Bitcoin simplified in 15 minutes
Hello, I'm Lyman. I'm a lawyer by profession, a lifetime member of IBP Makati and the PBA. I belong to UP College of Law Class of 2004. I founded my general professional practice (GPP) in 2011, where I lead a number of practice areas. I study Bitcoin because it is the one of the most important innovations of our time. So is with Nostr, AI, GPT-4 and, most recently, Civ Kit. If you want to join my journey into this rabbit hole of curiosity, learning and discovery, subscribe below!
I regularly speak to client CEOs and co-operative boards and management about bitcoin, and how Lightning changes everything. I recently spoke at the Philippines' first Bitcoin Island Retreat. I founded Lightning.coop to promote the adoption of the Lightning Payment Network by co-operatives in the Philippines and around the world. We are building The Co-operative Exchange to promote, export and import co-op products and connect buyers and sellers thru Lightning.If you lead a co-op board or management and want to talk how Lightning can help you promote financial inclusion to all your members, you may e-mail us or invite me to your next board meeting for a talk and demo!
For beginners trying out Lightning for the first time, we recommend Pouch, Bitcoin Beach (being renamed to Blink), and Muun. Pouch automatically converts any bitcoin (or "satoshis," which are small portions of bitcoin) you send into pesos (Php).Of these three Lightning wallets, Blink and Pouch also provides a web link that is used by merchants for point-of-sale (POS) purposes. You can try them below.
Happy to hear from you!
If you lead a co-op board or management and want to talk how Lightning can help you promote financial inclusion to all your members, you may e-mail us or invite me to your next board meeting for a talk and demo!
Lightning is the fastest and cheapest way to send money to anyone anywhere in the world
*I thought Muun was a strange name for a Lightning and bitcoin wallet. A little googling would show that the InterGalactic Banking Clan (IGBC) in Star Wars was a largely Muun-run organization. Muun was started by 10 guys in Argentina, a country known for their football as much as for their currency controls and devaluation (seven times in 20 years), a motivation or at least a perspective perhaps.
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Why am I writing this
Two revolutions without violence. Cooperation is a 200-year old revolution. Bitcoin is a 13-year old revolution. Both of them are spawns not of violence, but of will and wits. Satoshi Nakamoto is bitcoin's Robert Owen. Owen, the founder of the cooperative movement, has long been dead. But we are lucky to be alive when Satoshi appeared – and then disappeared. It is said that next to the creation of bitcoin itself, the greatest gift he gave was to leave without a trace.I work with co-operatives because co-ops promote collective freedom. I am working on bitcoin because it promotes individual liberty. I am writing this because I would like (A) TO INFORM CO-OPS ABOUT BITCOIN and its existing and proven ability to achieve genuine, border-less, permission-less, and unstoppable financial inclusion, and (B) TO PROTECT CO-OPS AGAINST CRYPTO “SHITCOINS.”Let's get started, here we go!
I. What are co-ops
Co-operatives are organizations or companies, just like corporations. The difference between a co-op and an investor-owned company are (A) the co-op is owned by its members, (B) the members use the products or services of their co-op, and (C) the members economically benefit from the success of their co-op.Co-ops are guided by the Seven Principles of Cooperation, namely (1) open and voluntary membership, (2) democratic member control, (3) member economic participation, (4) autonomy and independence, (5) education, training and information, (6) cooperation among cooperatives, and (7) concern for community.
II. Where co-ops began
The modern history of co-ops started in 1844 when a group of weavers working in a factory in Great Britain decided to band together to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. They started with a very meager selection of butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they sourced and sold tea and tobacco. Soon they were providing high quality goods to their members. They are known as the Rochdale Pioneers.In the Philippines, the co-op movement was started by Dr. José P. Rizal in Dapitan where he was exiled from 1892 to 1896 by the Spanish authorities after his return from his studies and travels in Europe.
III. What is bitcoin
Bitcoin rose from the ashes of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 when the bitcoin whitepaper was published by Satoshi Nakamoto. He/they/she was a pseudonym and disappeared in 2010. For the first time in the modern history of money, one person can now transfer money to another person without passing thru a bank or any intermediary. Hence, permission-less, i.e. without permission of anybody.Bitcoin solved two other important problems. (A) The double-spending problem of any payment that is digital in form, and (B) the problem of central banks printing money “out of thin air,” i.e. central banks left the gold standard in 1971, leading to inflation and creating all sorts of economic and social ills. Bitcoin is anti-inflation because the supply limit is 21,000,000. There can only be 21 million bitcoins in existence, with the last one to be created in 2140.
IV. What is Lightning
In 2016, the Lightning whitepaper was published. It's a payment layer on top of bitcoin. This allows for the fastest and cheapest form of peer-to-peer (person to person) payment today. The Lightning Network can process a million transactions per second.Lightning is particularly useful for day-to-day micropayments like paying for coffee, food, and drinks. Lightning has ignited the sprouting of bitcoin beaches around the world, particularly El Zonte (the first and original Bitcoin Beach), and in the Philippines, e.g. Boracay and Siargao.
Another one, featuring THE Jack Mallers in Chicago, buying Coke [this is bad for you, haha] and groceries using different Lightning apps. Any Lightning app, not just his company's (Strike - link, but currently not available in the Philippines), because bitcoin and Lightning are open payment standards.
Jack Mallers again below, this time in front of the, gulp, the IMF showing them through tortilla chips, raisins, and peanuts how bitcoin is a tool to improve cross-border payments many times over. To demo, he sends $10 from Chicago to a friend in El Salvador who then uses it to buy coffee there. All in less than 60 seconds.
V. What are “shitcoins”
“Shitcoins” are cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. 99% of them are outright scams being pumped and dumped by crypto hucksters. The rest of the 1% simply wants to replace central banks with themselves as the new overlords doing their own shenanigans, e.g. printing an unlimited amount of money or crypto, allocating most of the supply to themselves, etc.
VI. Why protect against “shitcoins”
Co-ops need to be protected against shitcoins because the funds of co-ops belong to their members. Their monies are the hard work of the co-ops and the blood, sweat and tears of their members. Co-ops deserve sound money. Co-ops deserve bitcoin, never shitcoins.
VII. Am I too late to bitcoin
We are too early. Bitcoin has been running without fail since January 3, 2009, with an uptime of 99.9%. It's just over a decade. People are intimidated by the current value of one (1) bitcoin. What most people don't know is that you can buy a fraction of a bitcoin. They are called satoshis (a nod to Satoshi Nakamoto). 1 bitcoin is equivalent to 100,000,000 satoshis. You can buy 100 Pesos worth of bitcoin. You will get 10,000 Satoshis. Yes, you can do that. Tell your loved ones, and friends. They will thank you for it.
VIII. How do I get started
(A) PHILIPPINES. This is the country of my birth. This is my focus. I will try to discuss the steps briefly but as clearly as I can below. There are only two steps.
(1) The starting point is to exchange some pesos with bitcoin, e.g. 100 Pesos. After all these years, the easiest way to do this is still by using Coins.ph. Once you have downloaded the app, it's easy to add some pesos from your bank account, GCash, etc. to the Coins.ph app.Once you have pesos in your Coins.ph app, it's easy to convert some of that to bitcoin inside the app. Beware: There are shitcoins in the Coins.ph app. Unfortunately, Coins.ph is still the easiest way for this step.How about GCash and Maya? As for Maya, we don't just not recommend it, we recommend against using it to buy bitcoin there. As for GCash, they have a GCrypto in their app, but it is still "Coming soon." We will review it when it launches.
(2) Once you get your bitcoin in Coins.ph, you can move that to your Muun or Pouch.ph wallets. Voila, now your money is free! You can do whatever you want with it and no one can stop you from doing anything with it. If you're in Boracay or Siargao, pay the sari-sari store with it. Better yet, pay the co-op consumer store (Coopmart) with it!
(B) INTERNATIONAL. For co-ops around the world, you can use these bitcoin apps and wallets: Muun, Blue Wallet, Bitcoin Beach, Strike, and OpenNode. There are many good ones and I am sorry I cannot list them all now. I will release a full list of these on a regular basis via newsletter.
IX. What's next
Continue your study. The bitcoin rabbit hole is deep and most beautiful. Bitcoin is the most elegant invention I have seen in my life. It is also the most important solution, as it solved the most important problem. Money is the root of all evil or of all good, depending on who controls it. Be Your Own Bank. Educate your family. Tell the world.
Just kidding. Though if you're an original Matrix (or Keanu Reeves) fan, it's not too hard to see the point, is it?
X. Who am I to tell you
I am no one. Bitcoin has no Chairman, CEO or Board of Trustees. The point of bitcoin is to enable the transfer of value without permission and without having to trust any central authority. Bitcoin and Lightning are open systems available to everyone.You earned your money by the honest sweat of your brow. You don't have to be ruled by anyone. Rules Without Rulers. No one ought to be telling you what to do with it. Accept no ruler over your hard work. Your hard work deserves a sound form of money, not a currency that can be printed out of thin air by rulers and gatekeepers. We expect you. We are many.
To conclude this
Two centuries after the co-operative revolution, the gods and the fates gave us bitcoin. Bitcoin is an evolved form of cooperation. A cooperation not just by men, but by math. Fix the money, fix the world, bitcoiners would say. As a life-long cooperator, my message is, if co-ops can fix their money, they can fix the world even better and faster.
Don't trust, Verify
This is an ethos central to bitcoin. With this, let me say, Good luck, Pleb!
Atty. Lyman A. Manzanares has dedicated most of his and his Firm's entire CSR to building and innovating in the Co-op and Allied Sectors, serving as Founding Cooperator, Co-operative Secretary, Director, General Counsel, External Counsel or Advisor to many of the Philippines' largest co-operatives, including 1CISP, FICCO, CHMF, SIDC, SDCC, and ACDI.A practicing lawyer for almost two decades, his work encompassed the public and private sector, leaving the government in 2010 as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Finance, DOF. Previously, he was Special Counsel to the Insurance Commissioner (IC) and Consultant to the Presidential Advisor for Sublic and Clark Area Development (SCAD). He has structured and negotiated international procurement, private equity and project financial deals in the Philippines, Hong Kong and the U.S.A partner and special counsel to the Palafox and Romero Law Firm, he belongs to the UP College of Law Class of 2004 and is a member of the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Makati Chapter. Lyman is building some of the Firm's experimental practice groups.
Special Counsel, Palafox & Romero Law Firm (MRPP Law)
Founding and ex Partner, M&A, MPLO, MBPLO, AMCA
Receivership & Liquidation
Mergers & Acquisitions
Venture Capital & Private Equity
Patents, Trademarks and Copyright
Overseas Development Assistance
Banking & Finance
PR and Media
ex Special Assistant to the Secretary, DOF
ex Special Counsel to the Commissioner, IC
ex Consultant, Presidential Adviser to SCAD
Founder, The Co-operative Exchange
Founding CEO, Domain Name Register Inc.
Founding and ex Director, Digicoop
Board Advisor, ZoomPay
Vice Chairman, Teqware
ex DEO, Traxion
Go where the puck is going,
Not where it's been.
How to create and dominate the fintech+ practice category in the Philippines
There is no law practice category called Fintech+ ("Fintech plus"). We are inventing it to dominate it. The term sucks, but that will do until we invent a better name to go with the category we are creating. We use the term "fintech" to bridge it to the new field of play we seek to lead.So what is Fintech+? Fintech is anything fintech that deals with "fiat" (peso, USD, etc.) money, like electronic money issuer (EMI) companies. Fintech is also anything fintech that deals with crypto but with "shitcoins" [I write about this here], illegal securities, and other blockchain scams.Fintech+ are activities that primarily use or are built on the foundations of sound money. Sound money is bitcoin and Lightning. By examples, fintech+ is anything you see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Why bitcoin and Lightning? It's unstoppable money. Unlike peso or dollars, it doesn't need any permission from anyone. It doesn't pass thru any gatekeeper, be it a bank or any third party intermediary. No government can stop it. It allows for the cheapest, fastest and free-est transfer of money not just in the Philippines but anywhere in the world, to and from.Bitcoin has no borders nor banking hours. It's the only thing right now that makes real and attainable financial inclusion for everyone, especially the unbanked, possible in our lifetime.Why should money be unstoppable? Because money represents the value of your hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. When you get paid money, no one ought to be telling you what to do with it because you earned it. No corporation should be able to decide to cut your access to your own money.Also, you should be able to save your money without being pressured to "invest" it somewhere just because the paper bill Mickey Mouse usually being given to you is continuing to devalue because somebody is printing money limitlessly into the economy.The poor keeps his money in a can and under the mattress. Because he has no access to the bank. And because somebody is playing with Mickey Mouse money, i.e. money printed out of whim and out of thin air, the poor keeps losing even more to inflation. It doesn't have to be.Why limit ourselves to sound money? Integrity, philosophy, technical superiority and security, and public relations - we cannot be dealing in nor supporting "shitcoinery" and other so-called blockchain shenanigans.There are "in-betweens" like NFTs and the metaverse. Our discord server has channels on these. But I don't believe ugly bored apes should be worth anywhere near 77 of any shitcoin (more than $100,000).
We are in a bear market, not just crypto but the world economy in general. The best time to study, build, learn, prepare, and launch new things and anything hard enough to be worth doing is during the bear market.
(A) Learn bitcoin by doing.
(B) Connect with law and regulations.
(C) Be in conversation with bitcoin companies.
(D) Know how to build and actually build something.
How to do it
(A) Learn bitcoin by doing. Learn bitcoin by experiencing its power, intelligence, simplicity, beauty, and elegance yourself.
(1) Download Muun or Pouch.ph. There are many other good bitcoin and Lightning wallets, but Muun is the best one, IMO. Muun does not ask for any ID or selfie. The Pouch.ph app does, but since it's the one being used in Boracay and Siargao, you might as well.
(2) Get a little bitcoin for yourself.* The starting point is to exchange some pesos with bitcoin, e.g. 100 Pesos.After all these years, the easiest way to do this in the Philippines is still by using Coins.ph. Once you have downloaded the Coins.ph app, it's easy to add some pesos to it.Once you have pesos in your Coins.ph app, convert some of that to bitcoin. Beware: There are shitcoins in the Coins.ph app.How about GCash and Maya? As for Maya, we don't just not recommend it, we recommend against using it to buy bitcoin there. As for GCash, they have a GCrypto in their app, but it is still "Coming soon." We will review it when it launches.
(3) Transfer your bitcoin to Muun or/and Pouch.ph wallets from your Coins.app. Voila, now your money is free!You can do whatever you want with it and no one can stop you from doing anything with it. If you're in Boracay or Siargao, pay the sari-sari store with it.
(B) Connect with law and regulations
This is a developing field, and there are currently no law or regulation specific to bitcoin and shitcoins. But we are collating related materials in our discord server channels as we pick them up from publications of US (mostly) law firms, SEC (US), BSP (MORB) and SEC (draft rules).Better yet, understand and imbibe bitcoin's multi-disciplinary, philosophical, engineering and technical underpinnings. This takes time, but there can be nothing more beautiful than this "rabbit hole."
(C) Be in conversation with bitcoin companies.
Being in continuing conversation means not only connecting with bitcoin companies and leading personalities. It also means putting out proofs of our work as a Firm in this field out in public. This means writing opinions in public for an international audience. This also means participating in legislative efforts to codify what should be the rules as far as bitcoin and shitcoins are concerned.We should get started doing this as soon as we are ready. Again, by example, fintech+ is anything you see with companies like Blockstream, Braiins, OpenNode, Strike, Galoy Bank, NYDIG, and Swan. They are representative of the kind of clients we want to attract to the Firm's Fintech+ Practice Group.
(D) Know how to build and actually build something.
Bitcoin and Lightning are open systems and open protocols available for free to anyone who wants to build something. Every business is a technology business. Every profession is a technology profession.We are organizing a tech arm to be tech-first and tech-driven in our operations, in our culture. In how we do things, in how we find solutions to difficult problems. When technology is part of our culture as a Firm, it will be a robust and long-term competitive advantage.
We already run a full bitcoin node at the Firm, we just don't know it yet. Satellite base stations, bitcoin mining and hardware wallets are advanced for this whitepaper, haha.
(F) BONUS 2: Be super cool by distributing Xmas bonuses in bitcoin and Lightning, haha!
If the putative employees cooperative can get off ground, bitcoin and Lightning would be a payment option. Meaning, its members can pay for eggs at Eggs.com.ph with Lightning. So, non-legal staff would also be learning bitcoin by doing, just like us.
*A little bitcoin
People are intimidated by the current value of one (1) bitcoin. But we are too early. Bitcoin has been running without fail since January 3, 2009, with an uptime of 99.9%. It's just over a decade.What most people don't know is that you can buy a fraction of a bitcoin. They are called satoshis (a nod to Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of bitcoin who disappeared in 2010). 1 bitcoin is equivalent to 100,000,000 satoshis. You can buy 100 Pesos worth of bitcoin. You will get 10,000 Satoshis. Yes, you can do that. Tell your loved ones, and friends. They will thank you for it.
It's not that easy. But it's not that hard. Life offers no promises, including in practice, especially in a practice area that is cutting-edge. But being lucky doesn't come out of nowhere. Luck comes from working hard and preparing hard to be lucky.
Fix the money, fix the world, bitcoiners would say. By understanding the nature and philosophy of money we might just become better practitioners of our own Art of Law. Or, rather than Shakespeare telling the world to "First, kill all lawyers," we might just actually live to tell the tale and make the world a better place.
Don't trust, Verify
An ethos central to bitcoin.
With this I say, Good luck, Pleb!
MRPP Whitepaper No. 001
Special Counsel, Palafox and Romero Law Firm (MRPP Law)
Founder, The Co-operative Exchange
Founding Chair and CEO, DNRI
Founding and ex Director, DTSC
Board Advisor, ZoomPay
Vice Chair, Teqware
ex DEO, Traxion