By any measure, the Bitcoin network is still in its infancy. While the concept of digital money is decades old – most dollars today only exist on individual account holder’s computer screens and in centralized ledgers at banks – the idea of holding one’s wealth in self-custody without a third-party validator is new. Bitcoin is the first iteration of triple-entry accounting in the history of capitalism, and the first time that money and state have been separated so people can self-custody their wealth in a digital bearer asset. Many individuals have trouble trusting the system, because they have spent their entire lives transacting within the bank-mediated fiat system.
Jonathan Martin is a graduate of Stanford University, Georgetown University, and a student at The Wharton School, currently on leave immersing himself in the world of Bitcoin in El Salvador.
Here in El Salvador, passionate Bitcoiners are actively working to increase trust in the Bitcoin network among the local populace, through education. I met with a New Yorker named John Dennehy, founder of Mi Primer Bitcoin – My First Bitcoin – a company focused on helping provide curious non-Bitcoiners with their first exposure to the digital commodity.
Dennehy was drawn to Bitcoin for philosophical reasons. He has deeply-held criticisms of the unfairness of the centralized fiat system, based upon a personal experience early on in his career. His view is that the most powerful way to oppose a system is to walk away from it entirely, a concept first posited by the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau.
Read more: Jonathan Martin – The Bitcoin Circular Economy Battles Entrenched Mindsets in El Salvador
Dennehy moved to El Salvador just before the Bitcoin law was passed in September 2021. When he got here just two years ago, adoption was close to zero. In his estimation, the Bitcoin story in El Salvador is just getting started – and Bitcoiners on the ground get to help write it. During our hour-long chat, John emphasized that he is most passionate about decentralization, be that Bitcoin or in other forms, as his goal is to create better economic outcomes for historically marginalized groups. His goal is to address the disease – financial illiteracy – as opposed to the symptoms of financial inequality.