This article originally appeared in City AM
Fear, uncertainty and doubt have overtaken the primal fear of missing out. It’s time for the crypto world to offer people better reasons to get involved.
Sentiment in the digital asset world is quickly turning from fear of missing out (FOMO) on exceptional price gains to the fear of losing everything. Yet promoters still chastise people who don’t like their tokens of spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).
Fear and greed are driving forces in all markets, but they can also be irrational. It’s time for the crypto community to move on from fear, engage with scepticism rather than dismiss it, be as transparent as possible and focus on the underlying – and positive – reasons to hold Bitcoin or digital assets.
When things go wrong in crypto, proponents too often blame FUD, claiming anyone who doesn’t believe in a protocol must be a fool. That act worked while FOMO reigned, but those days are over.
A cascade of defaults and margin calls have followed the TerraUST collapse, exposing not just bad business models, but a whole lot of hubris.
Celsius, a cryptocurrency lender, froze client assets and media reports are speculating they’ll stay that way. Three Arrows Capital (3AC), a self-styled crypto hedge fund has similar problems and has filed for bankruptcy in the US. That default has led to another with a digital asset brokerage, Voyager Digital.
Coinbase, the only publicly traded crypto exchange, reportedly axed 18% of its workforce—including some who hadn’t even started. That story is repeating as companies that were once growing at warp speed start to shrink (full disclosure, my firm AAX is still hiring).
Crypto was supposed to go to the moon, so what happened? The answer is, the crash had nothing to do with FUD.
Blockchain analytics platform, Nansen.ai, has published a report tracing today’s crypto turmoil back to the UST de-pegging. The firm’s study debunks industry conjecture, including my own, that “attackers” brought down UST and lays the fiasco mainly at the feet of something more common: “the sequence of events was the consequence of investment decisions made by a number of well-funded entities.”
In other words, a concentration of key players all making similar bad decisions—just like contagions we’ve seen in traditional finance.
It turns out that building protocols solely on FOMO, and accusing critics of spreading FUD, creates nothing but a house of cards – and pain for investors. The resulting crypto winter will extend into an ice age if people in this community don’t start to think and speak differently.
We need to stop giving airtime to the “going to the moon, 100x returns” narrative. Cynically stoking FOMO leads to deluded expectations, which ultimately cause people to lose trust.
Once bitten, twice shy. Or REKT.
I love innovation. That’s why I’m in this space. But every innovation needs to be explained – again and again. If you want people to embrace something, show them how it works and why it creates value. It’s important too to listen and learn from other perspectives and the way people view the use and impact of something like Bitcoin in their own lives.
If people don’t like it, don’t allege FUD. Go into more detail; be even more transparent. Eliminate fear, uncertainty and doubt with facts, arguments, and respect (FAR). It will get you further.
For the 95% of the world’s population that have never used crypto, doubt is a perfectly reasonable response. Who doesn’t feel some fear when crossing into uncharted territory?
With markets crashing and regulators—who are preparing to supervise the sector more closely—emphasising a lack of consumer protection, we have to meet that 95% where they are.
If we can’t explain to them why they should hold a particular asset or join in a bigger vision, then our community will remain small and – frankly – out in the cold.
Bitcoin offers a positive vision for an alternative to traditional finance, which simply doesn’t work for the majority of people. But to encourage broader adoption, we have to shift the wider world’s perceptions. They won’t see a fairer, more accessible and a less vulnerable-to-abuse system if we lead with contemptuous FUD.
If anything, we should help people apply their scepticism to the incumbent financial system. Do they fear the cost of bailing out banks? Or the long-term debasement of currencies? Isn’t it reasonable to be uncertain in some countries about whether you will have access to your money, or the ability to move it? Doesn’t everyone have doubts about the privacy and security of the financial system we all use today?
Put FUD to work in a clear-headed critique of traditional finance, not in boosting sketchy altcoins.
Bitcoin’s decentralisation is the wider protection people need against the greater systemic risk in traditional finance – and the key to a better model. That’s a major net positive but it’s not likely to deliver 100x returns any time soon, nor should it.
Bitcoin was designed as a system for electronic payments that doesn’t require users to place their trust in intermediaries that can fail. Its subsequent rise in value was because more and more people grasped the value of its fundamentals – true decentralisation, permissionlessness and trustlessness – informing a view on a potential future price. A more pronounced focus on the fundamentals and the vision behind bitcoin is the antidote to FUD.
But if platforms freeze assets, prevent withdrawals, or otherwise insert themselves between people and the funds they actually own, those companies are feeding the FUD that they accuse others of spreading.
The market will emerge from its winter. As it does, I hope we see more transparency and a more rational approach to investing in digital assets that better limits the influence of FOMO and FUD.
I believe people should hold Bitcoin, but not because of a fear of missing out on instant riches. And I believe that anyone who takes the time to learn about the market will see that the fundamentals of financial inclusion, cost efficiency, and decentralised security make Bitcoin a digital gold standard.