On-chain coin mixing is often labelled as a nefarious service that is making it easier for criminals to hide their illicit activities. This is a gross twist of the truth, and is similar to the stigma Bitcoin has faced since its inception.In its early days, Bitcoin was used for the transaction of goods on the black market, and this association has been tied to it ever since. However, any criminal who understands Bitcoin would realize that it is perfectly traceable, and therefore a poor means to hide your activity. The reality nowadays is that cash is overwhelmingly popular for criminal transactions, and Bitcoin is not under the same scrutiny that it was before. The scrutiny is now on coin mixing services, but for the wrong reasons. These services are striving to make Bitcoin transactions as private as possible, not for the sake of criminality, but for the sake of the individual’s right to privacy. The truth is that the general population has grown accustomed to asking authorities for their privacy, when it should be the other way around, ethically speaking. Coin mixing services like Wasabi are striving to restore this constitutional right.
The core ethos behind Bitcoin promotes economic empowerment, and the rebalance of power between the individual and the state. This is a concept that is all too unfamiliar for most but is gaining traction as people have experienced their basic freedoms t being taken away during the pandemic. On top of that, out-of-control inflation is now evaporating the wealth of all those who are unaware of how to allocate their wealth properly. These are circumstances that came as a result of unbalanced centralized power at the hand of corporate and government entities. We will always need a degree of centralization in society - it’s just that we need solutions, like Bitcoin, to mitigate the excess of such. Coin mixing mitigates the extent of centralized influence over Bitcoin. If we mitigate this, then we risk not being able to benefit from what Bitcoin has to offer.
How do we set the record straight?
Not enough people understand the value proposition behind Bitcoin. If they did, then the motivation for coin mixing and coinjoin services would become much more clear. Hence, the first step to destigmatize these services would be through education get people thinking appropriately about Bitcoin to begin with. How to do that is the tricky part. Likely the best that any one of us can do is to keep improving our own understanding of what Bitcoin is all about, and share that with the people that are most relevant to us. Bitcoin is ultimately a shared vision, one that not one person alone will fully understand until it is a shared reality that has arrived.
The second thing we can do is to educate people about the importance of their privacy. It is understandable that this is so lost on the general population. Before the internet, it was not as easy to keep track of everyone’s activity. Now everyone keeps a computer in their pocket everywhere they go in the form of a cellphone, which means that even your physical location can be tracked at any given moment. Our technologies have seen extremely rapid progress in the 20 years since the internet started going mainstream, and public awareness has not kept up with the ramifications. What are the ramifications? As far as privacy is concerned, they are that detailed information about everyone has inevitably made it into the hands of big tech, and the nation-state powers that be. What this translates into is something approaching a surveillance-state, and the inevitable manipulation of human behavior that it allows.
A third step is to educate people on the tools they have at their disposal to maintain their privacy. These tools can be anything from using a virtual private network (VPN) service to learning how to mix your Bitcoin transactions. Coin mixing itself is a stretch for the everyday user to start using as it has been reserved for the more technologically savvy. That is why organizations like Wasabi are providing user-friendly solutions to help bridge the gap between the lack of concern people have for their privacy, and being able to access the tools they need when they realize how important their privacy really is.
The destigmatization of coin mixing
Perhaps one of the most significant drivers of change today is the increased digitization of society, which is epitomized by the advent of Bitcoin. Bitcoin represents an upgrade to the technology of money. Bitcoin also represents a form of “freedom technology” that can break us free from archaic legacy systems that have delayed humanity’s progress. Those legacy systems are clawing for survival as they face their impending downsizing. We don’t need massive corporate structures and government entities to disappear. What we need is a means to enforce an upgrade in their ethical, and practical performance. Bitcoin, as empowered by coin mixing, is one of the best tools we as the people have to enforce our demand for dramatically improved governance and leadership.
This is why it is important that coin mixing becomes destigmatized. It will take a collective effort to bring our public knowledge up to speed on the urgency of Bitcoin’s adoption, to educate people on the need for coin mixing, and to remind ourselves to take back our constitutional right to privacy. The sooner we can get our heads straight about respecting our own privacy, and the truth behind Bitcoin, the sooner humanity break free from the trappings of the past.