OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently voiced his concern about the alleged efforts of the US Government to control Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast, he went so far as to label it as waging a “war” on crypto. This mirrors the same sentiments exhibited by some analysts who are accusing the administration of enforcing “Operation Choke Point 2.0.”
The Crackdown on Crypto
Throughout the first half of 2023, the cryptocurrency market experienced a surge in prices, notably Bitcoin, until it lost momentum. This upward trajectory, however, was accompanied by a government crackdown on cryptocurrency-related firms.
The comments of Sam Altman on the Joe Rogan podcast reflect the broader sentiment within the crypto community, which is grappling with increased regulatory scrutiny as well as legal battles between the Securities and Exchange Commission and industry players here and there.
Fear of Surveillance State
Altman’s unease extends beyond the regulatory crackdown itself. He voices a profound concern over the potential expansion of the surveillance state. As the government seeks greater control over digital currencies, it raises questions about how far this control could extend.
The prominent figure in AI’s apprehensions echo the fears of many who worry about government overreach. He also highlighted the implications it may have on personal financial privacy.
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
The conversation on government control over currency extends to the realm of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Altman is openly critical of CBDCs, aligning himself with those who are wary of these digital government-issued currencies.
The OpenAI boss argues that these digital forms of money could provide governments with unprecedented power to regulate citizens’ financial transactions.
Bitcoin as a Beacon of Hope for Sam Altman
Despite his reservations, Altman remains enthusiastic about the potential of Bitcoin. He believes that a global, decentralized currency like Bitcoin could be a pivotal advancement in the technological landscape.
Altman’s perspective aligns with those who see Bitcoin as a currency that transcends government control, potentially serving as a universal means of exchange.
Operation Choke Point 2.0 Theory
Altman’s concerns are not unfounded. There has been a theory gaining traction, known as Operation Choke Point 2.0, which suggests that US regulators are working to disconnect the cryptocurrency industry from the traditional banking system.
This theory is reminiscent of a previous government initiative from 2013 to 2017 known as “Operation Choke Point.” At that time, it presumably aimed to discourage banks from working with certain high-risk businesses.
The closure of several banks with ties to the crypto industry early this year has fueled suspicions of Operation Choke Point 2.0. While regulators constantly dismissed these allegations, figures within the industry, including former head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Brian Brooks, suggested otherwise. The opposition argued that the federal government is targeting banks that cater to cryptocurrency customers.
In response to these alleged targeting of crypto-friendly banks in the US, regulators like NYDFS Superintendent Adrienne Harris emphasized that the closure of the said institutions is unrelated to crypto. She instead attributes it to issues like uninsured deposits and liquidity management.
The concerns of Sam Altman about the government’s approach to cryptocurrency regulation reflect the broader debates and apprehensions within the crypto community. While the government insists its actions are unrelated to cryptocurrency, the ongoing closures of banks linked to the crypto industry fuel suspicions of a hidden agenda. It remains to be seen how these regulatory battles will shape the future of digital currencies.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.