Episode 65 — The ECASH Act (Feat. Rohan Grey) — Crypto Critics’ Corner

Crypto Critics' Corner

The ECASH Act (Feat. Rohan Grey) Crypto Critics' Corner

Today Bennett and Cas are joined by returning guest and assistant professor of law at Willamette College, Rohan Grey. We're going to speak with him about the ECASH Act (which you can read here: https://lynch.house.gov/_cache/files/1/7/17e47e5a-2bff-42c1-b509-eb8a50931fa6/BDDFF183213326821B5C88B7F326EABB.ecashact-lynch.pdf), a bill he helped author that aims to bring the privacy of physical cash into the modern age. Follow Rohan on Twitter @rohangrey. This episode was recorded on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

Cas Piancey and Bennett Tomlin are joined by Rohan Grey to discuss the new ECASH bill to create a private digital dollar, and what we think about this bill. 

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English transcript:

Cas Piancey: Welcome back, everyone.

Cas Piancey: I am Cas Piancey, and I'm joined as usual by my partner in crime, Mr.

Cas Piancey: Bennett.

Cas Piancey: Tomlin, how are you today?

Bennett Tomlin: I'm doing well.

Bennett Tomlin: Cas, how are you?

Cas Piancey: I'm good.

Cas Piancey: We have a great guest, a return earned guest, Rohan Gray.

Cas Piancey: You have a million fantastic titles.

Cas Piancey: You know, what I'll do is I'll record them after this.

Cas Piancey: I'll rerecord the whole thing.

Cas Piancey: And true to my word, here I am, the embarrassed and unprepared cohost of Crypto Critics Corner Cas Piancey to say that Rohan Gray is the assistant professor of Law at Williamette University, the research director of the Digital Fiat Currency Institute, a consultant to the UN International Telecommunication Unions focus Group on digital currency, and helped author the ECASH Act.

Cas Piancey: It's wonderful to have you here, Rohan.

Cas Piancey: How are you today?

Rohan Grey: Yeah, good.

Rohan Grey: Thanks for having me.

Rohan Grey: I mean, it's an exciting week, the realm of digital money.

Cas Piancey: It is an exciting week.

Cas Piancey: And we have you on specifically to talk about something quite exciting, which is the ECASH bill that is being introduced that you helped work on.

Rohan Grey: Yes, the Electronic Currency and Secure Hardware Act, which just perfectly spells ECASH.

Rohan Grey: So when you write enough bills, the acronym really starts to matter a lot for you.

Rohan Grey: And I'm just really happy this one worked out.

Rohan Grey: I think I'd work really good.

Cas Piancey: Well, yeah.

Cas Piancey: I mean, let's talk about it.

Cas Piancey: Bennett, I want you to start this one out as usual.

Cas Piancey: You have some high quality questions when it comes to the intricacies of legislation like this.

Cas Piancey: So go ahead and start us, please.

Bennett Tomlin: Well, I mean, I think the easiest place for us to start here would just be for Rohan.

Bennett Tomlin: Can you just give a brief introduction to the objectives of the ECASH bill?

Rohan Grey: Yeah, sure.

Rohan Grey: So the overarching objective is to develop a publicly issued digital dollar that replicates and maintains the Privacy, anonymity and decentralized processing features of physical cash to the greatest degree possible.

Rohan Grey: So we designed the bill to be centered around the treasury rather than the Fed.

Rohan Grey: So it's explicitly and intentionally not a CBDC.

Rohan Grey: The word CBDC doesn't tell you really anything other than it's issued by the central bank.

Rohan Grey: And if there's one thing that this is not, it's issued by the central bank.

Rohan Grey: But in contrast to most traditional banking technologies that rely on a central banking intermediary or rely on a commercial bank intermediary, and then that whole network has a central bank on the back end.

Rohan Grey: Or in contrast to a lot of crypto assets that use a blockchain or a distributed ledger, this involves no ledger whatsoever.

Rohan Grey: So just like physical cash, you issue the token, it gets stored in a physical instrument or a device, and you make transfers by simply changing possession or moving things between those devices rather than changing ledger based balances.

Bennett Tomlin: One thing you mentioned there is that it was very explicitly being issued by the treasury and not by the Fed.

Bennett Tomlin: And so I was really curious when I was reading the bill, why that was the choice, why the treasury instead of the Fed?

Cas Piancey: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: Why are you using this language?

Rohan Grey: Well, I think one of the problems is that we've had this discourse now for going on, I don't know, a decade, maybe a bit longer about government digital currencies, sort of almost around the same time as Bitcoin, people started to really seriously talk about the government issue their own digital currency.

Rohan Grey: But at this point at least, that discourse has almost become completely centered around models and technologies and approaches where the central bank is the central actor.

Rohan Grey: In fact, the Biden executive order that just came out around crypto uses the term CBDC almost interchangeably with a digital dollar.

Rohan Grey: And as I said before, that term doesn't actually tell you anything.

Rohan Grey: It doesn't tell you why it's issued.

Rohan Grey: It doesn't tell you how it's designed, it doesn't tell you who is going to use it.

Rohan Grey: The only thing it tells you is that it's issued by the central bank, which if you're a central banker, is great for you because you control the whole process.

Rohan Grey: Right?

Rohan Grey: You say, I don't know what it's going to look like.

Rohan Grey: I haven't decided that yet.

Rohan Grey: We're still looking at options, but the one thing we're unsure of is we're in charge.

Rohan Grey: It's going to be us who's going to be in the driver's seat.

Rohan Grey: And this is where I have a problem with that, is that in the very next breath, the very next thing that comes out in those debates or those conversations is the central bankers say, well, of course we don't provide retail services.

Rohan Grey: Well, of course we would have to make sure that anything we did have the same know your customer and anti money laundering rules that apply to every other account that we offer.

Rohan Grey: Of course, we probably want a two tier system where our existing intermediaries provide the last mile services.

Rohan Grey: So suddenly what started off as just what we should be in charge becomes actual constraint parameters on the design and function.

Rohan Grey: And if you look at physical cash, it actually has very little to do with the bank account.

Rohan Grey: It doesn't have a ledger.

Rohan Grey: As I said, it uses hardware rather than sort of quote unquote software as its baseline kind of method of validating transactions and validating people's claims on account balances.

Rohan Grey: And perhaps most importantly, in the US context, the Fed does not issue any form of token Federal Reserve notes in our pocket.

Rohan Grey: They have the Federal Reserve's name on them, but they're printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is in the treasury.

Rohan Grey: And coins that we use every day are issued by the Mint, which is again in the treasury.

Rohan Grey: And when you have your stimulus cards sent out, they are sent out from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service in the treasury.

Rohan Grey: So if you were going to start from an objective point of view, if you hadn't had your brainworms from the Fed CBDC discourse and you were going to say, we want to issue a hardware secured, token based form of money that goes to retail actors and can be held directly by them.

Rohan Grey: Which government agency is the one to do that?

Rohan Grey: The answer is the treasury.

Cas Piancey: You essentially are saying that you see the central bank as swaying too much power if you are to use that terminology.

Cas Piancey: And so by explicitly using the terminology that you're using, the context that you're using and the language that you're using is to avoid that and rely on the treasury, which is not as I guess I'm wondering, what's the difference there between the treasury and the central bankers?

Rohan Grey: Well, yeah.

Rohan Grey: So the first thing is, as I was just saying, horses for courses.

Rohan Grey: This is designed to be pluralistic.

Rohan Grey: It's not in competition with the CBDC, it's not in extent of a CBDC.

Rohan Grey: You want a Fed account, which I support, you have it.

Rohan Grey: You want postal banking, which I support, you have it.

Rohan Grey: What this does is say we've always had different forms of money.

Rohan Grey: We've had accounts and tokens for 5000 years.

Rohan Grey: We don't need to choose between them.

Rohan Grey: In fact, we should be doing the opposite of making sure that a digital dollar has every option available so that individual groups with different needs, different values, different priorities will feel like there's a form of a digital dollar for them.

Rohan Grey: Most people in their wallets have a credit card or debit card and maybe some physical cash, depending on how much in the future you live.

Rohan Grey: And so this is really an attempt to slot into that final category.

Rohan Grey: It's to say that this has all of the benefits of cash: Privacy, anonymity, you don't need a third party to approve your payments, but it's also got the risks of cash, which is if you lose your wallet, you lose your device, you lose the money.

Rohan Grey: So people aren't going to be wholesale leaving the banking system for this, but they are going to be using it the way that we usECASH today.

Rohan Grey: That's the sort of why does this fit in with the cash instruments rather than the account?

Rohan Grey: Now, from a political point of view, first of all, central bankers are bankers.

Rohan Grey: I've been making this joke all around the way.

Rohan Grey: But you ask a bunch of bankers what they think technology can do.

Rohan Grey: They'll say a better bank account, right.

Rohan Grey: This is the old line that's attributed to Henry Ford.

Rohan Grey: He said if I asked the public what they wanted, they would have set a faster horse.

Rohan Grey: Well, central bankers, there is more in heaven and Earth than there is in central bankers philosophy when it comes to digital money.

Rohan Grey: And there's a reason why central banks around the world haven't really paid much attention to this.

Rohan Grey: And that's because it's grounded in values different from the ones that they have.

Rohan Grey: Central bankers love data, they love analyzing data.

Rohan Grey: They are firmly embedded in the AML KYC regime.

Rohan Grey: That applies to accounts that says you have to have identities because you as an account manager, have responsibilities to third party actors.

Rohan Grey: And those third parties do not have a reasonable expectation of Privacy because they're sharing their information with you as a third party.

Rohan Grey: So they're coming from a world where they're applying the legal framework, they're applying the technical framework of accounts, and that's fine for account money.

Rohan Grey: But if we want to do something different, they're the wrong people to ask.

Rohan Grey: They're also not going to be committed to it.

Rohan Grey: So if a spook or a cop comes to them and says, we need a back door, do you think that Chair Powell is going to stand up and fight for civil liberties?

Rohan Grey: He's sort of secretly been an ACLU plant this entire time.

Rohan Grey: I mean, I'm not convinced.

Rohan Grey: So the question of who's actually going to support this?

Rohan Grey: Well, I'm not convinced that former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, now Secretary Chair Janet Yellen is going to be particularly interested either.

Rohan Grey: But the thing about the treasury is it works under the pleasure of the President, and the President is politically accountable.

Rohan Grey: So this is a way to say this is a debate that shipping had in public in front of everybody in the town hall.

Rohan Grey: If you don't like it, you have a right to have a voice.

Rohan Grey: This isn't some technocratic central banker.

Rohan Grey: It's all independent.

Rohan Grey: If you want to even have anything to do with it, you're undermining central bank independence.

Rohan Grey: All that stuff is irrelevant, and we're cutting it out from minute one in the conversation.

Bennett Tomlin: That was one of the really exciting things for me when I was reading the bill is because unlike the CBDC proposals, which I've read, which almost entirely focus on settlement between the banks and stuff like that, because that's what the Fed is doing all the time.

Rohan Grey: They don't even want to provide a regular bank account.

Rohan Grey: They're really wanting to only do wholesale banking.

Rohan Grey: That's the only thing they really feel comfortable with you.

Bennett Tomlin: And this was so clearly focused on the end user and trying to emulate as much as possible, the cash like experience for the end user.

Bennett Tomlin: Do you think you can speak a little bit to how a system like this would actually work?

Bennett Tomlin: Because what we've established so far is it involves these secure devices.

Bennett Tomlin: It does not use a distributed ledger like a blockchain, and that it can be used offline.

Bennett Tomlin: And that's a challenging set of requirements.

Rohan Grey: Yeah, it's utopian.

Rohan Grey: It also makes little ponies and just gives them out to people every day.

Rohan Grey: The first thing is that and this is a really important point for crypto advocates, I think, to understand, which is the conversation around how to design an effective, decentralized crypto instrument is trying to solve two problems.

Rohan Grey: The first problem is the decentralized payment, settlement, storage, your standard payments technology stuff.

Rohan Grey: The second problem, however, is monetary theory, monetary policy, how much to issue to who to give it to, under what conditions.

Rohan Grey: And the thing that Bitcoin and others have done is they've combined those two.

Rohan Grey: They've said, we need a system where we don't trust any one person, not only to process transactions, but also to determine how much to issue.

Rohan Grey: Now, if you're a person that doesn't believe in Democratic public money, okay, you probably won't like a version of a digital public dollar.

Rohan Grey: But if you accept that public money has a place, it will continue to have a place.

Rohan Grey: And that public cash is actually probably an important thing to preserve, even if you don't like it.

Rohan Grey: But only because if you want private money to have Privacy, you probably need to convince people that it's worth having Privacy and money in general.

Rohan Grey: And most people are going to experience that with public money first.

Rohan Grey: So if we lose the battle over public cash, my view is we're going to lose the battle over any Privacy in crypto as well.

Rohan Grey: So even if you don't want to use it, even if you don't like it, you probably want this thing to exist and be legal so that there's some cover for the things that you want to be legal, too.

Rohan Grey: But the problem is that because in the 90s, when we were seriously talking about how we're secured options, and that was before cell phones, before Web two point out all that stuff.

Rohan Grey: It was back when the only option was prepaid cards, and there were serious efforts around that.

Rohan Grey: The bank of Finland did the Avant card in England.

Rohan Grey: They had the Mondex card in Canada in the early 2008 Mint chip card.

Cas Piancey: What happened to those?

Rohan Grey: Well, a lot of them failed because governments weren't really interested at the time.

Rohan Grey: And then 911 happened, and then the idea of having any Privacy went out the window for 20 years.

Rohan Grey: So it was a moment where a lot of crypto advocates said, well, nobody is picking up what we're putting down.

Rohan Grey: So we're going to move into a system where we only use software and we're going to issue a private money.

Rohan Grey: And so they're solving two technical problems or trying to at the same time.

Rohan Grey: And it leads you to stuff like proof of work or proof of stake, and all of these questions, which are very complicated.

Rohan Grey: But if you have centralized issuance, which public money already does, then all you need to solve for is the decentralized payments.

Rohan Grey: And that's a lot easier because you can do a lot of the initial security and counterfeiting protection at the point of issuance, and then all you're doing is transferring that secured instrument between actors.

Rohan Grey: Whereas with crypto, you have to solve the problem of how to issue it as well in an untrustworthy way.

Rohan Grey: But to go question how it works, there would be some sort of offline or air gap or something like that at the central bank at the treasury, they would Mint these in the same way as they Mint coins and notes.

Rohan Grey: They would ship them out.

Rohan Grey: You would buy a prepaid card, or you would go to a bank and you would basically make the equivalent withdrawal.

Rohan Grey: Or you could even do it on an app on your phone.

Rohan Grey: You would withdraw the money from your bank account.

Rohan Grey: It would be the equivalent of the bank buying pallets of physical currency.

Rohan Grey: They would buy it with their reserves at the central bank.

Rohan Grey: And that would be uploaded onto your device.

Rohan Grey: And that device would have some sort of trusted executing environment or a physically unclownable function.

Rohan Grey: And you would then be able to communicate with any other recognized hardware device that could include prepaid cards and other phones.

Rohan Grey: And the idea would be you would essentially ask that device, you would do a handshake and say, hey, do you have this amount of money?

Rohan Grey: They would say, yes, they might not tell you how much they have, but they would say, we have as much as you need.

Rohan Grey: And they say, okay, I want you to send it to me.

Rohan Grey: They put your signature, their signature in it, and it would go to the next device, and the original device would lose that signature.

Rohan Grey: It would be destroyed, and there would be a new signature that would come in.

Rohan Grey: That would be whatever the new balance is on that instrument.

Rohan Grey: So if you try to spend it to somewhere else, it wouldn't exist anymore.

Rohan Grey: It would show that other equivalent value was no longer valid.

Rohan Grey: Now, that's not perfectly secure.

Rohan Grey: You can always crack hardware just like you can crack any system.

Rohan Grey: But there are two considerations there.

Rohan Grey: One is we would put denominational caps on these devices, maybe like 10,000.

Rohan Grey: I didn't put a specific number in the bill because we didn't want that to be the fight in day one.

Rohan Grey: That's going to be a political question, but I will say as high as possible.

Rohan Grey: And so even if you do hack an individual device, you're maybe getting $5,000, $10,000.

Rohan Grey: You're not getting $100 billion.

Rohan Grey: So if you want to be transferring Pablo Escobar level money, you're still going to be having duffel bags worth of stuff.

Rohan Grey: It'll just be duffel bags worth of prepaid cards or cell phones rather than a paper money.

Rohan Grey: But the other aspect is that the individual hardware devices themselves are something that you could separately from the transaction validate.

Rohan Grey: So there could be little kiosks all over the place.

Rohan Grey: You tap the phone to see if any balances, and they could do a check with an existing list of kind of legitimate dollars.

Rohan Grey: So just like with physical currency, someone pays you $100 bill, you put it up to the light, you run a pen over it, you have a black light.

Rohan Grey: Nowadays, there are all sorts of devices that can validate.

Rohan Grey: You could have a system or an easy device that could validate that the funds you're receiving are still authorized.

Rohan Grey: But that would be a separate process to the transaction.

Rohan Grey: You wouldn't be having to get third party Uncle Sam or bank's green light to actually process the transaction itself.

Rohan Grey: And any record of all of that stuff would exist only on the device.

Rohan Grey: There wouldn't be some place in the cloud.

Cas Piancey: It's very interesting to me because you have essentially answered one of my questions, which was while I can understand that maybe the transactions are private, it appears as though any physical, whether it's a card or a physical hardware wallet or whatever you want to call it.

Cas Piancey: Right.

Cas Piancey: That will have traceability.

Rohan Grey: Right.

Cas Piancey: And I guess maybe there might be some concern about that.

Cas Piancey: I have a $20 bill right here.

Cas Piancey: There's a serial number on it, so it is identifiable, obviously.

Cas Piancey: But what I can do with this $20 bill now that it is in my wallet, whether I'm KYC or AML or whatever at a bank is I can take this $20 bill and, for instance, pay an illegal immigrant to do something, and that doesn't have to be traced.

Cas Piancey: And that illegal immigrant now has that dollar or that $20 bill, and they can use it as they see fit.

Cas Piancey: It doesn't seem like there's room for that kind of a transaction in the eCache act.

Cas Piancey: Is that incorrect?

Rohan Grey: There absolutely is, because you buy the device.

Rohan Grey: Right.

Rohan Grey: But you don't have to give AML KYC when you buy the device.

Rohan Grey: There might be certain intermediaries that will ask for that.

Rohan Grey: But I could imagine this being available at a convenience store next to the transit cards.

Rohan Grey: You could buy this at the postal service, next to the prepaid debit cards that they sell where you don't ask for permission.

Rohan Grey: You could buy a prepaid phone and it would have this built into the phone functionality and you could buy the phone.

Rohan Grey: The other thing is just because the initial dollars have to be just because certain intermediaries might charge KYC rules.

Rohan Grey: Once you have one of these devices, the dollars that gets sent to that device don't have any KYC.

Rohan Grey: So you could get $100 from your bank account.

Rohan Grey: The bank would know you with your $100.

Rohan Grey: But if you give it to me, there's no record that the $100 on my ECASH card came from yours per se.

Rohan Grey: So you use barcodes there.

Rohan Grey: But coins don't have a barcode.

Rohan Grey: Coins are the most private form of public money, also issued by the treasury, and they don't have any barcode whatsoever.

Rohan Grey: So there is no record of who owned the coin before you did.

Rohan Grey: And there's no record of every person who's ever owned a banknote except at the point of issuance and the point of redemption again.

Rohan Grey: But if you had intermediaries who provided this as a service, you could come in with physical cash, give it to them, and they give you a card, and that would be it.

Rohan Grey: Now, that doesn't prevent other forms of good old fashioned gum shoe Detective work.

Rohan Grey: There's still surveillance cameras everywhere.

Rohan Grey: Your phone still got a million other surveillance devices on it.

Rohan Grey: If somebody hacks your phone and is logging every keystroke, you're still going to be screwed.

Rohan Grey: But it does mean that the money itself is dumb.

Rohan Grey: It's a dumb instrument.

Rohan Grey: It's not calling to Central command, and it's not something where you have to have an identity to use it, because that would defeat the point of it, frankly.

Rohan Grey: This is one of the things we've seen with those prepaid cards the government sends out and things which is a lot of people don't trust them, a because they're going to charge fees and B because if you're undocumented or if you're a sex worker or something, they're going to try to stop you from using it.

Rohan Grey: But being able to use your money however you want, I think, is a pretty quintessential American value.

Rohan Grey: And dare I say, is probably one of the best things about living under capitalism.

Rohan Grey: Is it's that whole pretty woman idea?

Rohan Grey: My money as good as yours on the Internet.

Rohan Grey: Nobody knows you're a dog.

Rohan Grey: Well, if I want to pay for something on the Internet, then hopefully nobody will deny it to me because of my race or gender or sexual preference or political, at least as long as my money is good.

Rohan Grey: And I think this is an attempt to preserve that feature as much as possible.

Bennett Tomlin: I remember when you came on here before for Episode 16 to talk about the STABLE Act.

Bennett Tomlin: You drew up like, a Quadrant of like, public money versus private money and then Privacy respecting money versus non Privacy respecting money.

Bennett Tomlin: And at the time, he said the goal would be to try to get something in the Quadrant of both publicly guaranteed and Privacy respecting.

Rohan Grey: Six months.

Bennett Tomlin: Congratulations on getting that bill introduced.

Cas Piancey: And you were quite down on it at that point.

Cas Piancey: If I remember correctly, I think you did not think that there was even a real possibility at the time.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: I mean, all power to Congressman Lynch, who really took a leap of faith on this one.

Rohan Grey: He's no radical progressive.

Rohan Grey: He's a moderate.

Rohan Grey: And of course, we had Rashida Tlaib, who came out with the ABC act, which sort of pointed in this direction with the sense of Congress, but it was a relatively short and brief, and this is really a chance to write the whole thing the best way that we could.

Rohan Grey: And the congressman has been absolutely, 100% supportive all along the way.

Rohan Grey: We just had the ACLU senior political strategist come out and say that if we can issue a digital dollar, it should be this kind Jerry Breeder from Coin Center said, I'm not sure if we should issue a digital dollar, but if we should, the ECASH Act is the best version.

Rohan Grey: I've seen people like Stephen Diehl and Isabella Kaminska, who have been very critical of both crypto on one hand and of CBDCs or the other, and their surveillance capacity say, look, this looks legit.

Rohan Grey: It checks out.

Rohan Grey: So I'm not saying we did it perfectly, but I think as far as an initial kind of salvo into this debate, hopefully now finally there is a perspective in that kind of pro Privacy ProPublic Quadrant.

Rohan Grey: And the fact that we've had the reaction we've had the Wired magazine article on this was really fantastic.

Rohan Grey: I think just shows how missing this perspective has been in the debate so far.

Rohan Grey: It's been crypto advocates saying, why do you hate freedom?

Rohan Grey: And then public money advocates saying, why do you think that capitalism is good for the average person?

Rohan Grey: And they've been talking past each other, and it's possible to believe in public goods and believe in Privacy.

Rohan Grey: And now we finally have a kind of load start for what that would look like in this conversation.

Cas Piancey: One of the questions that I have is about the Privacy board.

Cas Piancey: Can you kind of go over the Privacy Board?

Cas Piancey: Because one, it's an interesting concept.

Cas Piancey: But two, I'd be interested to see how well that works in reality versus how it looks on paper.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: I mean, look, we didn't give them the power to sort of override with a super majority vote, the whims of the treasury or anything.

Rohan Grey: This is really about the transparency side.

Rohan Grey: I think a lot of people say, do you really trust the government to do this?

Rohan Grey: And of course I don't trust the government to do this.

Rohan Grey: I don't trust the government to anything.

Rohan Grey: That's not why you have a government.

Rohan Grey: You demand things of it and you hold it accountable.

Rohan Grey: That's how power works.

Rohan Grey: But it's the same government that lies about FISA courts and mass surveillance.

Rohan Grey: Of course, I'm not going to just take them at their word, but part of the thing to do here is to give Privacy advocates a foothold in the institution.

Rohan Grey: And so those independent Privacy board members have a term that they can't be removed except by the President.

Rohan Grey: They have to give a report about it.

Rohan Grey: But also they have access to all the internal materials they can write on the official letterhead with budgets that they can control individually as well as collectively separate from the treasury.

Rohan Grey: And my hope would be that the appointment of people to those positions would be something that Privacy advocates would take very seriously.

Rohan Grey: If you're a lawyer, you care who gets on the Supreme Court.

Rohan Grey: If you're an economist, you care who gets on the Fed board.

Rohan Grey: If you're a pro Privacy person, hopefully you'll care who gets on this committee.

Rohan Grey: And if it turns out that they're lying and they're putting backdoors into things and all that kind of stuff, I would want those members of the committee to blow the whistle and for people to use that as a red flag to mobilize, not because I think that that's enough, but because I think that's one of the ways that you can get a kind of temperature check about whether this thing is going off the rails from what it's supposed to be versus what it's actually doing.

Bennett Tomlin: Returning to before, when we were talking about kind of the different types of money, if this were to get past and become a thing that was relatively broadly used, like beyond the pilot phase of this, what effect do you think it would have on some of the other existing forms of money, both the kind of pseudo private money of the money transmitters like Venmo, and the more outright private money of like, the stable coins and then just payments processors like Visa and stuff?

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: I mean, right now, I think a lot of financial institutions hatECASH for two reasons.

Rohan Grey: One, is it's hard to profit off it, and B, they can't gather data of it.

Rohan Grey: So there's very little to offer a private for profit actor for sort of being involved in this public service.

Rohan Grey: It's almost like an easement.

Rohan Grey: You don't really like the fact that your house has a pathway to the beach that other people use, but you really can't find an explanation for why they shouldn't be allowed to access the beach.

Rohan Grey: So I guess I have to let them walk on my land.

Rohan Grey: It's sort of like that.

Rohan Grey: I think the banks know that they can't really say that people shouldn't be able to access cash, but if they could, they would.

Rohan Grey: So in one respect, I think that the war against cash, which has been waged for many years now by banks, by fintech companies, by data companies, and by governments, it's hard to win, in part because cash just looks like it's quaint, it looks like it's old, it looks like it's in the past.

Rohan Grey: I think it's really important.

Rohan Grey: But this allows us to keep the spirit of cash on both sides of the digital divide.

Rohan Grey: If you believe in cash as a concept, you can support physical cash.

Rohan Grey: And this so, for example, the law that was just passed in Philadelphia requiring merchants to accept physical cash, they can't go cashless because that was causing severe financial inclusion concerns, for example, or when people say they made up about cash being a vector for COVID, the World Health Organization said there was no evidence that cash was actually a vector for COVID, but it was a good narrative that cash is dirty, we're going to go cashless.

Rohan Grey: Well, if you had to switch to digital cash for a while, you could still have all the benefits of Privacy, even if we're having the debate about the cleanliness rather than saying, oh, cash is dirty, I guess we all go into surveillance money now.

Rohan Grey: But to the private question you're talking about, I think first of all, it will make a lot of money transmitters, maybe less attractive by comparison.

Rohan Grey: What is Venmo offering?

Rohan Grey: I mean, I guess you get the option to share with your friends when you pay someone something, which I cannot believe people actually enjoy, but apparently some people do.

Rohan Grey: So maybe they'll still want to have their money surveilled.

Rohan Grey: It's just cash, plus taking a photo of it and putting on the internet or something.

Rohan Grey: But then when it comes to something like stablecoins, on one hand, a lot of people are using stablecoins because it's the only kind of money like public money like instrument they can use in certain contexts.

Rohan Grey: So if you can use an actual digital cash instrument, I think it'll take the wind out of the sales of the stablecoin industry to a large degree.

Rohan Grey: But also to the extent that there are laws prohibiting people from engaging in illicit activity and that stablecoins allow you to get around those jurisdictional laws in your jurisdiction.

Rohan Grey: Physical cash already does that as well.

Rohan Grey: There are whole countries that use the US dollar as their primary medium, and that would be something they could do as well.

Rohan Grey: So I think certainly it allows you to do money transmission in a cleaner, crisper way.

Rohan Grey: And to give one basic example, that in the Covert Relief, we proposed using prepaid debit cards to get to people who didn't have a bank account.

Rohan Grey: But part of that was that we proposed to have an emergency responder call that would go and knock on people's doors and actually put the money in their hands.

Rohan Grey: Because we recognize that it's not enough to just have a piece of technology.

Rohan Grey: You actually have to get people to be able to use it.

Rohan Grey: That was one of the ways that we dealt with the access problem.

Rohan Grey: But the people who don't trust the banking system, a prepaid debit card is still connected to a bank account.

Rohan Grey: On the back end, it's just a numbered account, but they can be shut down, that can keep a record of all your transactions, all of that kind of stuff.

Rohan Grey: If you wanted to donate it to political dissidents with your prepaid debit card and the government wanted to prosecute for that, they could find that information at that bank account.

Rohan Grey: So this is an attempt to really do what prepaid debit cards do, what a Venmo balance does, but better.

Rohan Grey: But the way that it should work, which is actually cash like not account.

Rohan Grey: Like that said, there are reasons why, as I mentioned before, you might want to not put all your money in this because it's risky.

Rohan Grey: You are taking all the risk yourself, just like most people don't want to run their own email server, because even though you can do that, it sort of comes with additional complications.

Rohan Grey: So I think that this is not going to get rid of intermediated money in general, but it is going to take a chunk out of them for the purposes that they are currently using that as the nearest approximation to cash.

Rohan Grey: This will be a much better approximation of cash.

Rohan Grey: And the people for whom that's their primary goal will be likely to use this instead.

Cas Piancey: The timeline for this seems either incredibly optimistic or maybe I'm not giving the government enough credit.

Cas Piancey: But even for pilot programs like I'm seeing 90 days after passage, 180 days after passage.

Cas Piancey: And I'm thinking to myself and I understand there are exceptions for certain measures and stuff, but it just feels incredibly optimistic.

Cas Piancey: I'm wondering if the reason for that, though, is because you do feel as though Bitcoin stable coins, antigovernment sentiment, anti US dollar sentiment, antiCas sentiment is getting stronger and stronger, or if it's just like a basic thing that you're just throwing in the law like that any law has to have.

Rohan Grey: I think historically, all good protests have the word now at the end of all of their posters when they're having demands.

Rohan Grey: And I think justice delayed is justice denied.

Rohan Grey: And frankly, when it comes to putting a particular number in, we were always going to be if it was five years, people would say, well, five years is Infinity in digital terms, right?

Rohan Grey: So we put it in to be two years and that kind of thing.

Rohan Grey: And I think that's still a pretty long time.

Rohan Grey: And of course, I'm an academic, you say you'll deliver something in three weeks, you deliver it in six months.

Rohan Grey: So I don't expect them to necessarily keep to these timelines.

Rohan Grey: But you have to set an initial expectation for them to fail to meet in some sense.

Rohan Grey: But I think the reality is that this is a fast paced area where we do have to move quickly.

Rohan Grey: The good news is and this is one of the reasons I felt comfortable doing it, putting those timelines in is that there are technologies out there.

Rohan Grey: There are vendors, there are people working on this kind of stuff who can get started with proof of concept and that kind of thing.

Rohan Grey: And my hope is that it will take a while for this bill to get passed.

Rohan Grey: That doesn't happen overnight if it's going to happen at all.

Rohan Grey: In the meantime, the fact that this is even being discussed and the reaction it's been received, my hope is that it will be a kind of green light to technologists that this is an area they should be spending more attention on than they have been up until now.

Rohan Grey: I mean, when was the last time you heard about any digital money project that didn't involve a bloody blockchain?

Rohan Grey: And now people who may be interested in that kind of technology might know that there are sort of actual interested parties on the other side who might want to buy what they come up with and use it.

Rohan Grey: So this could take six to twelve months, 18 months to pass.

Rohan Grey: And that gives people the time to do the development of the tech.

Rohan Grey: But also there are companies that have already tested this in other countries that we've had prepaid cards for a long time.

Rohan Grey: There are hardware based, trusted executing environments on phones that Google and Visa and others have already been looking at.

Rohan Grey: So I don't think that when it comes to testing this stuff, we're sort of starting completely from scratch.

Rohan Grey: It's more a matter of show us what you've got and we'll look at them all and then make a decision.

Rohan Grey: It's really more about kind of playing the field of vendors than it is about needing to actually test the technology from day one.

Rohan Grey: Right?

Cas Piancey: I mean, I don't think that there's any kind of issue.

Cas Piancey: Maybe there is in America.

Cas Piancey: I don't know how technologically advanced we are when it comes to payment systems through phones and stuff.

Cas Piancey: But I do know from my time in China when I was there in 20, 18, 20, 19, they know you're a tourist.

Cas Piancey: It's not about the way you look.

Cas Piancey: They know you're a tourist.

Cas Piancey: If you use cash, that's how they can tell what's going on.

Cas Piancey: That's how they know if you don't have a Chinese Bank account and if you're not used to being there, you could speak perfect Mandarin.

Cas Piancey: And if you pull out cash, they're like, oh, where are you actually from?

Cas Piancey: I wonder if you are, because that is as tracked as you can probably get is like a Chinese issued telephone with money on it from your Chinese Bank account.

Cas Piancey: I'm sure the Chinese Communist Party is paying attention to every single transaction.

Rohan Grey: Don't give the NSA short shift.

Rohan Grey: They're doing their very best as well.

Cas Piancey: I guess that's where I'm coming from here.

Cas Piancey: As quick as this could be implemented, I assume you want to take more time because you want to make sure that that isn't the implementation, right?

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: So we directed the bill to use open source software and hardware wherever possible.

Rohan Grey: And I think that's going to be a huge part of the transparency along with the monetary Privacy board.

Rohan Grey: If it's all behind closed doors, I think there's a very real risk that falls the way of Mint chip, which was the Canadian Mint's attempt to do a hardware secured digital dollar in the early 2000s, and they used proprietary hardware and there were too many risks associated with it.

Rohan Grey: And this is sort of deeply ironic, I think, that China actually has a reloadable stored value card version of its digital Yuan that actually does work offline and is anonymous in very small denominations.

Rohan Grey: Now, I don't know if I trusted it's certainly not open source, and I don't know if I consider the denominational caps.

Rohan Grey: They have to be sufficient, but God forbid that they outrun us on Privacy anonymity, and that ends up becoming better than the US dollar.

Rohan Grey: The US dollar abroad is sort of as potent a symbol of American capitalism as there is.

Rohan Grey: And if we don't have a digital dollar out there, then it's going to completely disrupt how people use the American dollar.

Rohan Grey: So unless someone's saying tomorrow we should try to de-dollarize every country that's ever used physical US currency, which I don't think anyone actually wants, even if they might say they do for optical purposes.

Rohan Grey: We are going to want something that can be held by average people that easily.

Rohan Grey: Now, as I said, I don't think the technology is actually super hard to develop, but making it transparent and clear is definitely going to be important.

Rohan Grey: So I would say the next step for people on the tech side are interested is start trying to work with people who have access to white label prepaid card technology, et cetera, and start getting some stuff out there that's open hardware specs that you could manufacture in multiple places.

Rohan Grey: So we're not going to be building tech that's dependent on one manufacturer, or if there is a blob to try to create an open source version of that particular part of the software, et cetera, as soon as possible.

Rohan Grey: As I said, the timelines are not as important as the integrity of the project, obviously.

Rohan Grey: But if we do leave this forever, it will be too late and people will have become accustomed to using.

Rohan Grey: Thank God it's not going to be bloody Facebook's currency, right?

Rohan Grey: But we're waiting.

Rohan Grey: We're waiting for the network effects to hit.

Rohan Grey: We're waiting for everybody to go, Well, I just use them now, or I just use X now and not to be the thing that 15 years from now just becomes synonymous with the act of paying.

Rohan Grey: And we want to make sure that it's not PayPal, it's not Venmo, and it's not some dangerous stable coin, and it's not a government surveillance coin.

Rohan Grey: Of those options, I think it's much more likely that it's going to be some private sector one, because they're the ones that can move fast while everybody is jamming the public sector from being able to act.

Rohan Grey: But look, six months is enough time to do all kinds of things.

Rohan Grey: If you look at the six months after the Patriot Act, they built a surveillance state pretty damn quickly.

Rohan Grey: So when the weather is a will, there's a way to act quickly.

Cas Piancey: They've been building that for a really long time, though.

Cas Piancey: Give them credit there, too.

Rohan Grey: That's fair.

Rohan Grey: They added an extension, they added a whole new house.

Rohan Grey: Yeah, that's right.

Rohan Grey: They went on a spending spree.

Cas Piancey: Vertical integration.

Rohan Grey: Exactly.

Rohan Grey: They went national.

Rohan Grey: They were regional.

Rohan Grey: But yes, if people said, look, the stakes are this big.

Rohan Grey: The stakes are the future of Privacy and transactional freedom.

Rohan Grey: And we either go one way or we don't.

Rohan Grey: And if we wait three years, we're f*****, frankly.

Rohan Grey: So what do we do?

Rohan Grey: I didn't make the timeline.

Rohan Grey: The timeline was there.

Rohan Grey: That's just how fast the stuff moves.

Rohan Grey: So either the government picks up the slack and makes it work, or it doesn't.

Rohan Grey: But the good news is, and I had the opportunity to interview the former Mint director, Philip Deal, when we were talking about the trillion dollar coin proposal.

Rohan Grey: But he was actually testifying in 1995 saying that the Mitt should issue a stored value card to replicate the features of coin, saying we are the only entity in the government that cares about Privacy.

Rohan Grey: It should be us and talk about Back to the Future.

Rohan Grey: But he's the kind of visionary director of the Mint that got stuff done real quick.

Rohan Grey: And I could imagine if we put the right person in charge of this program who really had an axe to grind or something to prove, and we gave them enough autonomy that this timeline is due.

Cas Piancey: I just quickly want to say that to deal that if he somehow hears this podcast, he got me into coins.

Cas Piancey: And I am unfortunately, still 100% neck deep into coins.

Cas Piancey: I love the Canadian Mint and the US Mint.

Cas Piancey: I still have my first coin that I bought in 1999, and I have the sets from 1999 of the state quarters.

Cas Piancey: I was obsessed.

Rohan Grey: He loves that program.

Rohan Grey: He loves that program.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: And he's an example of a bureaucrat who takes pride in making government work well.

Rohan Grey: And we're so not used to seeing those kinds of people.

Rohan Grey: We used to see people that have got their eyes on the watch 1ft out the door, and they're waiting to take a paycheck from some private company on the other side.

Rohan Grey: And their job is to stall bad regulation for business and to maybe do that old Kamala Harris joke.

Rohan Grey: We're going to provide $10,000 of debt forgiveness to someone that sets up a small business in a disadvantaged community for three years or whatever.

Rohan Grey: Bullshit.

Rohan Grey: And the idea of just doing something big and simple and good and taking credit is just anathema.

Rohan Grey: But those people exist.

Rohan Grey: We just have to empower them and put them in the right positions to actually do it.

Cas Piancey: Yeah, well, he got a lifelong supporter out of me.

Cas Piancey: All it took was some silly quarters with pictures on them.

Cas Piancey: I mean, I still talk about that.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: A Texas businessman is my favorite public policy maker in the military space.

Rohan Grey: Go figure.

Bennett Tomlin: Not what people would have predicted.

Bennett Tomlin: No, exactly.

Rohan Grey: Anyway, the point is, just if you are someone like him, I don't imagine he'd say, oh, it's impossible.

Rohan Grey: I can't do it.

Rohan Grey: He'd say, all right, I'll do my best.

Rohan Grey: Let me get back to you if I need a little bit more time.

Rohan Grey: But we'll put pedals the metal.

Rohan Grey: And that's the mentality.

Rohan Grey: We need these crypto people who say, well, what do you expect?

Rohan Grey: Government can't do anything.

Rohan Grey: And then they turn around and then they get upset that the government is corrupt and doesn't do anything.

Rohan Grey: It's like, yes, you get the government that you expect have higher expectations.

Rohan Grey: My kindergarten teacher had high expectations.

Bennett Tomlin: They also get mad when the government does do things.

Rohan Grey: The regulatory clarity, if we wanted, was not the regulatory clarity we got.

Rohan Grey: That was a huge mistake.

Bennett Tomlin: Right?

Bennett Tomlin: I regret asking that was a mistake.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah.

Bennett Tomlin: One of the requirements in the bill is that the ECASH be interoperable with existing financial institutions is that just in the sense that you can go to your bank and deposit cash.

Bennett Tomlin: So if you go to your bank, you can deposit ECASH.

Bennett Tomlin: Or is it like a deeper integration than that?

Rohan Grey: Deeper integration, but definitely that's a part of it.

Rohan Grey: The other part is thinking about things like future point of sale devices.

Rohan Grey: We don't want people to be developing future point of sale devices that explicitly exclude this option from being able to be used.

Rohan Grey: And the same would be, for example, if you're going to develop a phone and create a secure enclave on the phone for private currency to make sure it has that option.

Rohan Grey: But basically the idea is that we want to make sure that you go to a store or something and it's credit checking or ECASH.

Rohan Grey: We want that to be the choice.

Rohan Grey: We want that to be the normalized choice.

Rohan Grey: And the other part of it is when you force the businesses to do that, then businesses can turn around to the government and say, you're not providing enough support.

Rohan Grey: You force me to do that.

Rohan Grey: So to give an example, in Australia, we have compulsory voting, and it's not like you get locked up, you pay a $70 fine or you write a letter saying, I'm sorry, I was busy.

Rohan Grey: I was on the toilet that day and didn't get to the voting booth.

Rohan Grey: They're like, oh, that's fine.

Rohan Grey: They're very relaxed about actually enforcing your non voting.

Rohan Grey: But the point of it is to set the expectation that you're going to vote.

Rohan Grey: And then also this is, I think, the secondary point a lot of Americans don't think about because they're just thinking about it in terms of individual coercion, is that you then have to actually make accommodations on the public policy side so that people can vote.

Rohan Grey: You can't force them to vote or say they have to vote and then not provide accommodations.

Rohan Grey: So we have a public holiday on Election Day.

Rohan Grey: We have mandated time away from your employer, et cetera, et cetera.

Rohan Grey: So if we have a system that says you have to accept ECASH, interoperably, then the government then also has a duty to facilitate that interoperability.

Rohan Grey: And that keeps the affirmative responsibility on those with the power to actually change things.

Cas Piancey: It's funny because it's reminding me of actual important moments in American history.

Speaker UNK: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: Like Lincoln with the greenback, like FDR floating the dollar.

Cas Piancey: It doesn't even have to be like a financial thing.

Cas Piancey: I'm like, I'm even thinking about other moments in whether it's fighting essentially what you're fighting for is Privacy in a new age.

Cas Piancey: And I think that that is a valiant effort, and you're fighting for it in a public way as opposed to a private way.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: I mean, a lot of the debates around, should we even have cashs at all?

Rohan Grey: What if people use cash for bad things are the same debates we had about the Internet itself.

Rohan Grey: Aren't we going to use the Internet?

Rohan Grey: And frankly, it's the same debates we had back in the Enlightenment about whether or not people should be able to read and have a piece of paper that they can access to.

Rohan Grey: Right.

Rohan Grey: And so I think it really is that fundamental.

Rohan Grey: And one of the things that's interesting is that this is very much picking up a conversation that really trailed off in the late 90s.

Rohan Grey: But the reason they trail off there was the Patriot Act, all these other things.

Rohan Grey: But also that was the last time we were talking about sort of the bare bones of the Internet and what he wanted to look like.

Rohan Grey: It was the Telecommunications Act of 96, et cetera.

Rohan Grey: And I think one of the things that we failed there was we failed to ensure that the finance layer was consistent with the principles of an open internet.

Rohan Grey: So you can create PeerToPeer nodes, all that stuff.

Rohan Grey: But if you have to pay because everyone's lives in material, right?

Rohan Grey: Even businesses, even websites have to pay for the electricity.

Rohan Grey: If you have to pay money to run your internet thing, then if the money is centralized, then that's where they'll get you.

Rohan Grey: And I think this was a huge failure of the Internet freedom movement to not put cash front and center as a policy priority.

Rohan Grey: And then when they did fail to convince governments in the 90s, the fact that they kind of turned to private monies I think was a huge error.

Rohan Grey: What we needed was more mass mobilization.

Rohan Grey: The cypherpunk should have allied with Progressives and labor unions and all those people that, God forbid it's the messy politics that you can't fix by writing code in your bedroom.

Rohan Grey: But it is what actually gets you things like a 40 hours work week or the right against self incrimination or holds those b****** cops accountable when they beat people to death.

Rohan Grey: That's what actually changes things is mass politics.

Rohan Grey: And this is an attempt to bring monetary Privacy into a realm of mass politics and away from a realm of financial grifters and libertarians who think they're freedom fighters.

Bennett Tomlin: I will say that this is the only piece of legislation I've read while reading it where it got actually excited because it is like such an attempt to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of claiming government can't act right.

Bennett Tomlin: It's an attempt to do an important thing in a big way that can potentially help people and clearly written with care and with an understanding of what would be necessary to actually pull it off.

Bennett Tomlin: And so that's why I was extraordinarily gratified when I saw the open source parts of the bill, because I think if it had ended up being closed source, it would have been immediately DOA because you can't actually believe in the Privacy if you can't verify it, if no one can verify it right.

Bennett Tomlin: And so in order for it to truly be private, it had to be open.

Bennett Tomlin: And it was just gratifying to see the members of the House who came forward to sponsor it.

Bennett Tomlin: Like being willing to stand behind that principle.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: Well, my old law Professor, Evan Mogul, who helped draft the GPL license with Richard Stallman, he probably yell at me and say, Why didn't you call it free software?

Rohan Grey: Open source is already a compromise, and I think he's right on that.

Rohan Grey: But I think if I wrote the word free there, people would get very confused and think they meant free as in free beer, not free as in freedom.

Rohan Grey: So for those listening out there who are the kind of people that say it's Canoe, not Linux, and it's free software, not open source.

Rohan Grey: You're right.

Rohan Grey: And I'm sorry, that's a legitimate criticism.

Rohan Grey: But hopefully I p***** off the right people on the other side that you'll still consider me on team.

Bennett Tomlin: Right now, I'm just thinking about Richard Stallman.

Rohan Grey: Yeah.

Rohan Grey: And I have a lot of respect for the Canoe Tawa program, which was an attempt to provide a kind of free software answer to this, but they made a compromise with their technology that was asymmetrically anonymous.

Rohan Grey: So it was anonymous for the payer, not for the payee.

Rohan Grey: And the idea was that you would sort of still force merchants to have to record transactions so you can monitor it for tax purposes.

Rohan Grey: And I understand that compromise.

Rohan Grey: But with respect to them, this is where I think technologists playing monetary theorists is probably not.

Rohan Grey: I am willing to own cash being symmetrically anonymous, and to say that lawyers can monitor and deal with the risks of tax fraud and things on the back end with other ways, and that it's more important at this stage to have a digital cash instrument that works like cash than it is to preemptively Bake in compromises with tax collectors into that instrument.

Rohan Grey: At this point, I consider this to be a kind of small C, conservative defense of cash like freedoms, and that what we want to do is preserve as many of them as possible.

Rohan Grey: We kind of we're turning into a bend, we're doing a hard turn into the digital realm, and we got to try and keep this car, like, within the lines of the road as much as possible.

Rohan Grey: So maybe there'll be situations in the future, et cetera, where there might be additional things we need to think of.

Rohan Grey: But at this point, the goal is to not let this transition destroy the Privacy of cash.

Rohan Grey: And if someone wants to make an argument for why we need to get rid of one little thing, fine.

Rohan Grey: But they should be making that affirmatively and acknowledging that they're getting rid of something that we've enjoyed for thousands of years.

Rohan Grey: I think the end of cash is the extreme radical position, not protecting it into the digital world.

Bennett Tomlin: That's something we were discussing like two episodes ago when we had Josh Cincinnati on, is that cash is kind of like the only remaining broadly acceptable private currency, and that the further it gets pushed to the periphery, the more you have to accept that your transactions end up being monitored and the government.

Bennett Tomlin: Yes.

Bennett Tomlin: Ends up learning all that information about you.

Bennett Tomlin: But so does the credit unions and the ad retargeting agencies and anyone else who can afford to buy it.

Rohan Grey: That's right.

Rohan Grey: And you're only as secure as the database the government has.

Rohan Grey: And we've seen this already with ad hoc.

Rohan Grey: They say, first we'll get all of your data and somehow we'll store it securely.

Rohan Grey: And you're like, well, I'm not sure about that side of things.

Rohan Grey: And frankly, it's like the what is it, the Kobe Yashi, Marie.

Rohan Grey: The only way to win is not to play.

Rohan Grey: Right.

Rohan Grey: The only way to win when it comes to safe data practices is to not collect any data unless you absolutely have to.

Rohan Grey: And I think this is the only model that is really trying to embrace that principle of data minimization from day one.

Cas Piancey: What a way to end it with?

Cas Piancey: Well, the way I remember it a quote from War Games.

Rohan Grey: War games.

Rohan Grey: Thank you.

Rohan Grey: I think, to be honest, you just have to be William Shatner and then you can win.

Cas Piancey: Yeah, but.

Cas Piancey: Yeah, what a way to end it.

Cas Piancey: I think that it makes sense that here we go.

Cas Piancey: We're ending it with the war games quote, but I hope that this gets some legs and makes it through.

Cas Piancey: Are we talking good odds?

Cas Piancey: What are you thinking?

Rohan Grey: Well, I think the national security state is a formidable enemy, and I think they're a formidable enemy within the Democratic Party as well as across the aisle.

Rohan Grey: And I think there is a chance that this is going to have a cross cutting coalition.

Rohan Grey: People like Tom Emmer and Warren Davidson and Hornsburg and others, I think, should in theory, be supportive of this given their other statements.

Rohan Grey: Now, I am long past being shocked if it turns out Republicans just hate government more than they like freedom and Privacy.

Rohan Grey: But at least given their statements now in opposition to a CBDC, the thing that they say they want is exactly what we're trying to do with this bill, and that would hopefully be some cause for an alliance there.

Rohan Grey: But I do see this cross cut along different lines.

Rohan Grey: I mean, we spoke to people at the ACLU, and they haven't taken a position on money in years because they didn't really know what position to take.

Rohan Grey: But the minute we propose to them, like, oh, this makes a lot of sense.

Rohan Grey: Thank you for doing this.

Rohan Grey: And I don't know how many politicians want to get on the Democratic side want to get on the wrong side of the ACLU.

Rohan Grey: And as I said, Coincidenta is out there saying we're not sure we want any digital currency, but if government digital currency.

Rohan Grey: But if we do have one, It should look like this.

Rohan Grey: So compared to surveillance claim, this is hopefully an option that actually has a legitimate interest based.

Rohan Grey: Now, again, the forces on the other side are formidable.

Rohan Grey: I would never claim they're not.

Rohan Grey: But this isn't simply a kind of far left thing.

Rohan Grey: It isn't simply a blue versus red thing.

Rohan Grey: And it's not even really a top versus bottom thing in the sense that there are a lot of reasons why elites and others might want to care about this.

Rohan Grey: The CIA was the one that invented Tor, for God's sake.

Rohan Grey: So it's not that there aren't legitimate use cases For Privacy Amongst elites as well as the hoypoloi, but I think is it going to be interesting to see who ends up either thinking that it's more important to have the ability to catch the bad guys and to protect the good guys one and two that they hate crypto so much that anything that sounds like it's sort of, quote unquote, promoting dark money Is too much of a handout to crypto and they would rather kill cash if it means being able to kill crypto as well.

Rohan Grey: I think those are going to be the coalition in opposition to this.

Rohan Grey: But hopefully, as I said, Even some crypto people who might not care that much about public money can hold their nose and support this Because it's part of a larger movement to protect values that they care about.

Rohan Grey: And protecting those values in general Will have benefits for the things that they actually do care about.

Cas Piancey: Well, thank you for joining us, Rohan.

Cas Piancey: What another educational and informative episode with you and I hope everybody takes a look at the bill the act and decides how they feel about it and if they think they can make it better to voice that.

Cas Piancey: But I appreciate it and I think Bennett and I are both excited to see this and have you on, so thank you.

Rohan Grey: Yes, it's a pleasure.

Rohan Grey: Thanks, as always.

Rohan Grey: Very thoughtful engagement.

Rohan Grey: I appreciate it.

Cas Piancey: Another great episode of cryptocritics corner, this time featuring Rohan Gray.

Cas Piancey: I want to thank you for listening.

Cas Piancey: Hopefully you enjoyed it.

Cas Piancey: Go ahead and hit the rating or review button on whatever podcasting platform you're listening on.

Cas Piancey: And while I'm grateful that Bennett decided not to cancel the show, I do have to let you know that Bennett Tomlin decided to fire me given my criminal background.

Cas Piancey: So I guess this will be my last week with crypto critics corner.

Cas Piancey: You will be joined by Bennett Tomlin next week and a new host.

Cas Piancey: Rumor has it that it's going to be Justin Sun.

Cas Piancey: Thanks for listening for all this time, everyone.

Bennett Tomlin: Sorry.

Cas Piancey: This is how it ends.

One thought on “Episode 65 — The ECASH Act (Feat. Rohan Grey) — Crypto Critics’ Corner

  1. This is for ep#66.

    There’s a reason jobs usually have a cut off of 7 years… no one cares about the deep past unless it’s something super troubling or revealing.

    Everyone has a past. The FBI lowered their standards for hiring a few years ago b/c so many ppl were getting turned down for weed specifically I think. Cas could probably still work financial crimes for them.

    Also, how about the irony of attacking anonymity in regards to crypto? Truly bizarre. It’s sad how people behave. I’m not on twitter for this reason. The threats are so obviously unhinged, insane, and also revealing. People see reality. Sometimes it just takes a while.

    Honestly no one cares and you probably didn’t need to do this episode but I liked it. I’d seen some chatter on twitter and just thought it was typical BS and moved on with my life.

    Ad hominem arguments are stupid.


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