Vin Armani: A Tale of Tech, Liberty, and Legacy

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Vin Armani: A Tale of Tech, Liberty, and Legacy
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Vin Armani Podcast coverPlease welcome Vin Armani, also known as Cyprian, a man of many lives and many talents. Originally from Southern California, Vin first made a name for himself as the star of Showtime’s “Gigolos” TV series which chronicled his life as a sought-after gigolo in Las Vegas.

By day he’s been a professional Bitcoin developer since 2014. He’s an author, a researcher, an entrepreneur, and now a married man who moved his wife and children to Saipan in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a little known U.S. territory, as the lunacy around COVID lockdowns kicked into high gear.

We discuss everything from the rise and fall of his start-up, CoinText.io, the utility and spiritual aspects of Bitcoin to his baptism in the Eastern Orthodox church. I really enjoyed this show and I hope you do too!

Who Is Vin Armani?

Vin Armani is a multifaceted individual whose career spans across entertainment, technology, and cryptocurrency. Originally hailing from Southern California, Vin first entered the public eye as a star of the Showtime series “Gigolos,” a role that brought him both fame and insight into the transient nature of celebrity. Recognizing the temporality of his entertainment career, Vin leveraged his experience and visibility to pivot toward his passion for software development and technology.

An active participant in the Bitcoin community since 2012, Vin has distinguished himself as a forward-thinking bitcoin developer from 2014 onwards. His contributions to the cryptocurrency space are marked by a blend of technical acumen and philosophical depth, focusing on the liberating potential of blockchain technology. Vin is also an author and podcaster, where he shares his insights on technology, philosophy, and the societal impacts of cryptocurrency.

In a bold move reflecting his libertarian values, Vin relocated with his family to Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, seeking a life that aligned more closely with his ideals of freedom and innovation. In Saipan, he continues to work on projects that integrate cryptocurrency with daily life, aiming to enhance the adoption and understanding of digital currencies.

Vin Armani’s journey from a well-known television personality to a respected figure in the tech and crypto communities exemplifies his adaptability, vision, and commitment to fostering change. Through his work, he aims to illuminate the intersections between technology, freedom, and personal sovereignty, contributing to the ongoing dialogue on the future of money and society.

Key Takeaways

  • The Intersection of Technology and Liberty: Vin shares his perspective on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are not just technological innovations but also instruments of liberty. He delves into how these tools can empower individuals, reduce dependency on centralized authorities, and foster a more equitable global financial system.
  • Navigating Career Transitions: Vin’s journey from entertainment to technology serves as a compelling case study on reinventing oneself. Listeners can learn about the challenges and opportunities that come with drastic career changes, especially how skills and experiences from one domain can be leveraged in another.
  • Building a Life Aligned with Values: Vin’s relocation to Saipan underscores the importance of aligning one’s living environment with personal and philosophical values. He discusses the considerations behind such a move, including the desire for privacy, community, and a more liberty-oriented lifestyle.
  • The Potential of Decentralized Technologies: Through his work in Bitcoin and other crypto projects, Vin highlights the transformative potential of decentralized technologies. He provides insights into how these technologies can solve real-world problems, drive innovation, and offer new ways for individuals to interact economically and socially.
  • Critical Thinking and Open-mindedness: Vin’s diverse experiences — from a reality TV star to a tech entrepreneur — emphasize the value of critical thinking and open-mindedness. He encourages listeners to question mainstream narratives, explore unconventional paths, and remain curious and learning-focused in a rapidly changing world.

Favorite Vin Armani Quote

Vin Armani quote

 

“The global economy is picking winners and losers…and that has economic ramifications and it also has huge political ramifications.[And you have] the ability to develop an app and say, ‘Okay, you can come and pay now with this.’ It’s huge, it means so much, and it can [allow] especially the youth of Africa and Latin America to participate in the global economic system. That’s huge…that’s actually even more important than censorship resistance.” – Vin Armani

Vin Armani’s quote highlights the role of cryptocurrency in leveling the economic playing field globally, emphasizing its importance in economic and political contexts. He points out how current global economic systems often favor certain groups, leaving others at a disadvantage. Cryptocurrency, according to Armani, offers a solution by enabling easier access to the global economy, especially for young people in regions like Africa and Latin America where traditional financial services are scarce.

This perspective is crucial because it shifts the focus from cryptocurrency as merely a tool for avoiding censorship to a means of promoting financial inclusion and economic participation. It’s an important consideration for anyone interested in the broader implications of digital currencies beyond their technical capabilities. Understanding this can encourage more people to consider how technology can be harnessed to address economic disparities and foster a more inclusive economy.

Additional Resources

Final Thoughts

As I reflect on my conversation with Vin Armani, it’s clear that the intersections of technology, liberty, and personal evolution offer profound lessons for us all.

Vin’s journey from entertainment to the forefront of the cryptocurrency movement illustrates the power of embracing change and the importance of aligning our lives with our values. His insights encourage us to explore the potential of decentralized technologies not just as tools for financial innovation, but as catalysts for societal transformation.

Let Vin’s story inspire us to remain curious, open-minded, and committed to forging paths that reflect our deepest convictions and aspirations for a freer world.

Stay updated by subscribing to our episodes. Your feedback matters to us, so feel free to leave a review and share your thoughts. Connect with us on X, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to join discussions and see previews of future episodes. Your participation helps our community thrive. Subscribe to begin exploring with us.

Full Transcript of Our Conversation

Introduction to Vin Armani

00:00.77 – Brian Crane
Please welcome Vin Armani also known as Cyprian he is originally from Southern California a former world famous jiggalo he was the star of a Showtime series called Jiggalos he has been a software developer for the past twenty years active in the bitcoin community since 2012 he has been a bitcoin developer since 2014 he is an author he has a podcast. He recently moved with his family to saipan which if you don’t know where that is you’re like most americans it’s in the micronesia in the ah commonwealth of Northern Mariana islands and he’s welcome. He’s coming on today to talk about philosophy authorship and life being a father so please welcome him Ben how you are doing.

00:54.30 – Vin Armani
I’m doing great Brian. Thank you for having me.

00:56.72 – Brian Crane
Yeah, thank you? So um, real quick just to kind of give people some context like if you want to explain your journey from Vegas to Sian How did that evolve for you.

Journey from Entertainment to Technology

01:12.51 – Vin Armani
Ah, well as you as you mentioned I was on a tv show that was filmed in Vegas and I did that from 2010 to 2016 was the last season so we did 6 seasons of that show which was. Very unexpectedly going into it I thought it was just going to be like a fun couple of months getting to film a tv show and just have that adventure and experience and then it turned into like a thing and um, all along I knew that this was going to be a temporary. Situation and I knew that I would be going back to my software career. Basically I assume that that’s what it would be barring some you know some other adventure and avenue opening up so you know I spared no. Expense in sort of silly ah adventures during that time entrepreneurially right produced some shows and produced a feature film and some other things just to see like oh is this entertainment thing. You know what I’m going to do? Open an art gallery in vegas and an event space and just you know was like it.

02:16.45 – Brian Crane
Um.

Philosophical Shifts and Moving to New Hampshire

02:28.64 – Vin Armani
Am I going to do this entertainment thing or am I going to go back to software which I love and I met my wife there my my now wife and we after the show ended I started picking back up software and was doing ah a little bit of a podcast got into. I Could finally be libertarian in open in the open which I really couldn’t you really can’t do in Hollywood. So I had kept that under wraps for sure and um, you know when when that happened it just you know I was around.

02:54.20 – Brian Crane
Now.

Venturing Into Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

03:06.54 – Vin Armani
Some very cool people and started a little bitcoin company called cointext basically plucked out some old libraries, some software libraries that I had had and. Then you know it. It was really the show was never officially canceled but it just really looked like well this is not. You know, not going to happen and there was a trip I took to Acapulco for the little anarcapulco libertarian event back in 172.

03:33.80 – Brian Crane
Um.

03:37.41 – Vin Armani
Ah bitcoin I think that was bitcoin getting back above a thousand for the first time I think that happened when I was there this is February Seventeen I remember it was pretty wild and it was a lot devoted to cryptocurrency it was there that I learned about New Hampshire and what was going on with the free state project I had never really known. And actually the executive director of the free state project sort of pulled me to the side and he had checked out I was presenting there and he had checked out my presentation and he said you know maybe you should come to New Hampshire and do this at porkfest our summertime thing and I went. And met the people and really fell in love and cryptocurrency was just at its height. It was the perfect place. We were just getting interest from investors at that time in our company and I was like okay well. Maybe this is the place to go. It has had some good laws at least at the time. So ah, we decided to establish our company there. I had just had my first child and so the wife and I left Vegas. Vegas is a cool place and I think it’s better now to raise kids. But. Given sort of what my background was and it was really difficult at the time for me to even like to go to the grocery store without people stopping me and then having a child and kind of the lack of privacy of being a local celebrity especially in Vegas where people and things can be a little.

Family Considerations and Moving to Saipan

05:10.47 – Vin Armani
Shady at times was like okay this is a good move so we went out there but I really enjoyed it and enjoyed the community there and um, you know we got our company off the ground and then had another kid go back to California to be around family. That’s where I’m originally from, you know.

05:27.12 – Brian Crane
Um, Why did you decide to leave New Hampshire? Was it to be around family?

05:30.35 – Vin Armani
And go ahead. Yeah I mean we so we had ah my kids are about 3 years apart and so we basically we had a 3 year old and then we had this newborn on the way and you know my mom.

05:40.84 – Brian Crane
Um.

05:47.10 – Vin Armani
At the time was really like oh maybe you should come back and be around family and have have some support for your wife and all these things and she really wanted to be around her grandchildren of course and and so it made sense I I was able to work from anywhere as as I still am and as many software developers are. So yeah we went back and it was actually really great. I’m glad we did that because um, my mother passed away just a couple of years ago so she got to really spend time with both of them before she passed and so that was wonderful. But when the pandemic hit, quote unquote right.

06:08.12 – Brian Crane
Any.

06:23.12 – Vin Armani
When that whole thing happened that craziness happened we were in Southern California and it was cuckoo. People were cuckoo. The government was cuckoo. Everything was super weird. Couldn’t get into my office. We couldn’t take the kids to the park. We couldn’t go to the beach people I mean we’ve already forgotten how crazy this whole thing was and here I am with like a not even 1 year old and a three year old and so I said to my wife do we really especially coming from New Hampshire right just coming from New Hampshire live free or die and I was like do we really want to do this here. This is not going to be two weeks to save Grandma this is Goingnna be like years that this is gonna happen I know this is gonna be years and she said I’ll just ah, whatever you decide I’ll roll with you and so i. I had found out that there was a little bit of an intentional community here of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and developers actually with some people that I had known from New Hampshire that was starting up in Saipan which I knew nothing about and I just sort of kept my eye on it. And around April Twenty Twenty the governor here said well we’re going to shut down flights. We’re not going to lock down internally but we’re going to shut down flights and we’re gonna put a quarantine on everybody coming in but we’re not going to shut down internally you’ll be able to do whatever you want to do internally.

07:51.62 – Vin Armani
And so I said well I guess we’re on the we’re on that flight and so we were on the last flight coming in April Twenty Twenty and we’ve been here ever since and it’s been. Ah, it’s been a huge blessing. It’s been real. I really feel like I was called to be here. It’s a wonderful Wonderful place that I had no idea ever I had no idea it even existed and had I known I would have been here a lot earlier for sure because it’s awesome. Um, especially as an American being able to live and work here with like no visa no nothing.

08:25.17 – Vin Armani
Because it’s a Us territory and so yeah, so then I’ve found myself here and continued working on ah bitcoin while here as well as you know integrating with the community and so now we have a lot of very cool projects. You know, trying to raise the profile of the commonwealth and also to. To integrate more. We’ve already done a lot of cool things with cryptocurrency here and I think it’s what I call my sandbox, so it’s a great place. It’s a great place to be. It’s been really productive.

08:54.53 – Brian Crane
And you all had never been there prior to getting on that flight in April. It was like you had seen videos about it. You knew some people there but you’d never been in person. It was like we’re just going to go? yeah.

09:07.36 – Vin Armani
Well, yeah, ah I sort of looked at it as like it really didn’t matter where I went like I hadn’t been anywhere at that point like none of us had liked. Where was the place that I was living so I went back to my hometown which is San Bernardino right to be around my extended family San Bernardino California and the place that I was when all of that hit was not the place that it was a month before it was a completely different place.

09:33.80 – Brian Crane
And

09:36.39 – Vin Armani
So I was like well you know I haven’t been to this place either. So it’s like it wouldn’t really matter where we went at that time everywhere you went was somewhere you had never been. You know it was completely. Everything was completely new. So I figured Well maybe if I’m going to go somewhere I’ve never been, maybe I should go to a tropical Paradise I’ve never been to.

Exploring the Utility of Bitcoin

09:55.66 – Vin Armani
Rather than stay where I’m at.

09:56.58 – Brian Crane
Makes ah, yeah, it makes sense. Yeah in California spelled with a k yeah um, instead of a c yeah, um so one one 1 1 of the things I heard in one of your Youtube videos and you have a series on Youtube diving into cryptocurrency.

10:00.76 – Vin Armani
Yeah, exactly exactly.

10:14.84 – Brian Crane
In these streams of consciousness post gym workout videos that are ah very very good. 1 of them. You talked about your time in Vegas as if you were making money, you were paid in cash and you needed a way. That cash was being held in a safe I think in your house and you were like what can I actually do with this and and bitcoin was an increase in the utility value of your US dollars or your cash is that right.

10:42.40 – Vin Armani
For sure I mean I was looking for first off I was looking for ways to just store. It. So for you know I don’t know if you’ve had this experience or your people listening but having large amounts of Cash. Ah, in a physical location it really creates a lot of anxiety at least it did for me. Um, you know it it just it just becomes this target your home becomes this target and for me I was you know I was also. Like I say I was a celebrity and people knew that I was getting paid in cash right? So There was no question about this and ah and although I lived in a gated community with security still man you know and so it was I wasn’t even a father yet. But. You know, just as my career was building up and as ah, my reserves were starting to build up and as I was holding all of this in my house I was like well so what are the things I could do with Cash. So Vegas is a huge cash town.. There’s actually a lot of cool services like um, ah anonymous like private Vaults. You know that you could put it in and so I definitely took advantage of those which are awesome and then bitcoin came onto my radar. I don’t think that I had seen something about it in probably 20 maybe late.

12:15.90 – Vin Armani
Twenty ten something like that being a software developer right? I may be reading. Ah maybe it’s a wired article or something and I said oh that’s interesting and I actually looked at an old hard drive the other day and saw that oh I had actually downloaded the client I don’t think I ever ran it but I had downloaded it and.

12:27.43 – Brian Crane
And

12:32.99 – Vin Armani
Then in 2012 was when I was like oh maybe I’ll what about this bitcoin thing. Let me let me go and check it out and at that time vegas was really hot for bitcoin and you could get it hand to hand some like well-known people were around and i. You know, I met some folks and got some coins and at the time it was fifteen bucks. It was the price when I got it in late 2012 and ah, you know I thought it was really cool. There wasn’t much of a place that you could spend it except for silk road at the time.

13:08.47 – Brian Crane
Yeah.

13:11.86 – Vin Armani
And I went on silk road and I saw what was on there and it became immediately clear to me that this was an absolute revolution, especially with the flow that I had in terms of being able to take my physical cash. To convert it into bitcoin and then to be able to spend it online I hadn’t read the white paper at the time but it was immediately viscerally evident to me that all the things that Satoshi said in the white paper in terms of what the problem that bitcoin is solving. In those early days. It was absolutely evident and I think one of the reasons why was that there was no noise about numbers going up like there was no thought that the price was going to go up and I know this and I show people the email sometimes like I said I would. Basically what we would do. There were several guys on like local bitcoins who you could you could purchase from or who would buy from you and vegas is awesome because you could go into a casino and exchange cash under the cameras. And it became very very safe. You’re basically leveraging the casinos because if somebody pulls a gun on a casino dude like you’re leveraging the casino security right? So we would go to win or wherever one of the big ones and sit under a camera and exchange bitcoin for cash and just sit there and maybe have a drink or whatever till it confirmed and.

14:33.92 – Vin Armani
Thank you very much and leave and one of these guys I remember I’ve got the email and I show to people and it blows their mind is that he he said ah hey then the email’s like hey then I just got back from la and I’ve got a tranche of one hundred ah bitcoins and I’ll sell them to you. For 20% below spot and my response is oh well, what? What will that be? What will that be 20% below spot and he goes $14 and twenty five cents and my response to him is ah dude. Thanks. But that’s a look. I think the price is a little too high.

15:12.87 – Vin Armani
Right? Um, so that noise and people are like oh there’s shock but it’s like no no now you weren’t there. You don’t understand why there was no thought it was shocking to the people who had been involved in bitcoin that it was even at that price.

15:28.96 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

15:29.15 – Vin Armani
Because we knew what the actual use for it was, the use was not speculative. The idea was you get some with cash and then you use it on the silk road. Um, and so then eleven months later it went to a thousand and what was kind of cool I had.

15:36.28 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

15:45.11 – Vin Armani
I had actually given away and lost some bitcoin and wallets and stuff like that right? So first. The scramble to get back as much as I possibly could when it went to a thousand and then it’s like this is insane liquidate and by that time I actually didn’t even have to go on to an exchange. So I’m not going to say how much because I don’t want to get called out for it. What’s that?

16:06.17 – Brian Crane
Could sell it in person know you could sell it in person you could You could You could do an over the counter trade to to liquidate the the window windows that a thousand dollars. Ah, bitcoin.

16:15.88 – Vin Armani
Well I could have but I didn’t. Actually what I ended up doing was like e giftter was up at the time and gift.com and there were some other things had popped on so I actually got nothing but Amazon gift cards. So I knew that.

16:30.29 – Brian Crane
And

16:35.56 – Vin Armani
Yeah, am I going to spend $200,000 on Amazon in the next like five years yeah absolutely I will no question. So like yeah I’ll just get all the Amazon gift cards and you could get them all with bitcoin and it was great so it’s just like yeah tank up my that may as well be us dollars. As I was using Amazon at the time and I can’t now in saipan. But as people use Amazon that may as well be us dollars and so my account was just jacked. You know, just jacked full and I just went through it just buying everything on Amazon. So um, you know that’s what it was at the time and then it sank. But Again, people are like oh you shouldn’t have sold. You shouldn’t have sold I’m like bro 60 x in eleven months if you don’t so if you get 60 x in eleven months and you don’t sell. You’re an idiot. I don’t care what the asset is, especially when that’s the all-time high. You’re a moron.

17:30.84 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah.

17:33.49 – Vin Armani
You know? So yeah and I nobody’s gotten 60 x in eleven months since then and they never will not on bit not on bitcoin. You can on shit coins but not on bitcoin.

17:41.31 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah, was there something you touched him? Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna want to get to that. I want to come back to shitcoins relative to bitcoin but there was also a part in the video that you talked about um with. With regards to bitcoin being censorship resistant and you did talk a little bit about gift cards and Amazon gift cards in particular and what the way I understood what you said in the video was namely bitcoin is censorship resistant because there’s no intermediary who can hold the funds and keep it from being settled and so that’s. That’s something I want to visit and then also with respect to Amazon and Amazon gift cards you are trusting Amazon as the intermediary to hold those funds.

The Shift to Defi and Cryptocurrency’s Broader Implications

18:24.11 – Vin Armani
Okay.

18:27.97 – Brian Crane
Um, although they’re not necessarily holding the funds but you are trusting that Amazon at least is a marketplace is going to exist and you have somewhere to spend those funds when you have $200,000 worth of Amazon gift cards is that right.

18:34.60 – Vin Armani
Okay.

18:40.81 – Vin Armani
Yeah, ah yeah I mean but if you’re going to trust anybody I think the and if I had to bet on will Amazon be there 10 years from now I think that’s pretty safe. You know if Amazon is not there 10 years from now a whole lot more has gone wrong.

18:51.23 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

18:58.65 – Vin Armani
Like you’ve got bigger problems. You know what to be we’ve we’ve all got bigger problems if Amazon isn’t here 10 years from now so that so that so that’s a safe bet.

19:05.89 – Brian Crane
Yeah, but it’s also useful. Sorry it’s also the utility of it in the sense that like there’s there’s a plethora of items on Amazon if Amazon was only limited to 10 items. It wouldn’t have nearly the same amount of usefulness to you or you and you wouldn’t want an Amazon gift card. So.

19:20.65 – Vin Armani
Okay.

19:22.13 – Brian Crane
Yeah I will link to the video in the ah in the show notes because I thought it was a very interesting way of both understanding the value proposition. The initial value proposition of bitcoin and why it’s censorship resistant in the sense of it doesn’t allow a credit card company or. You know, an intermediary like Youtube who decides or Twitter decides that they don’t like what you’re saying to withhold payment from you.

19:46.64 – Vin Armani
I Think even more important than censorship resistance is permissionless and for you know I’ve been a software developer and being in the space around payments anything financial. That’s really big.

20:01.23 – Brian Crane
Are.

20:06.33 – Vin Armani
That’s the big piece of control with the establishment of digital Networks. The censorship resistance I think is ah political or ideological I don’t want to say like dog whistle but it’s certainly something that people will bring up.

20:06.61 – Brian Crane
If.

20:26.11 – Vin Armani
But you know 99.9 percent of people will never have a large enough platform that the things that they say will be enough of a threat that they will ever have their money censored but people don’t appreciate the opportunity cost.

20:26.85 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

20:43.63 – Vin Armani
In their average everyday life and in their economy of the amount of gatekeepers that it takes to be able to participate at the level of a point of sale or payment processor or any of these things like. This is all in the background for us so people don’t realize that like oh when I go to the processor that is world pay and they process 80% of the mastercard and visa and they have a whole application process and there’s businesses that are not allowed to participate in that. And the difficulty and the hoops that you have to jump through and the cost associated with that and the things that are necessary necessarily means that there are innovative businesses with innovative business models that you will never see that will never be able to see the light of day. Um, and. And that there’s a huge opportunity cost there economically for everyone and particularly for underserved and underbanked places in the world right? if you’re not like if you’re in California if you’re in San Francisco California okay no problem. But even here we know for ah, a business to establish here and get credit card processing. There’s like 1 reseller for world pay and they’re out of Guam. You know we don’t have access to stripe if you’re a business you can’t have stripe here.

22:17.55 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

22:17.57 – Vin Armani
You know if you’re you can’t have there’s paypal just only got here. You can’t have a square here if you’re a business you know and these are the types of things where and this is a Us territory never mind the places that are like even less served and so you say wow that. Global economy. It’s really, it’s picking winners and losers. The system is picking winners and losers and so it’s really I think more than the censorship resistance is the permissionless aspect of it. Um, and that has economic ramifications and it also has huge political ramifications. Ah, because if you’re in an oppressive regime I mean this is 1 reason why Venezuela has always been on the radar. Latin America has always been on the radar when it comes to crypto and I know developers in Venezuela and and. Yeah, the ability to just develop an app and be like okay you can come and pay now with this it’s it’s huge it means so much and and it can move us past the golden billion to actually unlocking, especially the youth of Africa latin america and allowing them to actually participate in the global economic system. That’s huge. They’ve got the internet but they don’t have access to the financial networks and so I think that’s actually even more important than the censorship resistance.

23:43.46 – Brian Crane
Yeah, it’s a great point. Do you want to? What is the golden billion for people who don’t know what that phrase means?

23:52.19 – Vin Armani
The golden billion is basically I guess what they would call the global north or the west right? The first world is basically what? Basically what they’re talking about there. Um, and the opposition of that is the global south they call it now. And that disparity between the golden billion and the global south which the global south is well aware of is the the pivot point on which Russia and China are well the brics countries. It’s the pivot point on which that thing exists. Because if there was the ability for the people in those countries to participate in the same economic system on a level playing field with the golden billion then there would be no, there would be no friction. They would have no leverage and so it’s really the west shooting itself in the foot by by. By being these gatekeepers and by keeping it a permission system that they’re they’re going to screw themselves in the end.

24:51.95 – Brian Crane
So the internet. Why do you think I want to take that last sentence you said? So why do you? Why is it that you think it’s the west that’s serving as the gatekeepers and let me frame that in a different way. So you know, um.

25:00.20 – Vin Armani
Um, go ahead.

25:07.50 – Brian Crane
If you use pornography as an example. So let’s say that world pay doesn’t want to allow credit card payments or that vis and massaccard don’t for pornography and so therefore there is a moral dimension that they say we don’t want to support that industry is effectively unbanked or debanked.

25:07.18 – Vin Armani
Is.

25:26.76 – Brian Crane
And then if you are in a pornography shop. You have your Apple wallet open on your phone. You cannot pay with your visa card or your Mastercard and the like the knock-on effects from that. So when you say um.

25:38.00 – Vin Armani
Ah.

25:42.74 – Brian Crane
Like the west in the stranglehold it is driven by a like, is there a moral element to it or like if you trace back the policy decisions that decide which industries are banked and which ones aren’t or which people get banked and which ones don’t. What do you think about that?

26:02.10 – Vin Armani
I mean that’s it’s so multifaceted right? There’s no, there’s no 1 thing just like there’s no one like a rule book or somebody that’s on high who’s making those decisions. I think that you know we would think about things like pornography. Cannabis you know that’s ah that’s a big one those those industries even when they’re legal in the us can’t get banked um casinos you know accept the biggest ones that are publicly traded like win and sands and you could definitely use your credit card all all throughout the win in in vegas or any of the other locations that they have. Um, but you know smaller ones. Perhaps we would tend to think about those and I think you know many people would just say well. That’s the prerogative of the processor that you know that they don’t really want to process but it’s really more what they do on a regional basis. Of using the system as a weapon and if you need anymore you know I mean just look at the sanctions look at the sanctions on Russia right? Um It’s really all the set the majority of what the sanctions are is just you just cut off swift.

27:18.95 – Vin Armani
And if you cut off swift it effectively means that like none of these other things that rely upon swift that rely upon wires moving all those businesses are going to be like no no, no the risk is too high and the friction is too high. We just can’t even forget about it. There’s no way for us to support this if we’re a multinational corporation. We can’t move money into that country. Don’t forget it. The country’s gone and that’s that’s a lot more dangerous because that doesn’t just happen on that. That’s ah, a blatant one. Like what happened with Russia is blatant or like what happens with Iran is blatant. Um, but the question is like who are you punishing with that. You know like the regime isn’t punished the regime can move their funds. However, they want and we see that.

28:00.44 – Brian Crane
Ah.

28:09.76 – Vin Armani
The regime has no problem getting the money who you’re punishing is like you’re punishing the people who are just the average person. The small businessman who’s been doing e-commerce and I saw this with like developers that I knew who are in Russia some guy who’s like oh yeah i.

28:20.98 – Brian Crane
Tight.

28:27.23 – Vin Armani
I have to move out of Russia now because I’ve been doing freelance work and most of my clients are in Europe and now I can’t get paid and it’s just like that’s who you hurt.

28:34.69 – Brian Crane
Yeah up upwork is an up upward upwork is an example of a deep deep platform to everybody in Russia and ah, um, and and and so if you were a russian developer working with you know, somebody in Serbia doing graphic design all of a sudden you. You either needed to leave Russia or you needed to come up with some other means of accepting payment. Um, and that was.

28:59.71 – Vin Armani
And that’s and you know the venezuelans the venezuelans have known that already right? The Iranians have known that already and it’s like whoever today the global ah financial hegemony is pissed at or or doesn’t like. And you know it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’re completely deplatformed but it can just be a situation where they’re just like it’s not worth the effort to support this country South Sudan right it’s just it’s not worth the effort. We have no infrastructure. There. The banks. We don’t trust. Um.

29:23.88 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

29:34.13 – Vin Armani
It’s not worth the effort to support them so everybody that’s there guess what? You don’t get to participate in the global economy like everybody else even though you could have the internet, you have a laptop, you know what I mean and so you know the question becomes if you allow that situation to. Continue since the golden billion are in like demographic freefall and you have Africa and the stands in the Middle East the muslim countries all over the world. You know, you know, replacing themselves and you have this younger generation. Well. You know I think we’re just as likely if this continues in 20 years to see the powers that be shut off those places that have a whole bunch of young people when the west doesn’t have young people basically to put them in a crisis so that they immigrate.

30:21.88 – Brian Crane
Are.

30:30.26 – Brian Crane
Um, interesting.

30:32.25 – Vin Armani
And so it’s like it’s a weapon. It’s a weapon to use so that people can’t participate in the global environment from their own home country. That’s what it’s turned into and I think that it’s just it’s the.

30:41.92 – Brian Crane
Um, yep, yep.

30:48.98 – Vin Armani
It’s a dumb move. Basically it’s a dumb move.

30:51.17 – Brian Crane
Well, it’s ah it’s also a dumb move for the Us because you want the utility or the acceptance of dollars to spread and be.

30:55.20 – Vin Armani
See here.

31:05.49 – Brian Crane
You know you want it to be the global reserve currency and you also want it to be the unit of measure that people use like it has a lot of utility for the United States for that to be the case and so anything that impedes that um. Either in the short term or the long term is a net negative for the US. I would say it’s a net negative for the dollar and this is one of your arguments. So as far as why Um why crypto actually will perpetuate the us dollar. Um, as ah, as ah, you know like um, what actually helps the US dollar is because. Number 1 people talk about crypto in dollar terms. That’s their unit of um, their unit of measure and number 2 is because tether’s success in crypto whether it’s on bitcoin or on ethereum or other networks um has enabled. People and correct me where I’m wrong on this but to effectively become dollarized without actually having access to dollars in their home country is that right.

32:01.40 – Vin Armani
Um, that’s exactly right? and not only that but it has with tether b and especially I think defi more than anything exposed this and it was something that I really and. You know there’s so many of these phenomena that you have to actually like to see happen in order to then get the value of the wisdom out of them. I really Pooh Pooh Defi ah in the beginning certainly and I still think that it’s just sort of.

32:34.79 – Vin Armani
And an interesting game I think that Defi is mostly a casino but whether it’s a casino or not, you know it created a situation where the dollar was being used in ways that it had never been used before. Let’s put it like that. And as cash dollars were being used in ways that they had never been used before and not some other currency. So. It’s like it’s got the market share and the mind share and the thing is once you are the currency. In a casino. It doesn’t like the casino is not going to change that currency. You can’t, you’ve got the momentum. So even if it is a casino at a certain point you reach a critical mass and it’s like okay well this is just we just use dollars for this. This is what we do. We computed in dollars. We use dollars.

33:22.40 – Brian Crane
Yeah, okay.

33:27.43 – Vin Armani
Because the the interesting thing about defi was that that you had the sort of derivative aspect of it where people were making games on top of games on top of games on top of games with Usdt and to a degree usdc as the but dollars right interchangeable with each other as the as the core piece. Of the game. The the they’re the world of Warcraft Gold if you will of the game and so as you build the game on top of the game on the base pair. It’s the base pair as you build the game on top of game on top of game you can’t remove the base pair. That’s a dependency throughout the entire system and.

33:49.82 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah, was the base pair.

34:05.99 – Vin Armani
This really was the catalyst for this sort of rampage that the us ah that certain people in the Us legislature along with the bankers are going on about stablecoins they’re they’re not scared of bitcoin at all and they’ said that like they’re. Terrified of stablecoins coins. You know, but huge huge that that well this is this is why it’s the end of the empire because we got nothing but dummies nothing but dummies. You know I’ve been.

34:26.54 – Brian Crane
Which again seems so short-sighted because tether’s been a net benefit for the dollar.

34:42.72 – Vin Armani
Been going back through and reading Ben Franklin so there’s this great paper that he wrote I guess it’s technically it’s a pamphlet on the nature and necessity of paper money. So a lot of people don’t know that like Ben Franklin was. He was the guy the innovator of paper money and even the whole his the the continental dollar is one of the most misunderstood things I mean it paid. It’s how the US funded they figured out a way to have currency innovation and to fund the American revolution.

35:02.14 – Brian Crane
Are.

35:18.35 – Vin Armani
You know people think that it is inflated to a point where people were walking in with wheelbarrows and stuff like that like the Reichsmark and all of that. It didn’t. That’s not actually what happened? Um, it’s I won’t go into the whole story but it’s it’s It’s just basically that they had created maturity dates.

35:19.20 – Brian Crane
Um.

35:36.67 – Vin Armani
It could be redeemed for Silver Dollars but they were different. They issued them with differing maturity dates so people had to pay attention to like oh can I be this one that I could actually take and get a spanish Silver dollar now or can I only get it like 5 years from now and will they will we have won the war or lost the war that was. That was the interesting thing that they did to where it’s like you by accepting this and Franklin said this after the war he wrote another essay on it where he said yeah this was the tax that was people betting that they would win the war and so you know if you’re that’s it. That’s it.

36:10.32 – Brian Crane
Um, and getting invested. They had a vested interest in the Us winning the war then right? yeah or the colonies at that point. Yeah.

36:15.32 – Vin Armani
And so but if you were a merchant just on the street if you were a merchant. Obviously if I come in to buy something and I’m using a currency that the merchant can exchange now for silver dollars the price will be less for me than if you come in with one that is maturity 5 years from now. And so that’s been the narrative that has come up was like oh it’s inflated and people had to bring in wheelbarrows yeah of the one that was like if they were losing if there were battles that had been lost and you had a whole bunch that matured 5 years from now. Yeah, yeah, it’s inflated beyond belief. Right? But if you have one that is already matured that I can take down no inflation and so you know you had some Gresham’s law aspects in there. Super fascinating. But I’m just like and and this is for me. What’s been frustrating is we’re the country that we like.

36:54.91 – Brian Crane
And then.

37:09.26 – Vin Armani
Our founding fathers the guy on the $100 Bill but not just him the entire congress understood the power of innovating with money and that has carried us through you know to this time. It’s why the US dollar became what it became, you know.

37:14.89 – Brian Crane
Um.

37:28.27 – Vin Armani
And now we’ve got a bunch of morons that it’s like you know it’s. It’s just all, it’s all lost squandering everything and completely ignorant of the history, completely ignorant of it or or actively trying to loot the treasury before everything crumbles.

37:33.32 – Brian Crane
Squandering the opportunity squandering the lead. Yeah. Government.

37:47.60 – Vin Armani
And it’s hard to know who is who. It’s hard to know who is who but that’s definitely the place that we’ve reached and um, it’s really sad actually because the US dollar is incredible. It’s in it. It’s the greatest currency that has ever been. And perhaps the greatest currency that ever will be honest in terms of its trajectory.

38:09.17 – Brian Crane
And it’s a and it’s a huge misunderstood advantage for the Us You know it’s one of these that it cuts across political lines. However, you see the state. However, you see your relationship to the state. You should be pro- dolar in the sense of if you’re an American you know like yeah yeah.

38:23.50 – Vin Armani
Yes.

38:27.31 – Brian Crane
Yeah, and I think that’s one of your points in your countermarkets essay in March which was that there’s 3 camps of people and how they view the dollar. Do you want to talk about those 3 camps?

38:36.58 – Vin Armani
Yeah I mean so these are fundamentally the 3 camps of people who want to see the dollar go away right? and it’s unfortunate because I think at least 2 of those camps are useful idiots for the third. So I’ll start with the two. I’ll start with the 2 useful idiots and then move to the third. So the first one is the group that wants to make a cbdc a central bank digital currency of the dollar which is basically the end of the dollar like you should know that like that’s it’s it’s the end trust is out the window. You know there’s. The US dollar is so trusted people don’t understand how trusted the Us dollar is. I think it’s 60% of all paper currency is not within the borders of the United States and 80% of the hundred dollar bills the paper hundred dollar bills are not within the borders of the United States which is. Insane if you know anything about why the faces are on the currency and always have been like the saw the face of the sovereign is because it basically says if you muck around with this and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do with this. This is the guy who’s going to kill you.

39:50.10 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah.

39:51.92 – Vin Armani
That’s what that’s what that says. But if it’s outside of the borders. It’s like whoa. It’s so it’s so trusted that you don’t even need to have the sword of the king. It’s that it’s become that trusted and like no currency. The Spanish Silver dollar to a certain degree is the peso right? with like to a degree but still not on the level of us dollars for sure. Um, so that’s the first. The first group is the cbdc group. The second group is like. Gold bugs and bitcoiners and this is a weird kind of bitcoin maximalist. Yeah, this is a weird kind of culty really not well-examined situation where they and I don’t even know how this is really.

40:30.81 – Brian Crane
Um, well bitcoin maximus.

40:46.49 – Vin Armani
Come into play I mean I see it but it feels It’s always very underpants gnome style when you like to look into it that there’s all of these missing pieces. You know what? I mean um, and it’s like oh we should have a we should have ah precious metals backed. Currency or a bitcoin backed currency and like that will somehow be better because it won’t inflate. It’s like well look we had metals backed currencies like the paper notes I mean the continental dollar was one. You know what? I mean like we’ve had them. So then you’re like but wait a minute. Why do we not have them anymore and why do we like them since not having them. Why has global trade and the standard of living for literally everyone on earth increased? I mean there are people living in the like. The poorest people in the United States live better than the Kings of medieval Europe. They live better than Thomas Jefferson and it’s like well.

41:45.62 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

41:50.62 – Brian Crane
We got it. They have it or plumbing and they have electricity which already puts them ahead of somebody like Jefferson right away you know? yeah.

41:57.77 – Vin Armani
There’s homeless people with cell phones and the internet. There’s fat homeless people. There’s fat homeless people. Okay like that boom is done.

42:06.59 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

42:12.84 – Brian Crane
The question.

42:13.85 – Vin Armani
And it’s like well we haven’t had metals backed currencies. We’ve had this other type of currency and that’s what it produced and so it’s like well what was the what was the point of the currency in the first place and it’s like go read on the nature and necessity of paper money by Benjamin Franklin

42:30.25 – Brian Crane
That.

42:31.56 – Vin Armani
And he’ll tell you because that was written when Pennsylvania was they didn’t have enough metal currency to go around and that’s what he’s talking about right and it’s not backed by metal. He actually Pennsylvania issued it and they actually backed it by land. Mortgages like this actually happened. It’s part of the story of America and nobody knows it and the guy on the hundred dollar bill is the one who innovated it and so these guys are like they’re just ignorant.

42:50.92 – Brian Crane
Um.

43:09.50 – Vin Armani
They want it. They think that moving It’s like well guys. Why don’t you just go back to Model T’s then why are you driving a tesla.

43:13.71 – Brian Crane
I think some of them want fiscal discipline and they see it as a means of enforcing fiscal discipline.

43:23.57 – Vin Armani
Yeah, but fiscal discipline has nothing to do with the type of currency that you have. You can squander your treasury in gold, you know and it’s happened before many times in history, right? And in the same way that you can have.

43:30.26 – Brian Crane
Is.

43:42.65 – Vin Armani
Fiscal discipline with a non gold backed currency. That’s that’s just about that’s about the individuals and what they want to do right? Power is going to find a way.

43:49.50 – Brian Crane
Um, yes.

43:54.86 – Vin Armani
Power is going to find a way and you know at the end of the day you can still mortgage off your children regardless like okay now you do it with printing money but like what was the taxation system of ancient Egypt. Oh, I was part of the labor.

44:11.78 – Brian Crane
And

44:13.55 – Vin Armani
It was the core of a tax system. You paid your taxes in Labor. So It’s like well the future, like you could still sell off the future labor and the lives of your children whether you have a gold back currency or not. It has nothing to do with it right? like. If that’s your if that’s what you intend to do? Oh you can find a way to do it. Believe me and it’s been done.

44:37.80 – Brian Crane
Yeah yeah yeah I have just I’ve listened to ah quite a few gold bugs in bitcoin maximum suit their core point of contention is they don’t like the deficits that the us runs and they don’t like the amount of debt that the us has incurred and they are Jim Rickards is a.

44:54.95 – Brian Crane
Famous one in this camp of the doom loop that the US has entered or is on the cusp of entering given the amount of debt um relative to gdp I think I think they have a point as far as the um. I think they have a point. I just also agree with you that I’m not sure that a gold back currency or a bitcoin back currency is the solution to cutting spending to a sustainable level. They’re not they’re not synonymous let’s say

45:22.10 -Vin Armani
Well, it’s funny. It’s a funny sort of logic that those individuals have right because they’re like oh all of these people who make the laws like they’re all all of them are voting to have deficits and to spend.

45:40.94 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah, yeah, like.

45:41.23 – Vin Armani
Yes, all of them are liked by the vast majority and then they’re like and the solution to that is we need to have a gold back currency and it’s like who votes for the gold back currency. You miss that part. That’s why I say it’s underpants gnomes.

45:54.40 – Brian Crane
And

45:55.40 – Vin Armani
Like literally everybody who would make that vote is voting to do something that they would be prevented from doing. So you’re like yeah something it’s like something something something then we don’t know what happens and then all of a sudden these people change their mind.

46:02.80 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah.

46:13.54 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah.

46:14.86 – Vin Armani
And then you’re like well we just need to elect them and vote them into office and it’s like well what’s required then well we’re going to need to fund some campaigns and it’s like well the people who are who want who can print unlimited money are going to fund the campaigns. Of the people who are going to keep allowing them to print unlimited money. So It’s like you’ve got to fill in the underpants known for me here. Fill it in because I’ve never heard it done where the gnomes are. Okay, that gets you to the gold back currency. So for me I’m just like those guys are gone.

46:36.35 – Brian Crane
Um, yeah, um.

46:51.79 – Vin Armani
It makes no sense right? They’re useful idiots but who they’re useful idiots for and I’ve seen and I’m seeing it because it’s like it’s the gold bug to brix pipeline like it’s the Jim Rickards to Putin and g pipeline.

46:57.75 – Brian Crane
Yeah.

47:08.56 – Vin Armani
See it all. You gotta read 0 hech and you can see the pipeline. It’s right there and it’s like that’s the other side and the other side is you’ve got Putin and she’s Putin’s you know. The military side g is the economic side and they realize oh sanctions on Russia that’s really played to China’s advantage. It’s like hey let’s do our own thing look at how much power these guys have with their thing. Let’s do our own thing and then we’ll just be convinced.

47:39.73 – Brian Crane
Um.

47:45.27 – Vin Armani
Global south that like well look how terrible this golden billion is like they’re just the worst come and do our thing but like really you want China’s thing that’s the 1 you want. That’s better like, have you been paying attention to China? Do you know anything about how China runs their financial system and how they use it to control their people? No. Well maybe you need to look at that before you’re like down with the dollar down with the fed. We’re all about her and Putin and what they want to put together. So that’s the other 2 sets are the. Absolute useful idiots for basically the great power struggle now in the financial system.

48:24.73 – Brian Crane
So.

48:33.60 – Brian Crane
And so how does coin text your previous startup like how does that fit into that narrative and also how does um yeah so I think it’d be useful if you explained coin text what happened there. But more importantly I would say like if you have. I’m going to try to tie this together but let’s say you have a bitcoin number go up, you have gains in bitcoin you know to bring it back to defi you can pledge it as Collateral. You can take out a loan against it without needing to sell it. Um, that loan is denominated in dollars. Um, you know.

Cointext: Bridging Crypto and SMS Technology

49:00.39 – Vin Armani
No.

49:10.30 – Brian Crane
And you can go off and do stuff with those with those dollars so there’s kind of 2 parts so cointex if you want to talk about that first and let’s get back to defining what people are doing with bitcoin to actually unlock the um. The dollar value of their bitcoin without necessarily needing to sell it.

49:30.80 – Vin Armani
Kotex we started in 2017 and the idea behind cointext or the problem that we were looking to solve was how could I send and receive bitcoin if I did not have the internet or a smartphone. So I have no internet access and I don’t have a smartphone. How could I send and and receive bitcoin and so it was an sms text ah text wallet. Um, and then also how could we do it in a non a non custodial way. Basically where we couldn’t we couldn’t take your money. And you had your private keys that you could also use with another bitcoin app or whatever and so we did. We created that in 2 17 and we launched it now you know there’s some trade offs so the tradeoffs are. It’s not fully peer-to-peer. There are some middlemen so you’ve got like your sms gateways you’ve got your phone companies. You know? Um, but I mean it’s you know we we? Well we thought that was what was interesting.

50:27.85 – Brian Crane
In your case you had whatsapp.

50:35.50 – Vin Armani
Um, Yeoman’s capital ah which is headed by David Johnston who’s been in crypto space for a long time. He’s actually the person who coined the term dapp he was in the white paper for omni which was the protocol that um tether was first released on. He’s the backer of factum and so some ah some other chains that are escaping me right now. Ah, but then he reached out and basically said hey I want to back this thing I’ve got a ah you know group of investors and we want to come in and we want to be your we want to be your Vc to. To do this and so they did and when they came in what they yeah and it’s the typical sort of Vc thing is that the reason that we’re coming in as customer acquisition right? because we we didn’t need the money we were ramen profitable from the jump like we had figured out a good business. Business model all we needed to do was just get more users and that was it but they came in and they said look we want to go user acquisition blitz and throw this at it. So like we want you to, we were in 4 or 5 countries to start. We started in us Uk South Africa where we were. Us Uk South Africa I