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Nik Bhatia, Layered Money, Bitcoin, Digital Currencies, Money, & You

Will Central Banks Be Replaced By Cryptocurrencies?


Sales Tips you'll learn today on The Sales Podcast...

  • Geopolitical approach to business and life and war and things that shape our lives
  • CFA—Chartered Financial Analyst
  • What is happening holistically
  • We've been hearing about Bitcoin since 2012

Erik Voorhees discusses Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies on The Sales Podcast

  • He didn't look into it until 2016
  • Bitcoin is a tool for freedom

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Bitcoin is a tool for freedom."
  • Bitcoin is not Netscape or Google...it is the internet!
  • It's a software protocol and the unit—the money—in that protocol
  • It's a set of rules
  • The protocol level of Bitcoin can be compared to HTTP or SMTP
  • It is nuanced
  • It's not a company, it's a set of rules

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  • "Legacy people" are fun to watch as they change their tunes on Bitcoin
  • Jamie Diamond is now all-in on Bitcoin
  • Elon Musk is narcissistic, which is good and bad. He's a cult of personality, so let's look at Warren Buffett, etc.
  • The legacy money guys don't understand Bitcoin

Lords of Finance on The Sales Podcast

  • Mining, hashrate, the energy...that's what backs up the currency
  • It's a computational energy network
  • The legacy money guys are afraid of populism
  • The internet is a disruptive power and has distributed power as Bitcoin is doing
  • Bitcoin empowers the people
  • The institutions have to protect themselves from Bitcoin
  • The foundation of "Layered Money: From Gold and Dollars to Bitcoin and Central Bank Digital Currencies"
  • Your so-called money falls into a hierarchy
    • Venmo balance
    • Cash in your pocket
    • Wells Fargo savings
    • They all have different counter-parties
  •  "The Inherent Hierachy of Money" by Perry Mehrling, Columbia University, 2012
  • Bitcoin is independent of the layered structure
  • "Mastering Bitcoin," Andreas M. Antonopoulos
  • "Inventing Bitcoin: The Technology Behind the First Truly Scarce and Decentralized Money Explained," Yan Pritzker
  • He hasn't been able to verify why Ethereum is money
  • He expresses his opinions by positions
  • Go buy $10-$20 of Bitcoin and download a smartphone Bitcoin wallet and practice sending yourself money from the exchange
  • Have a friend download a different wallet and learn how this works
  • Venmo and Bitcoin are not the same
  • Bitcoin derives none of its value from being easy to send
  • Bitcoin is valuable because it's a non-government currency
  • Blockstream's Green money app

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Wes Schaeffer: Professor Nik Bhatia, author of "Layered Money," all the way from L.A. -- looks like you're in your USC office?

Nik Bhatia: No. I'm at home. 

Wes Schaeffer: You're at home. It just looks like a USC office.

Nik Bhatia: More or less. Yeah. I got some SC paraphernalia in the background.

Wes Schaeffer: Nice. Well, welcome to The Sales Podcast. I'm glad you made some time.

Nik Bhatia: Thanks. Thanks for having me, Wes.

Wes Schaeffer: So a good -- my high school friend, he was my center in high school and he was a Trojan way back -- he went there in '89, '89 to '94. So that was when I first understood how good the Trojans were. So you're in a good spot, but you probably already know that, huh?

Nik Bhatia: Yeah. You know, I'm a lifelong Trojan. I'm actually a third-generation Trojan; goes back quite a ways to my family. And my brother just graduated medical school from USC as well, so a lot of Trojan blood running through.

Wes Schaeffer: Nice. Very cool. Well, I could talk football forever, but let's talk money, shall we?

Nik Bhatia: Let's do it.

Wes Schaeffer: So I ran across you -- I've got a list that I have cultivated, I guess maybe is the word on Twitter -- and I had Eric Voorhees on not too long ago. I know Eric's dad, actually. That's how I ended up meeting Eric. My son is in the the crypto space up in San Francisco. My brother-in-law has created a server farm in Dallas. My sons have been in this for five or six years. I told them when they were first interested, I was like, put some money in it, kids. You know, if you put some money in it, you'll pay attention. 

So my second son, he was in high school and I think he put $1200 in. That was a pretty good chunk for 17 years old, six years ago. And so he's been following it. Last October I was picking on him, because Bitcoin dipped and it came back up. He's like, I kind of earned my money back; I think I'm going to sell. I'm like, you could sell; but like, do you need the money? Well, no, not really. Like I think it's positioned to keep growing. 

So I send him that text every now and then. It's like you owe your dad -- although it has come back down. But I want to get just your take, your understanding of this, because you're not some some guy in a basement with tinfoil, conspiracy theorists. You're a chartered -- CFA, certified financial -- 

Nik Bhatia: Chartered financial analyst.

Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I knew I was getting it wrong. So, I mean, you're in the "real money" or "the old money" or "the legitimate money" space and yet you're going deep into Bitcoin. What led to that transition?

Nik Bhatia: You know, so the tinfoil stuff, that's kind of when you're just starting college and you're going down all those rabbit holes and reading different books that people are introducing you to and having. 

So I've always had a geopolitical angle toward life, really, and just trying to analyze the way that the world works and trying to read books about history and different cultures and war and things that shape our society. So the financial markets to me are right at the center of that. And so when I pursued a professional career in the markets, I still had a background in geopolitics, and it always dominated the way that I approached my research and the way that I approach my career was trying to understand what's happening holistically, not just is this asset going to go up or down in price; but why, and put that why in the context of what's going on in the world. 

So when I finally decided to learn about Bitcoin -- because being aware geopolitically, we've been hearing about Bitcoin since 2012 quite frequently. It's it's been in the news since 2012. But I didn't decide to read any of those articles or actually dive into it until 2016. And when I did, I recognized that Bitcoin is a tool for freedom. It is a geopolitical instrument and it's going to be at the center of the world's financial landscape, technology, landscape and cultural landscape for decades to come. I recognize that probably within the first three to six months of learning about Bitcoin and ever since then, intellectually speaking, I have been all in.

Wes Schaeffer: I love it. You know, I was just talking with someone this weekend --because I was equating, like, trying to help people understand where we are, put it into comparison. And I was like, this might be 1995 -- telecom deregulation, the dotcom bubble is really gaining momentum. That was the first year -- I got married and my wife and I got an Internet account in Biloxi, Mississippi and we chose the one that had -- I think it had the 56K dial up because it was double everything else. But somebody did bring up, well, hell, Netscape was the main player back in the day and who knows of Netscape anymore. Is Bitcoin Netscape or is Bitcoin Google in the early phases? Is it going to become -- is it going to go away or is it going to become the dominant player?

Nik Bhatia: Yeah, and I really agree with you that I think we are in the mid-'90s from that perspective. And I don't think that Bitcoin is either Netscape or Google. I think that Bitcoin is the Internet and that's what I try to get into that a little bit in my book. 

And people have written much deeper studies of this, but Bitcoin itself refers to two things. It refers to a software protocol and it refers also to the unit within that software, which is the money that we that we think of Bitcoin as today and the money that trades versus the dollar. But really, Bitcoin is the name of a software protocol, and the word "protocol" is a set of rules, and the protocol level of Bitcoin can be compared to the Internet protocol, the transmission communications protocol, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HDTV, or the simple mail transfer protocol, which is e-mail -- the underlying layer on top of which we build communication methods or software or platforms or networks. 

Bitcoin is, I believe, the layer beneath everything that we're going to build on top of. And it is nuanced and there's definitely not exact comparisons between, let's say, HTTP and Bitcoin or other types of protocols that you like to make analogies. But I do believe that Bitcoin, it's not a company; it's just a set of rules, just like the other Internet protocols that we use today.

Wes Schaeffer: Yeah. But Warren Buffett doesn't like it and Elon Musk is pooh-poohing on it, so, yeah, I think it's going to go away.

Nik Bhatia: [chuckles] You know, it's funny when you watch some of these legacy people talk badly about Bitcoin, and then within a couple of years, not only do they change their tune, but they're suddenly long and they're long in their business exposure as well, just like Jamie Dimon, where he comes out and says I'm going to fire anybody that's trading Bitcoin. And then a couple of years later, they have the whole Bitcoin desk set up, ready to facilitate long and short positions, ready to facilitate hedging positions and treat Bitcoin just like FX rate, really, and it's their responsibility to provide liquidity in different FX markets for their massive clients.

And so eventually they'll come around and recognize this is a technology that's being used. And you might not like it, but what what good did it do if you dismiss the Internet in 1996 or 1997 or even in 2003? That kind of standpoint fades away as time passes. So I think it's a little arrogant to come out and say Bitcoin is going to be around here for 50 years. Rather, let's just watch it unfold. It's been around for 12. I think it's safe to say the next 12 or are going to be here and let's just watch it unfold. But the long-term growth of Bitcoin users and value on an average basis, it's following an exponential trend similar to the Internet or other technologies that we've experienced.

Wes Schaeffer: Do you think these legacy people -- and that's a great word for them, I mean. Is it wishful thinking? Is this kind of nostalgia, do you think? It's like, oh, this is a changing of the guard. They don't want to let go because these are smart people; these are not fools. These are people controlling billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars in the aggregate, maybe even -- they can certainly move trillions of dollars of markets with their secret meetings on islands or whatever. So is that arrogant or are they gaming the system? 

And part of me think -- I'm so jaded, right? I think Elon just wants things to plummet. He's going to scoop it up when it's lower. He's probably making his own coins, anyway. I've seen things about solar powered Tesla's contributing to the grid. I mean, lowering the carbon footprint on and off, because ultimately, I mean, Tesla's a battery -- they're an energy company, really. So I know he's not just -- it seems like he's shooting from the hip, but he's not. But like Warren Buffett, I just read, they invested, what, $500 million in some South America digital bank. So, I mean, he doesn't seem to be too much against Bitcoin. So, like, what's driving these guys?

Nik Bhatia: You know, it's a couple of things. It's definitely a couple of things. So I want to take Elon out of the equation for a second, because he is -- I mean, he's a very unique individual on this planet; very polarizing. But I think it's safe to say that he has, like, a heavy narcissism about the way that he does things, like it or hate it. And I kind of both I kind of love it and and hate at the same time. But let's take Elon out, because what he's doing is kind of like a cult of personality and a little bit different than the rest. 

But in terms of the rest of Warren Buffetts, the Jamie Dimons, I think there are a couple of factors at play. Number one, they don't get Bitcoin. They think it's a virtual currency with no value or backing. Now, people that have studied Bitcoin or have identified value in Bitcoin I believe have identified the energy, the proof of work, the mining, the hash rate, all these words that describe the energy security mechanism of Bitcoin. That's what we believe backs Bitcoin. It's the energy, it's the mining, it's the hash rate.

And the people that -- many people that say Bitcoin, it's not backed by anything, it's just a virtual, made-up, make-believe currency, they haven't connected those two dots yet where the backing is actually a computational energy network that is one of the most incredible things that's ever developed from the Internet's perspective since the Internet. So that's definitely one thing. They haven't made that connection, that there's something real to it. They just think it's pretend. 

But the other side of it is trying to protect the legacy system -- trying to make sure that governments and corporations still are in control going forward and that they're terrified of populism and the revolt of the public in that the Internet has already decentralized a lot of things and has replaced industries altogether and governments are looking at that and they think that they are potentially next. Bitcoin is a direct accelerant to those trends of populism and of decentralization and that scares the power structure. So there's definitely both. 

And I think it's important to when you're looking at a naysayer to identify is this somebody that is actually against decentralization and trying to protect the status quo of governments and corporations on this planet, or are they potentially misinformed or underinformed? And if we explain to them what backs Bitcoin and also the empowerment angle of Bitcoin, how it's a tool for human empowerment, financial empowerment, and we expose them to that, maybe they will recognize the value in it. 

And then you have this kind of third group of people that they think that they are all about financial empowerment, but they don't actually ever step in the shoes of anybody outside of the United States or Western Europe, and therefore, they can't physically imagine why anybody would want a currency that's not backed by a government, because they haven't walked through the towns of countries, cities that have dumpster fire currency regimes, rampant corruption in government and all these types of things. 

So it's a long answer, but when we're looking at the legacy system and the people in it, let's not rush to judgment and think that they are either trying to just protect their wealth and their power or that they are software illiterates and and have the conversation. I tried to write "Layered Money" to bring people from both of those worlds and explain Bitcoin in a simple way. 

Wes Schaeffer: Right. I mean, when you when you say Warren Buffett doesn't understand something, I mean that in my mind, I mean, that boggles my mind because that's willful ignorance. Because this guy, he can get the 10 smartest people on any subject on the planet to call him today. So if he doesn't understand it, that tells me he just doesn't want to understand it.

Nik Bhatia: A few years ago I think that it was excusable. And I'm giving myself a pass here because for three years I was that guy that just dismissed it.

Wes Schaeffer: But that was for three years starting at the beginning. We can't follow every new thing, right? I mean, we do have to let either our natural inclination or fortune timing or whatever things cross our paths so we do have to give it a little bit of time. But at this point, for somebody like Warren Buffett to say what he says, I don't understand it.

Nik Bhatia: And I have to agree with you, Wes. I actually think that 2021 is the point of no return now. And a news item like what happened in El Salvador this month, and it actually makes it now no longer excusable because now you actually have a head of state sitting down and explaining his decision and the country's decision to introduce this new digital currency as legal tender and the financial empowerment aspect of it. And so if you're Warren Buffett and you are willfully ignoring a head of state and trying to explain why he did this for his people, now I think you've lost your excuse and we we're really past that point of no return. 

But over the past couple of years and even up until last year, when Bitcoin still hadn't surpassed $20,000 and was still kind of in this post-third bubble hangover from the mainstream perspective, I still gave him a pass. But now you cross $20,000, so the bubble talk has to go away and then you cross El Salvador and now the you know, the financial empowerment narrative steps right into the front and center and now it's too late. Now it's not excusable.

And from a personal standpoint, I wrote "Layered Money" so that you don't have an excuse anymore to just dismiss this empowerment tool for the rest of the populace. It's non-inclusive and it's now ignorant, and it's not appropriate either. And actually, politicians, they need to recognize this now, that their excuses that they might have had two or three years ago, they don't hold anymore. And if you're taking an anti-Bitcoin stance, you're all of a sudden exposing yourself as a very non-inclusive type of person.

Wes Schaeffer: Well, I think they do understand it, and I think they're afraid of it. I think our politicians are afraid of it because taxation is where they get their power. You know, follow the money. I think it's propaganda. I think it's psy-ops -- like, keep the people down 'til we figure this thing out. Because everything that's going on -- people don't understand the Federal Reserve. People don't know the difference between a silver certificate and a Federal Reserve note. You know, I love when they say, "Oh, Bitcoin's not backed by anything." What's your dollar backed by? "Well, the full faith and credit of the United States." I'm like, do you have faith in the United States government? I don't. I was educated by them over there -- I mean, I gave them nine years of my life. I don't trust them. Oh, man.

Nik Bhatia: And what I will say, Wes, is that I think that the institutions have to protect themselves from Bitcoin, but the people are still Americans. And actually, I put more of the optimist hat on when it comes to the people themselves. 

The institutions, my goodness. They have demonstrated oppression in different ways for so long, and so I fully recognize that and the institution wanting to protect itself, from the Federal Reserve's perspective, from the media, when you talk about psy ops. Psy ops are part of what intelligence organizations do to protect themselves. That television anchor, though; are we going to hold that television anchor responsible, even if he or she -- and especially if he or she might actually be long Bitcoin but still reading the script? 

So I want to see people engage with each other, and that is really, I think, what decentralization is about. It's bringing people into a network together and eliminating the middleman, which is media, government, both. And psyops keep people separated as part of its goal. And I have studied that. I have studied how scripts are written in the Pentagon and things like that. It's all part of protecting the institution. But I have a lot of optimism when it comes to Americans, global citizens, and people that want to help empower other people. So I think Bitcoin is is here to stay. That's why I'm out here talking about it.

Wes Schaeffer: So what's the meaning of your title? So "Layered Money:  From Gold and Dollars to Bitcoin and Central Bank Digital Currencies." What are the layers?

Nik Bhatia: The meaning of the title is that while the everyday person might look at his or her checking account balance, the paper cash that they have in their pocket, their Venmo balance on their iPhone, or their brokerage account in their 401(k) in a money market fund, and they might think all those things are money, and they don't differentiate between them. They're like, I have money in this account, I have money in my pocket, I have money in that U.S. Treasury fund, and it's all it's all money now. 

They might be correct in that all forms -- all those forms of money are money to them, but in reality, those forms of money fall into a hierarchy, and that hierarchy is determined by the balance sheet that the instruments themselves come from. So your Wells Fargo checking account dollars, your Federal Reserve notes in your pocket, your Venmo balance or your JP Morgan Treasury money market fund, they all have different counterparties and they all have different positions in this order of money. 

And when push comes to shove, if Wells Fargo gets murdered by the U.S. government and you have over the FDIC insured amount in your checking account, your money is gone. And in that case, if you had paper cash issued by the Federal Reserve, you would have kept your money because that cash is of a higher order, versus your Wells Fargo checking account. 

And so in that way, our money falls into this layered system in which there's a hierarchy to that the things that we own. And I didn't invent the concept of the hierarchy of money. I borrowed it from economics professor named Perry Mehrling. He wrote a paper called "The Inherent Hierarchy of Money"" in 2012, which I cite in my book and I referenced his work a few times. 

But when he introduced that framework, he hadn't told the story of it or the history of it, and that's what I attempted to do with "Layered Money," is take this framework of hierarchy of balance sheets and hierarchy of monetary instruments and tell the whole story, go back as far as I needed to, and tell a story that went through gold coins, gold certificates, government currencies, commercial banks, and then eventually the elimination of gold from the hierarchy altogether, and that's the system that we have today. 

The dollar system itself is a hierarchy in which the top layer is U.S. government debt itself, another credit instrument. So a very twisted evolution of money that we have experienced, and the story really hadn't been told. The history of money and the history of finance has been told and markets may be had been told. But the history of money markets themselves, it hadn't been told like this. And so that's what I attempted to do in the book. 

I really wanted to set all that up so that we could see Bitcoin is independent of the current layered structure. It is a new, completely novel type of first-layer money that doesn't have any link to the legacy system, and that was an important line to draw and motivated me to tell the story in that way.

Wes Schaeffer: How much time should people spend learning the lingo? You know, hash rate and mining and -- there's so many. Literally half the time -- I spend twice as much time reading these threads because half the post I'm Googling and -- like, okay, what is that?

Nik Bhatia: And good on you for doing that, yeah, because it's tough to answer. Let me just tell a personal thing. 

In the financial markets, as I was trying to get jobs and seek roles and advance my career, one of the things that did not let me pursue certain avenues was my lack of ability to program in Visual Basic, Matlab, or SQL, let's say -- four languages that I've actually taken classes in and tried to do myself very poorly, but it's not my skill set. And why is that? Because I made a conscious decision when I was younger that even though I recognize that software programmers are going to get the majority of the jobs over the next several decades, I need to put my energy into being a great geopolitical and macroeconomic researcher and I'll be able to add value through that angle. 

So if you have a career that you're already adding value, do you need to understand the depths of Bitcoin mining? Maybe not, but if you're a young person, come on, read this book. It's called "Mastering Bitcoin" by Andreas Antonopoulos. It's a computer science textbook. I read it. I did not understand about a third of it, but I did my best to understand the other two-thirds, and now I'm in a position that I understand how the Bitcoin software works better than most. And you learn about what mining is and you learn about one-way cryptography; and you also learn that Bitcoin didn't just come out of thin air, that there's several decades of computer science that prefaced it, and you can understand by reading -- and there's a great shorter version called "Inventing Bitcoin" by Jan Pritzker, a colleague of mine that wrote a phenomenal kind of shorter version. You've got to understand what one-way cryptography is, what mining is, just on a basic level to recognize the value of Bitcoin and its power to change. 

And so if you're a young person. I don't think there's any excuse. You've got to pick up a book. You've you've got to understand what Bitcoin mining is and what one-way cryptography is. Those two things are kind of the two basic building blocks to understanding what is a cryptocurrency. What does that word even mean? What is "blockchain"? Blockchain is a chain of blocks. Well, what are blocks and how did they become chained together? Mining. And so the word "chain" needs to be understood. You have to understand what the word "chain" means and you've got to work backwards from it. I tried to do this a little bit in Chapter seven of "Layered Money" where I explain what the word "blockchain" means, and it does have to do with Bitcoin mining.

Wes Schaeffer: So you keep throwing around this term "young people". Am I on that list?

Nik Bhatia: Oh, absolutely.

Wes Schaeffer: I got gray hair; does that count? 

Nik Bhatia: You're young, Wes, because you read the threads. You're on Twitter. You're researching. Your mind is still working. 

Wes Schaeffer: All right, good. 

Nik Bhatia: Your mind is still working, man.

Wes Schaeffer: I think it is. Can you remind my kids of that? We'll send them this interview, all right? [chuckles] 

Nik Bhatia: Do it. 

Wes Schaeffer: So where should someone focus? I mean, if Bitcoin is the Internet, what is Ethereum? Is it -- I don't even know the analogy. Is it a fax machine? What is it? Is it a protocol on top of the Internet? Or is it alternate Internet?

Nik Bhatia: Well, Ethereum definitely is a protocol. It's a software. And then people have also identified it as money. I haven't done that. I haven't been able to identify why the value accrues to the monetary unit of Ethereum. And that's independent of the fact that people are using the Ethereum software to do things on the Internet. And so maybe that's why value accrues to that token, but it's not my course of study. 

I have identified why I believe value accrues to Bitcoin the token, and that is because it is the representation of the human interaction with gold in the digital universe in this way that we as a human species identified gold as the consensus highest value monetary physical item that we could come up with, and I believe Bitcoin is fulfilling that role. 

But it's clear that many software protocols will exist, will continue to exist and will have value assigned to them by the market. Ethereum's market value's over $300 billion today. So even though I can't identify the value, the reason to own it -- and that's why I don't own any of it -- that doesn't mean other people haven't been able to identify it. They have and they do, and I think that that's okay because the market will eventually tell them whether they're right or wrong. So I express my positions by -- I mean, I express my opinions by my positions and other people are doing that as well, and they are assigning several hundred billions of dollars worth of value to Ethereum and other cryptocurrency assets.

Wes Schaeffer: So you think Bitcoin still has some room to grow then, huh?

Nik Bhatia: Absolutely. It's the consensus value storage mechanism for approximately 100 million people. So we know that there are about 5 billion Internet users today, so forget the 8 billion people, but let's just focus on the 5 billion Internet users and I believe that 3 to 4 of those billion are social network users within that 3 billion. So we're talking about a minimum of 3 billion people that are familiar with Internet networks, and Bitcoin is that. 

So when do they download their first Bitcoin wallet onto their iPhone? To me, it's a matter of time because the social network apps are already on that phone, and so they've learned their brains have already been programed to use Internet-based networks. And Bitcoin is the exact -- like, when you use Bitcoin, I really encourage people that have never purchased Bitcoin, bought Bitcoin or whatever, do yourself a favor. Buy $10 to $20 worth on your favorite -- maybe CashApp is a good one that actually lets you take Bitcoin off of it -- buy $20 bucks worth of Bitcoin, download an iPhone wallet -- a Bitcoin wallet -- the Blockstream company makes a good one called Green that you could try out -- and practice sending yourself Bitcoin from your exchange to yourself.

And then tell your friend to download a different wallet, send them some money, have them send it back to you $2 or $3 at a time and learn and use Bitcoin and then you'll realize, wow, it's just like e-mailing money to each other. It's just like Venmo. But there's no company, there's no PayPal; there's no dollar. It's just this digital unit. And it's mind-blowing to use it for the first time. 

And I remember like it was yesterday, sending myself the first, I think, $2.30 transaction from my exchange to my own wallet. And I was like, wow, this is this is something special. This is different. It's like email. It's really easy. It's like a social network for money that doesn't have any company involved. And so I think that it's very -- it's going to be very obvious the second people start using it. And guess what? One hundred million people already have. So, yes, a long way -- a long way to go for Bitcoin, because it's very natural. I think it's very natural as an evolution.

Wes Schaeffer: I remember 15 years ago or so, my father-in-law, "I'm not using PayPal; it's not real; it's some online bank." Now, of course, he uses it, and he and my mother-in-law there, they Venmo to my wife, they all get squared up when we go to dinner. They'll pick groceries up for one another and they're just swapping Venmo. They're in their 70s; piece of cake. I send money to my mom -- PayPal, Venmo. So it's -- and it was a little bit daunting when I was first walked through this, getting a Metamask wallet and Chrome and this and that, but it is getting easier and easier. I mean, literally every day it's getting easier. 

But conversely, I've owned gold since 2002. I don't trade it. It's a store of value. I got it sitting there. And hell, that may no longer become a store of value. Who knows, right? But I got a little bit of it -- but I like holding onto it. But yeah, we don't understand our own biases. My son, who's a computer programing major, computer science, and I remember he was telling me a few years ago, something like you do a Google search for "computer programmer," look up an image, and it's skewed by a bunch of white dudes writing code in Silicon Valley.

It's not racist or whatever; it's just they look around at each other and go, oh, well, we're computer dudes, so we'll find an image and that's what a computer dude looks like. But then it's like, well, I don't know. You got 100 million of them that are Chinese; another 100 million of them that are Indian. So maybe we should broaden the spectrum of what a computer programmer looks like. So just little things like that; you go, oh, yeah. 

Just because we have it easy -- you know, I've traveled to India and in Latin America and I've seen poverty in these people, but they still have smartphones. And if they could trade money -- I remember with my son, he's 24 now and he was, I don't know, maybe 16, 17, and it was text, text, text. I'm like, dude, why don't you answer your phone when I call you? We don't use it like that. Like what? What the hell is used to having a smartphone? He's like, for the apps. I remember going, oh, hell, there's a paradigm shift. [chuckles] It's like, okay, I better figure out these apps because that is the future and it has already arrived, and I feel like that's what's happening here.

Nik Bhatia: And I wrote "Layered Money" in part to show people that Venmo and Bitcoin are not the same thing at all and that Bitcoin derives almost none of its value from being easy to send on the Internet because we already have Venmo for that, like you and your spouse and her parents. And when you guys Venmo money to each other, you're not going to use Bitcoin. Venmo is free. It's instant. You know, the bill was in dollars, the transfers in dollars. It's easy. You don't need Bitcoin for any of that. 

And actually, Bitcoin is not worth $600 billion as a network because it's really easy to send on the Internet. It's actually worth that much because it is a non-government currency and the first one ever to achieve that. And I believe that that's where a lot of the value comes. And so we we do have to understand the difference between Venmo and Bitcoin, even though they can feel very similar to each other when you use them on an iPhone.

Wes Schaeffer: Yeah, very cool. All right. Well, let's leave it there, shall we? I am linking to your your Twitter profile. I'm linking to Layeredmoney.com for your book. It's sold everywhere on Amazon, Audible, Apple, Barnes & Noble. I recommend encourage folks to follow you -- time value of BTC. So when did you create that?

Nik Bhatia: Time value of BTC account was created in 2018.

Wes Schaeffer: May 2018.

Nik Bhatia: When I wrote an article called "The Time Value of Bitcoin" about the Lightning Network, which is a payment layer on built on top of Bitcoin. And the idea of layered Bitcoin started way back then. And I had been on Twitter for years just in the shadows and following. But when I wrote that article, I did want to go public and share it with the world and I'm very thankful I did.

Wes Schaeffer: So is is USC going to beat UCLA this year?

Nik Bhatia: You know, the recruiting is starting to pick up again at SC. It has been a tough slog, really, since since Pete Carroll left. There's just been a hangover and scandal and a lot of turnover at the university on the admin side. So kind of as Trojans were all ready to kind of get past that. But it's been a struggle to find that identity, and Coach Helton, I respect him a lot, but he's not bringing the fan base truly together to rally around him. So we'll wait and see.

Wes Schaeffer: I hear you. I'm a college football fan. My LSU Tigers, very high highs, very low lows, back-to-back seasons, so you never know what to expect. A friend of mine, a guy I was reading, he was talking about because we beat each other up on football, and it's like the Alabama fans, they just expect to always win. It's like LSU, we don't know what we're going to get. I mean, we've got to show up drunk either way, because if it's a bad game, we need to drown our sorrows; and it's a good game, we're celebrating, so --

Nik Bhatia: Well, Wes, I actually I have the curse of the Alabama fans. Well, I actually think we're going to win the 'ship every August. So I expect it, and then for the last decade-plus, it's just been a lot of disappointments. So I'm like giving up after the 1-2 starts.

Wes Schaeffer: I know. And I'm so bummed because Nick Saban, he became famous at LSU, and he had to go to the NFL for a year and a half, man. Now I need to go drink. All right. Well, we'll end on a good note, right? Layeredmoney.com. Go get the book. Go follow, Nick. I appreciate you coming on the show, man. It's been great.

Nik Bhatia: Thanks, Wes. I appreciate your time and hope to do it again soon.

Wes Schaeffer: All right, man. Have a great day. 

Nik Bhatia: Take care.