Jeremy Allaire Circle

Blockchain technology was a key topic of conversation at last month’s Finance Disrupted event in New York, which was put on by The Economist. One of the panels at the event, Blockchain vs blockchain, explored the present state of the technology and whether or not one of the currently available options, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, will be the one solution that brings massive efficiency gains to the world of finance over the next decade.

Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire’s comments were likely the most interesting from the perspective of the Bitcoin community because Circle makes use of the Bitcoin blockchain in their payments app. After briefly discussing the benefits of open networks, such as Bitcoin, over the walled gardens found in the traditional financial industry, Allaire went on to claim that the open standard (or standards) that the world decides to use for online value transfer in the future probably haven’t been created yet.

We’re Still in the Early Days

In general, the view at Circle appears to be that it’s very early days in the world of blockchain technology, so there’s no reason to become attached to one particular implementation.

“Our view is that we’re still in the really early stages of the technology and its development,” said Allaire. “It’s highly unlikely that any of us will be using Bitcoin in five or ten years. In the same way that — how many of us use NCSA Mosaic or Netscape Navigator?”

The idea of something better than Bitcoin coming along to replace the world’s first and most popular public blockchain is something that has been posited by many in the past. Bitcoin proponents tend to claim that this particular blockchain’s network effects and first mover advantage make it less likely that such a scenario would play out. Supporters of the Bitcoin blockchain are also optimistic about the peer-to-peer digital cash system’s ability to adopt new, useful features that may eventually be found on other blockchains.

According to Allaire, the lack of a standards body, similar to the web’s W3C, is an issue that will likely need to be resolved before a public blockchain can become more useful to a large number of people around the world.

“We need that equivalent model [to W3C] for value exchange, and that doesn’t exist yet,” said Allaire. “You’ve got a highly insular group of [Bitcoin] Core developers on Bitcoin. You have a benevolent dictator focused on Ethereum.”

“I don’t know what it will be called and when it will emerge, but it’s certainly not here today,” added Allaire.

Later in the panel discussion, Allaire pointed out that another reason it’s unclear what will be the best option as a public blockchain in the future is that there aren’t many active use cases for blockchains right now. “The actual use cases in the real world, beyond speculation, are extremely scarce — very, very scarce,” he noted.

R3 co-founder and COO Todd McDonald concurred with Allaire’s statements regarding the lack of clarity on what widely-used blockchain technology will look like in five to ten years. “We don’t feel that we’re ready, as Jeremy said, to anoint the winner,” he stated.

Ethereum’s Benevolent Dictator

After referring to Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin as a benevolent dictator, Allaire went on to compare Buterin to Linus Torvalds of the Linux project. “That doesn’t feel like a good, open, global protocol process [or] standards body for value exchange; that’s still eluding us, I think,” noted Allaire.

McDonald agreed with Allaire on his assessment of Buterin as the effective dictator of Ethereum. He claimed Ethereum is supposed to be an unstoppable world computer, “unless Vitalik says to stop it and roll it back.”

Allaire also discussed the tradeoffs involved with Ethereum’s ambitions to become a general purpose compute engine, which, in his view, makes it a harder technical accomplishment. “It makes it harder to scale and secure,” said Allaire. “It’s way too early to know if that experiment is going to scale and maintain its security, but I think it’s a pretty important innovation.”

The Limitations of Privacy-Conscious Blockchains

One final, noteworthy thought from Allaire that came up during the panel discussion had to do with Zcash, which intends to be a more private and anonymous cryptocurrency (when compared to bitcoin). Allaire admitted that he is “pretty negative” on Zcash because he does not see it as a good fit for something that will be adopted by the mainstream economy.

“It’s useful if you’re a gambler, tax evader . . . all these things, but if you actually want to do something that increases utility value for consumers [and] businesses [and is] sort of focused on increasing the productivity and efficiency of how the economic system works, that’s a different design center than how to basically avoid taxes and government oversight,” claimed Allaire.

On the other hand, there are many who find Bitcoin’s usefulness in avoiding government regulations as the key attribute that gives the system value in the first place.

The current Bitcoin development community is extremely interested in adding more privacy-enhancing features to the digital cash system as soon as possible, so perhaps this would be another reason for Allaire to make his somewhat dismissive claims on the future of Bitcoin.


  1. idiots just don’t get why people are into bitcoin. all these shitcoins appearing now and then are nothing but a centralized databases controlled by its creators. we’ll see where circle will be in 5 or 10 years with such mindset.

    • Yeah well see.
      That’s for damn sure.
      You really think all these big goverments are going to put up with all the dark market drug sites, money laundering and rampent tax evasion forever? All the loss for them. When have they ever? The hammer is allredy on its way. Youl be left holding a bag of nothing while pissing your pants. Any coin built around so much ileagle activities will not survive. You feel triumphant in the moment.. while they are just allowing out more rope.

        • just all the china owned bitcoin bought crypto fake news sites. Rehashing and rehashing any fabricated bad news about any crypto except .. except bitcoin. So for starters.. market manipulation like that is absolutely ileagle. The bitcoin horders ddos hacks (also ileagle) dont work anymore so this is all they have left. So paranoid. So afraid the real tech will soon come along and lower btc price. Scared little horders. So pathetic.

          Bitcoin is not ileagle. That’s true. But.. Not mainly used for anything ilegal??
          Lets have your real name so the tax people can check your account? Never mind. Your holding .000000371 who cares.

          Have you even heard of silk road?
          Why dont you name me one dark market site that will accept any other form of payment except bitcion? Dream Market… nope. Bitcion only. Alpha bay… nope. Bitcoin only.
          Any other ileagle activity on the net? …. nope. Bitcoin only.

          Using “lol” after everything you write online lets everyone know your 12.
          So why don’t you run along lil troll. Go finish up your book report and let the grownups talk.

          • LOL. you wish everyone would be broke as your poor ass, but guess what – people making money on btc, so do I. making it on that market manipulation you mumbling about, making it on ddos attacks and exchange hacks, while you waiting for the government to shut it down. you wish it will be shut down so you will have an excuse why you such a loser for life. my real name? hugh mungus is my real name you twat. your tears pouring through the words are so tasty you mindless fuck. you keep on hating on crypto and people making money on it… yeah you keep on hating… LOL and you know why i won’t answer any of your stupid assumptions? because i don’t give a fuck about you and i’d like you to stay where you are right now. enjoy your ignorance.

          • “lol” shocker.
            At least your comments are understandable now. Considering your name.

            Run along now lil troll.
            The short bus is waiting for you.
            Dont forget to put on your trump t shirt.

          • angry!? you entertain me, you chimp! try saying something smart again, so I can laugh more. that’s just awesome, I don’t even need to pay for the tickets!

  2. It always seems to be the “Big Business” people that make these dumb claims assuming the world will want to (or have to) use their services and the charges they will incur.

    Kinda shows that some people just cannot or will not think outside the box. Indoctrinated and trained to think in a certain way and it will ultimately be their undoing.

    • It’s not that they’re indoctrinated but that they’re speaking in a manner which serves their own best interests. Ignore such people.

  3. There won’t be only one cryptocurrency in use. More will come along which solve the various problems of existing cryptocurrencies. At this point, I agree it is questionable whether any of the existing cryptocurrencies will survive.

    Bitcoin has a head start but it doesn’t have anonymity and therefore no guaranteed fungibility. No one will accept Bitcoin or any currency where the contents of their wallet and where it came from and was spent is visible to anyone and everyone. Bitcoin also takes too long to confirm. These and other problems can be fixed, but the question is when and whether it will be enough.

  4. Ethereum may only hope the benevolent dictatorship of Vitalik Buterin is as benevolent as Linus Torvalds’ dictatorship has been and is for the Linux project: Linux powers what, over 90% of all web servers, billions of smartphones, zillion of smart devices…
    Allaire says benevolent dictatorships [of individuals or a tiny group developers] “don’t feel good”, but hey, what works counts, not what mr Allaire feels.


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