You Won’t Understand Crypto Until You Stop Thinking Like An American

May 20, 2019
Devin Milford


You Won’t Understand Crypto Until You Stop Thinking Like An American

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in general remain largely misunderstood by people in the major Western industrial powers, suggests a new study put out this morning by Consensys Media in New York.

This illustrates what I’ve said for years about cryptocurrency. Its greatest appeal is outside the West and/or in the Third World.

Findings in the study, relying on search engine results for major crypto terms like “Bitcoin,” “blockchain,” “ethereum” and “cryptocurrency” show varying levels of dominance by “Bitcoin” in the Western powers but the highest dominance by “blockchain” in South Korea. This suggests a wider familiarity with the technology’s potential beyond its uses as a store of value or medium of exchange, and certainly beyond bitcoin itself.

On the other end of the results spectrum, also notable is the highest dominance for “bitcoin” in some poorer but yet formidable economic powers (e.g., Brazil), whose populations generally are lesser educated but whose society lacks trustable institutions. The common denominator in those regions? It’s where you have the fewest or least-influential voluntarily-trusted institutions. These are also the areas where the “state” and official institutions may be dominant, either legally (through government power) or culturally. But that is not the same as being “trusted” institutions. People in those regions may understand (without necessarily expressing it) the major difference between “trust” and “compulsion” (the latter being in the same Merkle tree as force).

The findings hint at enormous potential for mass adoption in non-Western countries that might not be present in the major Western powers such as the United States or even the United Kingdom, whose populations are most apt to “trust” major political, financial and cultural institutions and believe they are unlikely to suffer adverse consequences. (But see contrary indicators: major Western banks implicated in money laundering; the hacked Cryptopia exchange in New Zealand.)

So, if you’re in the Western world, and you don’t understand the potential of blockchain and crypto, maybe the problem is Westerners thinking that the rest of the world thinks like Westerners.

The story is worth a strong look.