Tech pioneer, maverick and iconoclast. These three descriptors perfectly sum up what John McAfee. The creator of McAfee, the world’s first commercial anti-virus software, who also took a shot at the American Presidency in 2016, is now arguably the most influential voice in cryptocurrencies. In a live chat with TheBigScope’s Aritra Sarkhel & Tarutr Malhotra, McAfee spoke about the future of cryptocurrency, its impact on society and living the good life – only the way he can. Edited excerpts:
TBS: Everything you do makes headlines and creates controversies. Who is the real John McAfee?
McAfee: I don’t know. No one knows day by day, because everything changes. I’m someone who tells it like I see it. I tell the truth like I see it. If you tell the truth you’re going to anger a lot of people. You’re going to make them look at themselves. As a result, I have many enemies. I’m fascinated by humanity, its culture, its technology. So, I delve into it. I search myself, my neighbours, my wife, the people I work with. If you do that, you’re going to get a very odd reputation, and that’s what I have.
TBS: A lot of people are talking about cryptocurrencies as a bubble. Do you think it’s a bubble?
McAfee: If you’ve watched for the past four days, we’ve had a crisis. All of the cryptocurrencies across the board went down – some by 50%, some by 75%. I told the world, don’t worry, it’s temporary. The problem was America’s largest banks – J P Morgan – and by the way banks have the most to lose if cryptocurrencies succeed, went out and said all world governments will ban cryptocurrencies. How are they going to enforce it? You cannot. You would have to have one enforcement officer for every citizen that you have. Look at the history, look at where we stand. They are going to continue to grow, there is no bubble.
TBS: Do you think cryptocurrencies can ever become an alternative to fiat currencies? Is there ever going to be a version of our world where Bitcoin is normal tender?
McAfee: Of course! They are already doing that I just bought a house with cryptocurrency. I bought a car with cryptocurrency. There is nothing eventually that you cannot buy with cryptocurrency. Why would you ever use a fiat currency to purchase anything, except maybe a cup of coffee? But even that will be tokenised, and you can go into Starbucks or any coffee shop and buy them with cryptocurrency. Absolutely, in five years time, there will not be any fiat currencies. Who will possibly use the U.S. Dollar given the inconvenience of using it for transactions?
TBS: Having said all that, what your favourite coin, man? What’s the next big coin?
McAfee: I think Bitcoin has been the standard bearer, the gold standard of cryptocurrencies for years. Ethereum may have surpassed it as a currency. Ethereum is faster. Bitcoin has become a store of value…kind of like Gold as a store of value. But, here’s the thing, we’re getting 200-300 new ICOs every month. Within these ICOs are true jewels and gems, treasures of creativity and utility. One of these is going to replace everything today.
TBS: Have you had any pushback from Wall Street?
McAfee: We’re seeing a new paradigm that’s being created mostly by young people. Wall Street, unfortunately, will never understand this. They are too entrenched in an older paradigm that no longer works. It no longer functions I think the young will be able to appreciate what is happening, understand it’s utility and abandon the old. The old techniques and old beliefs that cannot function in a world of distributed and more importantly permission less – we don’t need permission – to do what we’re doing.
TBS: We’ve been talking about financial institutions and how they treat cryptocurrencies, but recently there’s been a huge burst of speculation Futures on NASDAQ. Do you think it’s right that financial institutions are treating cryptocurrencies as assets?
McAfee: Bitcoin will always increase in value. I’m one of the world’s five largest miners of Bitcoin. I have over 6,000 S9s running full time. I do understand Bitcoin, but the mining is going to disappear. The coins that are out there are going to increase in value as the supply of mining bitcoins decreases. So, it will always be around, it will always be around. Bitcoin may not always be a currency, it may be a place or store of value. But, the really important thing is that new ICOs are coming out where young kids are creating and imagining systems, cultures, technology, social structures that haven’t been imagined before. I get to read all these white papers and they astonish me. The blockchain is going to be far more a financial tool. It is going to change the structure of society.
TBS: John, this has been very interesting. But we have to ask you one question before we let you go. If there was ever going to be a movie about John McAfee (on screen), who would it be?
McAfee: Actually, it’s odd that you ask that. MGM is creating a movie of my life called King of the Jungle Johnny Depp was chosen as the man to play me, and I think Johnny Depp will do a good job.