KYC-free Bitcoin circular economies: Free the markets, free the world
(First published in Bitcoin Magazine: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/business/kyc-free-bitcoin-circular-economies)
What is a circular economy?
A Bitcoin circular economy is a free market where you can trade any products or services for Bitcoin, including daily needs like food, jobs and housing.
The state censors fiat markets via regulations, permits and KYC. In comparison, a Bitcoin circular economy is peer-to-peer and meritocratic — no state permission or government ID is required to participate.
Practical examples include local Bitcoin marketplace groups in Telegram, a farmers market that accepts Bitcoin, KYC-free apartment rentals or a Bitcoin health insurance. More use cases are covered in this article.
Bitcoin fixes this — a liberatory currency for liberatory markets
Bitcoin doesn’t only separate money and state, it also separates markets and state. A Bitcoin circular economy is based only on supply and demand — no state regulations, bans, KYC, permits, subsidies or quotas are necessary. This creates meritocratic free markets, where your skills, ideas, character and effort matter more than the state’s permission.
Bitcoin is the perfect currency for a truly free market. Bitcoin provides a secure, globally accessible, permissionless, peer-to-peer network to send, receive, earn, spend and save money — without third parties, government ID, censorship, seizures, high fees or long wait times. You can send money to anyone worldwide, which arrives in 10 minutes for currently less than 50 cents in fees. Ownership of funds is proven by a pseudonymous cryptographic private key, meaning no personal information is required. In addition, there is no risk of corporate censorship like MasterCard, chargebacks or seized funds like Paypal, fraud or theft like banking, high fees like Western Union or counterfeit bills like cash.
KYC-free exchanges, Bitcoin ATMs and Bitcoin vouchers enable people to easily trade local cash for Bitcoin — no government ID or bank account required. Easy-to-use Bitcoin wallets, such as Blue Wallet or Samourai Wallet for mobile and Electrum or Sparrow Wallet for desktop, make it possible to send and receive money worldwide with one click.
Bitcoin’s security, utility and practical use cases for financial inclusion and economic freedom have been consistently proven over 10+ years with billions of dollars. The technology works and the possibilities are infinite.
Why is KYC-free important
Participation in the Bitcoin circular economy must be available for everyone.
Today, disproportionate and harmful KYC regulations actively exclude millions of people who don’t have government ID (e.g. the state refuses to print ID for them) or who can’t show ID for safety reasons (e.g. they are a victim of abuse) from the economy. This fatalistic and unmeritocratic form of discrimination affects people’s daily lives and restricts access to necessities like jobs, finances, apartment rentals, healthcare, online shopping, receiving mail, buying a sim card or visiting the gym or library.
In a meritocratic, inclusive and truly free market, no state-assigned identity is required: For a job, only your skills and work ethic is important; for housing, only your ability to pay rent is important; for healthcare, only your medical condition is important.
If authentication or trust is required, it is enough to say your name (or a pseudonym), use a password/PIN (e.g. a SMS code to pickup mail), cryptographic keypair (such as in Bitcoin or PGP), reputation network (online reviews, vouches from friends, word-of-mouth), cash deposit (e.g. for rentals) or multisig escrow (jobs, purchases). Although personal IDs are an unnecessary and potentially dangerous concept, non-government IDs from Blockchain platforms like Bitnation, micronations like Liberland or privacy organizations like Digitalcourage are more accessible than the single-point-of-failure of gatekept government ID systems.
The gray market has offered KYC-free services for decades, including jobs, apartments, healthcare, PO boxes, sim cards and more, on a word-of-mouth, cash-in-hand basis. Due to cutting out bureaucracy, fees and middlemen, transactions are easier, quicker and cheaper. Bitcoin, as uncensorable peer-to-peer digital money, has the potential to enable stronger global and local free markets, which are accessible to all.
Bitcoin circular economies provide online and physical places to trade products and services, free from censorship, surveillance or restrictions. Circular economies are also known as agoras, second realms, gray markets and parallel economies and are part of agorist, vonu, cypherpunk, ancap and libertarian practice. These markets focus on entrepreneurs, communities and small businesses and avoid state-backed corporations.
Here are some starter examples, but many more can be added:
Sell products and services for Bitcoin on a peer-to-peer basis, both online and in person. Some examples include food, electronics, books, clothes and cars. Reviews and multisig escrow can improve security where required. You can get started today by using Craigslist, OpenBazaar, Telegram groups, local classifieds or Bitcoin marketplaces.
In addition, you can easily accept Bitcoin in your online store via BTCPayServer or SatSale, which is available as a stand-alone store or plugin for WooCommerce.
From grocery stores, to barbers, restaurants, taxis, delivery, pharmacies, health clinics, gyms and more, Bitcoin adoption in brick-and-mortar stores can contribute greatly to local circular economies and make it convenient to live on a Bitcoin standard.
You can easily accept Bitcoin payments in your brick-and-mortar store or encourage your favorite businesses to accept Bitcoin via a mobile wallet or a point-of-sale such as BTCPayServer. You can also sell gift cards or memberships that can be purchased with Bitcoin.
To encourage Bitcoin adoption, you can show people how to use a mobile wallet like Blue Wallet or Samourai Wallet, how to buy KYC-free Bitcoin with Bisq, HodlHodl, Azteco or a Bitcoin ATM, and even offer a discount for Bitcoin payments.
Freelance jobs and gigs
Find work and hire people for jobs, gigs and microtasks via Bitcoin freelance websites, Telegram groups and local classifieds.
With Bitcoin, you can easily hire people locally or globally, without paperwork, red tape or restrictions. Portfolios, reviews, milestones and multisig escrow can help to protect you against scams.
Whether you want to work as a remote graphic designer, offer local lawncare services, need a one-time task or a full-time employee, you can offer your skills for Bitcoin in a truly meritocratic borderless job market.
Bitcoin AirBnB and Bitcoin Citadels
Rent apartments, offices and land with Bitcoin via a Bitcoin AirBnB network for long-term and short-term accommodation. Pay on a monthly basis with Bitcoin, with multisig escrow for security deposits if necessary. You can even build a network of Bitcoin Citadels and live with fellow Bitcoiners, whether it’s a neighborhood in a city, a rural village or a van living community.
Health clinics, pharmacies and Bitcoin insurances
If you are a doctor, dentist or pharmacist, start to accept Bitcoin payments from out-of-pocket patients. With Bitcoin, there is no need to deal with insurance, payment plans or debts.
In addition, a Bitcoin-friendly telemedicine service and online pharmacy could help people to access medical treatment from anywhere.
Likewise, a Bitcoin health insurance with a network of Bitcoin-friendly doctors, pharmacies and hospitals could help people to access healthcare for a monthly membership fee.
Bitcoin offers a unique way to fundraise money without censorship. Unlike GoFundMe or Kickstarter, no bank account or government ID is required, there are no high fees, no restrictions, and you can donate anonymously. Simply create a Bitcoin address, add a donation button with SatSale or use BTCPayServer for a fully-featured fundraiser, and you are ready to receive donations. With this, you can fundraise money for your business idea, receive charitable donations and donate to causes that you care about.
Start Bitcoin meetups, whether online in a forum, Matrix room or Signal group or in person in a cafe, hackerspace or convention. Both small local meetups and large conferences can help you to meet other Bitcoiners, create ad-hoc Bitcoin marketplaces and expand your network. Get to know people from all professions, such as farmers, doctors, programmers, truck drivers and more, and grow a Bitcoin community.
Via proxy merchants, you can access sim cards, receive mail, buy land, make fiat payments and more without KYC. The proxy merchant registers the service under their company name and you pay them a fee in Bitcoin. In this way, proxy merchants provide a bridge between the free “crypto economy” and the gatekept “fiat economy”.
Unlike shell companies with nominee directors, proxy merchants don’t require government ID. This provides an accessible and pseudonymous method to access necessary services.
Some concrete examples of proxy merchants:
- Personal shopping services: The customer enters the product URL and sends Bitcoin. Then the personal shopper pays the fiat invoice with their bank account and the customer receives the product. This helps people to shop online, even if they don’t have a bank account.
- Anonymous sim cards: A company registers sim cards under their name or imports sim cards from countries without KYC requirements and resells them for a profit.
- Anonymous PO boxes: The customer sends a letter or package to a local business, pays a fee and picks up the mail with a SMS code or password.
- Apartment rentals and land purchases: The proxy merchant makes the contract under their company name for a fee. The customer can then live in the apartment or build on the land, no ID required.
If you have a business, shell company or access to government ID, you can consider to offer proxy merchant services to people who need them, with your own fees, terms and limits.
Again, these are only starter examples. Think about how you could offer your skills in a Bitcoin circular economy and what products or services you want to buy.
Get started today
You can start to build a Bitcoin circular economy today with the skills and resources that you have. No need to ask for permission or wait for a revolution.
People participate in markets every day — from groceries, to work, apartment rentals and doctor visits. Ask your favorite store if you can pay with Bitcoin, display a “Bitcoin accepted here” sign in your business or start a local Telegram group for your city.
Take back control from the state and its theft, surveillance and censorship. It’s your money, your skills and your time — and Bitcoin will help you to defend it.
Reject the state’s monopoly on money (fiat), identity (KYC) and markets (regulations).
Free the markets, free the world.