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Is financial freedom no longer a European value?

As a Spanish child from the early 90s, being part of the EU came with countless promises of financial freedom. Suddenly, our Iberian Peninsula did not feel so isolated from the rest of the continent, and this new thing called the Internet further connected us to the "Free World". I was only 6 years old when Spain entered the Eurozone, and right from the start, we monopolized the highest-denomination banknotes (500 EUR), symbolizing our leap towards financial freedom and prosperity.


Financial freedom. Illustration. Created with DALL-E.
Financial freedom. Illustration. Created with DALL-E.

The country was building like there was no tomorrow as part of a somewhat miraculous economic boom, fueled by limited taxes and regulations. However, over time, EU institutions began to be filled with unelected officials who would not let any serious crisis go to waste while increasing their influence. Thus, regulations were weaponized to protect the interests of incumbent corporates.


Unsurprisingly, pro-statist Eurocrats turned the creation of wealth into an artificially difficult endeavor for average individuals. Wealth was concentrated, making its preservation significantly easier for those who already had it, entering an era of anti-competitive stagnation. Yet, there was a "glitch in the Matrix", something that the Establishment wished had never happened. That something was Bitcoin.


Suddenly, those who, according to some, should not have been blessed with a "small" fortune found in BTC their best ally to escape the slavery of parasitical entities like the State and its banking lackeys. The State would, of course, manage to turn some crypto providers to the dark side of centralization, just as censorious as any fiat custodian before them and with the same or more counterparty risk.


Those who study Bitcoin and DeFi were not fooled by the shiny new thing. Tired of their banks blocking transfers to known exchanges, they soon embraced P2P solutions (LocalCoinSwap, HodlHodl, etc.) where users could securely buy crypto from any individual dealer without KYC and, most critically, without their banks having any idea that their payment was actually in exchange for some coins.


Regulators still do not fully realize that blockchain is nothing like traditional finance. There are no barriers to entry, so anybody can develop software and, depending on how they do it and distribute it, there is little the authorities can do about it other than yelling at the code and being very mad. Therefore, they pass pieces of regulation that make everybody non-compliant as the only outcome.


Last week, the EU approved legislation to outlaw private payments, intending to forcefully ban wallets for digital assets where the user is the sole key holder. There is absolutely no justification for such a thing, as any industry expert will insist on the best practice of "not your keys, not your coins," since bearer digital assets make zero sense if under the possession of a third party.


European countries and much of the West are growing increasingly paternalistic and now seek to control the lives of their "infantilized" citizens with all sorts of pretexts. The problem is that parents should not prohibit what they cannot enforce; otherwise, when they ultimately need to backtrack out of pragmatism, they will lose respect in the eyes of those grown-ups they once had authority over.


Remember, it's not about the shiny price action that might make you wealthier over time! It's about owning it in a way that such wealth can never be taken away from you. So, if your country becomes a socialist or national-socialist (Nazi) dictatorship, and you did your homework vis-à-vis CoinJoins for BTC and ZK Proofs for EVM-compatible tokens, you will take it all into exile.

 

This is an opinion piece written by Matias Monteagudo, Co-founder of Mellifex, a blockchain technology software company, and Co-author of "Banking Unchained".

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