My Bank App is Better Than Bitcoin for Payments (And That’s Fine)

bank card

The cryptocurrencies are faster and cheaper narrative has fizzled out as banks have embraced digital payments in recent years, improving customer experience and usability. Sure, buying a beer with a QR-code may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it isn’t the problem Bitcoin solves. It is much more than that.


Banks Go Digital

An all-too-common narrative a few years back was that Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) would outcompete the likes of Visa and Mastercard with speed and cheaper transactions.

“Won’t somebody think of the merchants” was an often-repeated argument in 2014-215 because credit card companies typically charge around 3 percent service fee to process payments.

Fast forward a few years and merchants haven’t budged. Nor are they jumping on payment-focused coins either like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash etc. So why didn’t they stick it to Visa and switch to ‘crypto’?

Digital fiat payments have actually become not only more ubiquitous but also much easier and cheaper. Though the latter is partially due to costs being offset by selling customer info to advertisers (which is a topic for another article).

Banks have indeed upped their game as far as user-friendliness goes with mobile apps, contactless payments, in-app integration, you name it. In fact, it’s never been easier to part ways with your money than it is today.

contactless payment nfc pay to swipe card

My Bank Card Beats Your Favorite Coin

My card, given to me by my bank, is tied to an app on my phone so I can check my balance and track all my balance and transaction history. I was impressed when BTC wallets did this six years ago. But banks have caught up fast and are beating cryptocurrencies in this arena.

The card/app work seamlessly together enabling contactless payments in the store, on public transport, and pretty much anywhere Visa/Mastercard are accepted, which is literally everywhere.

Sure, discussing Bitcoin is fun and all. But sometimes I just want a quick coffee without proselytizing Bitcoin to a barista who obviously doesn’t care about censorship-resistance and decentralized consensus protocols.

I should also mention that my bank has excellent customer support. It knows who I am and will block anyone else from using my account with the press of a button on my smartphone. My bank will refund me any money lost due to fraud – which is very reassuring unlike that uneasy feeling of possibly sending BTC to the wrong address by mistake.

What’s more, I can send money instantly to my friends for absolutely zero fees. And why wouldn’t it be zero? My bank is using a good old database after all – not your blockchain that takes minutes to confirm.

In other words, big blocks, small blocks, medium-sized blocks – none of this can compete when it comes to the speed and efficiency of a centralized database for payments.

My bank app even has a QR-code option for in-person payments if I’m feeling extra Bitcoin-ish.

The Problem That Bitcoin Solves

Bitcoin, however, wasn’t meant to compete with Visa or Paypal. Digital payments were already gaining traction when Bitcoin spawned from the 2008 financial crisis.

Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.

– Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Whitepaper

Bitcoin was instead designed as an alternative to the central banking system that has historically abused the public’s trust. One hyperinflationary episode is all it takes and the money becomes worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

Bitcoin’s monetary policy, on the other hand, is completely transparent, its supply and inflation rate is known, and it’s the hardest form of money to ever exist. Yes, even more than gold because mathematical scarcity beats perceived scarcity. 

These attributes make it a money technology that has never existed before – and more importantly, removes the need to trust any intermediary.

In an article titled The Problem That Bitcoin solves, economist and The Bitcoin Standard author, Saifedean Ammous, explains:

[Paul Krugman] seems, mistakenly, to assume bitcoin is competing with consumer payment networks like Visa or PayPal….that is not what bitcoin is best suited for. Rather, bitcoin is an international settlement network, one that competes with the central bank settlement systems that are the foundation upon which networks like Visa or PayPal depend.

Therefore, the ‘payments for coffee on the blockchain’ narrative is dying because paying for stuff and accepting digital payments today isn’t a problem for people.

However, the public is also slowly realizing why Bitcoin isn’t going away. Particularly as publications like Time magazine release articles titled ‘Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom’ and places like Venezuela are demonstrating how Bitcoin is literally saving lives.

That’s not to say that payments aren’t important. This and other use-cases will be built as ‘apps’ harnessing the trustless Bitcoin blockchain (e.g. Lightning Network). But they’re secondary to what’s really at stake here in an increasingly authoritarian and cashless fiat system: financial sovereignty.

Do you agree that Bitcoin’s primary role is to preserve financial sovereignty? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post My Bank App is Better Than Bitcoin for Payments (And That’s Fine) appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Blockchain

Why Bitcoin? Patreon Pushed By Mastercard to Ban Accounts in ‘Terrible Precedent’

Mastercard Patreon

Crowdfunding platform Patreon is grappling with fiat currency centralization after MasterCard demanded it must block the account of a prominent US author and several others.


Spencer: Patreon ‘Axed’ Me

Citing an email from the company in August, Robert Spencer, who penned multiple books about countering Jihad and advised law enforcement agencies, said it had “axed” him and he could no longer put contributed funds to any use.

“I’ve been axed from Patreon, without explanation, warning or notice – no doubt as part of the ongoing efforts of the Left to deny all platforms to those who reject its agenda,” he wrote on Twitter. “To those who supported me there, thank you, and I’m sorry we couldn’t follow through on plans.”

Responding publicly, Patreon denied it had chosen to ban Spencer, alleging that “unfortunately Mastercard required” it to “remove” his account.

Patreon has since gained negative publicity for further bans, including last week’s move against podcast host Sam Harris.

A History Of Censorship

It remains unknown what had led to the decision, with commentators from both within and outside the cryptocurrency community immediately accusing the payment processor of censorship.

“Trusted third parties are security holes (a phrase coined by Bitcoin pioneer Nick Szabo). Escape through bitcoin,” one wrote, while a popular response to the Twitter thread accused Patreon of providing a “fairly lame excuse.”

“Your agreements clearly say nothing about Mastercard. So what gives?” it reads.

Are you saying that this 3rd Party has control over who you support and protect, and who you do not? Sounds like you’ve set a terrible precedent.

Patreon is far from the first company to fall foul of payment networks. As Bitcoinist reported, PayPal has regularly blocked or limited activities of Bitcoin businesses and users over the years.

In October, the practice continued, PayPal banning censorship-resistant social media platform Gab several months after US exchange Coinbase did the same. Coinbase also targeted WikiLeaks in April this year.

Crypto pundits have become visibly more irked by censorship policies this year, calling for mass boycotts of payment processors and other platforms such as Twitter in favor of politically-neutral open-source payments alternatives such as Bitcoin.

What do you think about Patreon blocking Robert Spencer? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterestock

The post Why Bitcoin? Patreon Pushed By Mastercard to Ban Accounts in ‘Terrible Precedent’ appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: Blockchain