How bitcoin could benefit from the post-crisis privacy debate

When the markets crashed in mid-March, investors appeared to dump bitcoin along with nearly every other asset in their pursuit of cash, leaving enthusiasts to wonder whether it really is a “safe-haven." After all, bitcoin has underperformed the equity market for much of the time since the crisis hit.

But even though bitcoin as an asset class looked anything but extraordinary during the initial liquidity crisis and resulting dash for cash, the coronavirus crisis could still end up convincing more people to take it seriously, Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal argued on this week’s episode of The Scoop, which featured Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway. The duo host Bloomberg's Odd Lots podcast.

“One thing that makes bitcoin distinct as an asset is this idea of a sort of privacy censorship-resistant means of making payments that aren’t necessarily allowed by authorities,” said Weisenthal. “And although bitcoin hasn’t particularly thrived during the financial convulsions I do think that the post-coronavirus-crisis period could bring out some really interesting debates that emerge about privacy and about the degree of government monitoring of our activities.”

Take the need to keep track of everyone who an infected person has come into contact with, to limit the spread of the virus. Governments and companies around the world are proposing so-called contact-tracing schemes, including tracking cell phone locations, and in the process have raised a new set of questions around privacy.

Weisenthal argued:  “So while bitcoin itself may not have done anything special during the liquidity phase of the crisis, thinking about how we are tracked and monitored in the post-crisis period could create new narratives in which there is, I think, more potential for people to see the value in a monetary system or payment system that works outside of the official channels."

Listen to the full episode here: