[ORGANISER] When do you think we’re going
to see blockchain adopted by the biggest market places (like Amazon) and by the mass-sellers and buyers? [ANDREAS] What kind of blockchain? [Laughter] An open, neutral, borderless,
censorship-resistant blockchain? Well, arguably, it’s going to be
difficult for big sellers to adopt that. They have to operate within a system
of money as weaponised political control, and so they cannot accept money that is open. It creates this incredible conundrum where
open money is a bit of a poison pill for closed, centralised corporations. The question is not whether they will adopt it, because
they represent centralised, hierarchical, controlled retail. The question is, when will you adopt it to sell
your product [or service] directly to another person? If you think commerce should be person-to-person,
rather than person-to-corporation-to-VISA-to-bank… to-MASTERCARD-to-JPMorgan-to-person? [Applause] So I don’t know if they’re going to adopt it. But who really gives a damn? Why don’t you adopt it?
Why don’t you build something? Commerce has always been local [first].
We can make it even more local today. [ORGANISER] What about scaling, though? Local commerce is nice if I know the buyer,
if I do things directly back and forth. I don’t even need money.
I can actually do my- I used to build websites for companies and
asked them to build me laptops so that… I didn’t have to pay taxes on the “money” that they
gave me, and they could actually get something back from taxes for building me computers. This was a great thing, but it didn’t scale
when I started travelling around the world and going to other places. [ANDREAS] Yes. In that context, you need trust
with the other party in order to transact. What this [open blockchain] system solves is that you
don’t need to trust the other party in order to transact. In 2013, I sold my car for bitcoin. I met with a person whom I had never met before. I met them at 11pm on a Wednesday night in a
parking lot, during a time that all the banks were closed. This is a transaction that I cannot do with
the traditional banking system. If they give me a check, it might bounce. If they do a wire transfer, it might be forged
[or reversed later] and I can’t check its validity. If they give me cash, it might be counterfeit. Three confirmations later, I gave them the key to my car. After three confirmations in the Bitcoin blockchain,
that money was mine; irreversibly, unquestionably real. It couldn’t be forged and I could verify
that independently on my cellphone, while I was having Chinese food
and waiting for three confirmations. That is a transaction you cannot do. That is person-to-person commerce, kicking out all
of the intermediaries, and without having to trust anything other than the network protocol. That’s exactly why we can do commerce locally now. [ORGANISER] Okay. This ties into the next one we have: do you worry about
Bitcoin failing because the masses don’t understand it? [ANDREAS] As much as I worry about the internet
failing because the masses do not understand BGP, TCP/IP, or Windows.
[Laughter] [Applause] The bottom line is that today, the system is only usable
for those who have some level of technical expertise. I sent my first email in 1989. I used the command line client with about
two years of Unix experience, on a mainframe, to send an email which took three days to
cross the internet using store-and-forward UUCP. That was an experience no one in my immediate
surroundings could replicate for another 20 years. In 2009, my mother sent her first email on her brand
new iPad by [swiping her finger across the screen]. [Laughter] That’s the gap of experience
that we have today in Bitcoin. Bitcoin is exactly where the internet was
in the very early ’90s, possibly before DNS, because we don’t even have good
naming systems yet that are decentralised. We still have the equivalent of IP addresses, these
long strings that are indecipherable to normal humans. The experience today is as geeky, impossible
to understand, and non-intuitive as you might expect. Probably the only people in Vienna who are
capable of using it today are all in this room. [Laughter]
But that’s okay! If you take that experience and turn it into
[swiping your finger to send a transaction], you can build a massive opportunity for employment. You can build a new career,
a great new software project. You can create the applications that are
needed for us to take this mainstream. [ORGANISER] It’s an interesting argument. People understand the internet with TCP/IP
packets and these kind of things. I’ve worked on Firefox OS, which was a completely open
operating system trying to get into the mobile space, based on understanding web
technologies and the whole stack. It failed immensely. About 80% of the traffic on the internet nowadays
is either owned by Google, Amazon, or Facebook. People publish first on Facebook,
then [elsewhere] on the internet. The argument for open [systems] winning in
the internet, as much as it hurts me, is problematic. Facebook made it easier to publish,
much like banks made it easier to [use] money. What do we do about that gap in the perception of
how easy it would be to have an open payment system? [ANDREAS] We wait. Because if you think Facebook is going to
be around forever, then you need to remember that at some point, Microsoft controlled
80% of the operating system market because they made Windows easy to use on the desktop. You couldn’t [really] use anything else. Now, Microsoft is dominated by
open technologies and open-source. They had to succumb to the open internet.
They lost the battle to close that. I think Facebook is already losing. How many here use it as your first platform of choice? Oh, not a single hand [went up]!
[Laughter] Kids don’t want to join Facebook nowadays,
because their grandparents are on Facebook. Right? The bottom line is, even if only 20% of the internet
is the free part, it is so radically free that… it can give rise to completely unexpected
phenomena like Bitcoin, that cannot be controlled. Those phenomena then turn around and create
a foundation for funding free, open, mesh, peer-to-peer infrastructure and applications. Through cryptocurrencies [we will]
re-decentralise and liberate the web. We’re only getting started.
The skirmishes are going to be delightful. I think, in the end, that ‘open’ always wins.