Exploring Bitcoin, CBDCs & Power Structures with Efrat Fenigson at BTC Prague

Efrat Fenigson is a journalist, Bitcoiner, and critical thinker who became prominent after the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7, 2023. Previously, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she already grew skeptical about government motives, finding many things didn’t add up.

Efrat is also an enthusiastic Bitcoiner, investigating the global implementation of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). At BTC Prague, she delivered a keynote speech on CBDCs, and I had the chance to chat with her afterward.

Interviewer: Hi Efrat, I first noticed you after the Hamas attack on Israel, and you were very critical in general, saying that things didn’t fully add up. You also seem to be critical of the Israeli government. Is being critical of the status quo a requirement to get into Bitcoin, or what was your first connection?

Efrat Fenigson: Well, I don’t think it’s a prerequisite because I do know quite a lot of Bitcoiners in Israel who are not so critical of the government. They don’t really see through all the lies of the state. They actually think that the state is doing some good things for the people. While I don’t think that the state or the government is doing 100% bad things for the citizens or the people of Israel, on the most part, I think that the government or the state is selling us out to different global powers for different agendas.

So, I got into Bitcoin not just because of my criticism of the government but because once the state violated my rights over my own body during COVID, I realized they might do the same with my property or financial rights down the track. I needed to learn about money. A good friend, a Bitcoiner, approached me and said, “Okay, you’re red-pilled and understand all the lies. Now it’s time to be orange-pilled. Sit down, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about Bitcoin.” That was a breath of fresh air because then I had some hope.

Bitcoin can be an antidote to corruption and the harsh reality we are experiencing, not just in Israel or Palestine but also in other oppressed places around the world and even in Western democracies, which I see as communism in disguise. Bitcoin offers a parallel path to the dark reality we are experiencing today, which is full of uncertainty and instability, slowly or quickly robbing people of their freedoms and human rights.

Interviewer: So COVID was a key event for you?

Efrat Fenigson: Definitely, it was the catalyst that made me wake up to the reality and start questioning where I live and why things are the way they are. Too many things didn’t add up, starting with COVID. Basic rights like movement, transaction, and freedom of expression were taken away very quickly because of this “end of humanity” virus. Now we have the “end of humanity” climate crisis. There’s always a justification to take away our rights, which made me suspicious and led me to learn more. I found that much of the information fed to us by the media is just the narratives of the government or global organizations.

Efrat Fenigson about Bitcoin at BTC Prague 2024

Interviewer: Interesting. In Germany, where I live, we had similar experiences. What are your key takeaways about the current global situation?

Efrat Fenigson: I think we need to understand the bigger picture before diving into CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies). The new monetary system will be based on digital IDs, connecting all our information to a centralized source controlled by the state. CBDCs and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria are part of this. Even if ESG is in decline, green agendas are still being intertwined into our lives, like carbon footprint allowances. This allows the state to monitor and control every action we take.

CBDCs are being piloted in 110 countries, with 36 in advanced stages, including China, Nigeria, and Russia. It’s a transition period. For example, Russia is running CBDCs in parallel with their current system. This new monetary system is more about control and surveillance than money. They can program the money to control what it can be used for, where it can be spent, and how much can be in your digital wallet.

Interviewer: What do you think about the coexistence of Bitcoin and CBDCs in the future?

Efrat Fenigson: They will coexist, but not happily. Bitcoin will be a path for those seeking financial freedom, while CBDCs will be a tool for control. At some point, people will realize the extent of the control and surveillance, but by then, it might be too late. Bitcoin and CBDCs can function side by side, with Bitcoin as a store of value and CBDCs for everyday transactions. There might be interactions between them, but this is something economists will have to figure out.

Interviewer: Do you see any potential risks with Bitcoin becoming centralized like other cryptocurrencies?

Efrat Fenigson: While Bitcoin mining can be centralized, it’s also a layer of defense for Bitcoin. Miners could potentially lobby governments and help create energy solutions. The high number of individuals holding Bitcoin and running nodes ensures the network remains decentralized and secure. ETFs and government interest in Bitcoin might also mean they want it to succeed, despite the risks of confiscation. Centralization is a process and won’t happen overnight. We need to continue strengthening our defenses to keep Bitcoin decentralized.

Interviewer: What about the impact of AI and universal basic income (UBI) on the future of money?

Efrat Fenigson: AI and UBI could go either way. Elon Musk, a promoter of UBI, sees it as necessary in the era of AI. However, UBI is a way to control and oppress people. Bitcoin, on the other hand, promotes sovereignty and self-sufficiency. AI could bring interesting developments in the Bitcoin space, but it must be used responsibly. UBI fits into the fiat culture of dependency, while Bitcoin encourages independence and productivity.

Interviewer: What positive developments are you excited about?

Efrat Fenigson: I’m excited that people are waking up, even if it’s due to negative experiences. People are realizing they’ve given away too much power and are starting to reclaim it. Bitcoin allows for a path full of light and freedom, changing not just financial situations but also consciousness. This awakening is very encouraging and offers hope for a better future.

Interviewer: Great, thanks so much for your time.

Efrat Fenigson: Thank you.