Pascal Hügli is a self-employed writer, moderator and debater. He is also a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration in Zurich where he teaches students about Bitcoin and crypto assets. With his newsletter Insight DeFi, he wants to inform the masses competently and concisely about the events and opportunities of the new decentralized world of Bitcoin and Co. He is also the author of “Ignore at Your Own Risk: The New Decentralized World of Bitcoin and Blockchain.”
If you — like me — identify as a Bitcoiner, it is easy to get carried away by the very features and prospects that bitcoin stands for. It represents a new form of base money unlike anything ever seen before. Virtual in nature, this new money is operated by a distributed set of validators that establish a global consensus on who owns what, how much at what point in time on the Bitcoin blockchain itself. As such, Bitcoin’s distributed ledger has given rise to a non-sovereign property system.
This property system’s value unit is endowed with a programmed issuance schedule as well as in-built scarcity. This scarcity cannot easily be tampered with as bitcoin is no one else’s debt or liability, can be self-custodied using software in combination with hardware solution, and acts as a foundation for a new financial order. This financial order is built in layers empowering a new kind of species: the Sovereign Individual.
An Excitement Not Everybody Shares
I hope you can feel it: My excitement is real. I truly think that Bitcoin is one of the most disrupting, most innovative and most life-changing developments of our current time. This is why I set out to lecture about Bitcoin at Zurich’s University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration (HWZ). It’s one of the most prestigious business schools in Switzerland, bringing together people from all different fields like banking, insurance, communications, management or marketing.
The courses I teach are not only about Bitcoin. Nevertheless, I am trying hard to focus on Bitcoin and tell my students why it’s worthwhile to understand Bitcoin in-depth. Although, as a teacher I am trying to present the topic as objectively as possible, I make no secret of the fact that I am fascinated by Bitcoin, its clear-cut monetary features and the many prospects that follow from it.
What I have been encountering for the past few years, however, is somewhat disillusioning. Teaching people about the properties of sound money, absolute digital scarcity, the merits of true decentralization or the seemingly endless balance sheet expansion of central banks is way over many people’s heads. Although Bitcoin’s monetary properties are indeed unrivaled, absolute digital scarcity is revolutionary, true decentralization is rare and central bank balance sheet expansion is happening fast and in real-time, dwelling on these highly relevant points has shown to be rather inefficacious.
In short, presenting and promoting Bitcoin as a monetary technology and freedom enhancing tool against time theft has not made it click with most people I met. If anything, a sovereign individual’s tool kit consisting of rationally plausible Bitcoin arguments did usually resonate with two out of ten people. And with these two people, I guess, their affirmation of my points was more a manifestation of having preached to the converted rather than having genuinely swayed them with the arguments.
Making People Relate To Bitcoin
Having had the chance to thoroughly present to hundreds of Nocoiners, it dawned on me: I’ve been approaching my endeavor to teach about Bitcoin’s true disruptive and revolutionary potential the wrong way all along. Forcing philosophical points about Bitcoin — that totally make sense when having pondered on them for years — down somebody else’s throat does not really help. It’s much more helpful to appeal to people’s concrete pain points and how to relate these to bitcoin and how this new base money might be designed to provide remedy.
As a consequence, I started identifying different groups that need to be intellectually appealed to differently. When talking to a typical Western person that is way over-banked and does not feel like needing a new money, I am presenting Bitcoin as a global monetary network that is available uninterruptedly. Asking them about how they manage to make bank transfers on weekends usually gets my point across quite nicely.
What resonates with the banking or fintech crowd is showcasing to them the power of lightning-fast micropayments that happen cross-border and are conducted in seconds. Whether it is through examples like PolloFeed or livestreaming sats in the pursuit of building Podcasting 2.0 using Breez, the power of conveniently sending amounts of money the normal banking system cannot even handle across the entire globe is usually jaw-dropping.
Creating Emotional Reaction Is What Sticks
When it comes to millennials and younger generations, my preferred way of pitching Bitcoin is through the lens of a new savings technology that is most likely going to make up for government pension entitlements (like 401ks or IRAs) that might still exist today but not tomorrow. In a way, Bitcoin can be seen as a global piggy bank that stores monetary energy better than everything else. With more and more people continuing to pay into it through regular DCA payments, using services like Swan, Relai, Bitaroo, liquidity is growing and making every holder better off. As such, Bitcoin can truly be seen as the millennial’s revenge against the slow but steady destruction of the traditional way of saving.
Fair interest rates are also what professional investors are demanding. They have been faced with a low to zero interest rate environment for years now. Presented with the case of Bitcoin being an insurance policy against fiat currency debasement resonates more and more with professional money managers. Exemplary for them is Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, who publicly stated that he prefers bitcoin to low-yielding bonds.
In Switzerland, holding bitcoin is particularly ringing a bell with people, who are forced to pay negative interest rates on their wealth in nominal terms. Most Swiss banks charge -0.75% per annum from 1 million Swiss francs or higher (roughly $1.08 million). The Swiss government-owned bank PostFinance even charges a negative interest rate of -0.75% per annum from 100,000 Swiss francs (roughly $108,900). Once people are forced to pay up for storing arbitrary fiat numbers with a bank, becoming your own bank by taking self-custody of your bitcoin becomes rather attractive.
Another emotionally charged reality making the case for bitcoin tangible is rising asset prices, particularly rising home prices. Especially for younger folks, housing has become quite unaffordable in places like Switzerland. Even the Swiss central bank recently warned of an overvalued housing market. Presenting Bitcoin as digital real estate, whose possession is most likely a way to outperform the relentlessly rising house prices in order to one day still buy a physical property, is an argument that catches on rather quickly.
The List Goes On And On
As I have discovered throughout my journey of educating normies about Bitcoin, there are tons of concrete talking points for Bitcoin that hit it out of the ballpark. Most importantly, people have to be addressed where they are most likely to relate because they understand the issues at stake. One interesting experience I have made regards the Bitcoin energy topic. Usually, people fret about Bitcoin’s energy usage. If, however, you talk to people who understand a thing or two about energy markets, they are likely to understand Bitcoin’s potential as an energy buyer of last resort as well as an amortizing force for innovative development of future energy production facilities.
Other areas are the gaming sector or the growing community advocating for a censorship-resistant internet and social media. As is becoming more obvious by the day, Bitcoin will play a huge part in bringing significant change to these fields. If people’s attention is drawn to these facts, they are much more prone to understand the value of Bitcoin and why it’s one of the most interesting forces for change and good in today’s world.
This is a guest post by Pascal Hügli. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.