‘Hyperbitcoinization’ Is a Few Years Away, Predicts Samson Mow

The CEO of technology startup Jan3 explains why Bitcoin might become the world's preferred monetary system as early as 2030.

AccessTimeIconNov 3, 2022 at 3:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 3, 2022 at 4:55 p.m. UTC
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Eurozone and U.K. inflation rates are at record, double-digit highs, prompting some governments to begin warming up to bitcoin. One evangelist is meeting with officials to accelerate the process.

Most people already know El Salvador made bitcoin legal tender in September of last year. The Central African Republic followed suit this past April. But less publicized is that some elected officials in places like the U.K. and Portugal are increasingly taking a shine to bitcoin.

Samson Mow spent half a decade as chief strategy officer of Blockstream, the blockchain infrastructure company started by Bitcoin pioneer Adam Back. It was there that Mow advised El Salvador President Nayib Bukele on the country’s $1 billion bond backed by bitcoin.

Now, Mow is CEO of Bitcoin technology startup Jan3 (the Bitcoin blockchain launched on Jan. 3, 2009), and he has made it his mission to educate other governments on Bitcoin.

Based on conversations he has had with politicians, Mow said “hyperbitcoinization” – or the point where Bitcoin becomes the world’s dominant monetary system – is only a few years away.

“If your criteria [for hypberbitcoinization] is every country in the world, it might take 20 or 30 years. But if you're talking about a good number of countries; let's say North America, Europe and a number of countries in Latin America and Africa, I think it's definitely possible around 2030,” Mow told CoinDesk in an interview.

Global South meets Global North

Typically, countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean – the Global South – are the ones prone to debilitating socio-economic woes including political instability and hyperinflation. These conditions often make Global South citizens significantly more receptive to Bitcoin and its native currency.

“If you're born in the Global South, where you've seen rapid inflation or your parents have seen rapid inflation or hyperinflation where your currency can massively devalue and you're going to need a wheelbarrow to truck it around, then you get Bitcoin much quicker,” Mow said. “You just have an easier route to understanding Bitcoin versus someone born in Canada or the U.S. But things are changing.”

Mow, a Canadian, explained how some conditions in the Global North (North America, Europe and Australasia) seem to be converging with conditions in the Global South. Canada narrowly escaped double-digit inflation this past summer, but America’s northern neighbor made headlines earlier in the year when the Canadian government told banks to freeze accounts belonging to citizens who donated to the Canadian trucker protests.

“If you're a protester and you disagree with the government’s stance on something, your bank account can be frozen for lawful behavior. So that should really drive people to move to bitcoin, move to self-sovereign money that someone else cannot just turn off,” said Mow.

Meanwhile, other political leaders are pushing for a more libertarian approach to governance and Mow is knocking on their doors. He said he had an intriguing fireside chat with U.K. Member of Parliament Lisa Cameron at the U.K. Bitcoin Conference last week, for example.

More substantially, Mow has developed a relationship with Miguel Albuquerque, president of Madeira, a Portuguese autonomous region off the coast of North Africa that is becoming known as the “Bitcoin Beach of Portugal.” President Albuquerque has openly embraced bitcoin, so much so there were erroneous reports that Madeira had declared bitcoin its legal tender. Mow now sits on the board of the Regional Forum of Economic Education (Forum Regional Educação Econômica – F.R.E.E. Madeira), an initiative designed to make Madeira a global technological hub, with an emphasis on bitcoin.

Mow said he’s also working with Prospera, a special economic zone in Honduras that made bitcoin legal tender.

“It's effectively a free, private city,” Mow explained of Prospera. “They're on the island of Roatan.”

Closer to the U.S., Mow said, “We’re engaged with Senator Indira Kempis. She's pushing for bitcoin adoption in Mexico.”

It seems the list of governments embracing bitcoin or interested in making it legal tender is not only growing but becoming more diverse, especially as jurisdictions in both the Global North and South become better educated on the topic.

“It's all about education,” Mow explained. “We were trying to get some meetings in South Korea a few months back, but the climate was not great because of Terra’s collapse. There's still a great deal of conflation between bitcoin and crypto. That's another area we're working to educate people on, which is, bitcoin is not crypto. There's bitcoin, there's crypto and then there are stablecoins, three distinct categories.”

There’s also a fourth category – central bank digital currencies (CBDC). These are simply digital currencies issued by a country’s central bank. Many governments from both sides of the north-south divide have already launched projects to implement CBDCs into their monetary systems. However, Mow is skeptical.

“The problem is governments are really bad at thinking about system design,” he warned. “Either it's going to take 20 or 30 years for a proper transition, or it's just going to fall flat. CBDCs are just conceptualized and theory-crafted in a complete vacuum. They'll never function properly. There's probably hundreds of things that will go wrong in the implementation of a CBDC.”


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Frederick  Munawa

Frederick Munawa was a Technology Reporter for Coindesk. He covered blockchain protocols with a specific focus on bitcoin and bitcoin-adjacent networks.

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