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Bitcoin: Who Uses It?

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More and more, we hear of content creators across the spectrum of politics, both left, right, and center being deplatformed or having their work censored or banned because of views that go against those of the platform they are hosted on.

Two prominent voices, Abby Martin and Tim Pool, have begun accepting Bitcoin via their websites and channels as monetization becomes harder and harder for content creators on YouTube. Bitcoin has become a refuge for content creators who want to get around the new wall of censorship slowing going up across the Internet.

It's here that we find actual use cases for Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies. It's well and good to hope that the corner store in your neighborhood will accept Bitcoin or that you will be able to buy your favorite latte with Bitcoin, but Bitcoin is already being used around the world, in its intended purpose of sending money peer-to-peer without a trusted third party.

Recently, I attended Bitcoin 2019 in San Francisco, CA. One of the keynote speakers was Edward Snowden, and it was in his speech that he revealed that the equipment he used to send the information to the press was purchased with Bitcoin.

Who else uses Bitcoin?

For the dissident working under a brutal regime, who needs to receive funds or send funds as well as banks are controlled by the government. Bitcoin is the answer. Is Bitcoin the answer to all their or our problems? Of course not. But what Bitcoin does is create a means for people to move funds across borders only needing a computer or smartphone and the Internet.

For example,

The 'Free Joseon' movement in North Korea raised over 64 million Won (Roughly USD 54,912.00) over the last year - in Bitcoin, selling virtual visas' to the country that they hope will arise after defeating the North Korean Regime.

Julian Assange, Founder of Wikileaks, has been a proponent of Bitcoin since the early days of Wikileaks. When VISA and PayPal stopped supporters from sending funds to Wikileaks, those supporters turned to Bitcoin. Even after his arrest, Wikileaks has received over 22 million in Bitcoin donations. In total, the Bitcoin address posted on the Wikileaks website current sits at USD 71,808.95 according to Blockchain.com's block explorer.

And of course, there is The Silk Road. A dark web marketplace where a person could buy almost anything (and yes, some things were not allowed) and purchases were made in Bitcoin. The U.S. Justice Department sold over 144,000 Bitcoin which it seized, which at the time netted around 48 million dollars.

So there is proof that Bitcoin can be used for commerce as well as for activism and to support whistleblowers and journalist who are not able to use traditional means to fund their activities. As development expands, we are going to see other methods of sending Bitcoin that would allow people to do so without needing a traditional internet service.

Projects like Cointext, CashApp, Dash Text, and others allow users to send Cryptocurrency via SMS messages. So when we consider around 91% of the U.S. population alone have access to a cellphone, this may be the path to everyday usage and adoption.

But it's not just a journalist, revolutionary or dark web shopper who can use Bitcoin. Everyone, all of us, should use Bitcoin if nothing else, because it allows us to buy products or send money to family members in other countries without "Big Brother" watching and deciding whether or not we can send money. Not because we have any "bad intentions", but because we want to, and because we don't want a third party looking over our shoulders.

In the end, the issue with Bitcoin adoption may have more to do with the willingness to take a chance and less to do with the volatility and lousy press put out by the media regarding Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency.

We will have to see.

Jeff John Roberts. 2017. "The Feds Just Collected $48 Million from Seized Bitcoins." Fortune. Fortune. October 2, 2017. https://fortune.com/2017/10/02/bitcoin-sale-silk-road/.

‌Sawers, Paul. 2017. "5 Billion People Now Have a Mobile Phone Connection, According to GSMA Data." VentureBeat. VentureBeat. June 13, 2017. https://venturebeat.com/2017/06/13/5-billion-people-now-have-a-mobile-phone-connection-according-to-gsma-data/.

‌"CoinText – Send Cryptocurrency to Phone Numbers or Wallets Using SMS." 2019. Cointext.Io. 2019. https://cointext.io/en/.

‌Mix. 2019. "Wikileaks' Bitcoin Donations Spike Following Julian Assange's Arrest." Hard Fork | The Next Web. The Next Web. April 11, 2019. https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2019/04/11/julian-assange-bitcoin-wikileaks/.

"North Korean Dissidents Sell Ethereum-Based Post-Liberation Visas." 2019. Yahoo.Com. March 20, 2019. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/north-korean-dissidents-sell-ethereum-230000266.html. 

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