Friday 20 August 2021 2:58 pm

I've spotted curious similarities between Bitcoin and the Taliban...

Some years ago, in the mid-1990s, I had the dubious pleasure of being hosted by Pakistani militants in a sink estate in Islamabad. And by sink estate, I mean 50 metres underwater. 

I had been robbed of all my money in Lahore and was stranded on a Saturday night at the bus station in the monsoon around midnight.

Sensing some type of pay-off and a promise to drive me to the British Embassy on Monday, a young man with half-English drove me to an ‘apartment’ on the edge of town and put me up for two nights.

Thankful, yet a little fearful, I was introduced to his gun-toting mates who seemed to regard weapons as little more than games controllers. Exhausted and really gutted about the stupid theft of my money, I slept on a sofa and was given some Coca-Cola and bread for breakfast.

For the next 24 hours, I was grilled about why I was not a Muslim and, to be fair, it was a decent debate. It might have been different if I’d had a crucifix around my neck or I didn’t possess more than a few words of Arabic, but it was clear they were Muslim HODLRs. No FUD in that apartment. I just said I was still searching for a God (still am) and that seemed to satisfy them.

Whisky behind the Marriott

The British Embassy was useless, gave me a tenner in rupees and dropped me off at a refugee camp with proper Chinese terrorists and a smattering of Westerners. We survived by obtaining alcohol licences and selling whisky at the back of the Marriott hotel.

The guy who picked me up was not happy at all because he didn’t get his expected pay-off and there were all types of unwanted visits to the camp from his mates when he realised this. Either way, I was young, becoming-savvy and survived. I had no money to give him anyway and the British Embassy had sent him packing. Ah, those were the travelling days. Never at any time did I think I was going to be kidnapped. Immortal etc.

Anyway, and especially with the Taliban storming back into Afghanistan and Kabul this week, I sometimes wonder about this experience and how lucky I probably was to get away with it. 

An anti-hostage for five days in many ways, but it was clear the gentlemen I stayed with were, like their brethren in Afghanistan, always going to be in the background whether they were in power or not. Maybe they’re in Kabul right now.

The Taliban have waited 20 years, patient and calculating, but they got there in the end. They may have changed the axis of history by getting rid of more invaders and providing more global volatility, but their return was inevitable.

So it is with cryptocurrency and those who believe in decentralisation as much as the Taliban believe in Allah. They know that, at some time, Bitcoin will sweep to power and are ready to bide their time… volatility means nothing to them. 

Naturally, cryptocurrency is not a religion, but it’s certainly evangelical and while many white, Christian or not, men are involved, so are fantastic women. So, let’s be clear there is an obvious difference between the Taliban and crypto.

Will the Taliban accept crypto?

What happens next for The Taliban and the world is a similar question for crypto and when it finally becomes mainstream. Will the world become a darker place or will it be bathed in light and what will be the consequences? Will the Taliban accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment?… and I’m serious.

Will the new rulers of Afghanistan and the coming rulers of cryptocurrency behave properly and rise above? 

It’s not looking good right now in Afghanistan now that the Taliban are back, but hopefully there is enough time between now and crypto domination for the patience to create something expressive, not repressive, something better.

If not, the world will become full of guerrilla camps, either based on religion or financial exclusion. And there won’t be much chance of surviving by selling whisky outside five-star hotels with or without Bitcoin.

Happy days!

Monty Munford is a tech journalist and the Chief Evangelist and core contributor to the Sienna Network project. 

He is a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer at prestigious events around the world and has spoken at more than 200 global events interviewing figures such as the late John McAfee, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak (twice in Beirut and Vienna), Kim Kardashian (once in Armenia), Ghostface Killah and many others.

He also runs his own crypto podcast 

He was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC, The Economist, The FT and… City AM.