On June 29th, 2017, I saw the Crypto light. It was a religious experience. It felt like I could see the future, a future in which Crypto was the biggest thing to happen in the history of humanity. I had the luxury of stopping everything else I was doing, and focusing 100% of my time on Crypto. I started feverishly writing about Crypto to better understand what was going on (e.g. Five More Thoughts on Crypto After Another Five Months Down The Rabbit Hole).
I’ve had countless conversations trying to help others understand Crypto. Yet only a tiny percentage of people I’ve tried to help, have ended up seeing the light. As a result, I’ve concluded that you can’t show people the Crypto light. Everyone has to see the light via their own path, through the unique prism through which they view life.
I appreciate it’s hard to see the Crypto light. I looked at Crypto for a year in 2013/2014. I looked hard enough that the WSJ wrote a story on Bitcoin calling me Wall Street’s Bitcoin expert. But I didn’t see the light. I didn’t do the work. I wasn’t curious enough. My mind wasn’t open enough.
Here are the 10 biggest reasons that people still struggle to see the Crypto light:
1. Crypto Is Still So Complicated
Crypto is the densest thing I’ve tried to understand. It’s brand new, so even the nomenclature used to describe Crypto isn’t fully formed. Decentralization is a new concept, let alone proof of work, proof of stake, or mining.
I address the complexity in two ways. The first way is how I got people to learn craps. When people say craps is too complex to learn, I ask them to look at the people at a craps table and ask them if they feel as smart as the average person around the table. Even though craps is complicated, all the people around the table figured it out. Craps isn’t rocket science. Neither is Crypto.
The second way I address the complexity is to tell people that while it’s hard work to learn about Crypto, the payoff is enormous.
2. People Don’t Like To Work/Study
To learn about Crypto, you have to read a lot. At first, you won’t understand much of what you read. So you have to work to understand the meaning of individual words or phrases. I’ve seen it accomplished in as little as 20 hours or so. I’ve seen others take closer to 200 hours. Either way, it’s a lot of work, and it turns out, most most people aren’t up for that.
3. Some People Are Too Successful To See The Light
Before I saw the light, I could see the world, but I was only seeing a partial view of the world. After I saw the Crypto light it felt like I’d been a horse with blinders on, and the new world I saw was something very different than what I had seen before. I’d had what’s called a Gestalt Shift.
In order to see the Crypto light, you have to be open to new ideas. You have to want to look to the right or left, even if looking straight ahead has paid off big time. Yet the more successful that people are, the less likely they are to change how they look at the world. The less likely they are to have an interest in looking left or right and seeing what’s there. Being successful makes it less likely you’ll see the Crypto light.
4. The Belief That Only Governments Issue Currency
It’s hard to get people to appreciate that they are better off believing in an algorithm, like the one that runs Bitcoin, than their own government. Even Wikipedia says “… .Currencies in this sense are defined by governments”.
Now government backed currency is certainly dominant today, trading about $5.1 trillion a day, or roughly 200X the $25 billion traded daily in digital currency. But digital currency is a thing, and will be increasingly accepted as a means of payment, regardless of what people think.
5. Most People Don’t Care
The most prevalent reason people don’t see the light is because they have no interest in it. In a recent poll, “There is no need, or they are disinterested” was the #1 reason people cited for not owning cryptocurrency.
6. Not Curious
It’s hard not to realize there’s something going on. Bitcoin is the fastest growing thing in the history of the world in terms of market cap. Bitcoin is worth over $150 billion, and another $300 billion in Crypto value has been created over the last few years. The only reason to not care about that, is simply because you’re not a curious person.
7. Crypto Is Too Volatile/Too Risky
People say that Crypto is too volatile or too risky for them to be interested in it. So were junk bonds when they first started trading. Other than Drexel Burnham, which invented junk bonds, every other investment bank at the time said junk bonds were garbage that they would never deal with. And they often pointed to volatility as a sign that junk bonds were to risky and would never be a thing. Over time, Crypto’s volatility has lessened, and will continue to do so. That’s what happens with new asset classes.
8. It’s A Scam
It doesn’t help that a lot of people still think of Silk Road when they think about Crypto. That concern is compounded by the fact that some of the most successful business people in the world continuously deride Crypto. Just a few days ago, Warren Buffet called Bitcoin “…rat poison squared”. But naysayers, like Dimon or Buffet has never done the work. People who follow Buffet don’t realize that he’s never said a cogent thing about Crypto. They don’t realize that people like Dimon might just be talking their own books. Interestingly, almost twice as many men as women think Crypto’s a scam.
9. Too Old
I recently met Ken Langone, the 82 year old financier of Home Depot. I asked him if he’d looked in to Bitcoin/Crypto. He laughed derisively, and said “I only invests in things I understand”. I said he wasn’t to old to learn. He shrugged me off as if I was trying to get him to join a cult, and maybe I was. Now I don’t know Ken Langone, but I assume he was a curious guy at some point in his life. But now he’s too old to care about learning a new trick
Now I’m pretty old (56), and I know many people older than me that have seen the Crypto light. But there is a high correlation with age and the disinterest in seeing the Crypto light.
10. The Crypto Light Is Still Pretty Dim
Even for people who are curious and do the work, it’s still hard to see the light, because it’s still dim. Most people have never knowingly interacted with the blockchain. Most have never even met someone who’s used Crypto as a currency. Most people have no context in which to begin to place Crypto.
But the Crypto light is getting brighter every day. Every day, more people see the light. Every day more people are leaving their jobs at McKinsey and Goldman and going all in on Crypto. Everyday, the Crypto community is building and improving Crypto related tech.
Even though this list above can seem pretty dire, I’m confident that the Crypto light will continue to get brighter, and at some point, like the sun in the sky, it will be clearly visible for all to see.
Until then, we’ll continue to build the industry brick by brick. We’ll continue to educate those that haven’t seen the Crypto light. We’ll continue to take the derision of highly respected people who haven’t done thee work. We’ll continue to innovate. And most importantly, we’ll continue to leverage Crypto to make the world a better place for billions of people less fortunate than us.
Everything else will take care of itself.