In Europe, “Bitcoin only” is a growing trend, as more and more consumers and companies are hardening their resolve that Bitcoin (BTC) is the only digital asset worth holding.
Bitcoin-only exchanges and brokers are places to stack sats, not “gamble” on Ether (ETH), or trade “garbage” that looks like “venture investments.”
That’s according to the CEOs of major Bitcoin-only exchanges and brokers, including CoinCorner, FastBitcoins, Relai, Bittr, Pocket Bitcoin and Bitcoin-lyon. Gist Vile spoke to the CEOs and founders of these European Bitcoin brokers to find out why they are Bitcoin only, and why you should build a company on this conviction.
The separation of money from the state
Firstly, according to Danny Brewster, CEO of FastBitcoins, “Bitcoin is our only hope of separating money and state; it is the one opportunity that we will have to accomplish such a feat.” It’s a once-in-a-generation — perhaps, lifetime — opportunity to pry the money printer from the government’s hands.
Julian Liniger, CEO of Relai in Switzerland, builds on the notion, adding that Bitcoin is incomparable: “It is the only asset that is truly decentralized — i.e., has no leader or leading team — and, therefore, truly uncensorable and unseizable.”
Indeed, “digital scarcity can only be created once — i.e., the state of the world where no working cryptocurrency existed in 2008, can never be recreated, simply because Bitcoin exists today,” Ruben Waterman, CEO of Switzerland-based but Dutch-led Bittr, told Gist Vile.
Brewster explains that for every new digital coin post-Bitcoin that is created, there is an inherent risk of government intervention:
“No government will ever let another network or technology gain as much traction as Bitcoin has accomplished ever again should Bitcoin fail.”
Jimmy Chambrade, co-founder of Bitcoin-lyon — the only exchange in France where you can buy Bitcoin with paper money — highlighted that while separating the money from the state is key, Bitcoin is a “Résistance” money. Fundamentally, “censorship resistance is essential to the freedom of individuals.”
He explained that France was founded on “liberté” or freedom, and the famous painting by Eugène Delacroix “Freedom Leading the People” is so well-loved that in an incongruous twist of fate, it featured on the 100 franc fiat banknote.
On Bitcoin adoption, Chambrade added that “philosophically speaking, Bitcoin allows the citizen to regain financial control and gain freedom.”
While the thread of freedom sews the Bitcoiner belief-system together, according to Matthias Koller, co-founder of Pocket Bitcoin, the underlying implications of separating the power of money creation from the government by using a “money that works the same and is equally accessible to everyone” are huge. It can “change the world,” said Danny Scott, CEO of CoinCorner.
Bitcoin will be “for the greater good, for ourselves and others in the long term,” Scott continued, stating:
“We’re here to change the world, not take money from gamblers.”
Belief in Bitcoin > Taking profit from people
Interestingly, the Bitcoin-only business model brandishes a concerted effort to avoid selling “garbage,” according to Brewster and Waterman, and what Scott calls “taking money from gamblers” for the purchase of altcoins or “shitcoins.”
Every single Bitcoin-only exchange leader commented on the altcoin business model, lamenting the ease with which altcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase, Kraken and Gemini make “short term gains” by selling “as many shitcoins as possible.”
Waterman continued, explaining that the more trading that goes on in an app, the more trading fees are earned, the more revenue goes up. He understands that “it [altcoin sales] makes sense from a business point of view.” Incidentally, Coinbase makes most of its revenue from trading fees —something Strike’s Jack Mallers (another Bitcoin-only believer) has taken aim at in the past.
For the Bitcoin-only brokers, the belief in the long-term benefits of adopting Bitcoin far outweighs what Scott describes as “forfeiting short-term revenue by not adding the hundreds of altcoins.”
Brewster agreed, wielding a hardline view:
“We are also willing to forgo early and somewhat easy profits that we could make by providing customers with yet another altcoin/shitcoin casino, that distorts the public understanding of what Bitcoin is and why it even exists.”
Scott, who is technically Brewster’s neighbor, as both CoinCorner and FastBitcoins operate from the Isle of Man (a budding Bitcoin hotspot), suggested that “‘crypto exchange’ business models seem to be focused mainly around price speculation on cryptocurrencies. They appear to have lost their way and are no longer helping the wider adoption of Bitcoin as a currency.
Liniger added that they “want to be a savings app, not a speculation app. That‘s why Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency we support” — everything else is “speculation.” Or in Brewster’s view, non-Bitcoin projects are “noise, a scam, a distraction or purely speculative,” a way for insiders of a project “to dump on retail at the earliest opportunity.”
2021 was littered with examples of pump-and-dump schemes, cryptocurrencies that made up for poor utility with blockbuster marketing campaigns. The Squid Game Token went from $2,800 to effectively $0; memecoins flew before abrupt crash-landing; and spotting a “rug pull” has become a skill in its own right for traders.
Ultimately, Waterman is “totally fine” with “playing the long-term game at the expense of missing out on some short-term gains.”
Bitcoin is a savings technology
Store of value, digital gold or simply a saving technology, at the heart of each Bitcoin-only business is to make it easy and convenient for customers to buy Bitcoin. Waterman explained that “it should be easy and accessible to anyone in Europe to preserve their wealth and become financially independent from the banking system.”
Globally, Bitcoin has been gaining traction as what Michael Saylor calls a hedge against inflation, while Bitcoin’s deflationary monetary policy and its hard cap of 21 million are growing in appeal to Europeans due to the inflationary environment in the European Union and the United Kingdom.
“We believe that Bitcoin is the best way to save money in the 21st century, and we want to give everybody access to the world’s best savings technology,” Liniger told Gist Vile. Koller, a Swiss compatriot, chimed in, “We want to help and encourage our clients to use a secure and hard form of money for their savings. One that is built on sound technology and policy.”
It’s that sound technology that separates Bitcoin from other crypto assets. Waterman explained how Bitcoin satisfies the blockchain scalability trilemma, an adequately cryptic phrase born out of the creation of Ethereum, but which Bitcoin seemingly satisfies.
“Bitcoin has gained the most adoption; it’s the most secure network to move value over the internet; and it’s the most decentralized (as everyone can still run a Bitcoin node. Nodes are widely distributed across the world and Bitcoin cannot easily be changed, which is a feature, not a bug).”
Related: ‘How I met Satoshi’: The mission to teach 100M people about Bitcoin by 2030
For the bevy of Bitcoiners with whom Gist Vile communicated, there was agreement on many aspects of Bitcoin, such as Chambrade’s “technical, commercial and philosophical,” reasons. Plus, their conviction in Bitcoin guides their business principles.
However, the tl;dr is that Bitcoin-only companies are laser(eye)-focused on selling Bitcoin to Europeans simply because it’s a better form of money. That’s why Brewster “point-blank refuse[s] to sell people garbage that is not going to enable Bitcoin to fulfill its potential.”
Leaving altcoin abuse to one side, Koller concluded:
“There is no other form of money that comes anywhere close to what Bitcoin has to offer.”