S1 E10: Alena Vranova on Bitcoin and Fairer Politics

Alena Vranova is a co-founder of Satoshi Labs and the business developing mastermind that helped brands such as Trezor and Casa reach mainstream success in the Bitcoin space.

In this interview, Vranova talks about the ways in which Bitcoin can influence geopolitics and international relations by allowing nation states to trade in a neutral asset that no other government can inflate or censor. She uses the example of the Iraq invasion by the NATO forces (which turned out to disprove the existence of weapons of mass destruction but might be linked to oil).

Also, a recurring theme throughout the dialogue with Alena Vranova is communism. Since both of us were born in formerly communist countries that theoretically provided everything but practically impoverished the people and kept the nomenclature safe and warm, we use examples from our own experiences to refer to the case of Venezuela and other “socialist” nations. Unfortunately, we agree with the conclusion that nobody really reads history or cares to learn from it.

Inevitably, taxation becomes a central part of the conversation. How did we go from people starting riots for 10% rates to agreeing on paying 50% or more? Well, as Alena Vranova reveals, the rulers have gotten smarter by dividing taxes in multiple categories that are harder to observe – most people are not even aware that they’re paying taxes on each transaction, they have become accustomed with the idea and ignore it.

Vranova also reveals that she is a graduate in linguistics and marketing communications, who dropped out while pursuing a degree in diplomacy and international finance to join the Bitcoin bandwagon. It was this interest in the international monetary system that taught her the power of the US dollar, how one nation can get into unlimited debt and make the rest of the world pay for it too, and why it might be a good idea to hedge. So when she discovered Bitcoin shortly after the financial crisis of the late 2000s, she instantly fell in love with the idea and hasn’t recovered since.

Listen to Alena Vranova on iTunes and Spotify!

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Full Transcript:

Alena Vranova (00:00:58):

As we both grew up raised in central and Eastern European countries, which have been living under authoritarian regimes, and we have a very specific and particularly bad experience with hyperinflation and the way the economy had been managed during the first part of the 1990s. And even before that, while our countries were still communist. And I guess that through this dialogue, we can actually share many insightful points of view that can be useful in terms of adopting Bitcoin and understanding why it’s such a great idea for the world economy. So, hello.

Alena Vranova (00:01:43):

Hi, thanks for having me.

Alena Vranova (00:01:46):

I’m really happy that we get to do this

Alena Vranova (00:01:50):

Me too. Me too, or, you know, and especially I grew up, I was born in the communist, like you were born post, but you lived very, very heavy consequences of the regime. So I think that’s where we, we meet. And we can definitely share with the rest of the Bitcoin world that has not been fortunate to go through these. And I’m saying fortunate, not because I would be, you know, happy about it, but because it’s definitely something that a lot of other people may just lack and that’s the collective memory and that’s the even personal experience with with this topic, you know, oppression, this, this despotism and other isms like communism. And so I think this is extremely important to share because just for the lack of the memory and lack of the knowledge of history, some some people may have tendencies to get to the ideas that Hey, maybe socialism is great, you know, and maybe a universal, basic income is great and maybe this is great, but then it’s like, it all sounds so great and amazing. And that’s exactly how socialism sounded to who our ancestors, right. Everyone will be happy and have everything. And I’m not saying that everyone will have to say nothing, but so yeah, it’s a great, it’s a great frame to begin with for, for this podcast.

Alena Vranova (00:03:42):

I was actually speaking to an American friend last week and he told me that nobody really thinks about needing sound money in their lives. Nobody gets out of bed one morning and says, you know what, I’m lacking right now, sound money because I’m not a dollars in my pocket.

Alena Vranova (00:04:01):

That’s, that’s actually perfect. Yes, that’s that’s right. Nobody nobody in like my normal environment cares about these things. So the reason being, they, they don’t understand money as a tool of power. And they probably, you know, normal people like my mom, they get upset about the consequences, but they are not, you know in the, in the state of like going and digging into the race of the stand and trying to find solutions to the world’s problems. So that’s why we have people or you know, groups of people or whoever such as such Nakamoto, who will probably was thinking about these topics now. Yeah,

Alena Vranova (00:04:55):

You know, I was actually discussing throughout the podcast about the fact that Bitcoin is something that we need as a neutral currency for the world. And it’s interesting that we are not experiencing, we were not experiencing this before. And this used to be like a toy for libertarian arrogance to show off and present their ideas as something that can be put into practice. But nowadays with Venezuela, and also with platforms like Patreon, which are censoring people for free speech, we are actually seeing why we require something that cannot be controlled and actually doesn’t care about what you think it’s money that you have, and nobody can take away from you.

Alena Vranova (00:05:41):

Exactly, exactly. And you know, you mentioned Venezuela my, my big passion and my motivation actually to get into Bitcoin. It’s not just from like my experience from childhood

Alena Vranova (00:05:58):

And as having to stand in lines for simple, you know, kilos bananas, and then another line for bread and another line for me, you know, and getting what we actually need to him having to wait years and years for cars and stuff. So from some level of understanding of geopolitics and how the world politics work, right then looking at the 1990s and 2000s where we had, you know, invasions to Iraq for example and nobody’s talking about the actual reason behind the invasion, right? It was not like the everyone hated Saddam Hussein. It was because the Saddam announced to the world, few weeks before the invasion, that they will switch trading petrol from dollars to euros and all of a sudden you as army marched it, and guess what decision was reversed?

Alena Vranova (00:07:12):

And that just tells you like how a dollar is engraved and embodied in all the international trade and how one country can basically manipulate the world, how the world turns by just simply shoot their own money, right? And that this is the only country in the world that can afford to to go in an unlimited debt because there are markets and because the are, you know, crucial resources are being traded in dollars. Most of the international trade is in dollar. Most of the reserves the currency reserves of all the countries around the world happened to be in dollar. And so that gives the wrong country, gives one country a huge, huge position too many too late, or what’s going on and to dictate conditions that dictate, for example, like, you know, you want to establish a company anywhere and you need to file a FATCA document, which is just specifically for American authorities right. Only tells me like how court, since eighties, for us to maintain the position of the dollar in the global, the global scheme. And what happens if someone there’s to say, you know, what, screw your dollar. So we are in this, in this situation today, and we’re looking at no failing

Alena Vranova (00:08:57):

As a country that could have been super wealthy, but just Venezuela crude to swim in ballers or Bitcoins in, or in golf or in the Petro. They don’t live because there’s a power struggle, right. America wants that, those resources and [inaudible] America. So now there, there’s the situation where you have tens of millions people in, in, in hunger although they could be like the, one of the most rich countries in the world, right? Oh yeah. Money, th this, this is basically what brought me to, to studying Bitcoin, discuss even discovery of Bitcoin, as I was like thinking, and I was writing my thesis about the international monetary system in the current imbalances. And I was like, it’s impossible. You know, then we have Euro. You’re always unfortunately in my opinion, a failed project from the very beginning because our, you know, our publications just decided to do the power grab instead of listening to reason.

Alena Vranova (00:10:16):

And so despite having a lot of economies and despite these economies nailing down the master criteria, right, which is five sets of criteria that you have to comply with, if you want to join early monetary union, right. Guess what, so non of current EU members comply with these rules, you I mean Europe zone members right now, again, these money is simply a term of political power. Not a tool for a smooth and good exchange of value. And that’s what bothers me. So in a actually to call money is an absolute must. I think, for the future, especially if we want to get through the fear, the influence of petitions of Brown lives,

Alena Vranova (00:11:13):

But I was thinking right now, let’s say that it’s true, that Russia is going to get into Bitcoin and buy large amounts. And let’s assume that 10 years from now is going to be a much more precious resource, not just a meme about going to the moon and buying Lambos in that swing the world powers in a way that would actually grant our political power to the country, which gets into Bitcoin.

Alena Vranova (00:11:45):

I think that that’s a good while. That’s a good question. I, I, you asking like about the the biggest stakeholders

Alena Vranova (00:11:55):

And the,

Alena Vranova (00:11:57):

There are only 21 million, there will be 21 million.

Alena Vranova (00:12:02):

That is true. And that’s why I’m happy that did corn did not was not conceived as a, as a central money and that a lot of individual people around the world and, you know, nerds minors and early believers got their hands on some Bitcoin. And I hope, and I hope that there will be, it will be strong, you know, that was forcing them. Of course, you cannot prevent like strong players you know, giving into Bitcoin and manipulating the prices, but that’s, that’s something you cannot solve. Basically throw up any assets. There’s many positioning commodities. This there’s manipulation in Forex and every, every trade and business, the point here is can Bitcoin be misused as a tool for political power? If let’s say, let’s assume Russia would have a substantial stock of Bitcoin can they, you know, go about and manipulate the price and yeah. To Americans manipulate prices of oil and, and all these things. Yes, they do. So it could turn out actually actually being a very similar thing, but the difference here is that nobody can print more. Nobody can falsify and, and, you know rebirth my transactions. And nobody can basically take me whom to transact with when and under which conditions. But this is something that other money that’s not half and the traditional banking system. And not for me,

Alena Vranova (00:13:54):

That’s a very useful point. As it sees you to think that this whole decentralized economy is going to end up getting controlled by governments, but there is no way they can have the same kind of leverages and the same kind of control how people spend their money, how they use it. They cannot confiscate. They cannot get, are going to send this percentage. It’s mandatory for you to send this percentage to this account or this address, because that’s what we call taxation. Now, that’s not going to happen. And that was speaking to, I think I was having this conversation with Ricardo Spani, fluffy pony. And he was saying that at this point, governments have to become much more creative and be more inviting with those who hold cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, and make them understand why it’s important to give money and become much more transparent in regards to their spending. That’s an important step that we have to make, not income taxation. There was never really accountability.

Alena Vranova (00:15:08):

Exactly. No, this is, this is a great point. For, for taxation. Here’s the thing I wouldn’t say. Like, I’m happy to pay for tech, like some tax, if I see and when I see that the government deals with it responsibly and when I see where it goes so if you know, governments want people to, to continue and be happy to pay taxes, they have to make some effort, right? I’m by the way, I’m more often an artist when, I mean, anarchists, I don’t think we necessarily need central authorities to decide about, you know, the price level and target inflation then, and decide about like, what are the best tools for all? Because from a central point, you know, for one office, you can never target the price well, for all different goods. So you can, you can get the price correctly for you know, I, and by, by getting the price correctly, I mean, no central banks targeting inflation points, who to establish some price level, right.

Alena Vranova (00:16:23):

That’s how we manipulate the prices in the market. They either release more money into the system or the, the bite up. So by doing this I think they introduce more imbalances assistance and they actually, that’s the first thing, the second thing is, do we need army, at least in my country? I don’t think so. Honestly, because our army, if there’s a nation that’s proud to spend for a few days do we need helped like organized help for firefighting and, and, you know some security is a possibility. Yes, we do. And this can be speed done by private bodies. Absolutely. Right. So that’s, then the question is like whether go for me, not a cure, either QE or be a status, that’s fine tune. Like I’m open to that as well. But if you want people to pay taxes, be fair enough to show them what you’re doing with the taxes. And so, Hey, why don’t governments just go, think about adopting some blockchain technology that, you know, you could simply trace any facts and when it goes to the budget and it’s spent

Alena Vranova (00:17:51):

We even condition, you know, some, some spending some, some results and so on and so forth. Yeah. But it doesn’t really sleep in the mindset of politicians right today, budgets are not done according to like, Oh, this needs to be done. And that needs to be fixed today. Budgets are, are done in a very different way. Paid for the campaign who voted, who gave me the largest number of money, where can I, you know, forward the tax money and who’s going to build the roads. And these are all like very shady and, and usually very corrupt practices happening. So on one hand they go like, Oh, I’m, you know, I want to avoid that says, no, that’s not true. Keep going. There’s just, don’t want to answer no stupid questions to the things. Why are you withdrawing your money right from the bank account? Why are you sending this money to someone else? Like, that’s not my problem, right? I’m not incremental. I have not stolen one. Why do I have to be constantly surveilled by this financial system? That’s another topic like blankets surveillance that we have today is completely anti-constitutional for, at least in my constitution. There’s a presumption of innocence, right. Innocent until proven guilty. I do not commit any crimes, but I’m still KYC and AML on every step. Why? Because they cannot enforce criminal justice sufficiently. And like, if it efficiently enough. So they decide, instead of going after one specific, you know, criminal, they decide to go after everyone. I don’t like that. And I think that should be definitely a change ahead. So

Alena Vranova (00:19:58):

Getting back to our initial topic about communism and know that at least in my country, there was this assumption that anyone can be an enemy of the regime. And then you wanted criminal and children were taught in schools to actually turn in their parents if they’re were speaking something that a guest that bitter or as the system. And it’s the same as we read the 1984, it’s not much different.

Alena Vranova (00:20:27):

Oh yeah. I lived like with these these things my as with my own skin. Right. But came back from school, hopefully happy that I learned a new poem about meaning, right. So I’m spending in the kitchen and the mama, you

Alena Vranova (00:20:48):

Know, dad, I learned a new poem. Do you want to hear and make sure? And I go, I bomb. And then they start to talk about blending and like my parents when I fail, but they said nothing. Right. up to several years later when they said, look, I, we couldn’t say anything. We saw like how these little girls excited about this stupid poem about box, and they could not tell there’s certain things, you know, that you have to do in in the country, if you want to establish some despotism. Right. Which is socialism, communism, fascism. It is injecting a certain amount of fear to, in order to keep the masses in in order. Right. And, and happy and compliant. And so you see this happening, not just liking the past, the doses today, like injecting fear from the enemy and creating enemies.

Alena Vranova (00:21:56):

This is some, some again to, of, of political power. And so in the, in the communist times, this was as, especially in Czechoslovakia, there were a lot of trials and killings and still the fifties and in the sixties all the people that were a part of the intelligence part of later, but this isn’t right, this isn’t everyone home wanting a more, you know, democratic establishment when did not you know, didn’t agree or wasn’t happy about communist basically appropriating all the, all the private property, 1948. All those people went to jail were killed, were hanged or were forced to go to exile. And after the sixties, we had like a it’s a sneaky term, by the way, it was called normalization. And things like kind of seemingly looked well, right?

Alena Vranova (00:23:06):

The, the, the, the communist Czechoslovakia has been built up. And my mom just recently shared an article with me and saying, you know just in the seventies, we have built so many schools and we have done this and that. So, yeah. And we did not kill anymore people because all those smart people were either dead or in exile. And the only way to keep keep and extremism as establishment is just basically in such fear, get rid of the intellectuals in the, in the system, make them quiet. Right. And one of the ways today’s by by social welfare, social welfare has turned from something that we want to achieve as a product, as a side product of our activity. Right. We want to, everyone wants to be okay and wealthy enough to not have to be scared of the future.

Alena Vranova (00:24:10):

You don’t have to think, what am I gonna eat tomorrow? Right. so social welfare history from the side of the thing to something that is kind of used as a political narrative, right. And abused as American. So you see, especially in the Western countries today, there’s a lot of people calling for social justice, they’re calling for a basic universal income and stuff like this. And it’s just, they’re strong tool, right? This is so strong, like who doesn’t want to get free money and security Reno by default, despite your existence. Of course, everyone, everyone, Hey, even free money. People don’t realize that it’s like a, these sugar. And then, you know, they invite you somewhere and it’s, it’s very pleasant. Right. And don’t care about the consequences. Don’t think don’t do the math, come on. People. This is free money, basic income. Don’t do the math and people don’t do the math. So I think we should talk more about these things, you know, and especially in the, in, in countries that are having these most socialist tendencies and have never lived the experience and have never even thought about the consequences.

Alena Vranova (00:25:38):

Yeah. As you described it, it’s like the story of Hansel and Gretel when they see that house made of sweets. And they don’t ask question.

Alena Vranova (00:25:46):

Yeah, exactly. Right. Follow I’m with Bitcoin. It’s true. Like, you know, it’s very unstable and it’s probably, I mean, the price is volatile and, and it’s probably right now of more for people who have to thin and seek to be for, for self-reliance, you know, to be sovereign. And so these people who are thinking about, you know, future and are thinking about political hedge, because for me, Bitcoin mainly is political hedge. I don’t want to have all my savings and check on us. Oh my God. No, of course not mine. Because one day our government says, Oh, everything is perfect. That economy works great. And the next day they, they devalue the currency

Alena Vranova (00:26:44):

By, by 10%, from one day to another. Right. or they say, you know, if you don’t pay YC, AML, you can basically exist within this system. Oh. And why do you want such a big amount from your account? Where did you get that money from? Can you go like the iron leads us to pizza, it’s all money all. Then you realize, actually it’s not my money because it’s in your bank. So Bitcoin is political for me. And we couldn’t, it’s also a tool how to see, you know, what, I’m going to send this money to blood today. And you will not give me any questions because I’m not a criminal. I don’t have to, I don’t want to be surveyed if I had done nothing.

Alena Vranova (00:27:39):

I was thinking, as you’re speaking of people who don’t fully work and basically exist, and they receive money from the state as welfare, how would you convince people like this to actually embrace sovereignty? And like something like Bitcoin, which is all about what you do by yourself, it’s their own power and embracing this kind of freedom.

Alena Vranova (00:28:10):

There’s definitely no, some part of people who cannot work like that. And it’s, I’m not the person to say, Oh, you know, let’s forget about them. Of course. And I’ll say, no, it is a human site. We are humans. We’re not animals. Right. We need to take care of people that are disadvantaged. But, but I think we can do that in a pure capitalist way. When you look at U S a U S has always been like the cradle of capitalism and, you know, the, the, the, the pride of capitalism at the same time, and then are the, are the one nation in the world that donate money that keeps, that gives donations. That helps out that I have a lot of charities. So it only tells me what people are good off. And when people are CrossFitters, they help many, and they have resources to share. If nobody has anything to put, just don’t share it because they expect the state to do that for them. I prefer. But yeah, I really prefer to like, just to support business, people are not stupid. People are not cheap. People don’t meet, you know everyone to tell them kind of props. We have to fill out certifications. You have to do, if, if your food that you produce is not good, reasoning, people stop buying it. Right. so here, like just the more small freedom sort of people to be able to decide about where they go, what they do.

Alena Vranova (00:30:05):

I have a copy of Adam Smith’s wealth of nations here. Close to my desk.

Alena Vranova (00:30:14):

Yes.

Alena Vranova (00:30:15):

Yeah. I didn’t read, read much of it to my shame. It’s a big book and that has lots of them. And what I remember that I did read, and I hope I’m not confusing with some other economist, because I would embarrass myself. You recommends that wealthy people should not be taxed, but should be incentivized to make donations. As he understands this system of incentives, as everybody wants, what they don’t have. Somebody has too much money. They’re going to willingly give it away if they receive something else in return. And that it was actually recommending this idea of vanity as rich people tend to have this pride and they want their names to be everywhere. So instead of taxing everybody or taxing the rich and making them run away from the country, it’s better to just talk to them and say, how about you donate? So we build a stadium and after it’s completed, it’s going to bury your name.

Alena Vranova (00:31:20):

Yeah, exactly. You know, have you, have you read anything from Ayn Rand? We talking in her trilogy, what’s the name? I think it’s, I can’t remember right now anyway, so yeah. So that’s a great book, right. And I think there’s also a movie. So for those who didn’t have time to read that, just watch the movie. Exactly not. There have been some discussions in one of my professors of the economy. She basically explained to us “Look, it’s proven that whenever the country lowers the tax rate effectively, they collect more”. It’s counterintuitive it’s fact. And again, if you lower your tax rate, you end up having more in your budget. Why? Because people are not trying to find ways how to avoid taxes because they think, Oh, if I only pay five or 10%, I can live with that. I, some people would say, Oh, that’s fair. You know, for what I’m getting. But if you start taxing 30, 35, even more like today in

Alena Vranova (00:32:40):

My country, a combined tax rate of like six 60 to 65%. That’s incredible. That that’s a lot, you know, I’ve only always be wondering, like in the medieval times, people would pay 10% to the ruling powers, right. 10%. And they did the rock that they did, the revolt, they were, there were evolutions in that upstanding and upheavals against 10% tax. Now we are paying 50, 60, even more. And we are quiet. Why? Because our rulers are smarter. They don’t tax you flat 60%, but they divided the taxes into a multiple layers of fixation. Right. Be some, some, a value added tax or on the goods and services that you consume, like profit tax, dividend tax, and then mandatory health insurance and social insurance and stuff like that. Right. And when you combine that, all, you get to a huge number instead of that, if, if they said, no, we’re gonna do a very low flat tax and we will not punish the ones that are successful.

Alena Vranova (00:33:57):

We will not take more from the wealthy. Why? Because these wealthy people tend to employ thousands of other people and to build stuff, they have a, an Everage a builder, a risk appetite. They are the ones to go and say, okay, I’m going to invest 10 million here. And I’m going to build a factor in I’m going to employ people. Well, if you attack them like crazy, then they’re going to go, okay, I will open some, some company and some, a tax heaven and, and, you know screw you. And I will not invest into this country. That’s I think that’s a very logical thing. I, I’m still surprised that the, that the police emissions, not in the economist did not come to this understanding is the same in, is it the same thing?

Alena Vranova (00:34:51):

It is. We have the same tax rates about 60 something percent. And so it all, and the, we have the same tendencies to overtax, you know, the state needs more money. So how are we going to get that? Oh, how about we raise the VAT? That’s the first measure. Usually when there’s times of prices, they raise the vac, they cut the salaries of the state employees. They disincentivize the whole private sector.

Alena Vranova (00:35:26):

Yeah. And you can, you can actually see quite well how bad the country’s doing. If you look at what’s the percentage of people employed

Alena Vranova (00:35:38):

By the public sector. If you see the public sector is huge, you know, that’s, there is a lot of travel traffic.

Alena Vranova (00:35:47):

Yeah. That that’s a bubble. And also

Alena Vranova (00:35:50):

It’s. So, I mean, you’re not gonna go against your employer, right. So if you’re employed by the state and the state, meaning all the people, but the States, and he’s giving you your breath, then you’re not gonna go against Stripe. And you may even think that you are doing some good service to your country. As I have seen, you know, while I’m leaving the social apps company, I had a very frequent encounter with with the workers, from the tax authority, right. And these ladies, they truly believed that the paperwork and all these rules and all these things are, is like almost above the godly law, right. They truly believe in the system. And they took, so it’s not like before mean or not knowing that they just believe that this is really what’s working kind set.

Alena Vranova (00:36:56):

You know, my father used to work for the remaining fiscal authority in his early years. I think he had the same kind of opinion that he’s doing something which is useful by fighting against evasion and stuff like that. But what he has seen so many good businesses just closed down because of some bureaucratic reasons which led to huge fines and made them unsustainable as businesses, just because they had to pay a lot of money to this, that he realized that it’s absurd. I think right now he’s a fan of the American approach.

Alena Vranova (00:37:36):

Why,

Alena Vranova (00:37:38):

I don’t know, maybe he studied more. I mean, let’s just remember that

Alena Vranova (00:37:42):

I can approach his life. The complete slavery in America, at least us is the only country from what I know in the world that enslaves their citizens, regardless of their domiciles and whereabouts and so on. So even if you’re only living for 20 years outside of us, right, we still have to pay backs in the us. Even if you give up your citizenship, your American passport, you are still obliged. I think for seven years to pay taxes in the us, I feel like the U S actually has one, one of the craziest like ownership of the citizens.

Alena Vranova (00:38:28):

I think I was referring more to the practice of filing in your tax returns and all the documents. And

Alena Vranova (00:38:36):

It’s up to the community around you to report if you’re being dishonest and you are much more than you reported, it’s a system that’s based much more on having small scale groups, which are careful to what the other one does. And if they have a porch in their yard and they reported like $20,000 earnings in their year, then there’s some things that they should, and not up to agents to come and check all the time. I want to have an AB that they do random checks from time to time, but not everybody, but it’s up to the good willing that is done to actually report.

Alena Vranova (00:39:20):

Yes. I mean, I have my duty to report if I, if I do it probably, or if I calculate and exceeds my liability, right. And I have to correct it and I have to either pay more or, or whatever, the problem that I have with this thinking is why, what in the world makes makes the the state or the government think that they can use people as a, as their tools is there outsource their tasks and, you know, their own jobs to, to other entities. And this is exactly what’s happening by, you know, using other people to report on the neighbor in Germany. People who’ve been report their neighbors for posting posting an Airbnb listing in, in here. Basically the government is using companies, private businesses on their own expense to report everything, right.

Alena Vranova (00:40:29):

So when you think of it, these should be reversed. They should be on the voluntary basis. And not like me surveilling all the customers and then reporting to the government on the customers. Basically we have a huge government, a very costly government, and the government still uses private sector. Is there a reporting tool? Is there you know, executive tool, I find these weird combined, you have no idea as a, as a, as a CEO and owner of the company, how much money and time I had spent on on you come from my perspective, almost completely useless reporting and, and stuff. You know, they had all our imports and exports in the system despite that we had to kind of report and summarize for them and explain all over and over again. Right. I didn’t like that. I even, I had the chance to tell it to the minister of finance himself.

Alena Vranova (00:41:36):

Look my company’s okay. We may have done the, you know, like really tiny administered with mistakes, but we have not cheated ever. We have not, you know, changed numbers. We have not needed on exports and stuff, but, but we constantly have to prove this in all these why, you know, why what’s the motivation for me to do business here in this country and pay taxes here. So of course you have, you know arbitrage opportunities. And that’s what, in the end, those businessmen who are willing to take risks and who are willing to develop businesses, they will think twice. No. If this country is like these men, and it’s really difficult to actually make some decent living here, I’ll go somewhere else. I love arbitrage opportunities, by the way, it’s, it’s, it’s the thing, the tool that allows, you know, people just continuing what they’re doing.

Alena Vranova (00:42:41):

And the lot of, you know, huge companies, I don’t even understand really the upheaval against huge corporations trying to optimize, you know, for taxes. Why not? Why not? The taxes are so drastic and, you know, the, the, the overall like ethics you then the, the output of the government, I’m not happy with it. So, I mean, is that just not logical to, or for companies to optimize for taxes? Why did we put a stigma on these people like that? Those are criminals. Aren’t those criminals who are stealing my money and abusing or corrupted for corruption, right. That should be the discussion in place.

Alena Vranova (00:43:28):

Yeah. I guess this is the kind of revenge that politicians have on private sector, unhealthy for everybody else, except for their own reelection. And we’ve seen that, I guess, with the Panama papers, we had all these reports about businesses, not filing taxes and having their headquarters in Panama tax Haven, but it’s only a moral flaw, not actually a fiscal one. It’s not like they did not

Alena Vranova (00:44:01):

Immoral about it. Tell me,

Alena Vranova (00:44:04):

Well, if you referred to the mortality of actually paying back to the community that you come from, and let’s say that you’re an American company, and you’re not paying taxes if knighted States, and maybe it’s imoral, but it’s defined by the political side, not by the economic rationale. So it makes sense from an economic point of view, to do your best in order to avoid paying that high amount of taxes that you are obliged to by your jurisdiction. But that’s not something that politicians want regular citizens to understand, and they want to hate, they wanted to help the hate, the wealthy, and basically have heroes like Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn or whatever socialist politicians.

Alena Vranova (00:44:57):

I’m just kidding. Well okay. So, so is it so the question of morality is here, so that’s a good question, actually, morality do you think it’s, it’s moral to send people to jail for, for example, tax evasion for 15 years. Wow. they sent a child murder to jail for six or seven years.

Alena Vranova (00:45:31):

That’s clearly unbalanced.

Alena Vranova (00:45:35):

Yeah. So if I, so if I create conditions that push people to do certain acts and then punish them for that, is it moral?

Alena Vranova (00:45:54):

Oh, that depends.

Alena Vranova (00:45:58):

Yeah.

Alena Vranova (00:45:59):

If you have the conditions to be a bad parent and you’re being a bad parent, are you being immoral to your child?

Alena Vranova (00:46:08):

Punishing? Yeah. So your child runs away, right? Because you’re like extremely prohibitive. For example, you don’t allow your child to do what he loves to do. Right. Then he likes to play the violin or so, and you say no violin, and you say, no, it’s no that, and into this only, only as I tell you, right. And then the child’s when, when it’s 15 disappears from home runs away and then it gets punished because the father says, I will never want to see again. Or you gonna, you know, basically jailed him from his life. So I know it’s a different example, but this is basically what the governments do to their businesses, to the economy that, you know, keeps to the heart of the economy. And then there’s a proxy, right? That the is optimized for the facts instead of, you know looking back and specking, specking bagging saying, why don’t we just try out a different approach? It’s been proven, it’s been proven that the lower tax rate effectively you get more into your budget. So why are they so stupid? I don’t know, like, you know, this a

Alena Vranova (00:47:30):

It’s a questions have no morality are very difficult, always. And of course, you know, you will have generally rich people who have no healing in them to, you know, participate in the social environment and helping out and building stuff. And they just kind of go and enjoy their wealth and do luxury yachts. And we’d be for girls and that’s all right, fine. But we cannot judge all of, all of the successful people based on a few bad examples, right. Or a few rotten apples, don’t, don’t make the entire tree. Hmm.

Alena Vranova (00:48:18):

I wanted to ask you about what it’s like to own Bitcoin in the Czech Republic. And if you can actually live with it as I’ve read an article by Bitcoin magazine, and the order of the article said that in San Francisco, it’s so terrible that it’s very likely that you can start, and there is a greater market for altcoins than it is for Bitcoin.

Alena Vranova (00:48:43):

Hm. It’s a blockchain hype, right. In Silicon Valley. I heard that blockchain by blockchain is basically like a very core topic to discuss next to weather and, and other things that are happening in Silicon Valley. I dunno, I have a feeling that here in Czech Republic, a lot of people are motivated by other than just purely speculative investments. So lots of people are actually trying to build useful this stuff and the East, I know I haven’t actually traveled. The prac is a, is a tourist. But I assume that it could be possible, although not easy to survive, purely, purely on creeped up. I just earning and paying in Bitcoin. You can do that. You can find places where you can eat and drink and you can possibly find you know, places that you can rent. There’s coworking spaces that you can rent for Bitcoin and stuff like that. There’s a lot of companies in the crypto space, but is it like a fully fledged because supporting market yet? No, not really, but it’s coming in like, I mean the largest electronics dealer in the country, it’s a huge, huge business. They accept Bitcoin. And not just that they sell a Trezor hardware wallet based on other disorder, graphic cards for mining and they sell and buy Bitcoin. So they have B point ATM in

Alena Vranova (00:50:28):

There, tops. It just tells you like, okay, maybe a here it’s probably easier. Whereas Silicon Valley is is this fair fairytale lens, you know, for, for unicorn and rainbow to write papers.

Alena Vranova (00:50:48):

So the Czech equivalent of Amazon is accepting Bitcoin,

Alena Vranova (00:50:55):

Not Amazon. That’s not the, because it’s called ALZA. They have these commercials. They’re very funny, annoyingly, screaming greenish mascots like that. Like, I dunno what they are, like extraterrestrials or something like that. And recently I’ve seen some funny advertisement with this Miami dude with a huge golden Bitcoin chain around his neck, so they are bullish on Bitcoin. It’s great. It’s very refreshing to see private businesses understanding it’s not just the marketing through. Maybe that’s a, it’s a new segment, it’s a new, they recognize this is a new market developing in front of their eyes and they want to catch the opportunity

Alena Vranova (00:51:56):

I know from experience and from what I’ve read that the most developed countries right now were the first ones to embrace industrial revolution. That’s why we have this order. And that’s how we have this distribution of wealth on a global scale. And you think that right now, the countries that are the first to embrace Bitcoin are going to turn the balance in their favor.

Alena Vranova (00:52:24):

Yeah, I think so. Any in no investments in, in research and development in science and in technology whoever is looking forward is going to get there still there. Why? Because the others are just looking in front of them, right. And they can only make a small step in front of them if that’s the limit that they see, it’s it comes in this Valley for individuals as well as countries think actors, right. And you know, Czechoslovakia in them. And before the second world war is actually one of the top 10 economies in the world, imagine a tiny, tiny, small country. Most people in the world don’t even know where it is exactly. Right. And the small Czecgoslovakia back then not serve had maybe 10 or 12 inhabitants altogether

Alena Vranova (00:53:27):

Was most one of the top 10 economies. Right. Because we had a lot of machinery happening, a lot of research or mode of like huge construction works. So a lot of our, in the fifties and sixties, a lot of cement guns, no, we were huge producers of armory. And off like that. And then what happened was the second world war Hitler and then communists all of a sudden, 1989, we wake up into a new reality and we realize like, we are a hell of a poor country. Now we have nothing. We have nothing left compared to the rest looking, you know what’s happening out there. We really are left basically with nothing. And why, because there was no huge you know, investment to like new technologies. And basically we were just, during the communist times, we were just supplying the retires Soviet block, including Cuba and all these dancers, including Romania, by the way, with our products. Right. So we would like to mass production place the difference, no huge research. And there was no new technologies coming into DLA against the West by some 6.20, but I would save him 14 years. And yeah, I can, I can definitely see that, you know, countries that understand and businesses that understand Bitcoin is is the future of we’ll have a heads up for headstart.

Alena Vranova (00:55:18):

My father usually tells me stories from when the Russians came. He wasn’t alive at the time, but he had his parents and grandparents tell him that we build airplanes in a city, which is called, Brașov. And that was actually a Romanian inventor who came up with for the first time with the engine, which breaks the speed of sound. I’m not sure what it’s called, but the engine. Yeah, yeah. Name is Henri Coanda. We had this huge factory to build their planes and the Russians just took it. They took it apart. They sent it in train wagons to Moscow and they established a factory, which now builds tractors for agriculture, that we should be their supply for grains and agricultural products. And we are farmers, you know,

Alena Vranova (00:56:24):

That’s yeah. That’s, that’s the, that’s the embracing of, you know, industrial revolution means we have guns. It’s funny. I was having a Ted talk, I think through two or three years ago in hearing track. And I brought up the, the, the cause of the car in the United Kingdom during the late 19th century you know, cars were new, which was a new thing was for it was basically a toy for extravagant wealthy people. Right. Or we can say today, when you look at Bitcoin for nerds and for people with extravagant and weird ideas such as anarchies right. But back then, that was the situation for the car. Nobody knew how to drive it. Well the cars would break down. There was no infrastructure, no good roads for the cars. And so no, no, no petrol stations, you know, it’s a, it was very difficult, just like the big points a day.

Alena Vranova (00:57:43):

I mean, Bitcoin is still feel these weird things like the people’s feel go out. Yeah. I don’t understand it. And so people were like, yeah, I don’t understand cars. And then why why having like a big, big thing that can hurt me instead of having a faster horse. Right. And so the, the government then wanting to regulate the cars and they invented these red flag thing. Have you heard of anything? It’s quite it’s quite a known and funny story. So the red flag act was designed to prevent to regulate the car industry and the, especially the behavior of car drivers. And so in front of each car, you had to have a, a person that’s walking or running in front of your car and holds like a red flag to signal coming danger.

Speaker 6 (00:58:44):

I haven’t heard of this, but it’s insane.

Alena Vranova (00:58:47):

It is, it seems insane. But the same way, it seems insane to me when, when governments are trying to regulate Bitcoin, first of all, like it is so new. It’s just 10 years, you know, it’s very nascent. And we, we don’t know when, you know, what kind of features are evolving and we already try to feed it into our boxes, right. Just because it’s so new they’re trying to call it different ways. And I’m saying anyone who tries to fit in like Bitcoin into a certain vault fail, because then you look at the different, you know, perspective and you’ll see that Bitcoin actually also does pizza does that. You can use it in many different ways. And so just coming back to the red flag act,uthis is the reason probably why United Kingdom has never become a superpower, even,uautomobile never.

Alena Vranova (00:59:51):

It was trans in Germany who took the power because they were not so restricted, you know, not so trying to curb the innovation. I think those countries, and there are countries like for example, Eastern style, although I’m not super excited about the fact that they issue the specific law for, for blockchain, but at the same time, they are very proactive and they are embracing this business and they are making, you know, conscious steps. And they’re actually very entrepreneurial in the government. These very entrepreneurial, it’s not likely. So you know, power grabbing type of government that we see in a lot of other countries. So I’m, I’m sure you know, that this is the case.

Alena Vranova (01:00:41):

So why don’t you say that is the killer feature of Bitcoin, the one that should encourage people to adopt it and understand that as something that isn’t just speculative, but something that they can use and find purposes,

Alena Vranova (01:00:57):

You know, I, I don’t think there’s one answer to these. Depends on who’s who’s asking, ask I, yeah. If you ask for example a wealth manager or a family office, people who are taking care of some family wealth for sometimes for centuries. Okay. And they see that the value of, of, of their assets, especially if it’s the dollar denominate date, for example, is dropping in like, like crazy with it. You know, I’m sure, you know, this graph, it’s a very you know, often repeat to the graph on, on three, through and online that shows the value of dollar a hundred years ago, and now the purchasing power of the dollar. So these people, when you ask them, like why, because you should make sure that you maintain and preserve the wealth of the family. Right. So do your political hedge and get a part of your world and to beat if you ask you then as well that’s a completely different story. Yeah. I was

Alena Vranova (01:02:20):

Thinking of my grand grandparents who actually had their small businesses confiscated. And by my father’s generation, there was nothing left. It was just the starting from scratch with a new government and the new way of thinking and their attempts to create a new and better society, which ended up crumbling and collapsing and leaving to leading to hyperinflation

Alena Vranova (01:02:49):

And two despotic rulers, especially in Romania. I’m not just in Romania. I mean, in my country it was, so it was similar except for Ceaușescu who was extremely in his behavior. I feel he was a mad man,

Alena Vranova (01:03:08):

He refused to invade Czechoslovakia.

Alena Vranova (01:03:14):

He refused to work

Alena Vranova (01:03:15):

To invade Czechoslovakia in 1968 during the,

Alena Vranova (01:03:19):

Oh, okay.

Alena Vranova (01:03:21):

We’re the only country of the Soviet block, which refused to participate with the army and the invasion.

Alena Vranova (01:03:31):

And will, you know, when you’re talking about your grandparents and losing everything, it was just the same here. So it might be 48 for government, all private businesses from people, they collect you guys everything. And then 1953, we had a so-called monetary reform. I love these words because it’s such a diminutive it’s, it’s just, it’s such a nice way to say that, Oh, we’re actually stealing money from you, but let’s call it a reform. And the wave happened was a shock. It was not something that people would expect. There was no hyperinflation happening before actually the night before the reform our president, I think it was he he, he spoke in the media and he said, everything is okay, do not worry about anything. And the next day, boom, monetary reform. What does it mean? People lost approximately one to 30, the value of their savings of their, you know, investments, everything on average, one to 30. So you hit 30 pounds. Now you have just one. And so there is a, especially in these countries that we live in and grew up in, I think there’s a basic mistrust in the government and there’s a lot of a lot of other countries don’t have that. Right. Cause they still believe that the government is on their site actually. And you know,

Alena Vranova (01:05:18):

There are even countries where I believe that there are, you know, governments thinking about the prosperity of their people and their businesses, but unfortunately not in the most cases.

Alena Vranova (01:05:32):

Yes. And I guess in my academic experience, when I’ve been on exchange, I went to Paris. I went to bologna in Italy and I went to Gothenburg in Sweden and I noticed that the student campuses were so leftist that there were celebrating the 100 year celebration of the Russian revolution, Red October. And to me, that was shocking. I was looking at, I’m asking myself, what, what is wrong with you? People, do you have any idea what happened then? You’re just mindlessly following something, which sounds nice, but it really wasn’t. You have an entire history to actually read about. And if it was like the celebration of Karl Marx’s birth and they were just assuming that his ideas were never really implemented and they were misinterpreted, then I guess, okay, that’s fine. You can live in your bubble. You can dream about it. But if you have books of history, which actually document every event that happened after what state was it in October, 1917. 13,

Alena Vranova (01:06:43):

I think so. It’s probably around November.

Alena Vranova (01:06:47):

No, it’s Red October, but it’s socking to see and France that they, I mean, I guess it’s in the history and then the culture of France to always seek a new revolution and say, we over to the King in 1789, and we’re going to do it once again when it’s necessary, but there were socialists to the bone, whereas nothing to convince them on dance. There was nothing bad that you could say about the State. They would argue with all these data and all these OECD graphs and ideas that actually economies grow better when you have greater taxation and that welfare States bring much more prosperity, stuff like that.

Alena Vranova (01:07:41):

And giving Canada and Sweden as example. Yeah, great. Except for both of them are actually capitalist countries with super high taxation and super heavy welfare state. That’s fine, but they’re still not putting people to jail for different opinions and you still have the option to go away without being shocked. And so you’re, you were shocked in, in in these countries, but I would shop in New York when I saw that someone erected this huge

Alena Vranova (01:08:17):

Statute of Lenin in New York, why people draw, it’s almost, it feels, it almost feels like an insult to people who have gone through the fascism and communism. Honestly, it is an insult because it’s, it’s me telling to the world, I have never read a single history book or I have never even gave it a thought what I’m celebrating, you know, and there’s a lot of you can see in the us, there’s a little bit like a graphic design that resembles the scent, the seventies, eighties, the normalization period the functionalism of our culture, if I can call it like the it would be scary. I should know. It’s, it’s a tragic, it’s like a tragic comedy, sorry.

Alena Vranova (01:09:22):

No, they, they don’t like their freedom. They want somebody to come and tell them what to do with their lives and what to do with their money, how to live. That’s easy.

Alena Vranova (01:09:34):

Yeah. But I think that’s also gonna change. And at the same time, you know, we complain now about these tendencies, but at the same time, there’s another current that’s happening. And it’s quite a strong current in the current age, tending more towards, you know, reliance and sovereignty and leaving led leaf, you know, and voluntary principles and privacy. I think we will as you noted before about the censorship, right, we will see more and more people just, you know, taking the power back because now we have the tools 20 or 40 years ago. We did not have the tools that we have cryptography. We have big point, you know, we have all these ideas about decentralized systems and by decentralized, I mean more resilient, more secure systems. So that’s coming through now. It’s why I’m here. Actually, we know that that motivates me because like one thing is there to complain and cry about the state of affairs. And then another thing is to actually do something about it. I hope for, you know, we’ll get more and more people excited about these topics and joined by people who built stuff so that people can use them with peaceful.

Alena Vranova (01:11:01):

Yeah. And I came to the conclusion that this world would be such a good place and much better in every way, if we all just minded our own business and try to pursue our dreams to actually make something happen and build something.

Alena Vranova (01:11:18):

Hmm. Yeah. Right. Like, don’t stop telling other people how they should just live, live your dream, you know, lead by your example, but do stuff that makes sense for others. That’s how make yourself useful in this world. That’s what I’m trying to do with my life. I hope turns out well eventually or sometimes

Alena Vranova (01:11:45):

No, and if it doesn’t, at least we were happy doing it. We actually embraced our freedom as opposed to waiting for somebody to tell us what to do.

Alena Vranova (01:11:55):

Hmm. Hmm.

Alena Vranova (01:11:59):

I guess in the end, that comes down to what we appreciate most and what we enjoy in life as maybe that I, I’m not entitled and it’s not my qualification to blame people who do nothing with their lives, even though they have a lot of capacity and they are perfectly fine and sane and healthy and able to do something great, they end up just wasting their lives. But

Alena Vranova (01:12:29):

Yeah, and sometimes it’s in a good faith, you know, I go, when you look at, for example, Germany in the thirties late night, late twenties and thirties, do you think that people in Germany would ever, ever assume that the missional missional, socialist democratized labor party, and as they often that it would turn into a despotic, fascist country and, you know, ignite a huge world war and kill millions and millions of people. Do you think that people, when they voted for NSA op-ed that they expected this? No, like, no, I don’t think Germans are crazy or bad people. Not at all. Right. But it just like enormous monstrous size once, you know, and there was all the, like the NSDAP, it was a socialist party. Actually, a leftist party. We always get wrong.

Alena Vranova (01:13:38):

Classism actually is national socialism. It’s left to the same extent that is to the right. We usually label it as right wing because it’s nationalists. And it stands for all the ideas, which promotes a kind of national purity and these ideologies, which reside from a distorted way of doing history and saying that our ancestors were like this, and we should be the same on preserve, prevents everybody else from invading our territory. But it’s of the left that centralization and the plan, the economy and everything that goes on in terms of fiscal terms, it’s a, the left, that’s something that people usually understand. It was actually leftist political scientists who labeled Nazis and fastest to the right. Make a clear distinction.

Alena Vranova (01:14:43):

That was very unfortunate, very unfortunate, by the way, there’s a huge confusion. Like even when you go to us versus Europe or on one, these left than others, right. That’s like a completely different story in both. What is conservative in democratic is not like what is left and right in Europe. Right. And that was I think that was a huge mistake in the history books and by the, by the politologs. Right. But who wrote the labels who mailed the labels?

Alena Vranova (01:15:18):

My definition, the left is demanding for more state intervention, the right is more libertarian and buyers through that state of, I guess the riot is anarchist and the leftist status. That’s my understanding of it.

Alena Vranova (01:15:37):

That’s my understanding too brothers are the correct one. It’s not about like which crop is correct. That’s about some mutual understanding and then understanding where national socialism and look at us, right. There’s socialist tendencies at the same time, a lot of like you know, he treat them in this nationalist tendencies and these melting together and taken to extreme okay. To extreme means establishing it as a, as a general rule or the society adopting me as like, this is the norm. Right. that becomes very dangerous. That’s basically what happened in Germany and we, the psychotic leader in power, of course.

Alena Vranova (01:16:30):

Yeah. But I guess history books also teach us that not all Germans were Nazis and just saw footage of them standing in public places and doing that salute and gearing for their leader and applauding. It doesn’t mean that everybody else living at home was in agreement with that ideology or was happy. There was an opposition, which the Nazi party had, which suppressed and censored and punished, but there was one, and we should remember that. And there were people living in small villages who couldn’t care less if you’re a Jew or, or from Africa or you’re from any other place of the world. They had been living in those communities for hundreds of years and they couldn’t care less where he come from.

Alena Vranova (01:17:22):

And then, because then, you know, exactly because the norm has been established somewhere as, so the norm in Germany back then was like, you know, you, you shouldn’t be airy. I reacted, I don’t know how to say it in English, basically. Yes. And if you’re, for example, Jews that’s, that’s abnormality that has to be taken away from the society than any extreme positioning I think is very toxic and dangerous. And I don’t mean, but by that, that you cannot have extreme opinions, feel free to have them, right. But even, even in crypto, we see certain groups of people being extreme, extreme in this public thing. We can only have big point and don’t take me wrong. I love Bitcoin. I will always fight and build and work on Bitcoin. But I do not understand this, this position of maximalism, for example, from my perspective, that’s like ignoring the fact that there is no power of one in the world, and there should be no power in the rule of one because that’s despotism and it’s also not natural for them.

Alena Vranova (01:18:45):

There’s no oneness in the nature. You have gazillion different types of flowers and bees, right? Doesn’t mean that all the other beads are bad and wrong. No. If they have their purpose, you know, in, in the ecosystems, right. Let them leave. And so we just, I think we know we can abstract from, from visa and looking to our own community and say, Hey guys, don’t waste your energy on trying to prove things that these are, that, you know, all corners, sheep coin, or whatever that it’s wrong or bad, just don’t want to share in the Jeep, go build more stuff. You know, if Bitcoin continues to be the most pure, the, you know, the best, the, the most resilient system then everyone will just use it and you will not have to even fight against, you know, you, you, you see me where I’m going with this. So yeah, any kind of extremism is just bad. I don’t like it.

Alena Vranova (01:19:59):

The maximalism right now is that there are just like early Christians.

Alena Vranova (01:20:06):

Hmm.

Alena Vranova (01:20:08):

Actually said that your religion and your religious leader is not true. If it, if he wasn’t built by immaculate conception, just like it was as it’s pure, you just had a creator who was selfless and he left,

Alena Vranova (01:20:28):

Okay,

Alena Vranova (01:20:28):

You have this situation in which you have no leader and you have to establish your own rules about how you conduct yourself. Nobody’s coming to tell you what to do. Or nobody’s coming to tell you in two weeks, we’re going to hardcore repair your system. You’re known for that.

Alena Vranova (01:20:46):

Yeah. And, you know, actually I want, even in crypto, I want to have arbitrage opportunities. So if, if one day I think that something superseding Bitcoin, something, it has some qualities and I’m looking for those qualities. I want to be able to just easily, you know, getting to the new coin and start using it. Why not? Now I’ve made some people go like Farrah, but but yeah, well, Hey, let’s be open. We never know where this, where this is going towards. Right. And you’re building a Bitcoin because I believe in the future, all the systems will look at the, not the TG taxation, but but I’ll be of, of like increments in them, communication by they’ll these assets that are being built as a crypto tokens, crypto assets, the equities and whatnot. I think all of these will exist and it’s fine, but it will all be centered around one specific ledger. And I believe that’s Columbia, the big ledger, right. Because that has all the properties within that I mentioned before. So I I’d rather see like a, you know, multi corn future with big corn at the center. And that’s, that’s basically the way I am looking at the world, you know? And my focus like is 99% into Bitcoin. 1% I leave open to other options once you’ve locked. How are you positioned in your mind? You do also own other crypto than BTC.

Alena Vranova (01:22:46):

Yeah. I own some Ethereum Classic and some Litecoin. Not that I see them as being that great. And I think it would be a good idea to get into grant or something, but that’s a bad store of value. It only serves the purpose of transferring

Alena Vranova (01:23:06):

Privately and that’s what privacy coins should be all about. But I think these deeper altcoins are actually educational. There are great for people who get into cryptocurrencies and they learn how to use a wallet. They learn how everything works and that’s useful for the Bitcoin supply as no coins get lost by newbies. And it’s also healthy for the education of the space. I think it’s a good idea to start out with some kind of cheap altcoin and then gradually get into something which is bigger and is going to be here for the next 50 years maybe. And that’s not something I can say about any other project, but I think Bitcoin will still be around in 15 years.

Alena Vranova (01:24:02):

And I wanted to point out something which I discussed with Peter Todd last week. I think it was about the fact that Bitcoin is not the culmination of the cashless society. That banks try to promote nowadays when they say, Oh, why carry cash in your wallet? When you can just pay with the private card, that’s it. They want the card and it’s instant. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to stress yourself. You don’t have enough money. Then it’s going automatically into depth and you’re going to pay a small fee to recover. And we actually, the two of us, me and Peter Todd regard, Bitcoin as being more of a collectible or of something, which is cars and it exists digitally just because we have the cryptography to make sure that nobody takes it away from us, it’s unconscious capable. And that’s the only reason why we need technology, which is digital to have it. Otherwise we would have some kind of gold, which can be hidden, but gold is heavy art to transport, hard to conceal it’s detectable. And also he said that Bitcoin needs cash, not Bitcoin cash, but no real. So until the moment until it’s truly private, nobody else knows what you’re doing. Just like with cash. It’s useful to do quick swaps and maybe meet people and say, I’m going to give you half a Bitcoin. And you’re going to give me $2,000 or

Alena Vranova (01:25:45):

That’s maybe healthy for the ecosystem and taxing for these KYC AML exchanges, which also collect big fees and are very abusive and close down accounts.

Alena Vranova (01:25:59):

So here’s the thing, exchanges, you know, charge you

Alena Vranova (01:26:04):

A fee from every transaction or when you get out they are motivated basically by, by these to, to, to, to spark more transactional value and basically absorbed value from each of your transaction. Right. And do I like it, but the blurry? No, I think there, there are other approaches to it, but that’s not the, that’s not the main point I wanted to raise the, here’s the thing with the cashless society. I think it’s very dangerous. It’s very dangerous. We can see that in China. Basically. I almost cashless Denmark, I think is cashless eats the ultimate enslaving. You know, it’s the ultimate slavery for people. My mom, she, I mean, she’s 60 something right then. And she came back to me and said only that I don’t, I hate, you know, I don’t want to use my card anymore and say why mom, she goes, because I just realized that they know everything that I buy and they know everything, even where I go, maybe even who, I mean, you know, we pay like the feeling that I started.

Alena Vranova (01:27:24):

Like, I don’t like that. And so, and my mom is, you know she’s seen her pension a year, so it’s not the, she would be a criminal or some, some huge animal in the basis, moral don’t police, the law, not at all, she’s just a normal person, but she herself realizes this is a very dangerous mechanics. And you look at China and their social crediting system. I’m sure you heard about these, these, these being on a big topic for the past, like one or two years, and you realize that, okay, they’re cashless. That means you need to pay everything through your electronic money account because that’s, there’s no cash anymore, right? There’s just ones and zeros. And then a B based on how you behave and whether you behave according to the norm, establishing the Memphis society, the system evaluates, whether you aren’t worthy buying a first class tickets for the train or not, and just tells you, sorry you don’t have enough social corn to get to traveling. The first class bad is very scary to me and I will do everything in my, in my power to just you know, go against that. I think we should not give up our very basic freedoms.

Alena Vranova (01:28:59):

No, and privacy is what us human

Alena Vranova (01:29:02):

And what drives us to innovate and to be creative. When I think about greatest accomplishments, I guess they happen just because I was free to just explore. And I had the privacy to think, and to try something new and to, you know, when you’re all alone and you need time for yourself and you’re writing down everything, that’s part of privacy that we actually need to, as opposed to being surveilled and knowing that anything that you’re doing is being watched. And you have actually no incentive to do something which may be frowned upon by the norm, whatever that means as the norm is constantly changing. Essentially it’s about retaining hours, human qualities. We pull the drapes when we go to sleep, because we don’t want others to look doing in bed, shut the door. When you go to the bathroom, I guess also our transactions. And so by offering goods and services, private

Alena Vranova (01:30:21):

That’s right. I think that’s an inherent, right. It should not even be debated. It should not be even possible for, for the publications to both for censorship on Adrian, that how come people do not revolt. I am, I’m sometimes very like Nope, disappointed, but very like shaken by the fact that people are in the complete lethargy apathetic to what’s going on. And I’m not the person to watch the news all the time. And to, to see all the political debates. I don’t have interest in that. Like, I’m not this another politician, right. I will never be a politician. I’m just normal women that no one’s business. That’s my goal. But I, I can super, super surprised by, you know, being such an advanced, advanced culture, but then again, allow and just close our eyes and, you know, maybe it’s out of fear of spending out and being commissioned. Maybe it’s out of like or this is cozy, I’ll give comfort. It’s better to just comply. And, and these are the rules without questioning like the rules and why. But yeah, I I’m, I’m really trying to understand the world sometimes. It’s probably funny to say, but we are part of it. Right. But it just really makes my mind Spence. Well,

Vlad Costea (01:32:04):

I also think that if we use Bitcoin in the form, that it turned out into Bitcoin cash or Bitcoin Satoshi’s vision, and that grows into a greater scale, that’s just as bad as the cashless society as it has no privacy,

Alena Vranova (01:32:23):

But Bitcoin has no privacy in here in privacy,

Alena Vranova (01:32:27):

But you can still use wasabi wallet. And at some point they’re going to implement some kind of privacy.

Alena Vranova (01:32:35):

Yeah, of course. Yeah. But look, I’m, I’m, I’m totally fine with all these bcash and BSV and whatever other alts there may be, that’s fine for me, dependencies is let’s not waste our time on fighting like small kids. You have your truth, go follow your truth. You know, we have our, truth. It’s like really kindergarten. Sometimes we, I feel even in the, in the SegWit times, you know, discussions and we, I think we lost a lot of precious times in brains just by getting stuff. This course is necessarily, it’s important to explain stuff, but there’s a certain level of like where we are still, you know, civil and polite and say, okay, I don’t agree with you, but that’s fine. We don’t have to agree about everything. Right. Instead of like what was happening, like a ad hominem attacks when people, and, you know, I don’t have to like everyone, no people don’t have to like me like necessarily.

Alena Vranova (01:33:57):

Right. It’s okay. It’s fine. This is, I think what we could in the community. And I hope a lot of people have the same after face. Then when there’s another one, you know situation like this coming up, that they will go like, yeah, we’ve, we’ve seen these, okay. These are the facts. This is one implementation. This is a competing implementation people choose. So right. Let’s just continue building stuff. But in general, in general, I think the last two years year in the house has taken off pretty well, especially for Bitcoin with all, all the developments happening and not just, not just in the payment processing, but also in driver’s scene, scalability of, of the ecosystem. I’m happy about, you know, what, how many people are dedicating

Alena Vranova (01:34:58):

Their time to the network and that there’s, you know, a lot of folks trying to make it easier for people to run their nodes and bringing like move wallets and extensions. And it’s very positive.

Vlad Costea (01:35:16):

Yeah. I think we should make a prediction about the next 10 years of Bitcoin, but not in terms of price, not price, just something about it’s scale and adoption. Where do you think it will be 10 years from now? I know that’s Satoshi said that went years from that moment. He believes that there will either be a lot of transactions on blockchain or there will be none, which I guess is poetic. And there’s a nice way of putting it. And he had no way of witnessing whether it would go on 10 years from that moment. But now we find ourselves here and we see that actually in terms of merchant adoption, Bitcoin has scaled down maybe due to the high fees, maybe due to that conflict with Bitcoin cash and all the infighting. And maybe that regular people do not have time to follow the news and see the conflict. So, but maybe in 10 years, we’re going to have time to develop the Lightning Network to a greater extent that implemented for merchants. And also we are getting to see many more people, maybe running full nodes and getting into buying, but we have decentralizing the ownership. So we have fewer whales or owners,

Alena Vranova (01:36:51):

Well take back flipping on sedan and that’s their money and their privacy, which is which is a part of the other right by, by running nodes at home. Well, right now, for example, CASA has these Casa Node that runs a Bitcoin and lightning network, right? You can imagine like these stopped from being used for any kind of centralized system, the future, right. And I envisioned that this is really going to happen on a much bigger scale. We see we have something like a few thousands of nodes for lightning currently and lose a bit more of a Bitcoin full notes. But when you, when you look at the pace over the past few months, it’s now it’s like over the past few months, the growth has been happening really. And lightning soon being in beta, it’s still not a finished product.

Alena Vranova (01:37:58):

It’s still not completely, you know, full featured thing. It has some bugs and some downsides and stuff. That’s not working yet. We already see a good, this very early adoption of lightning network. Oh, if I should make the prediction, then I don’t like this because I think it’s more of a wishful thinking that I hope it will turn out correctly. Right. But if I could make some prediction, I would say even this year, 2019 will be a year when we see much more people paying with crypto, thanks to liking network and things to companies, big, big companies. I really see, like, I’m looking in my crystal ball right now. And I see like huge brands adopting a lightning or coin, or in sorts of, you know, these, these technologies 2000, 1920 within 10 years, I think we will be on the way of rebuilding our financial systems around crypto and Bitcoin. I don’t know. I feel like our, do you know, our, our financial system is really due to do some major repairs and also geopolitically. When you look at, you know, the renewal of the cold war, basically between Russia and the us and mr. Putin, I think he definitely considers Bitcoin and switching, you know, selling his natural resources for Bitcoin. So this may be a strong strong, you know, agent in the entire game adoption.

Alena Vranova (01:39:56):

I can imagine watching footage of people who say, I just sold our natural gas for Bitcoin.

Alena Vranova (01:40:05):

So that one

Alena Vranova (01:40:06):

To the moon, a great way to bypass the restrictions. And I guess he pays huge fines and Euro to the European union or invading Crimea.

Alena Vranova (01:40:23):

Yeah. Yeah. I have a few friends in Russia and, and the impact on the economy is quite severe. You know, and, and, you know, to, to use, I think sanctions economic sanctions are a diabolical thing because some government just use the sanctions against

Alena Vranova (01:40:54):

Another government to, you know, bring them to do whatever they want them to do. Right. But it’s diabolical because whoever is suffering is not the government itself. It’s the people of that country. And I think, I even believe like sanctions should be banned as a from being a legitimate geopolitical diplomatic tool like Venezuela and any other like Iran, you know just because they are not using dollars. Just because, but I mean, there was some history in the late seventies and eighties by turning the government against the tech, the wires and stuff like that.

Alena Vranova (01:41:46):

But basically Iran is heavily ostracized from the world. I think it’s being in good to the, to the people there. No, no, they’ve all like everyone’s suffering, right. Do they have better chances for more, you know, free and democratic establishment if they’re enclosed you know, in, in very homogenic environment. And of course all the world is the enemy. You see the positioning. So I, I think this is one practice that should be seen as very very mean and unacceptable.

Vlad Costea (01:42:31):

It’s interesting that Bitcoin is very American as an invention, and it’s like the culmination of many advances and per tography and computer science what’s happened in America from David Chaum and Ralph Merkel and all the way to Hal Finney and Nick Szabo. And we know that Hal Finney was the first person to receive a transaction. So we can say that the first ever operation on a blockchain actually happened in the United States, but actually Bitcoin works against the interests of the foreign policy of the United States of America. If it succeeds as a currency on a global scale, and it’s going to take away their power to manipulate other countries.

Alena Vranova (01:43:24):

Yes. And it’s also, it’s a funny, because it also is quite against the, the policy of international monetary fund and Christine Lagarde because they are trying to kind of revive the project of SDR is SDR is it’s an abbreviation for special drawing rights, sorry. And

Alena Vranova (01:43:53):

That was the first attempt to establish a truly international form of money. And now don’t imagine like newspaper for people, but it’s basically a settlement layer in between countries in between central banks of countries. And the, the SDR is basically a basket of 20 or 30 different major assets.

Alena Vranova (01:44:21):

So some, you know currencies and some, some

Alena Vranova (01:44:28):

Commodities and stuff like that precious metals. And these constituents, like the baskets of the, of the price of SDR in IMF since 2012 after the post crisis, you know, they realize that, yeah, the, one of the problems of, of why we are in this crisis is because one con one country is issuing the global money, right? So let’s establish a different form of global money, well answered by the SDR. Oh, we cannot do it without China because China is, happens to be one of the largest economies. So they convinced China who become to put renminbi, which is non-convertible right, but they convinced to put the renminbi into the basket of SDR. And that was a huge step for China signaling it that yes, essentially may be in the future. You know, they are very slow in doing all these things and decisions because they have such a huge market. Eventually we will make you a convertible currency. And so Christine Lagarde has been, you know, pushing towards this SDR adoption and, and to make it better and whatnot. And so what surprised me recently is like her fairly positve statements about Bitcoin and crypto what’s positive, but not absolutely dismissive, I would say. So you’ll see these this project is, you know, trying to establish new, sorry. It is a competition to

Alena Vranova (01:46:16):

SDR as well. I think

Alena Vranova (01:46:20):

I don’t see Euro as a competing thing. I think you’re honest. So, so many problems that, you know, it was a hedge against the American dollar or, you know, nothing else,

Alena Vranova (01:46:37):

Basically. They wanted to have something as strong as US dollar especially, you know, after Bretton Woods and especially after, you know, Americans started to have problems paying back the, the, the, the gold returning the gold, you know, to, to the post second world war countries in Europe. So we’ll see, I don’t know Bitcoin seems to have all the features that, you know, dollars and euros are missing and it seems to be a much better fit for the global economy than any centrally issued money.

Alena Vranova (01:47:25):

Just out of curiosity, what kind of academic studies did you do and what was your thesis on?

Alena Vranova (01:47:33):

So first I studied the German philology, kind of the linguist, and I studied as well marketing communication, which was like more creative you know PR and photography, advertising and stuff like that. And then probably 10 years afterwards, I started to study again and I studied diplomacy with a strong focus on international monetary system. You know, that’s why actually, that’s how I got to got to Bitcoin. There was 2010, 11, again, you know, after, after the the crisis in the US markets and the global actually, and I was looking for a better form of money and surprise, surprise, and there’s, there was Bitcoin waiting for me. It was very early and I did not really understand the entire scope, but or let’s say I understood where it can go. I kind of felt like, okay, this can be really, really big and really substantial. I did not understand the technicalities of it, how it worked exactly. But that got me really excited. So this was my, my prep work for my thesis, by the way that thesis, I never finished. I just thought like, you know what? I found my answers. I know me to write the thesis, so till the end, but I did all my research and I read a lot of research on like local currencies and SDR and petrodollar and all the oldest, the macroeconomic situation. And I, and I just fell in love with Bitcoin.

Alena Vranova (01:49:32):

I guess, if you ever get the time to finish that research and publish the paper, you’d do the world in great service.

Alena Vranova (01:49:42):

Oh, I think there are,

Vlad Costea (01:49:45):

I guess you have unique insights and with the kind of job that you do, you have access to lots of interesting information. So if you were to put that together into a comprehensive research papers or a thesis which actually outline soul, the ideas are useful to a lot of economists who only read maybe officials from the world bank and from the IMF and from the OECD.

Alena Vranova (01:50:17):

I think, you know, I don’t think they would take me seriously. I’m not a monetary expert. I’m not even an economist. I would say I study something right, but then not really an economist, I’m good at building businesses. That’s what I’m passionate about. These, these are these, all the topics that we discussed today are topics that I’m passionate about. And I think I know a little bit about, you know, where I’m going. So I don’t think I’m the person to, to write some some discoveries about money. I think there are much, much better experts. But you know, who knows maybe when I’m old and I’m bored, maybe I’ll do, maybe I’ll do that. I think my, my role is in actually, you know, helping ideas to come to fruition as businesses. That’s where I see myself in the value that I can bring

Alena Vranova (01:51:19):

So far. Congratulations, you’ve done a tremendous job with Trezor and now Casa,

Alena Vranova (01:51:26):

Well, it’s, it’s a me, but a huge, huge, and hard working team or a huge effort over hardcore team. Like especially now with Casa, I must say, like, we, this team I have never seen, and I’ve built several businesses even prior to starting with Bitcoin and several teams, and I’ve never seen a team that will deliver it on such a fast pace. And that would be in such so synchronized on the values and the vision and the mission that we have. So I think like the Casa is like a startup on steroids delivering. So I, I’m just very fortunate to be a part of that team and help here and there, you know, with some ideas on how to move this forward, but it’s, it doesn’t, you know, it can be done by one person, same goes for Trezor. You know, me, I, me, I was basically just the person who, who made it happen, but the, the ideas, the concept of the hardware wallet, words you, the technical part,

Alena Vranova (01:52:46):

The research and development that was brought by my two cofounders. So I’m just like, I just consider myself a lucky girl to, to have all these, you know, smart and hardworking people around me.

Vlad Costea (01:53:03):

That’s really great. I’m partially envious. I live in a place where they don’t even find a proper person to have a conversation about these topics. And the closest I ever got to was John Carvalho, who was, is also part of this podcast. And he lives in Romania. And I met only once and we got to speak a little and that it was a way refreshing or something to actually unleash you. You had all these ideas that you had in your mind, and you can all of a sudden have somebody to talk to face to face. And one of the reasons why I do these podcasts is that I get to learn something new. I get to exchange ideas, and that helps me broaden my understanding of something, which I discovered later than you did. I think it was 2014, 2015, but I didn’t take it seriously. I was into political science. And at that time we were being told all the time, only read the official sources and distrust anything that doesn’t come from any prestigious public. So in the case of Bitcoin, I read about it from the economist, from the wall street journal.

Alena Vranova (01:54:26):

Yeah.

Alena Vranova (01:54:28):

Have all the interest to talk bad stuff, like adjust it.

Alena Vranova (01:54:34):

No, actually, you know what? I don’t think they have the interest to talk bad stuff. I think they only have the interests of, of the groups that are spending behind them right now. You know what I mean? So it’s, it’s not the goal of the media to, to totally like bash and bury Bitcoin, but they are paid by certain people, right. So it’s more of like, Oh, now between his bed, you know, dump the price Oh, let’s buy up. Have you seen this cartoon with Jamie Dimon? As you know, he said like, Bitcoin is so bad and it’s going to crash. And then his group, his entire environment has been proven to buy Bitcoin in huge chunks. So, yeah, but you know what, a lot, I only said, like, I’m, I’m super happy about the environment. And so back here, so back in

Alena Vranova (01:55:44):

Slovakia and Bratislava, there’s a lot of smart, well educated people who are building stuff, they just opened another branch of parallel polis, a big point in crypto space. So there’s a very, you know, group progressively thinking community of Bitcoiners as well as in products. So please feel free to join us visit and here, I’m sure you will have great discussions with a lot of smart people, interested in a lot of topics. This is a really, really blessed light snow as I’ve been traveling on. I seen a lot of communities. Actually it is difficult to find places where people would go so much into depth and think about stuff and be so technically, you know, advanced or have such a good education and, and like to share like the stuff. I was quite nicely surprised in in Tel Aviv for example, recently, because the audience at the Bitcoin summit was not just like big, but also quite savvy, no new questions. It was very interesting, but, but please, I’m inviting you over to prac. If you’re speaking and you’re hungry for such environment, this is definitely the environment for you to go,

Alena Vranova (01:57:18):

Oh, thank you. Whenever I have much more money than I have now, I’ll definitely consider traveling. And I’ve never been to countries of the central Europe that are not Germany. So I’ve been, as I’ve been to Germany, I’ve been to fart of Austria, part of Hungary, never to that part with Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia. Yeah.

Alena Vranova (01:57:43):

Yeah. Listen, Czech Republic, Czech Republic. I think it’s fairly cheap as well to leave. You may be surprised comparable to, to Romania. I don’t know, maybe a little bit more expensive, but not like Germany or UK or, or these countries at all.

Alena Vranova (01:58:05):

Also, I think it’s the Czech Republic that used to be called Bohemia.

Alena Vranova (01:58:12):

Yes.

Alena Vranova (01:58:13):

And the Bohemian Rhapsody written about your lens and we have an adjective in Romanian, which is boy AMA, which means both men that refers to a relaxed lifestyle in which you are much more inclined to study and reflect and be knowledgeable.

Alena Vranova (01:58:33):

And it’s a peaceful country. People are peaceful. They don’t like to fight. They like to have beer,

Alena Vranova (01:58:42):

You know, and tell jokes and have some discourse and discussion. This is an open call for everyone in the office. Listening, please come visit this country. You’ll be, you’ll be really nicely surprised. Come see our Bitcoin, the Bitcoin space. It’s called parallel polys. It’s an awesome, awesome place. A very new space.

Alena Vranova (01:59:16):

I think you are doing a better job at promoting check tourism than your government.

Alena Vranova (01:59:23):

Yeah. And these stories are going to spend Bitcoin, by the way, when you get here open coin map.org, and you can find places expecting the point around the city,

Alena Vranova (01:59:37):

You said they have a call from the government, and they’re going to say, we’re going to hire you for this new ministry of Bitcoin.

Alena Vranova (01:59:46):

You know what I would, I would tell the Lisa, you know, I would never, ever worked for the government, but yeah. Funny idea that they get into there because that would be another podcast, I think,

Alena Vranova (02:00:06):

But annually, this has been almost two hours and I’m happy that we spoke on so many topics and none of them were boring.

Alena Vranova (02:00:14):

I wonder if it’s going to listen to this podcast, like two hours is a lot of time. So, Hey guys, if you’ve listened to me on this podcast and you found it interesting. Give us a shout out on Twitter. My account is @AlenaSatoshi, Vlad, what’s yours?

Vlad Costea (02:00:32):

@Thevladcostea. I should change it to something shorter. Exactly. Thinking of becoming a crypto Twitter character and becoming Vampire Vlad.

Alena Vranova (02:00:47):

Oh, that’s sexy. Romanian. I like that.

Alena Vranova (02:00:54):

Oh, don’t encourage me because I would use cheesy messages about sucking people’s Bitcoins.

Alena Vranova (02:01:04):

Why not?

Alena Vranova (02:01:07):

I mean, I guess that’s more interesting than my actual, my actual personality, but okay.

Alena Vranova (02:01:13):

Oh, I don’t think it’s just cheesy and funny.

Vlad Costea (02:01:21):

We have the Crypto Dog, Bart Simpson of crypto, that guy from what’s the name of the cell saved by the bell Bully Esq something. How we have so many fictional characters who switched Bitcoin or crypto, but we don’t have a vampire. I hope nobody else steals my idea before I do it.

Alena Vranova (02:01:46):

Okay. Just go now to Twitter and bookie. I mean, you’re from Romania and you are Vlad. It’s kind of like, it’s, it’s very easy to draw that line.

Alena Vranova (02:02:00):

Yeah. Everybody asks me, everybody. Who’s not from Romania asks me is Vlad the most common name, but it’s not. And do you really have vampires there? The, actually we never spoke of vampires until 1910 or something when Bram Stoker published Dracula.

Alena Vranova (02:02:18):

Yeah. Actually there’s maybe more vampire history in Slovakia than in your country. There was a Duchess or something like that battery in my country. I don’t know when it was a hundred years years ago. And she had the, like a very strong thing for bathing in the blood of virgins and stuff like that. Yeah. So maybe there is something through the, maybe it’s just like, okay, thank you very much. It was great talking to you. I like the fact that we have a different kind of discussion a little bit coin. I’m loving this format. So thanks for inviting me.

Alena Vranova (02:03:21):

Thanks for accepting the product of our conversation and useful listening up to this point of two hours. Something

Alena Vranova (02:03:32):

We’ll see how many shout outs we get on Twitter.

Alena Vranova (02:03:36):

Okay. So have a nice rest of your day and thank you for being part of this.

Alena Vranova (02:03:43):

Thank you. Bye bye.


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Vlad Costea
Written by Vlad Costea
I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?