As I sit back and recollect the 4 awesome days that team IBC spent at Coins Bank’s Blockchain Cruise Asia, the one defining memory I will take with me is mustering up the courage to walk up to John McAfee and ask him for an interview. To his credit, he was super approachable, but an ever-present bodyguard sitting with him in a perched VIP area did make me contemplate a situation that involved me being subject to some kind of physical force for being a tad bit overbearing.
However, the main reason why this interview was going to be difficult was the resentment some parts of the crypto investing community had towards him. His recent tweets on worthy coins and ICOs to follow have earned him quite the bad rep and by association, I was caught in the crossfire during my overzealous attempt at telling people that I had a chance to interview him.
Nevertheless, a few minutes in, I felt comfortable enough to go through with all the questions that I wanted to personally ask him. This is by no means an account of his past or other juicy things that John McAfee is usually known for in the media circles. I have tried to be objective in asking questions about his involvement with cryptocurrencies, his motivations in the space, his views on the future of crypto and how he deals with the backlash he currently faces.
IBC – Everyone knows you as the software security guy, but how and when did you start out with blockchain and cryptocurrencies?
JM – My friends got me into it, in late 2013 with Bitcoin. I read Satoshi’s whitepaper; I am a mathematician and I saw the beauty of it. I am one of the world’s largest Bitcoin miners. We have 6000 S9 Bitcoin miners running in an undisclosed location. Since we are miners, we don’t tell people where we are or how much we pay for electricity. But we are very competitive. My really good friends include Jihan Wu, Roger Ver, Brock Pierce…So I am as connected in the crypto world as anyone. People consider me a newcomer, but I am not.
I have been into this for as long as most people. I just don’t advertise…I don’t need to. Just like I don’t need to advertise my security experience; everybody knows! And everybody is beginning to know that I am also a cryptocurrency expert. And those are the same things because the blockchain is going to be used by every security company, in the future. It’s the most authentic way to validate and verify who is on your network. What could be better than this?! So it’s a natural convergence for me to go into cryptocurrency from computer security.
IBC – What do you look for in an ICO before you recommend or invest in it?
JM – The first thing is their team’s ability to actually deliver a product; their ability to develop a product. If they don’t have people experienced in the blockchain, then their chances of success are very low.
Number two; is it a product that I feel will actually help the world? Is it…a tomato that will roll down the conveyer belt without bruising, (which I could care less about)? Or is it something involving, you know, alternative energy? Is it a project that creates something new and unique?
For example, I’m working with a company called KWH coin. They do just that! If you’re in Arizona in the summertime, you got so much excess energy…it’s solar. You can’t use it all. So it’s a terrible waste! But what if you could sell it to your neighbour, but not directly, but let’s say someone in New Hampshire. It needs electricity. So you pass them the tokens and they can use it as credits for the energy.
Solar energy is getting popular everywhere; even in third world companies. In the current set up, even if you have a generator and you do not require extra energy, you can sell it back. With KWH, instead of selling it back to some centralized organization, you sell it to someone who actually needs it.
Thirdly, I ask myself, does it resonate with me? For example, one of the most fun projects I’ve come across was called Outings. Say you wanna take your family out for an afternoon on a Sunday or Saturday. And let’s say what you like are street artists or mimes or street musicians or you’re looking for a club. As a user of the outings app, you can share this with people who share similar interests with you, while being able to use a host of privacy features. Therefore if everybody had that app, imagine how that would change the world! Outings would be a lot more fun
So I look for coins that resonate with me, like – alternative electricity, things that are fun to do or things that make life safer, make life easier somehow for our children and will make our life better for all of us in the long run.
IBC – What kind of cryptocurrencies do you think have the greatest potential in terms of returns, or just utility in the coming years?
JM – I think that anything that gives us privacy is going to win. I mean, for example, Bitcoin started out on the dark web. that people were using to buy drugs or illegal monkeys from India or whatever. And then it migrated to the world at large. Now nobody on the dark web takes Bitcoin anymore. Now it’s all Monero. Find anybody who doesn’t say we only take Monero.
Why Monero? It’s been around the longest since as the privacy coin and it has never, ever been hacked. You can never get into it. You can never find out who the sender or receiver is. Even though governments will tell us “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That’s bullshit. That’s totally bullshit. Because we all have something to hide. It’s just from whom?
Is it the fact that you didn’t pay all of your taxes? Or you’re hiding the fact that you’re having an affair from your spouse? Or you’re hiding the fact that you weren’t sick last Sunday and you are actually playing golf instead of working? We all have something to hide. So to say that “You have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is just nonsense. In which case, all of us want privacy. All of us! Especially in our financial transactions, we don’t want the world to be looking at “Oh! You bought this for this much!”. It is extremely important.
IBC – If citizens have financial privacy, how do governments deal with a potential drop in income tax collections? Actually, just taxes in general?
JM – Here’s the problem. We’re gonna have a problem with two entities – governments and banks. Already today, I don’t know if you have watched what happened across the entire cryptocurrency network (Yeah I’m holding some) (Oh! We’re all holding! You just gonna keep holding. Okay!) This was instigated by J.P. Morgan, just like in September, Jamie Dimon said that Bitcoin is a fraud. And Bitcoin dropped 40 percent overnight! Back then, I said, “Don’t worry it’ll come back” And then it did; to way above what it was! Yesterday, it was a guy named Michael Bell, who again works for J.P. Morgan. J.P. Morgan is saying, “Listen, the government is gonna ban this stuff.”
I say, “How?”
China has banned cryptocurrencies with all of its attempts. Do you think people in China aren’t paying with Moneros and Bitcoins? Of course, they are! Now the exchanges you can shut down. However, we are now moving to distributed exchanges. So how is a government gonna shut it down? Today when a government says they’re banning cryptocurrencies, what it really means is this – “You do not understand, sir, anything regarding the blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It cannot be shut down at the source.”
We are peer-to-peer. And more importantly, permission-less. I don’t require permission from anybody, to send you money or to receive money. All I need is your permission. You wanna send money, we make an agreement and you send it. I give you the goods and whatever, you owe me the money. But no, doesn’t require your mother’s, your father’s or the government’s, or the local mayor or the city council. It is permission-less and it will remain permission-less. So, if something is really permission-less, meaning you cannot get into it and force me to do anything, then how are you gonna shut me down? You’re not.
So here’s the answer and I tweeted it to say, “Relax, because hey, J.P Morgan is very clever. I think that they’re trying to cause a total collapse.”
IBC – So they can buy the dip?
JM – Why, yes? They did! When Bitcoin dropped 40%, they brought tens of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin. So please God! Get real everybody! Don’t panic, it’s coming back up. Maybe not today but it’s coming up. And this cannot stand.
IBC – But coming back to the question of governments…?
JM – Governments! For most governments, their main source of income is from income taxes. Because they know about your bank account, they know about your job. And so they can tell when you’re cheating. But in cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, they don’t know what you’ve done. They don’t even know if you have an account. The problem is enforcement – if you make a law and you cannot enforce it, it is no law. It’s like smoking marijuana in America. I don’t know what it’s like in India but in America, everybody smokes and yet it’s against the law. And 90% of our states, have they stopped anything? No! Why? Because you cannot enforce it. It is too widespread.
So if cryptocurrencies get this widespread, how are you gonna enforce it? Are you gonna break in everybody’s homes? What if I have a wallet that’s in a hidden directory cell? It’s gonna take weeks to find it. There are four hundred million Americans and very dew tax officers. What are you gonna do? Yeah, good luck with that!
So here’s what’s gonna happen. Governments are gonna have to bite the bullet “Oh! My God! This is what’s happening! What do we do?” In America, we went for a hundred and fifty years without an income tax. We survived, and we had a government. You paid for services. Like you drive on the freeways, x numbers of charge – one penny a mile or two pennies a mile…
IBC – Does the math work out? Do you make as much money?
JM – Yes. No, not just with that. I’m gonna give you a number of examples – like the freeways. That’s a huge income! In America, we drive 10-20 thousand miles a year. Now if everybody paid five cents a mile – that’s billions of dollars. Our public parks, we have a large number of public parks – a minimal amount to get into them. Increase the fees on those things, okay, so that you actually make money instead of losing money. So there are dozens of things that the governments can make money without stealing our income. So they’ll have to figure out something, and they will figure it out. You know people are very resourceful and the governments are composed of people. Governments have to be resourceful when they have to.
IBC – There has been a backlash about your tweets about coins of the week series. So why did you start it in the first place? What was your purpose behind it?
JM – Because, okay, we see 200 to 300 ICOs every week. I read the whitepapers and I analyze them and the world needs to know about these things. The ones I promoted, was anyone of them not unique? Was anyone of them not interesting? Was any of them not useful?
So I’m recommending! How are you ever gonna know about them? Because there are thousands of coins out there and they’re growing and it’s doubling every four months. How are you gonna know about them if someone like me doesn’t make a recommendation? Because otherwise with all the competition out there, the good stuff is gonna swamped by all of the scams and everything else.
No one is gonna know. So I’m doing the world a favour. If you don’t like it, that’s okay, I’m sorry! Trash me as much as you want! I’m sorry, I’m sorry that the coin’s going up and the price spikes like crazy. Not my fault but I’m telling you what I know! I’m just telling you what I see and if you’re gonna sit and invest in currencies, then do it with your own research. I’m just telling you what I know and I do this for free.
IBC – Does all the trolling and trashing, at some level, affect you? And if it does, how do you deal with it?
JM – Listen, for two months, I was chased by an entire army in Central America and a banana republic, hiding in the jungle, fearing for my life. Do you think a bunch of trolls trashing me bothers me? No! Of course not! Please! There are far worse things than just yelling a few bad words. Yell all the words you want!