Aug 22, 2021 • 8M

Ep 32. Lightning: life or death?

Afghanistan. 0% fee from US to Nigeria. Walmart wants crypto.

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Some say Crypto is a scam. Others swear it's a breakthrough technology. But which is it? Join us, as we explore Crypto in real life (IRL).
Episode details

This weekend, Warri, a city I grew up in crowned a new king. I loved seeing the pomp and tradition on display. The new king is just 37 years old, very young in a country where monarchs are often crowned in their 50s through 70s. His speech spoke of history, inclusion and ambition. Hmm, that word: ambition. Friends, I have lots of ideas about topics to explore and share with you. But my time is limited. I am looking for someone to join the 5x5 Crypto team so we can go further faster. Requirements:

  1. Curious about crypto

  2. Ready to have fun

    Let me know if you are interested!


    1. Afghanistan: Funds transfer is life or death

    • Many of us were moved by the heart-wrenching scenes in Afghanistan this week. I can’t pretend to know how it feels. But I can marginally relate to the Afghans living in the US trying to send money home to help loved ones.

    • In this climate of fear and desperation, Western Union announced that it was stopping operations in Afghanistan…the very moment when sending funds could literally be the difference between life and death. This is infuriating. It does not have to be this way.

    • Yes, I understand that Western Union has a responsibility to care for their workers and business. It just illustrates that the existing model is broken. Fortunately, Bitcoin Lightning Network changes that. It provides a censorship-resistant avenue for people to send funds without rent seeking middlemen.

    2. Lightning in Nigeria: 0% fee on US fund transfer

    • This is BIG! Bitnob’s integration with the Lightning Network is now enabling FREE, instant, non-reversible funds transfer between the US and Nigeria. Read that again.

    • In 2018, Nigerians in diaspora sent $25B back home. According to the World Bank, the average remittance fee in Africa was 8.4%. This means that middlemen like Western Union earned $2.1B that could have gone towards education, health, investment etc.

    • This is precisely the type of solution that is needed in Afghanistan and frankly everywhere. I can’t wait to try it out. Too often, people mistake crypto as purely a speculative venture. It’s not. Payment solutions like this are going to reshape the competitive landscape and challenge existing business models while creating new opportunities. Get ready.

3. What do Walmart, Amazon and Kroger have in common?

  • US retail giants are warming up to crypto. Walmart is hiring a crypto payments expert to develop and implement their crypto payments strategy. Amazon also posted similar job descriptions too. Meanwhile, Kroger has partnered with Fold to enable grocery shoppers earn bitcoin rewards for their purchases.

  • It’s all very interesting but I do not plan to spend any bitcoin buying milk. Why would I? When I believe the long-term price of bitcoin is higher than it is today. That said, I think stablecoins like USDC could be a real winner here.

  • Stablecoins allow instant, irreversible transactions UNLIKE credit and debit card payments. When you purchase coffee from a local cafe using a credit card, it could take 1-3 days for the merchant to receive payment. This could be especially frustrating for cash strapped businesses. Why the delay, it’s 2021? Stablecoins are instant.

4. Bankers: “digital assets will lead to greater compliance and transparency’

  • Deloitte conducted a global survey of financial service professionals to understand their attitudes towards digital assets (ex crypto like bitcoin, stablecoins, CBDCs).

  • Bankers familiar with blockchain said the top 3 benefits they anticipate from digital assets were: (1) improved access to funding sources (2) greater compliance and transparency (3) more efficient processes ex faster payments

  • It was great to see traditional finance begin to appreciate the opportunities ahead. The point about greater compliance and transparency flies against popular (and incorrect) narratives that crypto is a shadowy tool used only by the underworld. Bankers are saying it’s a force for good.

  • Lastly, it was interesting to note that 79% of all respondents expect digital assets to be somewhat important over the next 24 months. Meanwhile, 76% of respondents strongly or somewhat believe that digital assets will be a strong alternative or replacement for the existing fiat system within the next 10 years. If you are a bank and not thinking about this, you are falling behind!

5. Crypto-Infrastructure bill electrifies community

  • The Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill with a vaguely worded amendment on cryptocurrency. The idea was to increase taxes on crypto to help pay for roads, bridges and so on. But the resulting amendment was so poorly worded that it threatened to cripple crypto adoption and drive innovation abroad.

  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz questioned if up to 5 Senators could describe what a cryptocurrency is, much less ably craft thoughtful legislation about it.

  • Fortunately, IRS sources state that they will ignore the wording in this bill. Nonetheless, this episode has electrified the crypto community. We have seen the emergence of single issue voters and deep-pocketed individuals appearing from the sidelines to bankroll crypto education and advocacy in Washington. Let’s see how impactful this lobby becomes over the next couple election cycles.