The number one most salient selling point of cryptocurrency is censorship resistance. The idea that this is something anyone can use for any purpose, and that the risk of transactions being blocked or reversed is statistically effectively zero, is the number one reason to use blockchain-based decentralized digital currencies to begin with. However, when estimating the long-term value of this, we have to see whether most people even want this key component. Does the population at large even care about the biggest thing crypto is selling?
The average person doesn’t know, or care, about financial censorship
The holy grail, the raison d’être, of cryptocurrency as we know it is its decentralization. While this aspect may be exciting and important to crypto nerds, the average person just doesn’t care all that much. This is because most people don’t experience their finances being censored on a regular basis. They work, receive money in their account, swipe their cards at merchants, and it all goes through. The whole concept of financial censorship is purely theoretical to them, and trying to use the concept to pitch crypto makes you look like a conspiracy theorist more often than not. Censorship isn’t visible to those who haven’t been censored.
The cumulative effects of a controlled financial system are present even in developed countries
Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you can start to see the problems of centralized financial control manifested, even in the lives of regular people in affluent areas. To start any account of financial service you need to go through AML/KYC checks, which even when relatively seamless can take a bit of time and require inputting sensitive information. If you’re traveling and didn’t notify your bank beforehand you may have your account frozen. That pesky gym membership or free service that still made you input your payment information can keep taking money out of your account without your direct consent, and just about everyone has had that panic moment when a significant accidental charge appears. Service disruptions also occur where the entire payment provider is temporarily down. Mixed in with the monotony of a smoothly-running financial system there are more than enough nasty surprises to make censorship resistant money seem attractive if packaged the right way.
Lowered purchasing power, especially vs. crypto, can be felt in every country
The most universal benefit of a decentralized money is its scarcity and resistance to manipulation. While fiat currencies can be inflated on a whim without no oversight from the general public, most cryptocurrencies have fixed emission schedules that can’t be tampered with without broad consensus, the whole world knowing, and immediately tanking the coin’s value. That’s why the value of all major cryptocurrencies has risen significantly against fiat currencies long-term, even including the present bear market. Telling people “When I first started getting paid in Dash it was $7 per coin, I got paid three per article, that’s like $500 now!” is a powerful story, when over the same two years the average person’s purchasing power has gone down. Volatility is a huge barrier to this argument, but for those who can afford to only spend when it’s up, this upside is tremendous.
Even in developed countries, the average person loses purchasing power year after year. Something that cost a certain amount a few years ago now costs noticeably more. Everyone complains about how expensive things have become. It’s practically an invitation to talk about censorship resistant money, through talking about its byproduct.
In an age of digital censorship, people will quickly know why it matters
Most cypherpunk crypto fans talk about censorship resistance through vivid imaginations of some Orwellian fantasy world where financial freedom is a myth and using untraceable digital cash is the only way to survive. As overly dramatic as this may seem right at the present moment, things are changing fast. Between increasingly frequent PayPal and bank account closures and the social media purge of non-mainstream voices, things are heating up quick. The average person today has no idea what censorship feels like. Tomorrow that could be a totally different story.
The average Joe doesn’t care about censorship resistance. He cares about being able to transact freely, keeping the money he earns, and not having to go through headaches and service disruptions. More importantly, he cares about a secure future for himself and his family, and a system that won’t let some suits far away completely screw him over. In other words, the average Joe cares very much about censorship resistance.