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The public internet needs public payments infrastructure

Today I had the honor of testifying in support of cryptocurrency innovation before the Senate Banking Committee. My goal was to help the committee understand not only what this technology can do but why it will be an essential component to the internet’s infrastructure in the future. Though undoubtedly still nascent, public blockchains are a genuine breakthrough in how information is organized online.

By now the flaws in today’s internet are apparent to all of us. There is a real possibility that some solutions may come from the dedicated community of technologists that are experimenting and building with cryptocurrency. And that is worth protecting.

Here is my oral testimony:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. My name is Peter Van Valkenburgh I’m the director of research at Coin Center, an independent non-profit focused on the public policy issues affecting cryptocurrency and public blockchain networks.

What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is the world's first cryptocurrency and it works because of the world’s first public blockchain network.

What does Bitcoin do? It’s easy. It lets you send and receive value to and from anyone in the world using nothing more than a computer with an internet connection.

Why is it revolutionary? Because unlike every other tool for sending value over the internet, it works without the need to trust a middle-man.

The lack of any corporation in between means that bitcoin is the world’s first public digital payments infrastructure. And by public I simply mean open to all and not owned by any single entity.

We have public information infrastructure for websites and email, it’s called the Internet, but the only public payments infrastructure that we have is cash, as in paper money, and it only works for face to face transactions.

Before Bitcoin, if you wanted to pay someone remotely—over the phone, wire, or internet—then you could not use public infrastructure. Yo...

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