The Bitcoin SV Delistings: A Conversation with Jimmy Nguyen

Recently, Bitcoin SV has been in the news for being delisted from exchanges such as Binance, ShapeShift, and Kraken. In an effort to keep our traders and readers informed of the current status of cryptoassets enabled on our trading platform, we sat down with Jimmy Nguyen, Chair of the Strategic Advisory Board for nChain Group, Founding President of Bitcoin Association, and global ambassador for Bitcoin SV, to get the Bitcoin SV camp’s perspective on these delisting events and where BSV is going from here.

Readers should be advised that SFOX is acting as a neutral party in presenting relevant perspectives from within the crypto community, and we are happy to take interviews from other members of the community with different perspectives. We can be reached in this capacity at community@sfox.com.

If you’d rather watch the conversation than read it, you can find it on our YouTube channel here.

SFOX: I figured we could start in a very open-ended way by picking your brain on what you view as the causes behind these recent delisting events, how it’s been impacting the BSV community, and whether you think there are better ways in which it could have been handled.

Jimmy Nguyen: To cut to the chase, I think the delisting of BSV by certain exchanges was caused by personal dislike of Craig Wright by certain exchange CEOs. It’s focused on that, as well as his taking steps to enforce legal remedies against people who we believe have libeled or defamed him. The steps to delist BSV taken by some exchanges have nothing to do with any change in technical fundamentals about Bitcoin SV, nor with the objective criteria an exchange should be evaluating to list or delist an asset.

If you look back, it all started with CZ, the CEO from Binance, sending out a tweet saying he essentially did not like the fact that Craig was preparing to send legal demand or notice letters to certain people online who had been making comments which Craig thinks are defamatory. Obviously, there’s this whole controversy and issue about whether Craig is Satoshi Nakamoto or not. Some people believe he is; some people believe he’s not.

After years of just letting very negative and defamatory comments continue online, Craig decided to say, “Enough is enough: I think this is false and defamatory.” That’s what led CZ to say, “If you don’t stop this, I’m going to delist BSV.” So, that made very clear that Binance’s decision had nothing to do with the Bitcoin SV network itself, nor were there any technical reasons for delisting the coin: it was focused purely on CZ’s personal dislike of one key supporter of Bitcoin SV, Craig Wright.

A couple of days later, CZ announced that Binance was going to delist BSV — so this all happened within a matter of a couple of days, it was very sudden — and then ShapeShift and Kraken announced they were going to delist BSV as well. And Kraken’s situation is very interesting because they started running a Twitter poll about whether to delist Bitcoin SV. And the day after the Twitter poll was concluded, they announced, “The people have spoken; we’re delisting Bitcoin SV.” But then, I believe it was just yesterday, Jesse Powell, the CEO of Kraken, issued a couple of tweets acknowledging that the reason for the delisting had nothing to do with the technical merits of Bitcoin SV. In fact, he said he thought that Bitcoin SV never met their listing criteria in the first place. Which invites the question of why they listed it during the hash war last year anyway at all. This decision was based upon, as he expressed in this tweet, that they did not like some BSV leaders threatening or taking legal action against their clients and partners. So, they acknowledge pretty openly that the decision to delist Bitcoin SV has nothing to do with the technical or market fundamentals of the coin, nor with the blockchain, nor with the network. It’s all focused on: “We don’t like Craig Wright, we think he is a fraud, and we don’t like the fact that he’s taking legal action to enforce his rights.”

My view of that is that is a completely ridiculous reason for exchanges or their CEOs to use to list or delist any asset. Exchanges have a fiduciary responsibility to their customers in the protection of their assets. They need to be objective and fair because they create marketplaces for assets. They should use fair business processes to evaluate objective criteria about whether to list an asset or not. It’s very clear that that’s not what happened in this case, and I think it is a sad precedent and commentary on the cryptocurrency industry, which was born through Bitcoin valuing this concept of decentralization and creation of an electronic cash that was above control by anyone. But here you have exchange CEOs at a whim, on a day or two’s notice, saying, “Well, we don’t like Craig Wright and what he’s doing personally, and we are delisting Bitcoin SV.”

The reason that’s sad for the cryptocurrency industry — and I think it sets a very terrible precedent, and people have been saying this online — is that no matter what you think of Craig Wright or Bitcoin SV, exchange CEOs should not be using their personal feelings about an individual backer of any asset to make these decisions. It opens the market up to very easy market manipulation in the future for personal sentiments. Binance, for example, has its own coin, Binance Coin, and it’s preparing to create this world of tokens on Binance Coin. So they have a vested interest in which assets win or don’t win. Our position is that there should only be one public blockchain and one coin. So we, I think, threaten a lot of other people.

This is not how decisions should be made. Think about how this would happen in the stock market. Should some major stock exchange wake up one day and have its CEO say, “I don’t like that Jeff Bezos appears to have had an affair with someone other than his wife: I’m going to delist Amazon. I don’t like that Elon Musk was smoking marijuana on a television interview, or that he is seeming a little crazy, or that he is taking actions against people I don’t like: I’m going to delist Tesla”? That would never happen in the stock market, and if the cryptocurrency world wants to be taken seriously as a real asset with real institutional investors behind it, then it needs to grow up and not do it this way. For the people cheering for this: this could happen to their favorite coin in an instant. What if tomorrow, Vitalik Buterin started doing things against his critics that other exchange CEOs do not like? Should that exchange CEO just, overnight, be able to delist ETH? Would there be nothing wrong with that? This has set a terrible precedent, I believe.

I also believe that the exchanges that have done this are going to open themselves up to a lot of regulatory scrutiny. This is exactly a sign of why there needs to be more responsible regulatory oversight of the cryptocurrency market and exchanges: in taking out their personal dislike of Craig Wright against Bitcoin SV, these exchanges that delisted BSV — especially the ones that started it — have harmed the value of BSV assets for investors, miners, ventures that are working on BSV all over the world, including people who have nothing to do with Craig Wright. And I think that’s both terrible as a precedent for the industry and highly problematic from a regulatory and legal perspective.

SFOX: Do you have any views on what the appropriate or correct listing and delisting criteria should be when exchanges are thinking about particular coins?

Jimmy Nguyen: This is an excellent question. This whole controversy brings that to the forefront because, unlike in the stock market, there’s not a well-established set of regulatory expectations for this. For the most part, cryptocurrency exchanges are using whatever they want — some of them have published listing criteria, but we don’t really know how they follow it. And so I think this is a call for regulatory oversight.

You know, I’m a former lawyer, I believe in responsible regulation — I don’t believe in overregulation. I know a lot of crypto people don’t like regulation, but this is an exact reason — as well as, for example, the Quadriga exchange fiasco in Canada, with coins being lost — is the exact reason why we need more responsible regulation there. It’s kind of like the Wild Wild West. There are no organized or consistent guidelines for how exchanges should be making these listing decisions. And so I think this calls for some regulatory oversight. I think they should be evaluating things such as, for example, the amount of mining hash that’s behind a coin, and I think they should be evaluating the number of applications and developments that are working on the coin. I think they should be making sure that there’s nothing about the coin or its promoters that is trying to mislead consumers. There’s a number of objective criteria, but I don’t think it’s my place to say what those are. I certainly can offer some thoughts about it, but I think that’s exactly why regulators need to step in.

Take a look, for example, at Binance. When they announced they were delisting BSV, they said, “Here is a list of criteria we evaluate for potential delisting of an asset,” including some very subjective things such as whether — I don’t remember the exact wording, but whether the project contributes to a healthy cryptocurrency industry, and whether there is any unethical behavior going on. Some of the things are very subjective, particularly that factor about contributing to the health of the cryptocurrency industry. Who’s to decide that, and what is that supposed to mean? They also did not identify, of the list of seven or eight factors they published, which of those Bitcoin SV did not meet. So it’s sort of like saying, “We have all these criteria, but we’re not going to tell you or the public or our customers which are the ones we based our decision on and why.” So I think it’s a perfect example of why the industry should be setting some precedent for responsible oversight of objective criteria.

SFOX: Right, objective criteria. And then it sounds like you’re also saying there’s some onus to explain why a coin is being delisted, especially in regard to which criteria they’re not satisfying.

Jimmy Nguyen: Well, I think that it’s even more important than the criteria used to do the initial listing because once you have listed a coin and then you make a decision to delist it, that causes, as we saw, a significant negative financial impact in the market. Now, do I think that it should bounce back at some point? Yes, because we’re going to deliver the fundamentals of Bitcoin SV to improve it and it will have sustained value, we hope, in the future. But by making such a sudden delisting decision, especially without really explaining the reasons why in terms of objective criteria, you can negatively impact the value of holdings of investors all over the world. And if it has nothing to do with the fundamentals of the token and the network, then that is a really unfair way to take out your dislike of one person — one person — in a way that harms all the worldwide investors. And that is why exchanges need to have oversight so that their CEOs, on a whim, cannot make a decision that harms the assets of potentially millions of people around the world.

SFOX: You made the comparison between crypto and traditional markets; one thing that happens a decent amount in traditional markets when situations such as this come up — with like Uber or Papa John’s, for instance — is that the person who’s creating trouble for the asset or the company distances themselves from it in one way or another, whether that’s being removed or just being more separate from the project. Do you feel like BSV is in a similar situation with regard to Craig Wright now?

Jimmy Nguyen: No. I know that’s tempting to say, and I was asked in another interview the other day if would we be better off as a BSV community without Craig. That might be tempting to say initially, but the short answer is no.

First of all, Bitcoin SV is far bigger than Craig Wright. There are projects, people, ventures, miners all around the world that work on Bitcoin SV to build it and that have nothing to do with Craig. Certainly, he’s a key figure in our ecosystem. And of course, he attracts a lot of attention and is the subject of a lot of attacks. But even though there may be an initial inclination to think we would be better if Craig distanced himself from the project, he’s our big visionary: we would not have as grand of a vision of the potential for Bitcoin SV without Craig Wright. We would not be accomplishing and pushing for a lot of the things we are pushing for in the future potential value of Bitcoin SV without Craig Wright. And so I don’t think that this is a situation where we should distance ourselves from Craig Wright just because some CEOs dislike him.

If anything, we’ve seen some exchanges come forward and say, “You know what? I don’t particularly like Bitcoin SV, and I have my own reservations about Craig Wright, but this is not a reason to make a listing or delisting decision.” I will say that when the exchanges listed Bitcoin SV in the middle of and right after the hash war of last November, I already knew a lot of these exchange executives and CEOs did not like Craig Wright and Bitcoin SV. Yet they listed the coin, right? So the question of whether to like or dislike Dr. Wright didn’t make any difference in the listing back in November, and they chose to make it an issue now.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that any business, let alone a cryptocurrency exchange, would use Twitter polls to make a serious business decision like delisting an asset in a way that could harm the value of millions of investors worldwide. Kraken started it with its Twitter poll, and I would have to ask them: What exactly happened? You launched this Twitter poll. You said, “the people spoke,” and that that’s the basis for the decision. But then its CEO Jesse Powell comes out later and says, “Oh, no, the decision that didn’t have to do with technical merits, and it clearly didn’t have to do with the Twitter poll: it was based on dislike of legal action from Craig Wright and others.” So the Twitter poll clearly didn’t have anything to do with the decision and probably was done just to provide a sense of cover, suggesting that the decision wasn’t made just by one person.

Twitter polls are, first of all, not even a poll of the exchange’s customers: anyone on Twitter can vote in the poll; people have multiple counts all the time — especially in the crypto world, with anonymous accounts. You can have bots that pay for and buy votes. And the crypto world is divided into many camps and we are the camp that, because of Craig, has support from some strong people but then also has a lot of people who don’t like us. And so you’re asking everyone in, let’s say, high school to vote on whether to kick out of the school a club of people who are less popular. And so you get mob rule, right? It’s like Mean Girls. Hey, you know, the mean girls who have all the popular kids’ votes decide whether to kick out the nerds. And that’s what happened — except in movies, like in Revenge of the Nerds, what happens all the time is that the nerds eventually end up winning because they know what they’re doing.

So, I think that’s what’s happening here, and I think that when other exchanges and services start also running Twitter polls to provide cover for their decisions, that’s just ridiculous. Do we really want a world where digital assets of people are affected and delisted from trading on a major exchange because of mob rule on a Twitter poll? And this is where I really think regulators around the world are going to have a huge problem with what happened over the past week. I would predict that regulators are going to be scrutinizing that heavily because it’s frankly just ridiculous.

SFOX: Looking to the road ahead, what you see as the roadmap for BSV going forward? Assuming that the community and BSV move past this, do you have any plans for ways to prevent things like this from happening in the future?

Jimmy Nguyen: First of all, when one door closes, others open. And Jack Liu, formerly of OK Exchange and most recently of Circle, had told me a few months ago he was leaving his last position at Circle to start building some great things on Bitcoin SV. When this started emerging, he actually accelerated that: he had launched RelayX, which is a super wallet, but then he unveiled that he was planning to launch a BSV-based exchange. It’s now launched; he accelerated the launch given the controversy. So it just launched a couple of days ago, it’s called Float SV. And I’ve seen online many users say “I’m closing my account with Kraken, I’m closing my account with Binance, and I’m moving my funds over to Float SV.” We’ve gotten outreach from a number of other exchanges offering to list or support Bitcoin SV in other ways.

I think what will happen is that trading volume will just move: people who are interested in Bitcoin SV will not be trading on Binance or Kraken — in fact, they may be shutting down some of their accounts entirely. I’ve seen from one person who represents a loosely organized group of miners a statement that Binance has lost all their business now. So there are going to be repercussions for the exchanges that chose to delist in this matter. We are confident there will be liquidity and places to trade Bitcoin SV, so that’s not going to concern us in the long run.

In addition, this highlights, I think, a shift that is going to happen with the role of exchanges in the future. I think that currently, people in crypto put far too much weight on the need for exchanges. That’s not why Bitcoin was created in the first place. But these exchanges sort of brew, and how they got a lot of influence and power is that people wanted to list particularly these new ICO-type tokens, and you couldn’t run up the value and make money on it by selling it without it getting it listed on an exchange. That gave exchanges this sense of power. Exchanges are mostly used for trading between different types of tokens now — ones people have bought, for example, with fiat currency. In the future world we see happening, the number of tokens is going to consolidate significantly because we can’t sustain this world of a thousand different tokens. We believe there’s only just going to be one, eventually. And so I think the role of exchanges as this almost casino-like mentality of “Oh, how do I make money really quickly by trading one token against the other?” is going to come to an end within the next couple of years — maybe longer, but it’s going to shift.

So that’s why, while we are certainly disappointed by the action of exchanges that happened this past week, in the long-term we’re just going to focus on building the fundamentals of Bitcoin SV. And the role of exchanges is going to change; as long as there are on-ramps and off-ramps for fiat and Bitcoin SV, the ecosystem will be fine. So we’re focused on building and scaling now. Our lead developer announced a new roadmap for Bitcoin SV just the other day — going to two-gigabyte blocks in July, earlier than we expected. We have a lot of projects and ventures that are building up Bitcoin SV; we’re investing more — Calvin Ayre just announced this week a 1-million-pound investment in Centbee, one of the best mobile wallets for Bitcoin SV in South Africa, which recently announced a program to make available in fifty thousand retail outlets in South Africa the ability to buy Bitcoin SV over retail point of sale with just digital vouchers — an example of why you don’t need exchanges and that type of environment. And then we have some exciting investment announcements coming up, some major ventures and projects that can be doing things with Bitcoin SV.

So that’s what we do. We’re focused on building. We have never been the camp that tried to do the pump-and-dump thing that you see with other tokens. We’ve always been consistent in saying that we’re trying to build a long-term, big-scale blockchain that big enterprises can use, that will process millions and ultimately billions of transactions a second — and that is a long, gradual process. It’s not the kind of thing where an overnight drop or rise in the price is going to make a huge difference at the end of the day. So we’re focused on that: we think we’re trying to win a long game, and this is a bump in the road to a much longer journey.

SFOX: Within the BSV community right now, how are people reacting to everything that’s been going on? Do they see it as just an external issue and believe that you’ll weather the storm, or is it as internally divisive as something like the hash war was?

Jimmy Nguyen: Certainly within the camp of people who support or working on BSV, this has actually galvanized the community. I’ve gotten outreach from a number of companies and people online, calling, saying, “What can I do to help? What can I do to contribute? Can I accelerate what I’m building?” And so I see where people are now saying, “You know what? Fine, those people don’t like us.” It’s like going back to the school analogy: “Okay, the cool kids over there don’t like us. We’re just going to work harder to prove everyone wrong.” We’re going to get our products out faster; we’re going to invest more.

Within the camp of the BSV community, I don’t think anyone was particularly shocked that this happened because I think they know that some exchanges just don’t like Craig Wright. And the fact that he’s provocative is not lost on anyone. So it’s galvanized us.

I find it amusing also, and somewhat sad as a commentary in the cryptocurrency world, to see the reaction from all the other camps. There was this initial sort of cheering, kind of like during the hash war. It was like, “Oh yeah, they’re going down, this is our chance to get rid of Craig Wright.” He’s not going anywhere. BSV is not going anywhere. And if people were really honest and they sat back and looked at the position they took, they should not be cheering for this because it could happen to their token or their coin at the drop of a hat.

So I think we have galvanized our own community. We are going to keep working and working harder knowing that we are battling a lot of forces. Sometimes you can take a lot of hope and community spirit from knowing you may not be the most popular kids in school but you’re going to be the ones who work harder and smarter.

SFOX: You mentioned the very subjective criterion that Binance offered about the health of the crypto community being something to consider when listing and delisting coins. In terms of Craig Wright’s recent actions, especially the suit against Peter McCormack, do you have any specific comments about whether or not it’s warranted and whether or not it’s potentially detrimental to the health of the community?

Jimmy Nguyen: First of all, I would say that Craig Wright or any individual’s legal actions against another person and enforcement of legal remedies should have absolutely no bearing on the decision to list or delist an asset that Craig Wright or anyone supports. This is his personal effort to say, “You know what? You are spreading defamatory statements about me.” Now, do people take that as a reflection on Bitcoin SV? Some people do, of course. But you have to separate these two things.

What if Vitalik Buterin decided one day, “I don’t like people saying bad things about me,” and started sending legal demand letters to people and saying, “Stop that, I think that’s false and defamatory.” And if someone disagreed with that, are they going to use that to justify delisting ETH? That’s a very horrible precedent and path to start going down. So I think it should have no relationship to the objective criteria for listing.

First of all, I think the factor of whether a project contributes to a healthy cryptocurrency ecosystem is not a factor that should be considered because that’s not objective: who is to make that decision? What does that even mean? Secondly, as for the claims Craig is bringing now: he’s got every right to assert legal remedies. The people he’s asserting them against have every right to defend themselves; let the court process and the legal process decide. That’s for a court of law to decide, not for an exchange or its CEO to decide by a delisting decision.

I get that it’s unpopular with some people in the cryptocurrency world who say that people should be able to say what they want on Twitter online. That’s true, but free speech is not unlimited. The laws are very clear in all major countries. You cannot defame or libel someone. You cannot incite violence in a crowd. You cannot distribute obscene pornography without limit. There are all kinds of restrictions that are placed on our speech.

So I think the crypto world should not just be saying, “Oh, well, people should be able to say what they want.” There are lines, and Craig has chosen, after years of not complaining about it, to take a stand. He has every right to do that in his individual capacity, because that’s what this is: this is not a company bringing claims. Bitcoin SV is not an entity; it’s not Bitcoin SV doing it. It’s Dr. Craig Wright individually against another person. It is a personal dispute that should play out in the legal system and should not have affected a delisting decision.

SFOX: Interestingly, the more you talk about the various factors at play in everything that’s been happening, the more it sounds as if a lot of it might have to do with “growing pains” in terms of how the crypto community relates to things like regulation and seeking legal remedy — whether that has to do with regulating exchanges, or with individuals in the community using courts of law to resolve disputes.

Jimmy Nguyen: That’s absolutely right. I say to my speeches all the time that it’s time for Bitcoin to grow up and professionalize. And by that I mean a variety of things — its development process, some of its attitudes… But this is a perfect example: how it deals with disputes. That needs to be more professionalized if we want cryptocurrency to be supported by big institutional investors — the institution community, people like SFOX’s clients. They want stability. They want an asset class in which they feel like if they bought the asset, they know what they’re getting into and is not going to be rocked by such fickle decisions like this.

It’s also important to get the ordinary consumer, who may know a little bit about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, to be comfortable using it. You probably talk to people all the time who say, “Oh, I think I want to maybe invest or buy some cryptocurrency, but I’m scared,” right, “I really know what it is, and it seems scary.” If we want this industry to flourish, we have to create an environment with responsible regulatory oversight that makes consumers and institutional investors feel safe.

I think this might be a watershed moment for the industry to sit down and say, “You know what? All right. This is not the way these decisions should be made because they harm many people if it’s done this way.” It also gives too much power to a few individual people. The whole point of Bitcoin being created was to take the kind of power or financial systems and money away from individual gatekeepers. Because Binance has such large trading volume, apparently, its decision captured a lot of attention and can lead to somewhat of a ripple effect (I think that it’s stopped now). Then all you need to be is one of the CEOs of one of the top few exchanges and your opinion carries huge weight in affecting what happens with bitcoin or any other asset. And that’s not the world we want to create.

SFOX: Which goes back to what we were talking about in our interview months ago about the power of social influence, especially on social media, right?

Jimmy Nguyen: Yeah, that’s why we’re focused on Bitcoin SV and just the work right now. Let’s work and build a blockchain and a token that have actual real utility and a mass scale so that the value it has is sustained, not volatile. Because let’s be honest: most cryptocurrency value is fairly speculative. It’s people who are trying to hopefully get rich, get a Lambo, you know — and I know that because most cryptocurrency really isn’t currently used to the scale to support any real value. So we need to get out of this casino-game mentality and move to building assets that get real value from real use.

That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s why, while this is dramatic this week, we’re taking it in stride because, in the long plan of what we want from Bitcoin SV, we want real usage so that the value it has is not as volatile: it’s reliable, it’s meaningful. And that’s what the whole crypto world should want. Not value that can be impacted so easily by the opinions of one or two CEOs of exchanges about one person in an asset camp.

SFOX: Jimmy, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want to add on any topic?

Jimmy Nguyen: I think the main final point I’ll leave you with is this: when this all happened, and looking at it now a couple days later, it’s very reminiscent to me of the hash war. Sometimes dramatic events have to happen which seem negative and bad, but which, in the life cycle of what we’re trying to accomplish for Bitcoin and this whole industry, I believe are necessary to bring to the forefront of attention things that need to be addressed in cryptocurrency. In the hash war, it was this whole fight about whether developers should be really experimenting and continuing to change the Bitcoin protocol: whether we should just keep it stable or not. With these delisting events, they are bringing to light just the need to reconsider how we deal with exchanges, how we view the volatility and what affects volatility in cryptocurrency prices, and the need to have more adult supervision. And so, dramatic as this was, I think it’s probably a necessary step in the maturing process of the entire industry. So if we can play some part in that and turn this into something that benefits everyone, great. And we’re going to do it.

Thanks to Jimmy for taking the time to provide SFOX with the Bitcoin SV community’s perspective on the recent delisting events. If you’d like to reach out to us about this or other interviews, we can be reached at community@sfox.com.

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