Aside from the 1 million users and investors who have lost money due to the collapse of FTX last year, the cryptocurrency exchange’s many celebrity endorsers also faced not only backlash, but class action lawsuits. Among them are legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, NBA superstars Stephen Curry and Shaquille O’Neal, comedian Larry David, award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and music legend Madonna.
Over the recent years, many celebrities have endorsed and openly promoted different cryptos and exchanges, even creating their own NFTs. However, there are also some who have always been and continue to be vocal about their skepticism toward crypto. One of them is “The O.C.” and “Gotham” actor Ben McKenzie, who also wrote a book on it entitled “Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud.”
McKenzie also testified at the Senate Banking Committee hearing about the alleged FTX fraud, and has personally interviewed big names in the crypto industry, such as FTX Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. It is not surprising that the self-proclaimed “former teen idol” has become a known crypto critic and is invited to speak at a number of crypto and blockchain conferences.
And again, the actor and author attended Day 2 of the London Blockchain Conference 2023 held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre last May 31 to June 2, where he was a panelist sharing his views about how regulation can “enable the growth of blockchain and digital currency.”
McKenzie was joined by Bryan Daugherty, chairman of blockchain distribution channel SmartLedger and global public policy director of Switzerland-based Bitcoin Association, and Yves Mersch, former executive board member of the European Central Bank (ECB) and former overnor of the Central Bank of Luxembourg.
For McKenzie, one big thing that policymakers and regulators in his home country, the United States, need to think about when drafting crypto regulation is its classification. While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) considers cryptos a security, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), classifies it as a commodity. The two agencies need to agree first on how to classify crypto in order to enforce more appropriate and effective regulation.
“I know about lying because I’m an actor and I do it for a living. And folks were lying. They were presenting these things as currencies even though they didn’t serve the three functions of money. They weren’t an effective medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value,” Mckenzie said.
“Well, how do they work? You put real money into them. You expected to make money off of that investment through no work of your own. That sounded like an investment contract to me… So, by and large, I think they’re securities,” McKenzie added.
On top of being part of a panel about crypto regulation, he was also interviewed by Bitcoin historian Kurt Wuckert Jr., where he further shared his views about crypto regulation and blockchain, among other things. According to the actor, regulations are there to protect the people; and self-regulation is not something that can be relied on, especially when it comes to activities involving money.
“Self-regulation to me—I’m a father of a nine-year-old, seven-year-old and a two-year-old—that’s not a thing. The times we’ve tried self-regulation in my house, it ends up with writing on the wall and stains on my couch. There’s no such thing as self-regulation,” McKenzie shared.
“At the end of the day, I’m an American. I want the American consumer to be protected. And I think it’s crucially important that America gets this right because we are the global leader when it comes to capitalism legal frameworks,” he added.
Although McKenzie is a known crypto critic, he remains agnostic when talking about blockchain. He admits, he does not really know much about blockchain and he is waiting for the time when blockchain can prove its worth as a useful technology that can provide both privacy and transparency.
“I think blockchain being used as a ledger in which you could have both privacy but also a public database that people could reference is an alluring idea. Money is trust, we made it up, it’s this social construct. And it’s difficult to create trust if you’re not able to really have full transparency,” McKenzie pointed out.
The actor also feels that there is a fine line between using privacy to protect personal information and privacy that can be used for illicit activities. What McKenzie is alluding to here may be the anonymity that crypto crime cartels promote.
For instance, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Founder and self-described “anarcho-capitalist” Roger Ver changed the original Bitcoin protocol to prioritize the anonymity of its transactions. This is akin to protecting criminals and providing a new avenue for their activities to be untraceable by authorities.
However, what the London Blockchain Conference is promoting is an enterprise utility blockchain that can scale unbounded to meet global data demands. What this means is that data blocks and throughput as measured in transactions per second (TPS) can be increased according to demand. At the same time as the blockchain scales, transaction fees are also reduced to the bare minimum.
So far, the BSV Blockchain is the largest public blockchain in the global market and also the only one that can scale unbounded. While BCH has a block size cap of 32MB and a throughput of about 100 TPS, BSV is already processing 4GB blocks at 50,000 to 100,000 TPS.
In fact, London Blockchain Conference host Lucy Hedges, who is also a BBC Travel Show presenter and technology journalist, announced during the first day of the event that BSV processed over 85 million transactions in 24 hours on May 26. This breaks the world record for the most number of transactions processed by a blockchain in a day. The number also accounted for 95.2% of all transactions processed on that day.
This enables the BSV Blockchain conference to be powerful enough to accommodate the transaction and data needs of both small and big enterprises. This, in turn, allows for businesses and governments to better innovate digital systems and platforms that will not only maximize profit and revolutionize processes, but also gain the trust and loyalty of consumers and citizens.
“I want to see how this develops. I am very curious to see what’s next. Because, as you say, there is an underlying technology here—blockchain conference that predates the invention of cryptocurrencies by more than a decade,” McKenzie shared.
In other words, for the actor, only time will tell if a scalable blockchain can really provide the utility it promised. If BSV Blockchain proponents and developers are to be believed, then McKenzie will not have to wait too long.