- The use of Bitcoin in crime has become one of the hottest debates, but according to the BitMEX CEO, those calling for its ban on these grounds are hypocrites.
- The CEO further debunked the Bitcoin energy consumption myth, stating that it’s not the biggest energy guzzler and that many industries have started similarly before advancing.
“Bitcoin is being used to facilitate crime and therefore, regulators should crack down on it.” I bet you have heard this statement, or a similar version, in the past few months. With the increase in ransomware attacks, Bitcoin has been caught squarely in the middle, And rather than focus on the actual problem, way too many leaders have sidetracked and shone a light on Bitcoin for its use in crime. However, according to the BitMEX CEO, this is a double standard. The U.S dollar has been facilitating crime for over a century now, but no one has called for its ban.
Alexander Höptner took over as the BitMEX CEO late last year, replacing Vivien Khoo who had been serving in an interim capacity for three months. Khoo had taken over after Arthur Hayes, the former CEO and co-founder stepped down following criminal charges against him.
BitMEX CEO: Why the double standard on Bitcoin?
In a recent interview with BeInCrypto, Höptner talked about Bitcoin’s use in crime, its energy consumption, BTC as a payment method, HODLing, future plans for the giant exchange and more.
For Höptner, while it’s true that Bitcoin has been used in crime, those calling for its ban are just opportunists capitalizing on the one bad thing about Bitcoin.
Even when the topic of bitcoin and crime came up at the beginning, nobody was interested in the fact that terrorism was previously financed with the US dollar. Nobody said let’s get rid of the dollar.
He added, “As soon as it’s the bitcoin, oh god, that’s used to finance terrorism. I think you have to try to take the discussion to another level.”
Höptner, who previously served as the CEO of Germany’s leading stock exchange, the Börse Stuttgart, is spot on. Many global leaders have branded Bitcoin as nothing more than a currency for criminals.
One of the most recent is Fabio Panetta, a board member of the European Central Bank, the apex bank in the Eurozone. He described Bitcoin as a very dangerous animal that the digital euro can save the region from.
Janet Yellen, the topmost official in the U.S Treasury expressed similar sentiments herself. “I think many (cryptocurrencies) are used, at least in a transaction sense, mainly for illicit financing,” she told Senate.
And they’re not wrong, Bitcoin is indeed used in crime. The current ransom demand by Russian hacking group REvil for $70 million in BTC is proof.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bitcoin’s use. And even more importantly, it’s mischaracterizing Bitcoin’s prominence in crime.
According to data from the UN, up to 5 percent of global GDP is connected to money laundering annually, for instance. This comes to about $4 trillion. The U.S dollar is the most dominant, and rightly so as it’s the world’s reserve currency.
Nic Carter, the outspoken partner at Castle Island Ventures crypto fund captured it best, stating:
All of the data that we have seen indicates that in absolute and relative terms, the dollar is used for illicit purposes, far more than bitcoin. So the crime angle is a pretty curious one. I mean, we didn’t ban dollars because Pablo Escobar had heaps of dollars in his basement.