After a year 2021 which saw the price of bitcoin reach unprecedented heights and a State adopt it as an official currency alongside the dollar, cryptocurrencies seem to be on an upward trajectory. Pierre Noizat, co-founder and CEO of Paymium, France’s leading bitcoin exchange platform, talks about the outlook for Futura and breaks down preconceived ideas which, according to him, distort reality.
Interview with Paymium CEO
The media coverage around cryptocurrencies mainly focuses on the spectacular fluctuations in the price of bitcoin , the theft of colossal sums by cyberpirates or even the environmental issues linked to the expansion of digital currencies . A number of exciting issues are thus relegated to the background, depriving the greatest number of the keys necessary for an enlightened understanding.
To go a little further and better understand the challenges of this major socio-economic development, Futura has chosen to discuss with Pierre Noizat, one of the best European specialists in cryptocurrencies and bitcoin in particular. Polytechnician and holder of an MBA from Columbia University (United States), he co-founded and manages Paymium, the first French marketplace for bitcoin exchange born in 2011.
Question and Answer section
Futura: Cryptocurrencies and bitcoin have never been so popular and promising. For the first time, an advertisement for the crypto platform Coinbase was shown during the Super Bowl in the United States. Are we at a turning point in the future of digital currencies?
Pierre Noizat: We are in the process of adopting an exponential technology, as the Internet was in its time in the 2000s. There is an inflection point which takes us from fairly moderate growth to something bigger. Cryptocurrencies and bitcoin are on this trajectory.
We are at the beginning of the mass adoption of bitcoin which brings in its wake a whole series of “opportunistic” cryptocurrencies . But bitcoin is the only one that has a deflationary model, which does not increase its money supply indefinitely, unlike most other cryptos which are closer to traditional currency.
The advertising broadcast during the Super Bowl is an undeniable strong signal. But that remains in the United States where the elites do not gossip against technology all day long. In France, we are still experiencing a very strong anti-bitcoin discourse that seeks to divert people from cryptos, as if traditional currency were the only horizon.
Despite this momentum, a number of major obstacles and oppositions are present. What are they ?
Pierre Noizat: We are in a monopoly ecosystem . In reality, the euro has lost the monopoly to the cryptos that compete with it, but it retains a monopoly in law. There has not yet been an update of the monetary and financial code to record this development. It’s a bit as if in 2022 we still had France Telecom’s monopoly. It’s quite bizarre. I think it won’t last forever because the new generation, when they get to the responsibilities, won’t tolerate it. But, for the moment, we suffer from a form of oligarchy which keeps monetary and financial innovation under wraps by using big words such as “speculation”, with a moral judgment on actors who do not see the world in this way. manner. This is all completely obsolete.
Has the development of Paymium in France been hampered?
Pierre Noizat: In a way, yes. In France, we are one of the countries where elite resistance to innovation is the strongest. We have been forced to change banks almost every year because the management of a bank can veto cryptos and close the accounts of players in the sector without having to justify it legally. It is a hard monetary monopoly, a form of soft dictatorship. But we are not letting ourselves be stopped, we are showing resilience .
One of the recurring criticisms towards bitcoin and cryptos concerns energy consumption. In the crosshairs, the mining system which has led to a race for power proportional to the rise in the price of bitcoin and would cause an energy mismanagement. How do you approach this problem?
Pierre Noizat . The energy used by bitcoin is not that used to light our homes and power our household appliances. It is an energy which is in surplus near installations, in general hydraulic, often located in Central Asia or in Africa. If it is not used, this energy is wasted because it is not connected to a large efficient distribution network such as exists in Europe. Because the bitcoin protocol is inherently designed to only be profitable with the cheapest electricity, bitcoin miners seek out and monetize surplus renewable energy , which is sold off by producers. In no way, the request for Bitcoin mining does not compete with individual demand because these distinct demands are served by distinct offers.
Why then is this argument of excessive energy expenditure brandished in such a systematic and powerful way?
Pierre Noizat: Because what I have just explained to you is not known. We are in the register of fake news . A lie repeated often enough becomes a truth. We do not ask ourselves the question of what energy bitcoin uses. In reality, its mining favors the development of renewable energy infrastructures because it helps to stabilize their economic model. Bitcoin is good for the environment . It would be a waste if it consumed energy that could be used for other purposes. However, bitcoin consumes energy that would otherwise be wasted. The truth is the opposite of what the lobbyists claim.
Bitcoin is an apolitical currency
Behind this dominant discourse, there is a political approach. These opponents express a collectivist-type vision of the world, where a single kind of currency [the fiat currency , editor’s note] is imposed on everyone by a kind of benevolent oligarchy. However, this money available in unlimited quantity brings us to the consumer society.
This increases inequality because centralized and monopolistic money, created by issuing credit, is not distributed equitably. Credit is not distributed fairly because, as the saying goes, you only lend to the rich. Bitcoin is an apolitical currency able to counterbalance these perverse effects, this almost totalitarian vision. A balance must be established between currencies with a collectivist logic, such as the euro, and rather individualistic currencies such as bitcoin , and offer choice. We need pluralism!
One of the crypto highlights of 2021 is the adoption of bitcoin by El Salvador. Will other countries follow? Can we speak of a new geopolitical instrument likely to change the situation for certain nations (cf. emerging countries) subject to the dollar?
Pierre Noizat: Other countries are indeed likely to follow the example of El Salvador, which was the first state to choose bitcoin as a second currency alongside the dollar. Beyond that, I see concrete applications that are very easy to implement. I am thinking in particular of development aid. For France, this represents approximately 4 billion euros per year. This money passes through the banking circuits of the countries concerned, which are unfortunately often corrupt.
Once everyone has finished using themselves, there is not much left for the people. With bitcoin and the Lightning Network micropayments technology , potentially small amounts can be sent directly to every inhabitant of a country with a smartphone instead of sending 4 billion to the oligarchs who run them. This would obviously be much more efficient and a very beneficial step in circumventing corrupt banking circuits.
What are the professional opportunities around cryptos and bitcoin? What advice do you give to young people attracted to this sector?
Pierre Noizat: All training is good if people are motivated by the sector. The most important thing is to start by experimenting with the use. As in other areas of Tech, especially Artificial Intelligence , we need people who love math and computer science , who know how to code. Talented and motivated developers are a rare commodity.
To come back to France, how do you interpret the silence of the candidates for the presidential election around cryptos and its issues?
Pierre Noizat: The current candidates probably prefer not to upset their respective bankers who finance their campaigns. The consideration of cryptocurrencies by politicians will eventually happen, it’s a matter of time. In the United States, some elected officials have taken up the cause of bitcoin. This will increase with the generation of digital natives who will be in charge in ten or twenty years. For them, it will be obvious. It is necessary to gradually remove the obstacles on taxation and accounting around cryptocurrencies but also to change the ambient discourse. It’s happening little by little and I’m very confident because every year we’re making progress. It is only a matter of time before the law evolves in this direction.