The ₿ Word was the much-anticipated Bitcoin virtual conference that tackled some of the most pressing issues in relation to the 12-year-old digital currency. The B Word, as an organization, was created to correct the mainstream narratives surrounding Bitcoin while providing insights from some of its most influential supporters.
The virtual conference brought to light many of the problems that have slowed Bitcoin’s growth, while still offering incredibly bullish sentiment for BTC and cryptocurrencies in general. The conference was divided into six categories that offered a comprehensive view of where Bitcoin is now, and how it can bridge the divide to mainstream adoption from more major institutions and growing numbers of individual investors.
The first track of the conference was centered around providing a rebuttal to the FUD and negative talking points shared by some governments and media outlets. The panelists provided hot takes and took turns debunking some of the exaggerated claims, including a greatest hits list of energy inefficiency, criminal activity, scalability problem, ownership concentration and fear of replacement from the hottest new crypto.
The panelists did an excellent job of acknowledging Bitcoin’s shortcomings in these areas while explaining that these issues are, for the most part, overblown and entirely solvable. Bitcoin is becoming more sustainable as it moves away from coal-intensive Chinese mining, criminal activity is entirely traceable on the network, layer-2 scaling solutions provide incredible upgrades to Bitcoin’s capabilities and throughput, Bitcoin whales don’t have as large a significance as we thought, and Bitcoin is unlikely to be replaced even by Ethereum soon.
The B Word had no shortage of high-profile speakers. The Twitter and crypto communities have been eagerly awaiting a meeting of the minds of tech moguls Musk and Dorsey.
Elon opened his side of the conversation with a realistic view of where Bitcoin lies now. It’s confronting its long-known scalability problem with layer-2 solutions like the Lightning network that he believes can create a “vast” improvement in transaction speeds and throughput. However, it still faces the challenges of transferring to renewable energy sources. Elon is holding strong to his claim that he will reallow Bitcoin payments to Tesla once at least 50% of mining uses renewable energy sources.
Elon did disclose that he personally holds Bitcoin along with ETH and, of course, DOGE. “I might pump, but I don’t dump,” he said laughingly. He also commented on several ideas that could potentially improve the network or at least begin a conversation. He named ideas like space heaters as Bitcoin mining nodes, providing faster internet to more people (in part thanks to Starlink) and decreasing hardware requirements for nodes. He named the best candidates for renewable energy sources as hydro, geothermal and nuclear.
During the panel, Elon also expressed some government distrust as “government is the largest corporation” that has a “monopoly on violence.” He warned that individual crypto investors would do well to keep their own wallet keys, echoing a not your keys, not your coins mentality. He encouraged Bitcoin to continue its journey of providing empowerment to more people to truly own their finances, and avoid government crypto seizures or other potential hazards by using hardware wallets.
Twitter and Square founder, Jack Dorsey had just as much to say about empowering normal people with Bitcoin. He views the digital asset as a continuance of the mission he started with Square – creating a less predatory financial system. He claimed that the Bitcoin developer team inspired him and reminded him of the “early days of the internet.” He believes that Bitcoin provides a much-needed “native currency of the internet” as it reaches web 3.0 capabilities. He also believes it solves huge problems like remittances, which cost people (many already in poverty) hundreds of billions each year.
Jack is a big believer that Bitcoin has a “special nature” that should not be corrupted. This is in character for the tech mogul who has often taken the moral high ground when compared with peers like Mark Zuckerberg. His personal mission is to continue championing personal freedom and creating more open source tools for developers to get involved. He intends to use Square in part to house an open source collaboration on Bitcoin hardware wallets and a developer platform.
Jack ultimately sees Bitcoin as a stepping stone to a more peaceful civilization that can focus on the more important issues like lifting people from poverty and focusing on huge goals like interplanetary travel.
Cathie Wood, Founder, CEO of ARK Invest was originally drawn to Bitcoin as soon as she discovered it was a rules-based monetary system that provided an incredible store of value and hedge against inflation. More than that, she expressed it could also provide a hedge against deflation of the kind that was so catastrophic during the 2008 financial crash. She also thinks that the apps built on top of Bitcoin are poised to bring it quickly to a globally used medium of exchange.
Cathie was also convinced that Bitcoin is meeting the environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria that many institutional investors use to grade an investment. Additionally, it allows access to payment technologies globally for the unbanked populations of the world. It can help those “held hostage” by authoritarian regimes that often suffer from hyperinflation, as we have recently seen in Venezuela.
Cathie is also inspired by the development, teamwork and synergy of governance that occurs on the Bitcoin network. One of her highest goals is to continue helping Bitcoin core developers and investors by providing free research from Ark Invest.
Supporting Bitcoin’s Developer Ecosystem
Bitcoin needs its team of developers to continue growing. It needs to overcome scaling challenges and much more to become a more viable global digital currency. It also needs to compete with other cryptos that are quickly gaining more efficient functionality. In this part of The B Word conference, experts like Peter McCormack (founder of the What Bitcoin Did Podcast), Beth Kurteson (Managing Director at Gemini), and Hong Fang (CEO of Okcoin) weighed in on the state of the dev ecosystem.
This section of the conference included unpacking open source development, attracting new talent to Bitcoin, the developer landscape, and a rousing call to action to take part in Bitcoin’s role in human rights.
Securing the Bitcoin Network
This panel of The B Word was focused on how we can continue to improve Bitcoin’s security, consensus mechanism and how to think about attack vectors moving forward. Bitcoin core lead developers and cryptographers discussed solutions to some of the most pressing security issues like preventing bad forks and not disrupting the core principles of the network.
Preserving The Bitcoin Ethos
Throughout The B Word conference, all agreed that preserving Bitcoin’s ethos and uniquely empowering capabilities is paramount for future operations. The last panel discussed how we can still preserve its original value proposition while still making it increasingly attractive to institutional buy-in and investing. All said, the conference was extremely bullish on Bitcoin’s future as we gather ourselves before moving forward once more.