Dr. Richard Stallman is well-known for his free software movement activism. His speeches and work revolve around a term: freedom. And it is precisely that word that prompted Stallman to launch the GNU Project, founding the Free Software Foundation and releasing the GNU General Public License, among other projects, to promote the free software concept.
RMS, as Dr. Stallman is also known, has some opinions regarding the concept of cryptocurrencies that have been widely discussed within the crypto community.
To understand the concept of freedom Stallman often mentions in his speeches, he explains the difference between “free software” and “open source,” as the latter term is often wrongly attributed to his work:
“The idea of free software is a matter of right and wrong. Justice and injustice. The idea is that users deserve control over the software that they are using. You as a user of software deserve control over the software that you are using, and you deserve to be free to join with other users to exercise this control collectively, whichever groups you choose to participate in. Concretely there are four essential freedoms that users need in order to have full control over a given program. ‘Freedom 0’ is the freedom to run the program any way you wish for any purpose you have. ‘Freedom 1’ is the freedom to study the program source code and modify it as you wish. So the program does what you actually want. These two freedoms you can apply by yourself alone.”
Stallman says that the other two freedoms have to do with cooperation with others, as “Freedom 2” is the freedom to make “exact copies and re-distribute them to others when you wish”:
“‘Freedom 3’ is to make and distribute copies of your modified versions if you have made any, taking advantage of freedom 1. And freedom 2 we make and distribute these copies when you wish. If the users have all four of these essential freedoms then the users control the program both separately and collectively.”
Stallman clarifies that when the free software movement began in 1983, there were people who liked the free programs that “our community had developed, but they found or philosophy too radical because it talked about right and wrong, rather than mere convenience, success, and so on.”
CBDC and the concept of privacy
People from the crypto and general technology communities have been talking about the Chinese government’s aim of launching its own central bank digital currency (CBDC), as well as plans of the Bank of Thailand to launch a project to pilot test its CBDC payment system with the largest building material provider in the country. However, others believe that CBDC could be a surveillance method for governments to monitor the financial activities of its citizens. Stallman blames the “totalitarian surveillance” of the Chinese government for this distrust:
“Digital payment systems are fundamentally dangerous if they are not engineered to ensure privacy. China is the enemy of privacy. China shows what totalitarian surveillance is like. I consider that hell on earth. That’s part of why I haven’t used cryptocurrencies that are issued by the community. If the cryptocurrency is issued by a government, it would surveille people just the way credit cards do and PayPal does, and all those other systems meaning completely unacceptable.”
However, he doesn’t see any contradiction when talking about the genesis of the cryptocurrency concept and the fact it could be issued by a government:
“Contradiction is a very specific concept. What is a cryptocurrency? It is the use of a particular technological method. If a government implements that method, I don’t see that it’s a contradiction. But if the government uses it as a surveillance device, I think that is vicious.”
The founder of the Free Software Movement pauses to explain the concept of “privacy” when talking about crypto’s privacy:
“What is privacy? Privacy means being able to say and do things without there being known to some powerful entity that can use them to attack you. In general, the things you do should not go into a database. The things you say to a few people, they shouldn’t go into a database. Now, exceptions to this are sometimes justified. We want the government to investigate. This needs a bit of editing. We want the government to investigate crime and catch criminals. And that can require getting private information from people and about people.”
Stallman also calls for laws that restrict the use of face recognition cameras in the streets or license plate recognition cameras, putting the United States as a case of implementing surveillance methods:
“We need laws restricting the use of such cameras to make sure that databases that track people around the city as they move around cannot be collected. Any systematic attempt to recognize people other than people subject to specific court orders, perhaps, a limited exception because their limits are safe for society. They will not lead to general repression. That’s the approach that has to replace data protection.”
This Q&A has been lightly edited for context.
Cointelegraph: What’s your personal experience with cryptocurrency? Have you ever held or transacted something like Bitcoin?
Richard Stallman: The answer is no. I don’t do any kind of digital payments, and the reason is the systems that exist do not respect the user’s privacy, and that includes Bitcoin. Every Bitcoin transaction is published. Now, people might not know that my wallet belongs to me, but if I used it more than a few times it would be possible to figure out that it’s me. People with enough information could do so. I’d rather use cash. And that’s how I buy things.
I do mail checks for a number of things where businesses know who I am. When I pay the electric bill and the gas bill, well I have an account with those businesses and I have to pay it. They send me bills with my name on it, so I don’t lose anything by sending them checks with my name on them too. But, when I go to a store and buy something, the store has no right to know who I am. And I won’t let it know who I am, so I don’t use the existing digital payment systems.
There is one other thing I don’t like about Bitcoin, and that is that it is easy to use for tax evasion. Now, I don’t do that, but there are businesses that do tremendous amounts of tax evasion, and it is a big problem. It impoverishes most of us. It means the government doesn’t have enough money to do the things the government should be doing. There are a lot of things we need the government to do to have a society that is good for everybody.
Cointelegraph: What about various Bitcoin modifications designed for privacy?
Richard Stallman: I am not convinced about them. In any case, the GNU project has developed something much better, which is GNU Taler. GNU Taler is not a cryptocurrency. It is not a currency at all. It is a payment system designed to be used for anonymous payments to businesses to buy something. It is anonymous through a blind signature for the payer. However, the payee has to identify itself for every purchase in order to get money out of the system. So the idea is you can use your bank account to get Taler Tokens, and you can spend them and the payee won’t be able to tell who you are.
It won’t be able to tell that you got the token from a particular bank account at a particular time, even though you did so. To convert your payment into money in its own bank, the store (the payee) will have to identify itself. So this gives privacy in a much more reliable way than cryptocurrencies do, and it blocks the idea of using this system to enable tax evasion.
GNU Taler recently had an exciting milestone. A few months ago the eurozone banking system became interested in supporting Taler payments, and just recently they succeeded using a test setup in obtaining Taler tokens with one bank account and paying them to another bank account through the Taler system. Now, it’s not something that anybody can use but it will be, and that will be really exciting.
Stores will be able to start accepting payment in Talers, and this will initially be useful with digital purchases because what you pay with a Taler, the site could send the data you asked for to you right through that same connection. It doesn’t need to know who you are, only that you paid. Using Taler payments for deliveries is a bit harder. That requires a system of basically anonymous mailing. If there are pickup boxes and various locations, post offices, convenience stores that don’t belong to a monopolist like Amazon – by the way, I boycott Amazon absolutely, I’ve never bought anything through Amazon, and I urge people not to buy people for me through Amazon – but if the delivery boxes were independent of any company so that anyone could deliver to them, you could obtain the use of a suitable delivery box, and specify it along with your payment, and the product would be delivered there. You would have code to demonstrate that you were the purchaser of it.
Cointelegraph: What do you think about Facebook’s Libra project?
Richard Stallman: I haven’t tried to study anything about the details of Facebook’s money project because the most important thing about it I already know. It’s connected with Facebook, and Facebook means surveillance. I urge people to join me in absolutely refusing to use Facebook or rather be used by Facebook. Because Facebook doesn’t have users. Facebook has used. So don’t be a sucker, don’t be used by Facebook.
Cointelegraph: Have you seen anything lately that could change your mind on cryptocurrency?
Richard Stallman: My criticism of cryptocurrencies is nothing new. I’ve felt this way about them ever since I first saw them. Now, I’m not against them. I’m not campaigning to eliminate them, I just don’t particularly want to use them. As for the idea of studying the source code of Bitcoin, well, I’m sure it’s an extremely interesting program to study, but I don’t have time to study the source code of the program for my curiosity’s sake. I am so overloaded with work that’s not what I would choose to do when I’m not doing work.
Ethereum: Is the HODLing in yet?
When it comes to the altcoin market, the past few months have shown how important a cryptocurrency Ethereum is. With DeFi growing substantially in 2020, the gains have been felt by ETH in many ways. While ETH has miles to go before it can challenge the market cap and dominance of Bitcoin, its remarkable growth thanks to DeFi and the proposed ETH 2.0 shift cannot be overlooked. With Ethereum’s use cases diversifying, users and investors within the ecosystem are reaping its benefits too.
According to recent network data provided by Glassnode, Ethereum balances on centralized exchanges have fallen substantially over the past few weeks. In fact, the aforementioned data showed a drop from over 18,750K to around 16,750K, resulting in Etherum balances on exchanges falling to their lowest level for the year 2020, at the time of writing.
While this drop may seem alarming to some, it also illustrates a silver lining of sorts for the cryptocurrency. A fewer number of users are now holding their Ethereum on exchanges. Instead, they are moving them to cold storage or cold wallets – a sign commonly associated with increased hodling sentiment. As more users hold on to their Ethereum, the price of the cryptocurrency is also likely to be positively impacted.
One of the reasons why many users are feeling inclined to do so can be due to its recent performance, as well as its ability to derive growth from a booming DeFi ecosystem that is based on its platform.
In fact, it is also interesting to note that over the same timeframe, Ethereum addresses with greater than 10 ETH have also seen a significant rise. According to network data provider Glassnode, such addresses have risen from 275K to 283K in the last three months alone.
One of the key reasons behind the aforementioned drop in Ethereum stored on exchanges ties back to increased hodling sentiment within the Ethereum community, as highlighted above. This, coupled with a rise in Ethereum locked in smart contracts (Since investors are looking to generate greater returns at a time when Etherum’s price is consolidating on the charts), bodes well for the cryptocurrency’s ecosystem.
Brace for it – Bitcoin Futures may be nearing a tipping point
What’s the tipping point for Bitcoin Futures on top derivatives exchanges like the CME, an exchange that has recorded a daily trading volume of over $300M and Open Interest of over $400M, consistently, for the past 3 months.
Well, a small shift in Open Interest or trading volume can have a cascading effect on Bitcoin Futures’ performance in the next 180 days. Such a shift will be influenced by several factors, and it begins at the tipping point. Three factors, to be more specific.
In the current phase of Bitcoin’s market cycle, these factors are more relevant for traders on derivative exchanges. This becomes more evident when the Liquidations chart for BitMEX is observed. Over the past 3 months, sell liquidations have paid for buy liquidations. However, over the last few days, this trend has been reversed, and buy liquidations have covered for sell liquidations on BitMEX.
The point here is to detect the source of the domino effect before the dominoes start falling. In the case of Bitcoin Futures, the tipping point may be closer than anticipated.
One of the top factors influencing the tipping point is the Law of the Few.
The Law of the Few states that “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”
In the case of Bitcoin, institutional investors, derivatives traders, and whales fit the bill. The success of Bitcoin Futures in the global trading community heavily relies on institutional investors trading on CME. In fact, the daily trade volume and Open Interest on CME influence the trading sentiment across spot exchanges as well.
The last time a cascading effect was witnessed was when BTC Futures’ Daily Trading Volume hit $445M on CME and there was a rally all the way up to $614M. At the time of writing, the Daily Trading Volume was up 63.3%, when compared to the figures 6 months ago, and it has the potential to hit $614M with one move in the right direction.
This effect heavily relies on another key factor – The Stickiness Factor.
Back in 2017, when Google search results for “Bitcoin” and “Crypto” broke the record, the trading community witnessed a historic Bitcoin bull run and altcoin rally. Institutional interest and growth of Bitcoin derivative products ensued. A similar event transpired when Bitcoin Futures’ aggregated daily volume hit $184B on 27 July 2020. This event was a unique occurrence, and it made Bitcoin Futures stick in the portfolio of the average institutional investor and the derivatives trader.
The aggregate trade volume hasn’t dropped to pre-July 2020 levels since then. Despite drops in Bitcoin’s price on spot exchanges, Futures contracts continue to trade at a premium and there is more optimism. Volume is not directly impacted by Bitcoin’s price and when the spot market is riddled with bearish sentiment, long contracts continue feeding shorts on BitMEX. This stickiness is a driver of the aforementioned tipping point.
Inching closer to the tipping point, the powerful context is the rise of stablecoins and their instrumental role in lowering the barrier to entry on spot and fiat-crypto exchanges.
Over the past three months, stablecoins like USDT have added $100M in volume every day and their market capitalization and dominance have risen tremendously. In fact, Tether has also crossed a market capitalization of $15B.
This directly influences the tipping point for Bitcoin Futures as it makes Futures trading more accessible to traders. Bitcoin held on exchanges has nearly doubled over the past month, corresponding to an increase in Tether’s market capitalization and circulation. This resonates with derivatives traders who opt for physically-settled Bitcoin Futures contracts on exchanges like Bakkt. In fact, on Bakkt, the daily trade volume was upwards of $80M for the past week, while the Open Interest has been consistently above $10M.
All of these factors are highlighting a shift in derivatives traders’ strategy, while also underlining increased activity on derivatives exchanges. The race to the tipping point has begun – An increase in aggregate trading volume on physically-settled Futures contracts or CME may trigger the much-awaited domino effect.
Tron, Synthetix, VeChain Price Analysis: 19 September
Tron was observed to have hit a strong zone of resistance, before being rejected and pushed to the downside, at the time of writing. In fact, such bearish momentum appeared likely to continue for TRX. At a time when Ethereum was increasingly being criticized for high Gas fees and a congested network, it could have been Tron’s moment to shine, but things didn’t pan out that way at all.
TRX was seeing oversold conditions a few days ago when its RSI hit a low of 23, before ascending just past 50. However, the RSI was unable to remain above 50, and its drop beneath the level highlighted the fact that TRX’s recent 12% surge from $0.263 to $0.296 was merely a bounce.
TRX found a zone of strong resistance at $0.3 and looked likely to drop towards the support at $0.265.
Interestingly, a recent Reddit post has raised questions about JustSwap’s vetting process, claiming that the Tron Foundation has whitelisted a DeFi project that has since pulled a $2 million exit scam. This, despite DappRadar listing the project as “high-risk.”
Synthetix underlined the possibility of dropping lower on the charts. The Directional Movement Index did not yet show a strong trend, but ADX (yellow) was inching towards 20 and could move further north. Also, the rising -DMI (pink) denoted a bearish trend.
Over the past week, every SNX bounce off the level of support has been overwhelmed by selling pressure. This can be expected to continue. With the price registering lower highs, the way down remained the path of least resistance for SNX.
The next level of support after $4.23 lay at $3.36, representing a 20% depreciation.
VeChain showed bullishness in the market after a period of consolidation. The Bollinger Bands expanded to indicate heightened volatility, while the price broke out towards the upper band. At the time of writing, the price was staying above the 20-period moving average, a moving average that could be tested as support as VET steadily climbs toward its resistance around the $0.158 zone.
The breakout was also accompanied by high trading volumes, legitimizing the breakout.
Ethereum: Is the HODLing in yet?
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