El Salvador in Europe, or why Czechs love bitcoin so much: an interview with Josef Tetek

Josef Tetek
Josef Tetek

Josef Tetek is a bitcoin advocate with interests in the Austrian school of economics and political philosophy, founder of the Czech and Slovak Ludwig von Mises Institute, author of Bitcoin: The Separation of Money and the State and Enemies of the State, Friends of Freedom. In addition, Josef hosts the Stackuj Bitcoin podcast and is an ambassador for Satoshi Labs, the maker of the Trezor hardware wallet.

In an exclusive interview, Josef spoke to ForkLog about the need to separate bitcoin from other cryptocurrencies, the reasons for the popularity of digital gold in the Czech Republic, and the attitude of the local community towards CBDC.

forklog: The Czech Republic is the birthplace of the Trezor hardware wallet and the first Slush mining pool. In 2023, the BTC Prague conference was held there, bringing together many members of the community, including Michael Saylor and Giacomo Zucco. Apparently, bitcoin is very popular in the country?

Josef: Yes, the Czech Republic has a fairly large bitcoin community that has existed for many years. For comparison, the country has about 10 million people, and the most popular Czech YouTube channel about bitcoin, Bitcoinovej Kanál, has almost 90,000 subscribers.

Since 2017, Bitcoin has been accepted by Alza, one of the largest online stores, and hundreds of smaller companies. The annual Czech conference Chaincamp, even during the bear market, gathers about 2,000 participants. The BTC Prague you mentioned was visited by about 7,000 people.

ForkLog: What do you think is the reason for such popularity of the first cryptocurrency?

Josef: There are several reasons. First, Czechs are by nature skeptical of the authorities. This is due to the difficult historical experience of the 20th century, when the country survived the monarchy, the Nazi occupation and the communist regime. A striking example of this skepticism is the fact that the Czech Republic has not adopted the euro, although it has been a member of the European Union since 2004.

Secondly, the Czechs are born masters. Early projects like the Trezor hardware wallet and General Bytes bitcoin ATMs appeared in Prague hacker circles.

The third reason is the popularity of the Austrian school of economics. Its adherents have been writing articles and books about bitcoin for the Czech audience since 2016.

The ideas of the Austrian school fit very well with the concept of bitcoin, as its supporters call for non-intervention in the economy by the state. I also share this approach, so I called my first book “Bitcoin: the separation of money and state.”

ForkLog: Born masters, skeptical of the authorities and sympathetic to the Austrian school of economics… So maybe Satoshi Nakamoto is a Czech?

Josef: I think it’s incredible [смеется]. I prefer the theory that Hal Finney was hiding under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. He most closely matches the requirements for a candidate for the role of the creator of bitcoin, including the sudden disappearance.

ForkLog: You yourself spoke at BTC Prague with the topic “Bitcoin vs Crypto”. Why are you contrasting the first cryptocurrency with the rest of the market? Wouldn’t it be better to take the approach viribus unitis?

Josef: I believe that bitcoin should be considered as a separate tool: it is truly decentralized, has no leader and operates with an unchanged monetary policy. This is our best chance to separate the money and the state.

Most other cryptocurrencies are centralized and controlled by individual leaders, companies or funds, which means they are subject to corruption and the influence of regulators.

Some projects like Monero or Zcash have some interesting technical solutions from a privacy point of view, but Bitcoin in general has the best set of qualities that make it the most promising option for global hard money.

El Salvador in Europe, or why Czechs love bitcoin so much: an interview with Josef Tetek
Josef Tetek at BTC Prague. Source: BTC Prague.

ForkLog: Recently article for Bitcoin Magazine you also pit bitcoin against CDBC. At the same time, the Czech Republic can be considered one of the first countries where testing of digital currencies of central banks began: in 2000, the project was launched I LIKE Qthe purpose of which was to tie the virtual currency Q to the Czech crown …

Josef: To be honest, I had never heard of this project until you mentioned it. As far as I understand, it was launched over 20 years ago, but, apparently, it never became popular. [смеется].

Regarding the current attempts to launch CDBC, there is a working group at the Czech National Bank doing research in this area. In November 2022, it released a report stating that the digital krone would introduce unknown risks to the financial system. Therefore, this issue is unlikely to be considered in the near future.

ForkLog: How does society perceive such initiatives?

Josef: So far, no one takes CBDC seriously: this topic is not widely discussed. However, the Czech bitcoin community is preemptively sounding the alarm about CBDCs and the dystopian future they will bring.

ForkLog: What is the current state of bitcoin regulation in the Czech Republic?

Josef: Bitcoin is regulated like in other countries of the European Union. Exchanges and other cryptocurrency services are required to follow strict procedures KYC/AML.

However, the P2P exchange of cryptoassets is completely legal and it ensures complete privacy for both parties. In the Czech Republic, Satoshi Labs’ Vexl mobile application is popular, in which you can exchange bitcoins for cash without KYC.

ForkLog: How do you think it will affect the situation MiCA?

Josef: Most likely, the new legislation will make trading on regulated platforms much more unpleasant without addressing the real problem of widespread fraud in the industry.

Simply put, MiCA will create a false sense of security and build a regulatory moat around incumbent companies.

Found a mistake in the text? Select it and press CTRL+ENTER

ForkLog Newsletters: Keep your finger on the pulse of the bitcoin industry!

Leave a Reply