3 Lessons From The Oslo Freedom Forum: 14 Zeroes – Bartolomeo, Nur Khalil, Stark

It’s time to visit Oslo one more time. Bitcoinist keeps mining The Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum for the content all those other bitcoin sites are not interested in. We are talking about real life here, and we already went to the well a few times – one, two, three, four, five – and came out with gem after gem. All credit goes to Alex Gladstein, who took the time to cut and post these phenomenal one-minute clips.

This time, a Venezuelan tells us about hyperinflation, a Nigerian paints a picture of our hyperbitconized future, and an American pitches the US dollar on the Lightning Network as a worldwide necessity.

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Oslo FF: Mauricio di Bartolomeo On What Hyperinflation Does

The Ledn Co-founder, Mauricio di Bartolomeo, is Venezuelan. He lived and breathed hyperinflation, and describes it in unimaginable numbers. 

“You mentioned money, money collapsing. And to a lot of people that this abstract idea. What does that feel like? What does that look like? Who does that impact? And going back to Venezuela. So just to give people context. In my lifetime, the Venezuelan government has wiped out 14 zeroes from the currency. That is the number of zeros in a trillion. And so one bolívar today is a trillion bolivars 20 years ago. And that’s how much it has inflated.”

How does that affect the average person, though? Di Bartolomeo describes the circumstances to the Oslo Freedom Forum by using day-to-day situations that seem too far-fetched for citizens of the so-called first world. 

“You need more and more cash to do the exact same transaction. A couple of weird things start happening. So one, Venezuela is very much a cash society. A lot of places, especially in small towns, do not even have the means to accept a debit card. So, most transactions have to be carried out in cash. Cash that is not available because when it hyperinflates, when you are buying this glass of water with 1 Bolívar, now it’s costing you 500 bolívares, and you have to find the number of bills needed to buy this thing.

And so, everybody starts hoarding cash for the smallest things. Your ATM withdrawal limit goes from $100 to $1, and so you find yourself withdrawing five times to buy a can of coke or to buy whatever. And the people in these remote villages, they don’t even have the means to sell or they cannot because they cannot take digital payments.”

Of course, the 1% is not only immune to inflation, they actually benefit from it. How do they do it? Here’s an example: 

“And the pricing is literally something that changes every day or even every hour at times at peak hyperinflation. And this is just an immense suffering for the lower and middle classes. The wealthy during hyperinflation can borrow, they can borrow bolivares from the government and then buy a condo in Miami, and then pay back the loan. That was worth nothing. They have those sort of means, as does the 1% everywhere in the world. It’s everybody else that sort of gets screwed in this scenario.”

Oslo FF: Abubakar Nur Khalil On Our Bitcoinized Future

Another BTrust board member appears. Abubakar Nur Khalil is the CEO of Recursive Capital, he uses his Nigerian roots to explain exactly how bitcoin is a powerful tool for so-called third-world countries.

“It’s all about building the bridges that we’re talking about. And the thing is, with Bitcoin, it already has a lot of these things solved really on day one. So, you have an opt in financial freedom tool, which is incredible for individuals that are under intense governments whether they are authoritarians or just in terms of currency controls that are harsh.

So, to give you an example. In Nigeria, if you’re trying to even dollarize and get a domiciliary account what ends up happening is, even via the app, you can’t actually send any money out. And as well as having limits on cards and stuff like that.” 

From this perspective, Nur Khalil explains to The Oslo Freedom Forum why bitcoin will win the currency wars.

“So, what happens is individuals have started flocking to Bitcoin because they realized Bitcoin is the only way that they don’t get discriminated on, they don’t get restrictions that aren’t necessary. So, I think the future is definitely going to be Bitconized as opposed to dollarized. Where individuals are not only saving in Bitcoin, but they’re also using Bitcoin remittance as well as local trade.”

Oslo FF: Elizabeth Stark on Taro

The Lightning Labs CEO and Co-founder, Elizabeth Stark, uses her time to plug her company’s new proposal: Taro

“If anybody, much like they can get access to the Internet, access to information, could access fiat currencies and dollars using the Bitcoin network. That’s what we’re working on as a community now. So, my company, Lightning Labs, recently proposed a technology and protocol called Taro.”

Are we working on that as a community? Or is Lightning Labs just pushing its agenda? To be able to answer that properly, let’s let Stark finish her pitch.

“So, Taro is a new protocol we propose to enable people to issue assets on top of both Bitcoin and Lightning. And what that means is anybody can then issue, say, a dollar. You’ve got a dollar, you know, in a bank account. You might be one of these institutions in the U.S., and people might issue euros, pesos, kroner, etc., and then people can transact can send, and receive like they would with Bitcoin.”

That sounds too good to be true so far. What’s the catch? As the Oslo Freedom Forum would learn, a big stinking one. 

“Now, as Lyn mentioned, there are going to be different trade-offs. This is going to be a more regulated approach, but it also provides far greater access. And what this means is anybody globally that wants to transact using Bitcoin can now send fiat currency over Bitcoin using both Bitcoin, the monetary network. And then also the way that it works on the Lightning Network is you’re transacting from dollar to Bitcoin back to dollar. 

So, now you’re using Bitcoin as this monetary glue, really a central clearing point for all the words world’s currencies to transact through it. Globally now, anybody with access to a mobile phone can access something like the US dollar using Bitcoin as its rails, which is incredibly powerful for financial access.”

She took a page from Jack Mallers book there at the end, but that’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with using bitcoin as rails for bitcoin. Now, to use bitcoin as rails for lesser coins like the US dollar, that’s another story. This is not the place to tell it or discuss the case, though. Our Oslo Freedom Forum coverage is about presenting ideas, we’ll leave the discussions to everyone reading these lines. 

Featured Image: Abubakar Nur Khalil, screenshot from this video  | Charts by TradingView

Oslo Freedom Forum, Hong Fang screenshot

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