The Bitcoin Bear Market Diaries are a series of interviews featuring various important voices and perspectives in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Each interviewee was carefully selected and asked the same group of questions. The main goal was to provide the world with a collection of commentary and opinions on the state of the current Bitcoin and crypto market. Some of the names you will recognize while others don’t wish for the limelight but have great insight and experience we all can learn from.
These interviews are raw and unfiltered with no agenda other than giving each individual their opportunity to speak their mind. If you like what you see, please share with your friends. If something offends you, you should probably X out and find another crypto fluff piece that gives you warm fuzzies.
Stephan Livera is an Australian Bitcoiner who hosts the Stephan Livera Podcast that features many influential voices in the Bitcoin world. Professionally, he is an Australian Chartered Accountant and works as a technology auditor in financial services.
How do people know you?
Mostly from my twitter @stephanlivera and my podcast (Stephan Livera Podcast) focused on Bitcoin and Austrian Economics. I’ve interviewed many Bitcoin leaders ranging from Bitcoin business leaders, economists, to computer scientists and software developers.
How long have you been into Bitcoin?
Since Dec 2012.
Best Bitcoin experience?
The friends I’ve made along the way!
Worst Bitcoin experience?
Seeing people e.g. shitcoiners and blockchainers, associate themselves with Bitcoin for the cred/publicity, then turning shitcoiner. When they do this, it means the legit Bitcoiners have to do a lot more work to undo their narrative.
What do you think is Bitcoin’s biggest threat?
Governments actually reducing their monetary intervention. Examples of these interventions include: central banks existing as lender of last resort, legal tender laws, capital gains tax laws, implicit and explicit bailout guarantees for banks, bail-ins, financial crimes / surveillance laws, capital controls. In this scenario, the demand for Bitcoin may drop as we’d already have a sound money as chosen by the market, or at least something closer to it.
I believe this threat to be unlikely though, as for political economy reasons it’s common for politicians to promise the world while not bearing the political cost of raising taxes in the here and now. Consequently, they opt for debt and govt bond funding of their operations to push the cost onto future generations, or in some sense, raiding the accumulated wealth of society for their political projects and wars. This whole environment only ‘works’ so long as they are able to force a reduction in the quality of our money (achieved through the above listed monetary interventions).
What are your thoughts on the various Bitcoin forks?
They’re all shitcoins. None of them have anywhere near the saleableness (think liquidity) of Bitcoin. They mostly exist to enrich the shitcoin founders, whether they understand this or not.
What are you optimistic about in this space?
Bitcoin and the honest bitcoiners who are busy building, educating, and HODLing. These are the people who know how to play the long game.
Biggest regret during the last bull market?
Not doing more to combat the shitcoiner/blockchainer narratives.
What have you learned during the current bear market?
I’ve improved my knowledge of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network greatly, and I’ve also developed my thoughts around the economics of Bitcoin also.
What is the biggest fail you have seen during the bear market?
Rage quitters and CSW are good examples.
What do you think helped trigger the current bear market?
Ultimately we “reached everyone we could reach” in that wave. The in between periods are where the gamblers and crazier speculators of the last wave get wiped out. Some newcomers actually take the time to learn the economics and technology of Bitcoin, and they become the new hardcore bitcoiner / HODLer types. Once we’ve had a sufficient period of bear/sideways market, the new wave starts with a new set of people rushing in to speculate on Bitcoin.
What kind of damage do you think latest price drop has done to buyer sentiment?
In some ways, it’s a good thing as it allows people to more properly learn about Bitcoin before they make their decision to allocate some small % of their portfolio and/or regularly stacking sats to speculate on Bitcoin. This is better than people simply FOMOing in during a bull run as these FOMOers are setting themselves up to get rekt.
How do you feel about the current state and future of lightning network?
I’m very bullish on lightning network, but being truthful it is a year or two away from it being easy for noobs to use in a ‘sovereign’, fully-validating way where they hold the keys and run the underlying full node (rather than using a custodial wallet etc). But that said, I’m very excited to see a lot of the development work being done. For example, the coming version of the Lightning Network spec which will include things like dual-funded channels, AMP, and more.
Further out into the future, if/when we get Schnorr signatures, eltoo, and multi party channels (e.g. Channel Factories and other similar ideas), that’s when we can really see the Lightning Network go to the next level!
What are your thoughts on HODLing Bitcoin?
HODLers are a big part of supporting this vision. Those who learn the economics and technology of Bitcoin will be very well placed in a coming Bitcoin world. Sometimes it’s not easy to do it, but the reward potential is very high. As my friend Vijay Boyapati puts it, Bitcoin is an asymmetric bet.
What are your thoughts on alt-coins?
The vast majority are shitcoin scams. Being very charitable to the shitcoins, some of them could be technologically interesting, but from a monetary economics POV, they’re still shitcoins.
Do you hold any? If not, why?
What kind of impact do you think the radical drop in alt-coins will have on their future?
Sadly, there’s a sucker born every minute and a shitcoin scammer to take advantage of them. So we will see many more shitcoin pumps to come, and there’s not much that can be done about it.
Thoughts on the notion of bitcoinization?
I think it will occur over the next few decades. People will slowly upgrade to Bitcoin as their new money, but we will see waves up/down along the way.
What Bitcoin startups are you excited about?
ZkSnacks (Wasabi Wallet), Samourai Wallet, Casa, Nodl, Lolli, OpenNode, BTCPayServer (not technically a start up, but still) are a few off the top of my head.
What “crypto influencers” do you think get it wrong and why?
All shitcoiners and blockchainers. Any who drive a multicoiner view of the world also. They fundamentally drive this view that it’s a “Crypto” industry when really it is a Bitcoin industry. Bitcoin, not Crypto.
What “crypto influencers” do you think get it right and why?
Those who come from a fundamentally “Bitcoin Austrian” perspective. This includes people like Pierre Rochard, Michael Goldstein, Saifedean Ammous, Vijay Boyapati, Jimmy Song, Giacomo Zucco, Francis Pouliot to name a few.
What’s it going to take for this bear market to turn around?
I view it more as a function of time, rather than a specific action or event.
How bullish are you on Bitcoin despite this recent pullback?
Extremely bullish. Bitcoin remains the king of the pack and Bitcoin extends its lead over all the shitcoins every day.
Any tips you want to give to people new to Bitcoin?
One challenge we face in this space is providing up to date and comprehensive information. People try to write new starter guides, but then the guide is out of date within a few months. So it’s often better to follow people on Twitter who have a good reputation. I recommend listening to my podcast series to get yourself up to speed quickly, and also for suggestions on who to follow.
Best tips for storing Bitcoin?
The security and considerations you take with your bitcoin should be commensurate with your level of investment. Once you move up in your level of investment, you should consider the following:
- Hardware wallets
- Validating your incoming payments through a full node
- Using software such as Electrum Personal Server to help reduce privacy leakage
- CoinJoining and other mixing techniques through Wasabi Wallet, Join Market, Samourai Wallet etc
- Multisignature, multi-device, multi-location (the approach used by Casa)
Name some of your favorite information sources and/or podcasts in the space.
Podcasts: Noded Podcast, Tales from the Crypt (& Rabbit Hole Recap), Vortex’s news show at the Cryptocast Network, Bitcoin Knowledge by Trace Mayer, Block Digest, Max Hillebrand’s work at the World Crypto Net, Bottomshelf Bitcoin, Reckless Review, Citizen Bitcoin.
Newsletters: Marty’s Bent, Bitcoinoptech
News/Articles: Be wary, many of the news sites in this space will send you down the wrong path of shitcoining or blockchaining. I’d recommend following specific reputable individuals, such as Aaron van Wirdum and Kyle Torpey for good bitcoin journalism. For other writing, I’d suggest following reputable people on twitter (again, see my podcast guest list) and seeing what articles they share.
Any last words of wisdom?
Find ways to contribute. Look for where there’s a gap, such as something that’s not already being done well, and then look for ways where your skills can be used to help contribute. Some examples:
- Writing how-to guides or create step-by-step YouTube videos
- Software development, review, or documentation contributions on Bitcoin/Lightning projects
- Testing out bitcoin/lightning software and giving feedback to the developers
- Setting up bitcoin meetups in your local area
- Setting up a bitcoin business
Every little bit helps, and as you help, your skills, knowledge, and reputation improve. Play the long game.