Meltem Demirors and Jill Carlson Pose Tough Questions at SF Blockchain Week
Questioning the assumed role of bitcoin – that’s one area few would want to explore, especially in a room filled with blockchain enthusiasts.
This is exactly what Meltem Demirors and Jill Carlson did at the San Francisco Blockchain Week as featured attendees of the event.
Meltem Demirors, the Chief Strategy Officer at CoinShares Capital and Jill Carlson, the Founder of Open Money Initiative have become household names in the blockchain circle because of their insightful podcast, What Grinds My Gears – a podcast about the bizarre and buzzworthy happenings in the world of cryptocurrency.
At the main stage of the event, the two women discussed whether bitcoin, rather than providing an alternative to the traditional financial system, as it was touted to do, is in fact heading in the same direction.
The two pointed out that bitcoin was originally created after the failure of the banking system in October 2008. The whole purpose was to decentralize currency and eliminate the middleman. However, when someone else holds a person’s bitcoins, that person fulfils part of the primary function of a bank. And this behaviour seems to conflict with the original ethos on which bitcoin was built.
Carlson said, “Most people in crypto are totally comfortable putting their assets in what are basically banks.” Expressing her disappointment, Carlson added, “I got into this space because I was excited that we could build this whole alternative to the existing financial ecosystem. In reality, what we’ve created resembles the old system, only with fewer risk metrics and models, with fewer controls around it.”
Further delving into whether bitcoins uphold the lure of transparency, Carlson expressed her disillusionment. “Don’t tell me that just because something is happening on-chain makes it transparent to the average retail trader, consumer, etc,” she said. “The average person does not have the ability to go in and conduct the chainalysis that’s necessary to understand what’s going on in the system any more than they could understand JP Morgan’s balance sheet.”
The two also mentioned that just like a big Wall Street institution, some crypto platform and exchanges have become too big to fail. At the end of their talk, Carlson said, “To me, a lot of this conversation, though, is a more existential question of just, ‘Do people actually want to be their own banks and in what context do they?’”
The questions the two women raised do indeed raise a valid point many have begun to digress from.