What Bitcoin Did : Interview with Peter McCormack (All Interviews)

We had the honor to have an interview with Peter McCormack, a popular influencer and podcaster in the Crypto space from the UK. He has covered many different and controversial topics and themes with various guests from the space on his Podcast What Bitcoin Did. In this interview, we discussed how his path of becoming a Podcaster started, as well as what possibilities lie with Bitcoin. Please have a look.

Peter McCormack

Interview Date : 28th September 2020

Interview with Peter McCormack

My name is Peter McCormack, and I am from the UK. I am from a funny “nobody” town called Bedford, which is located north of London. It’s not far from Cambridge. 

Encountering Bitcoin

I stumbled upon Bitcoin 6 years ago. I had heard about it, and even bought and sold a little bit, but I didn’t really understand it.  At that time, I used to work in the advertising industry in London. I decided to take a year off  because I needed some time for myself. I had spent my whole life working, and needed a break. That was 3 years ago, and during that time how I fell into the rabbit hole and got serious about it. Besides being a podcaster today, I have a very ordinary life as a single dad with two kids, and most of my time is spent looking after them. I do school-runs, get their lunch ready, iron their school clothes, and so on. We are big Liverpool fans, so the three of us usually watch football together. I also like horrible heavy metal, like the worst screaming kind that nobody likes. 

How did you decide you wanted to be a Podcaster?

That was at the end of 2017. By that time, I had also realized trading was not for me. Trading is cool, fun, and exciting, but I couldn’t envision myself doing that for years. I knew I had to do something else. I was writing a little bit about Bitcoin, and I did some articles as well as put some posts on Facebook. However, I have got a friend who is a very successful podcaster. I was watching his lifestyle and what he was doing with his show, and I thought it was really cool. I started to think I wanted to do that too. I was in America, in Los Angeles, and I went to see him. He told me how to manage a podcast and how to create content. He also told me what equipment I needed. Then, he called Luke Martin, a well-known trader in the Bitcoin and Crypto space, and asked “do you want to do an interview with Peter?” That was my first show. Here we are now 3 years later, and I have done over 300 shows with all my podcast shows combined.

What is the main theme of What Bitcoin Did?

The main theme of the podcast is the issues and matters I am wrestling with myself. So, it is not just about Bitcoin, but it is about Bitcoin and associated topics. We discuss topics that are asymmetric like politics, economics, etc. It has always been a podcast about the things that I really care about. I have never really made it for anyone else. If I find a topic interesting, then I will cover it. Occasionally, you get on twitter and get into a fight. Everyone is yelling at each other about whatever they are fighting about. However, sometimes the topics they are fighting about are really great and should be debated. Thus, if I think that the matter needs to be talked about, I do make a show about it. However, most of the time, it is about topics I care about.

What’s your view on American politics?

American politics is interesting, and I am very interested in it. I have always been fascinated by the United States, and it is the country I have traveled to the most. As a kid, I would look at American shows and would think “Wow, Disneyland, burgers, and the Grand Canyon!” It just looked like this big, fascinating country, but I didn’t get to go there until I was 23-24 years old. However, ever since my first trip, I have traveled there once to two times a year.  

In many ways, it is the leading country in the world. It leads the world in the sense that it polices the world. There are the superpowers, but America is where I am always drawn to. In terms of politics, there is a lot to really like and a lot to really dislike about. For example, I love the US constitution, and I think it is an amazing bedrock of what American politics is built on. However, it always seems to be under attack by the people in power. I certainly think it is under attack with the current administration. 

What do you think about the two-party system in the US?

Peter: It is fascinating to watch the two-party system they have, which I think is deeply flawed as we can see by how the two-party system has played out so far. We have experienced the growth of the internet, and how 24H news has come onboard. We have SNS, and anyone can create media content and blow controversial topics up on Twitter and Facebook. With this growth, we are seeing that it has an impact on politics, and I don’t know if it is good or bad. I think, in some ways, it has made it better because it is so inclusionary. On the other end, it has made it a lot worse because everything is about fighting and winning now. I believe that in politics, even though parties are divided and have different views, ultimately the leader should unite the people. Although I find American politics really divisive right now, I think it has spread the country into two firm camps. I know that they have always existed, and others will say “it has always been that way”, but I feel like it is getting quite nasty now. 

Can Bitcoin fix American politics?

This is where you get into the world where Bitcoiners will say “Bitcoin will fix everything”. I am not sure Bitcoin can fix human nature. Now, what can Bitcoin do? Well, you have to get to that tipping point where we have enough money in Bitcoin. If enough of the economy is controlled by Bitcoin in a circular economy, that perhaps could deform politics in several ways. I would love to see it happen, but it is highly unlikely.

What can Bitcoin do?

What Bitcoin can do is shifting mindsets. I have changed fundamentally due to Bitcoin. For example, I don’t vote anymore because I don’t believe in that two-party system in the UK. If I was to vote, I would vote libertarian even though I struggle with the idea of a completely libertarian society. At the same time, if Bitcoin makes us rethink money, power, politics, and economics, then perhaps it can have a positive influence.

What political ideology do you believe in?

Some people argue that everything should be decentralized, but I am not too sure about that. I think certain things work better if they are centralized. I remember when I ran the advertising firm, I think it absolutely needed leadership and absolutely needed team workers who gave their input. In a decentralized space, that kind of business could not work. We need decision-makers, but you get into this tricky area when you talk about “monarchy”. We have to ask “who are these elective individuals?” The monarchy in the UK does not really have any real power, but when you do have centralized power, you have to define if it is “democratic” or “authoritarian”. In the UK, over half the panel lives under authoritarian rule. So, I think there is an area to debate; what works better, centralized, or decentralized? 

Centralized or Decentralized, which one do you think works better?

What I certainly think works better is “localism”. Smaller branches of power governing over smaller groups of people is a better way of structuring society.

Is Scaling War still ongoing?

The most controversial issue was the scaling war, which happened in 2017, and it went on for a long period. It was about the block size; do we want a bigger block size or not? That was fascinating, and I can look back on it now and understand it a lot better than what I did then. At the time, I had no idea which side to choose, so I just picked a side. Fortunately, I ended up on the right side, but I could easily have ended up on the wrong side. That was a sting possibility, but it was a hugely controversial subject. I think if you are new to Bitcoin, it is hard to pick it up and understand it because these are really complicated ideas about economics and technology. Bitcoin can be a brutal and difficult place to be if your ideas are not sound. Today, we have ideas that are quite challenging, even to traditional Bitcoin ideas. But for me, I think the scaling war was the most controversial thing I went through, and I can understand why small blocks are important now. More importantly, I understand the fear of what a hard-fork means.

How are you so open and frank about your beliefs?

Peter: I think there are a lot of people like me in space. I am not the only one, and to be honest, a lot of the things I say are things I have learned from other people. I think there are a lot of blunt people and others who are soft, while some are left-wing, and others may be right-wing. The Bitcoin space and the world is colorful because it is made up of so many types of people.

How do you feel about Token Swaps?

I think it is mainly nonsense. I have never used any of these swap platforms, and I am not interested in farming yam or whatever burgers. My overall thought on DeFi is that it is a game. It’s like a casino of games, and the idea is that you get in, and you make as much money as you can, and get out. However, Bitcoin is like transitional money, and we are seeing a change in the nature of money with it. It is something that continues to go up in value, and it is useful. I believe in it, and that is why I have wealth stored in it. I look at DeFi, I certainly see them as an experiment that people are doing, and I do not think any of these things have long term value. 

Are you interested in Gold and Gold Tokens?

Gold is not something I am particularly interested in, so I don’t know much about it. If I would want to buy gold, then I would just buy physical gold. If given a choice, I would like to own physical gold. Otherwise, if I am going to own a token that represents gold, I would rather just own Bitcoin because at least I would have self-sovereignty. I can secure Bitcoin, but I can’t do that with a Gold token. It really is just a promise for gold. It’s not something I have looked at closely, but I probably would not buy such tokens, because I don’t think it is that interesting.

Are you surprised about the FinCEN incident?

We have always known that the banks have been involved in money laundering and such. It has always been this way, so when I heard about that incident, I was not shocked. What’s really disappointing is that I wonder if anyone will prosecute it. We see low-level crime prosecuted all the time, and people are being punished as well. People are punished for not wearing a mask, for speeding or parking, etc. We always get punished, but when these massive and huge crimes happen with banks regarding criminal money laundering, no one seems to get punished. So, this is where I start to think that there are them and us. My suspicion is this incident is one of many that will be swept under the carpet, and we will just have to forget about it. It is like either you are in the elite, and you benefit from the elite, or you are not.

How do you feel about the UK leaving the EU?

Sometimes, I feel very split about the decision of the UK leaving the EU. On the one hand, I think it was a terrible idea because together we are stronger. We can work together as a group of people across Europe to create a more civilized society that is better for everyone. However, other times I think the EU is a massive socialist kind of a utopian state which becomes very inefficient and costly for no benefit. Fortunately, I am a centrist, and as a centrist, you tend to be in a neutral position where you try and see both sides. When you try and see both sides, and you take a fair and objective view of the matter, usually you can find fair and good arguments on both sides. Thus, it becomes difficult to be overly opinionated on something like that.

For one of the episodes of Defiance, you went to Venezuela, right?

In one of the shows, we talked about Venezuela, and I just wanted to see the country for myself only because of their law. Venezuela is a place we would talk a lot about concerning Bitcoin. I thought perhaps it is a place I should go to and see, and I am glad I did go. When I went to Venezuela, it really was an eye-opener to see what a failed state looks like, and how it is to live in a failed state. It made me realize how fortunate I am to never have lived in such a country.

How will 2021 be?

It is difficult to say what is going to happen from now on. Because of the immense economic output globally due to COVID-19, it is not something that every economy just swallows and accepts. I think 2021 is going to be a very tough year for a lot of people. As we come to terms with living in a COVID-world where we have lockdowns or quarantines, a vast part of the economy is going to have to change fundamentally. Live sports games etc. or any form of entertainment is not the same anymore. I like eating out and drinking out, but I think it is going to be more expensive because these kinds of service scales are going to decrease. We are going to see inflation in the food industry because people are going to eat more at home. This is going to bring a massive shift to the economy. I do not know if it will happen in terms of a crash, but I certainly think we are going to have a very long and deep recession.

What do you do when you are not making content?

When I am not making content, I am being a dad. That is the mission of my life; looking after my 16-year-old girl, and my 10-year-old boy. After I am done with work, I usually go pick them up, make dinner ready, and get them ready for bed, etc., and that takes a lot of time. That is where the major of my time goes, but other than that, I like going to the gym. I also like music a lot, and I am trying to do a crossover between music and my work so that I can work with both at the same time.

Why did you create Defiance?

I created Defiance because I wanted to do something different. I really enjoy Bitcoin, but I have a creative part of me and wanted to explore other topics and other areas of interest. Defiance was about debating other creative ideas. The name Defiance really came from that idea, and it was going to be a sister-show to What Bitcoin Did, but today it has evolved beyond that.  

How are you planning to continue your work?

On the Bitcoin side, I will just continue with what I am doing on whatever is a relevant topic. On the Defiance side, I interviewed Ghislaine Maxwell, who is the partner of Jeffrey Epstein, and she was very interesting. We talked about her background, and her relation with the convicted American financier. Besides that, we had a multipart series about Donald Trump, where we questioned the ideas of “does he have dictatorial tendencies?”, and “what does that mean for the constitution?”. So, there are a couple of things that I am working on, and all of them are wide and different topics with interesting stories.

How do you choose a platform for hosting your Podcast?

Everyone has their preferences for a podcast platform. The biggest platform for me is Apple, but YouTube is also quite big. It’s a lot of fun to go and listen to audio on YouTube, and it has become a big platform for me too. I like to listen to Apple podcasts, but some people like Spotify, while others might prefer Soundcloud. So, I don’t want them to have to choose, and it’s very easy to distribute the podcast to all of the platforms letting the listener choose their favorite.

Who inspires you?

Peter: The first person to inspire me was someone from outside of the space. It was my friend who got me into podcasting. I just looked at his lifestyle thinking “I want the ability to record, and reach people through my recording as a way of life”. I wanted to be able to travel the world with my work too. I looked at everything he did and tried to emulate it, so he really inspired me. From the crypto space, I admire a few people, like Matthew Dell for his core principles. He is a very principled person, and that is an important quality to have. I am also inspired by someone like Adam Back, who has been doing this for so long. He has been involved in this before Bitcoin started, he invented hash cash and proof-of-work, and he has been in this for so long fighting the good fight. That is why I think he is incredible. 

Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada


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