There’s a devastating take down of Bitcoin getting passed around this morning.
It was written by Alex Payne, a former Twitter engineer, who was CTO of Bank Simple, a startup trying to make banking easier. He’s no longer at Bank Simple.
The full thing is worth a read, but there’s one sentence that stood out:
Silicon Valley has a seemingly endless capacity to mistake social and political problems for technological ones, and Bitcoin is just the latest example of this selective blindness.
His post is largely a reaction to venture firm Andreessen Horowitz investing in bitcoin startup Coinbase.
Andreessen partner Chris Dixon explained the firm’s investment in Coinbase by talking about all the stuff Bitcoin could do. In the above sentence, Payne was reacting to Dixon saying, bitcoin could create “low-cost financial services to people who, because of financial or political constraints, don’t have them today.”
Bitcoin may do a lot of things, but it is highly unlikely to help the impoverished, or people that struggle to get bank accounts.
You need a computer, and a certain degree of sophistication to get bitcoins. And, even then, it’s not a great idea, at least not right now. If you don’t have much money and you roll it into bitcoin, you could be wiped out as the currency’s price fluctuates all over the place.
As Payne notes, this is another example of seeing a social problem and trying to use technology — in this case the wrong technology — as a solution.