News Updates May 25, 2023

1. Ron DeSantis Tells Elon Musk Bitcoin Will Die If Joe Biden Is Reelected

His comments came toward the end of a technically challenged Twitter Spaces conversation.

Elon Musk’s heart-to-heart with Republican presidential nominee and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis culminated with a focus on digital assets—touching on Bitcoin and the digital dollar, with a Dogecoin reference thrown in for good measure.

The conversation between Musk and DeSantis, which was moderated by entrepreneur David Sacks, didn’t achieve liftoff until more than thirty minutes after its scheduled start time, with hundreds of thousands of Twitter users finding their apps crashing and the audio stream glitching. But the chat eventually got underway, and toward the talk’s tail end, DeSantis leaned into his position as an advocate of crypto’s largest coin.

The Florida governor portrayed his support of Bitcoin as a matter of civil liberties, and attempts to restrict crypto by his opponents as government overreach.

“You have every right to do Bitcoin,” DeSantis said. “The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it.”

As the 2024 election season gets underway, DeSantis’ remarks mirror those of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who heralded Bitcoin last week as an example of democracy and anathema to authoritarians.

On Wednesday, DeSantis touched on the uptick in regulatory enforcement actions that the digital assets industry has confronted so far this year, accusing the government of trying to purge digital assets to preserve the reign of those in power.

“Bitcoin represents a threat to them,” DeSantis said. “They’re trying to regulate it out of existence.”

DeSantis pledged that if Congress ever tried to institute a ban on “things like Bitcoin” by passing new legislation, that he would vehemently oppose it. He also said that the current administration could snuff out Bitcoin if Biden is reelected.

“The current regime, clearly, they have it out for Bitcoin,” DeSantis said. “And if it continues for another four years, they’ll probably end up killing it.”

Addressing the political conversation’s shift toward a focus on crypto, David Sacks noted there’s a big crypto audience on Twitter. Musk interjected to say there’s one for “Dogecoin too.”

DeSantis has incorporated remarks against central bank digital currency into his platform over time, echoing statements made by representatives like Tom Emmer and pursuing a ban against government-backed cryptocurrencies in Florida.

2. Mastercard's Chief Says Blockchain Can Bring Much More Value to Financial Services.

Payment giant Mastercard finds that crypto and blockchain are useful and can bring much more value to financial industries as a whole, but only when they tackle the security and ease of use issues in order to build trust. 

Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s EVP and head of crypto and blockchain, spoke during a North America Innovation Day event, and said that the novel technologies of blockchain and crypto are becoming more popular globally.

However, Dhamodharan noted, the lack of security and complex user interactions limit the technologies' use cases and utilities.

Therefore, while crypto technology has the ability to store and move capital and value, he argued, these use cases become sparse when safety and simplicity are not priorities.

The EVP was quoted by TechCrunch as saying that, 

"Instilling trust in the blockchain ecosystem is a critical step in realizing its full potential."

Similarly, Johan Gerber, EVP of Security and Cyber Innovation, said that,

"What you need for this tech to scale globally is interoperability and underlying security of trust."

When these key points are accomplished, Dhamodharan opined, it will be a lot easier for various companies, both traditional and new players, to enter the Web3 industry and engage with it. 

There is capital and talent coming into the industry, and there is plenty of innovation to be seen, but the technology holds more potential, Dhamodharan said. 

"People look at crypto and think of it as an investment, but there’s a whole sector that’s a lot more useful for financial industries as a whole. The technology itself holds a lot of promise."

Gerber added that Mastercard "aims to provide a technological foundation that allows everyone from small startups to massive financial institutions to innovate and build upon."

Not a Newcomer

Mastercard is not new to the industry. Several developments have been announced over the past few months alone.

As reported in October last year, the company debuted a new piece of software, Crypto Secure, powered by CipherTrace, meant to help banks identify and cut off transactions from fraud-prone crypto exchanges. 

That same month, Dhamodharan said that "someday soon" we would be able to spend cryptocurrencies as seamlessly as contactless card payments, but that it would require developments in some key areas, including crypto cards, service providers, and easier crypto-to-fiat conversion for payments. 

In November, CEO Michael Miebach argued that it is "entirely possible," that one day everybody will be paying with Bitcoin (BTC), "but I think it’s a long way to go before crypto becomes mainstream."

Also in November, Mastercard launched Start Path Crypto, a global engagement program to help blockchain, crypto, and digital asset startups scale.

Meanwhile, in June 2022, the company said it would begin enabling non-fungible token (NFT) trading for a range of crypto-ecosystem platforms, including marketplaces, metaverse gaming titles, and Web3 infrastructure providers.

And in February this year, Satvik Sethi, the former NFT Product Lead at Mastercard, made a unique announcement: he surprised the NFT community by minting his resignation letter as an open-edition NFT on Ethereum via the digital collectibles protocol Manifold.