It presents an objective and sober argument against a contentious hard fork, as well as offering solutions in the event of one happening, although we hope, along with many others like us who are working in the Bitcoin industry, that a contentious hard fork never happens.
After attending a talk by Andreas Antonopoulos a few days ago in Singapore, I learned a few things that really hit the nail on the head regarding this whole issue we are facing today: There has never been anything like Bitcoin in the history of technology. Everything we are experiencing today (did anyone ever think that one day, there would be a $20 Billion debate about “forks”?) is uncharted territory, and every decision we make will shape the future of this technology for good. It is an amazing experiment, one in which we are proud to participate and contribute, and one that believe will be one of the most important technological breakthroughs of our time, at par with the development of the internet itself, if we don’t allow it to implode due to egos and politics.
Bitcoin and Blockchain technology cannot be uninvented, but we should not smother the baby in its cradle, and yes, Bitcoin is still in its cradle today. As a potential disruptor of trillion-dollar industries, Bitcoin will be attacked from all directions from the outside, and being antifragile allows it to not just survive these attacks, but become stronger because of them. The only possible way to kill it would be from the inside, and it is in everybody’s best interest to avoid doing that.