What happened with the network reopened the debate on the management of funds in exchanges. A saying in the bitcoiner community emphasizes that: “If those are not your keys, then those are not your coins.”
People should remember that one of the ideals that made cryptocurrencies and distributed networks possible is decentralization. Since Bitcoin emerged in 2009 as the first blockchain, this cypherpunk principle has governed much of the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a guarantee that the opinions of each community member are at least heard.
It is known that this “pact” is sometimes violated to the convenience of different projects seeking to have greater power, make decisions or be leveraged to achieve objectives as part of a corporation. Even though it is not illegal, it could be considered unfair.
The control of the Steem blockchain went from a group of enthusiasts in their community to a conglomerate of exchanges and Steemit. This event revived the debate on the treatment given by cryptocurrency exchanges to their users’ funds, the way that they exploit their position to promote the centralization of services, and thus remove from the game those that had to work hard for years.
It is important to note that the ambition that a company or person has is not bad in itself, but the use of dirty games to feed it. For instance, it is wrong to use funds of users that did not authorize the transfer of their money, as if it were a bank, to reconfigure an independent project.
The bitcoiner community has a saying that emphasizes that: “If those are not your keys, then those are not your coins.” This proverb seeks to make users aware that their private keys should allow them to control their funds. Otherwise, those cryptocurrencies or tokens will rest on platforms that can use them without authorization. This is the way that Binance, Huobi, and Poloniex gained control of Steem, a platform that uses Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) governance.
Even though traders may be inclined to keep their funds on these types of platforms, due to the nature of their work, the truth is that safeguarding cryptocurrencies in exchanges is against the principle that each person owns their own money and must, therefore, take care of it.
The financial principle of peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions is an ideal that should remind users that this technology seeks to empower the collective and free it, rather than favor centralization or small power groups that make decisions.
The Steem case shows that unfair actions are not only individual initiatives by individuals or companies, but there are cases in which they are organized on multiple fronts to achieve an objective, which can be interpreted as a premeditated act that disregards the opinions of the members of the affected community.
The openness of the Bitcoin code is the clearest signal that the technology on which cryptocurrencies rest is collaborative and integrates multiple functions so that everyone can contribute to its development. However, there are also projects aimed at promoting centralization or serving as intermediaries, which does not match the original narrative of the first cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency exchanges do not have the right to make unilateral decisions that negatively affect users, a particular project or entire communities of enthusiasts. The outburst of the Steem network raised such criticism and questioning that Binance and Poloniex executives were forced to try to calm the turbulence generated.
By Willmen Blanco