Former British Prime minister Boris Johnson has referenced the Jesus Christ and Caesar in questioning the state of crypto.
Speaking at the International Symposium on Blockchain Advancements in Singapore on Friday, Johnson was asked about how the industry can protect blockchain technology from falling under the same shade as crypto following the collapse of FTX.
“The global crypto space is under scrutiny after the collapse of FTX,” said ParallelChain Lab Chief of Staff Jessie Chan. “With all the different black swan news, many policymakers remain arguably hostile to crypto, especially in Europe and the US. However, blockchain does not really equal cryptocurrency. How do we protect the technology from a blanket ban and overall regulation against crypto?”
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“The blockchain idea,” Johnson responded, “seems to have all sorts of possibilities to allow people to deal with each other without the need for a third party to verify or validate or authenticate or whatever… is something separate to cryptocurrencies.”
Johnson then pointed towards “Jesus in the Bible”, referencing the Son of God’s “render unto Caesar” quote. The phrase comes from Matthew 22:21 as part of Jesus’ response to the Herodians and Pharisees trick question about whether the Jews should pay taxes.
“If you remember Jesus in the Bible, there’s one sentence about paying taxes when he picks up a coin and says ‘whose name and description appears on this coin?’ and he says ‘go render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’,” Johnson says.
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“My question, and I say this entirely innocently, is who is the Caesar in the case of cryptocurrency?” Johnson questions. “Who’s in charge of the battery drain? Because I’ve seen some pretty shocking headlines about this whole venture and I think that we’re going to need to have some way of holding people to account. I believe it’s going to succeed and it’s going to build trust. And it’s obviously got to be regulated in such a way as to command confidence and visibly protect participants.”
Johnson on regulation
In response to Johnson’s Bible reference, Chan pushed the Right Honourable further about his regulation stance. “Staying on the topic of regulation, FTX’s blackbox model shows a parallel of centralization. So the root of the problem does not really lie in DeFi or crypto, but that people are conflating DeFi products of centralization such as centralized exchanges and custodial wallets. Are regulators aware of this situation and what role is there for crypto towards a better relationship with mainstream politics, will that ever happen?” She asked.
“I think it’s got to happen,” Johnson replied. “What needs to happen is policy makers need to understand some of these issues, with someone in charge of issued currency, someone in charge of interest rates, someone in charge of inflation. You need to have some sort of regulation, that’s my view. Particularly in view of the stories that are very troubling, I think it’s important that you build public confidence so that the interests of ordinary people are going to be protected.”
“When it all goes wrong, I’ll tell you who has to pick up the tab, it’s the taxpayer,” Johnson continued. “Ultimately there’s no escaping the responsibility of the government.”
Elsewhere, Johnson touched upon COVID vaccines being better produced by democracies, London having more Michelin stars than Paris “before they started handing them out in a North Korean way”, the Singapore Sling not necessarily being a good hangover cure and boasting that the UK offers the best place for innovation… other than Singapore.