Who Really Controls the World?

After the hype, reality sets in for cryptocurrency...

Posted December 13, 2021

Dear Outsider,

Never forget that your data runs the world and Big Tech profits from it.

But what if you owned your data and could choose whether or not to sell it to Big Tech?

An internet that verifies our actions, interactions, and purchases, and pays us to use it.

A place where we can securely and confidently vote with our phones.

That’s what I heard last week when six top crypto company CEOs testified before Congress.

The hearing stems from a report by the President’s Working Group, a Treasury Department-led team that ensures the integrity and competitiveness of U.S. financial markets.

The group called on Congress to regulate the issuers of “stablecoins,” a type of cryptocurrency pegged to fiat currency.

For example, you can buy one U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC) — a popular stablecoin — and its value stays stable at $1. Coinbase offers users 0.15% interest for holding USDC, while other platforms pay up to 14%, a much better rate than you’d get at any bank.

That’s why the market cap of stablecoins has risen to $127 billion this year, making regulators nervous.

The problem is stablecoins aren’t FDIC-insured, which is why the report urged Congress to require stablecoins to be issued only by firms that have their deposits insured.

It turns out that USDC and Pax Dollar (USDP) — another popular stablecoin — are 100% backed by cash reserves and U.S. Treasuries.

The hearing comes at a critical time for digital assets, as the crypto market cap stands at more than $3 trillion and the use cases of crypto remain unclear to most people.

The common argument against crypto is that you can’t take Bitcoin to the store and buy a loaf of bread with it.

Well, that was true until May 2019, when the Facebook-infamous Winklevoss twins took their digital currency company Gemini and partnered with payments startup Flexa. You can now pay for products at places like Whole Foods and Home Depot using digital currency through Flexa, which then instantly converts it to U.S. dollars — a win-win for crypto users and traditional brick-and-mortar stores. You can also buy products at Newegg outright with Bitcoin.

But retail is small potatoes compared with what Coinbase CFO Alesia Jeanne Haas testified. She hinted at what we’ve all been waiting to hear... that crypto finally has a purpose:

Nearly 50% of our transacting customers are doing something other than buying and selling crypto, which indicates to us that crypto is moving beyond its initial investment phase into the long-expected utility phase.

That utility phase is Web 3.0, a term tossed around the hearing last week.

And it just might be right around the corner.

Web 3.0 represents a seismic shift for the internet. This new iteration combines payments systems, cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and government regulation with the promise of giving users ownership rights to their data.

Those who are prepared for the revolution stand to make a fortune...

The New Web

Launched in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web enabled us to access, store, and send information between computers.

The internet is now categorized into two periods: Web 1.0 (1990 to 2004) and Web 2.0 (2004 to present).

Web 1.0 is what we remember fondly as the Wild West era, when users only consumed and downloaded content.

Then we moved on to Web 2.0, which refers to what we have today, where users not only consume content but create and share it. It's in this current stage where users create millions of data points each day that are swept up by Big Tech for a hefty profit.

Now we're about to see Web 3.0, a decentralized internet that runs on the blockchain, where users own their own data, effectively cutting out the Big Tech middlemen, including Google (the company that "forgot" to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day last week), Amazon (the company being sued for noncompetitive marketplace practices), and Facebook (the company that destroyed the mental health of a generation).

In the new web, users will accrue crypto “tokens” for participating within specific communities. Remember, we’re all already participating in the internet; it’s just that Big Tech controls it.

But in a decentralized internet, there wouldn’t be one overlord or group of tech companies controlling the data. This wouldn’t necessarily put the tech giants out of business, but it would dramatically shrink the amount of power and control they have.

Bitfury CEO Brian Brooks made it very clear that “what happens on the decentralized internet is decided by the investors, versus what happens on the main internet is decided by Twitter, Facebook, Google, and a small number of other companies.” Decentralization adds a layer of transparency because millions of users verify information on the blockchain.

Much like owning shares of a company allows you to vote in shareholder meetings, in a tokenized internet, you’d be in control of community decisions and tokens could be used to vote within the community.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the blockchain utilized for all types of voting in the very near future right from our phones, no Russian collusion in sight.

Just the Beginning

This was one of the most important hearings in history, as the world was finally able to see the scope and reach of the crypto universe.

Coinbase alone serves more than 73 million customers globally, including 10,000 institutions and 185,000 application developers.

This technology is extremely appealing to the poor and underrepresented in this country and the world. As COVID has made the rich richer and the poor poorer, crypto provides an opportunity to the less fortunate.

In his opening statement, FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried touted the power of crypto to equitably democratize finance:

The global financial ecosystem is not one where sending assets to those who are important to you is easy to do. And this hits the people who are least off the hardest, who have the least access to the financial ecosystem as it exists today. When you look at the number of people who are underbanked or unbanked, both in the United States and globally, it’s indicative of a system that does not work for everyone.

Crypto advocates argue against excessive regulation, and Congressman Patrick McHenry noted that in many ways the industry is already regulated and further scrutiny could drive markets overseas. Ironically, regulation is the lynchpin in an overall digital asset risk-management strategy.

If this all sounds like French to you, not to worry. No one could have imagined what the internet would turn into when it was first invented either.

And regardless of what happens to the value of digital assets, one thing remains certain: We’re gonna need a ton of computing power to usher in Web 3.0.

That's why we're looking at a backdoor way to play the coming internet revolution.

So instead of gambling on the next big cryptocurrency, check out this pick-and-shovel play on the entire digital asset industry.

Buckle up — this is going to be a wild ride.

To your wealth,

Alexander Boulden
Editor, Outsider Club

After Alex’s passion for economics and investing drew him to one of the largest financial publishers in the world, where he rubbed elbows with former Chicago Board Options Exchange floor traders, Wall Street hedge fund managers, and International Monetary Fund analysts, he decided to take up the pen and guide others through this new age of investing. Check out his editor's page here.

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