Bitcoin Q&A: Does monetary policy determine currency competition?


[AUDIENCE] I was wondering… you envision a future
where there will be many different currencies… competing within each other, trying to
target a specific need or market segment. As cryptocurrencies, they will still have some sort
of monetary policy built into the protocol, right? [What will be] the link between monetary policy
of these protocols and the needs of the people? [ANDREAS] That is a really interesting question.
I think the monetary policy is one of those traits… that is focused on the environment in
which a currency or token competes. I’ll take a slight [detour] on this, because a lot of people
ask me if Ethereum competes against Bitcoin. I think they do not [compete]. Each one has traits
that are focused on very specific [goals]. Bitcoin has a monetary policy “trait” that makes it more
suited towards the niche of a reserve global currency… and point of reference for medium-of-exchange. Obviously, Ethereum is much more focused on
maintaining state in order to enable smart contracts. They are differences such as those
between a shark [versus a human]. A shark has skin that allows it to glide through the water,
while humans have feet that allow us to walk upright. Do we compete against sharks? Well, if I go into
the ocean, I might try to compete against a shark, but I will lose; in contrast, if I took a shark into
a boxing ring on land, I would win. [Laughter] Our domains are entirely separate. The traits that make us successful predators
among other species within one environment… will automatically select us out of other environments. There are no universally successful species.
Species are specialists. Monetary policy is one of the critical characteristics
that determine where currency fits within a [market]. It is what defines Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a brand that is
fundamentally about decentralized, limited issuance. If it is not limited to 21 million coins, it is not Bitcoin.
You can say that is part of its birth certificate. Many of the other [features] can change, but not that. Ethereum is about smart contracts. Many
other [features] can also change about it, including the monetary policy,
but not the smart contracts. Yes, I think [we should] look at monetary
policy as an important characteristic. We should also look at the degree of decentralization, the flexibility versus the security and
conservatism of the scripting language. That is how we decide where
[a given cryptocurrency fits]. However, where you think it fits isn’t
necessarily where it will actually fit. No matter what you do as someone involved in
this space, you don’t [constrain] its potential evolution. It is moving [along], society is moving [along] at the
same time, and everything is changing around it. It will fit where it fits. We have yet to
discover exactly where that will be. Part of the big debate we are having [with]
Bitcoin [and Ethereum] is about [where they] fit. You can express an opinion [about] that, but you
cannot direct them in a predictable fashion.

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