If you’ve been on Bitcoin for more than a few minutes, then you’ve heard the phrase “be your own bank”. This, of course, refers to the fact that Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, controlled by its users, not a central banking system. However, there is still room for banking in a Bitcoin world; although it is a variant of the system we are currently familiar with.
Caitlin Long has fought tirelessly for sound banking practices, especially regarding the dangers of leverage in bitcoin. His work has brought positive attention to what banking in the Bitcoin space should look like.
Long’s impressive 22-year track record on Wall Street, combined with her outspokenness and record of championing sound money, has made her a legend in many circles. In his home state of Wyoming, Long founded and serves as CEO of Custodia Bank (formerly Avanti Financial Group) which strives to bridge the gap between traditional and digital banking assets. More recently, Long has been in the trenches for Custodia to become a digital asset bank with a Federal Reserve account. She met fools opposition of the Federal Reserve during this process, but Long met these setbacks with stoicism, professionalism and integrity and continues to fight for the Fed’s access to Custodia through a long legal battle.
It was a privilege to interview Long about his vision for the Bitcoin space and the future of finance, and I know you will find his answers insightful.
How did you first hear about Bitcoin and specifically attracted you?
I first heard about it in 2012 from alternative schools of economic thought. I was a member of a messaging group and started noticing people were talking about it back then. For those unfamiliar with alternative economic schools of thought, Bitcoin has generated a lot of interest within different schools of thought. For example, those who follow Austrian school economics would typically view bitcoin as a digital version of gold due to its limited supply and decentralized nature. It is an alternative store of value. They would also argue that because Bitcoin is apolitical and deflationary in nature, it is a better alternative to fiat currencies that rely on inflationary monetary policy.
There are several other arguments to be made around Bitcoin and alternative economic schools of thought, but we don’t have time to address them.
As a leader in Bitcoin banking, you’ve seen the ups and downs of politics in the United States. Do you think Custodia will eventually get a Fed membership and account?
I’ll have to let the lawsuit speak for itself regarding Custodia. However, I am optimistic about the political issue in general. The people in power in Washington, DC today think they have the power to kill Bitcoin, which should give us all a good laugh. Bitcoin is already dead 474 dead and still alive – it’s just code, and 8 billion people around the world already have the ability to run code on their smartphones. When organizations make decisions out of fear, they tend to get exactly what they feared. US policymakers are going to get what they fear here by pushing bitcoin services into the proverbial shadow: they will face a stronger, more globally distributed and therefore more resilient bitcoin network, on which they have less visibility and control over the US dollar on and off ramps than they have today.
Do you see bitcoin as an asset that will help maintain the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency? Or as a means to an apolitical monetary system on a global scale?
There are certainly strategic and national security benefits to the United States maintaining its leadership in this technology. Yes, dollars can be issued on the Lightning Network, for example, and the United States should adopt it. The fact that stablecoins have gained as much traction as they have is a testament to the fact that the world wants the dollar to run on internet-speed payment rails.
In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?
This is a tough question, and it goes beyond just bitcoin. It applies to the technology sector as a whole, as well as to STEM fields in general. It’s no secret that I funded a scholarship for female engineers at the University of Wyoming in 2017 with appreciated bitcoin. In doing so, I do my best to encourage women to stay in the engineering field once they enroll in an engineering major.
Aside from women speaking out, the best thing the Bitcoin space can do to attract more women, and indeed people from all walks of life, is to keep adding blocks. Adoption will continue over time!
There is an element of irony in the fact that Long and the Custodia team are doing things as compliantly as possible and yet they are meeting resistance from deep within the banking regulatory establishment. The concept of fully reserved deposits simply does not sit well with banking regulators due to decades of indoctrination on the altar of debt and remortgage. Pioneers like Long not only deserve our respect, but also our support because they are the first to step into the breach.
This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.