Jon Matonis

Executive Director, Bitcoin Foundation

Jon Matonis is an e-Money researcher and crypto economist who is passionate about expanding the circulation of nonpolitical digital currencies worldwide. He has over 20 years of experience in financial technology and global monetary policy.

Matonis currently serves as the executive director and founding board member for the Bitcoin Foundation. He was previously CEO of Hushmail and chief forex trader at VISA. He also held senior posts at Sumitomo Bank and Verisign. Over the years, he has advised startups in Bitcoin, gaming, mobile and prepaid.

A highly sought speaker and author, Matonis is a tech contributor to Forbes Magazine and editor of The Monetary Futureeconomics blog. He also serves on the editorial boards of CoinDesk and Bitcoin Magazine. He is an alum of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and recipient of the 2001 Person of the Year award for Digital Gold Currency Magazine. He answers two frequently asked questions about Bitcoin below.

What prompted your leap into Bitcoin? My evolution into Bitcoin was not so much a leap as a slow and gradual evolution to nonpolitical digital currencies. I am a student of central banking and monetary systems and I conducted research into how governments around the world have historically appropriated the monetary unit in order to serve their own personal political agendas. By the mid-’90s, it became clear that the future of value transfer was going to utilize the Internet and strong cryptography. I have edited an economics blog, The Monetary Future, on this topic for five years now.

At its essence, all money is an illusion due to its subjective value for exchange, and there is no such thing as true “intrinsic” value. Governments and central banks already realize this. However, they abhor it when the monetary illusion supported by the populace is not their monetary illusion.

When Bitcoin was released into the wild on January 3, 2009, the problem of preventing double spending without a centralized online mint was solved for digital currencies. This was a landmark achievement in both distributed consensus and cryptographic money, and the world is only beginning to see the enormous power and dignity that this restores to the individual. As a watershed event in history, the launch of Bitcoin will be seen as the twilight of the national currency age.

How do you encourage new-to-Bitcoin people to get engaged in the Bitcoin space?

I point out that government-issued money is largely inferior to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which comes with a fixed and predictable supply limit. Bitcoin is not just important because it’s the unit that you transact in, but it’s also important because it’s the unit you can maintain your assets in. For example, when you have complete control over the private keys securing your bitcoins, you immediately have peace of mind knowing that your funds are secure regardless of banking status, geographic location, or political instability. How much is that worth?

New users will first need a wallet which can be a mobile wallet, client software wallet, or web-based wallet. Obtaining and using a Bitcoin wallet is as easy as using PayPal or Skype. I would recommend new users to download and use Blockchain’s MyWallet or Bitcoin Wallet for Android. There are also several alternatives available at Bitcoin.org. For more experienced users, I would recommend MultiBit, Armory, or Electrum. Additionally, the Bitcoin-Qt reference implementation maintains a full version of the blockchain on your computer, and it eliminates the need for any third party.