Why I Closed My Bank Account and Went All Bitcoin

unbanked

A negative balance? Just when I was about to withdraw rent money?

Yes, it appeared that someone had attempted to steal from me. And, in the short term, they had succeeded. Someone had written a check in my name for a couple thousand dollars to try to buy a car. Now, mind you, I can’t remember ever using a check in my eight-plus years since opening that bank account. I barely used the account at all since I had started making all my money in Bitcoin. The only reason I was using it this time was to liquidate some cryptocurrency for rent, since I had procrastinated about selling it for cash. But that one small interaction with the banking system was all it took to somehow make me feel its worst inefficiencies. I called the number provided on the website, was on placed on hold for a half-hour, then transferred to another number and another half-hour hold time, until at last I was sent to the third and final banking representative… complete with another 30-minute hold. They agreed to reverse the charge, but said it would take until the end of the business day. After the bank closed, of course.

To summarize: Someone tried to buy a car by scribbling something on a piece of paper I never touched, said it meant that my money was behind it, and some bank just went and gave them more of my money than I had in my account. And I spent almost 100 minutes on the phone and had to wait until the next day to get it reversed. For $12 per month. When I was already using cryptocurrency and getting more functionality than a bank for free.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had had it. The next day I went into the nearest bank branch, withdrew the rest of my money, and closed the account, exiting the banking world for good.

Being unbanked as a source of freedom

I am now unbanked. That very word evokes images of human rights organizations passionately pleading on behalf of grubby migrant workers forced to deal with predatory check cashing services, cut off from the marvels of the modern financial world. Saying you’re unbanked is like saying you don’t have a car, don’t vote, don’t have a smartphone, and probably live in a hut with a spear as your only technological advancement to help you survive in this cruel world. Say you’re unbanked on purpose, though, and people will look at you like you’re insane.

But it’s not insane. There’s nothing wrong with deciding not to have one giant corporation in control of the product of your labor for the rest of your existence. What’s insane is leaving the unaccountable and mandated Federal Reserve in control over the value of your savings, while trusting an institution that reports your every financial move to the government with all your earnings. The same government that blows all your tax money on bombing wedding parties half a world away, and will be happy to arbitrarily drain your account of all funds, with no warning, and certainly no recourse.

In reality, I’m not so much unbanked as I am post-banked. By going full Bitcoin, I’m not stashing gold ingots in my basement, bartering with clam shells and bushels of apples while the rest of the world remains light years ahead of me. It’s actually the opposite. I’ve jumped to a financial plane of existence where I can send money to anyone anywhere, and they can do the same, in the blink of an eye, with extremely low fees and no centralized control. And if I get tired of Bitcoin someday, I can always switch to any of the hundreds of alternative cryptocurrencies out there, provided I can find someone to accept them.

Unplugging from the Matrix bit by bit, Bitcoin by Bitcoin

Here’s how power structures work: They centralize all activity around one crucial chokepoint, and make passing through that point necessary to function in society. Then they can do what they want with you. At worst, anyone expressing unpopular ideas can be ruined on a whim. At best, with one monopolized service everyone has to go through, they can basically charge you what they want, all while delivering the worst customer fulfillment you’ll ever see.

Now that I’m not using the banking system anymore, that’s two extra realms of freedom I’ve won back. One, I’ve reclaimed the value of my productivity from an unaccountable centralized organization than can just print more money and make mine worthless. And two, now I control my funds. No one can just mistake me for a terrorist and take everything away, or go bankrupt and inform me that they gambled away all my money. I’m outside the system of control in some of the most significant ways possible.

So I kicked the bankers to the curb. I haven’t lost my goddamned mind. I’ve won my goddamned freedom.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Editor at The Desert Lynx
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • rockfish153

    I am curious as to how you deal with day to day transactions. I have a bitcoin wallet that I throw a few dollars in every week. Kind of a piggy bank for me right now. There aren’t a lot of places to trade in bitcoin around me. No ATMs, etc. I understand the big picture concept, i just have trouble with the nuts and bolts of it.

    For instance, for me to do anything with my bitcoin, I have to either buy on line from people who take it or drive a long way to another part of my city to find an ATM. It is too impractical for me as it stands now; I was just wondering if I am missing something or “not doing it right.” in some way. I would LOVE to go no-bank, but I feel like that kid trying to learn to ride a bike. Except as far as bitcoin goes, it’s more like I am riding a tricycle.

    • Absolutely. It helps if you have a friendly community, like the Free State Project here. Even if not, though, you can buy Bitcoin easily for cash if you have a bank account or MoneyGram. Check this out:
      cryptonh.com/buy-bitcoin/

      As far as where to use it, check out my in-progress New Hampshire listing. I bet you recognize a lot of these chains. Now you know how to use Bitcoin there:
      cryptonh.com/everywhere-you-can-use-crypto/

      • rockfish153

        Cool….thanks! I’ll check it out.

        • Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any more. I love helping the Bitcoin economy grow.

    • Tarrin P. Lupo

      I didn’t use Bitcoin too much until I found Purse.io . Now I shop and get about 20% off anything on Amazon. I pretty much only use bitcoin on Amazon at this point but it is useful at local NH events.

      • Purse is definitely a heavy hitter. Even in NH you still have to be a bit creative to use it. However, most of those ways involve discounts, so it’s easily worth it.

        • Tarrin P. Lupo

          I used it at Porcfest and there a few community market days where I spend it, but I would say 90% of my bitcoin goes to purse

  • That’s pretty hard-core. I’m not that far, but I hope I’ll have the courage some day…

    • It’s done bit by bit (pardon the pun lol). Start seeking out sources of income that can pay you in cryptocurrency (even offering to work for less). Hold some Bitcoin to spend on Amazon.com stuff and save through Purse.io. Use Purse to buy discounted gas cards. Use discounted Bitcoin gift cards at chain stores. It’ll be way less scary to take the plunge that way.

  • R O M C H O M P A

    How do you buy stuff?

    • With Bitcoin.
      .
      ..

      Okay, I guess a better response would have been, what kinds of things specifically?

      • gubatron

        food and gas?

        For 3 weeks I could buy food at whole foods using pre-paid gift-cards bought with Bitcoin, until one day the card I had bought didn’t have any balance, there went my experiment with trying to live with Bitcoin.

        Gas, I could never pay for, how do you pay for gas? and have you taken into account what the actual cost of such payments is when you need to go through so many hoops (never had issues with unconfirmed transactions for hours?)

        • “one day the card I had bought didn’t have any balance, there went my experiment with trying to live with Bitcoin.” So you can just buy a new one.

          As for gas, while there’s one station in New Hampshire that takes Bitcoin directly, you can buy Irving and Shell gift cards off of Amazon through Purse, meaning you can get up to 20% discount on gas. Just swipe ’em at the pump same as a debit card.

          And I’ve never had any difficulties in using Bitcoin. Both Fold and eGifter do zero-confirmation buys, and eGifter allows for buying gift cards in precise amounts. Not to mention I save 2-7% every time I use them.

      • R O M C H O M P A

        Duh, I just have not seen any shops with a bitcoin sign or anything, the everyday stuff I buy, I only use the internet to buy car parts.

      • R O M C H O M P A

        food gas things from stores you walk into, sure bitcoin works for lots of things online, but everyday stuff, how do i pay my utilities? if they accept BC then fuck yea!.

        • Thomas

          I pay my electricity with bitcoin, do my groceries with bitcoin, my hair is cut with bitcoin, they accept bitcoin in my bar and even in my sports club. Fastfood? I pay with bitcoin. etc.

          • R O M C H O M P A

            thats crazy, wheres that at? I’m in LA

      • R O M C H O M P A

        Still waiting for the grocery store to accept bitcoins.

  • miseshayekrothbard

    That’s all well and good until the electricity goes out.

    • After that goes out, what IS still well and good? You realize that online banking and card readers require electricity too, right? And basically no one carries cash anymore, right?

  • gubatron

    and now you’re a prisoner of a Chinese mafia that manipulates the Bitcoin price left and right. Same thing, all power is centralized in the hands of a handful of miners, look how they’ve taken hostage Bitcoin’s growth and how they’ve manipulated the price prior and after the halving, closed door meetings. You have some big balls sir, may you endure the crazy volatility and let’s hope the price won’t go back into the $200s…

    Don’t put all your eggs in one experimental basket.

    • “all power is centralized in the hands of a handful of miners” Not all, not the same miners. And while factors do exert a certain influence over anything (if my favorite coffee shop gets an influx of teens preventing me from getting a seat, is my mobile office “a slave to the teenybopper mafia”?), there’s no direct control over my financial future, something I couldn’t say with banking.

      Second, there are dozens of other viable cryptocurrencies out there, gaining a larger piece of the pie everyday. In fact, BlockPay just released a point of sale system that integrates with dozens of other cryptocurrencies for free. If I get tired of Bitcoin, I’m just switching to Dash. It’s that simple.

    • Thomas

      1) Don’t put all your eggs in one experimental basket:
      Surely I would’ve agreed with you 5 years ago. At this moment: the phase where bitcoin was an experiment is behind us. Besides: you can still own dollars, gold, land,… without a bank account should that be an issue.

      2) Chinese mafia manipulates the Bitcoin price left and right. Everybody manipulates the bitcoin price by buying and selling them: surely, somebody who has a lot of them can make a pump or dump on his own, whereas it takes a brexit to have a simular effect on fiat. Still: a bitcoin is worth at any time whatever the biggest fool gives for a bitcoin, but the number of “fools” out there, willing to give money for a bitcoin is rising, whether it is because they’ve seen the improvements bitcoin brings, or because their currency system sucks (Venezuelan/Greek/Argentine situations), they are or will move more and more to crypto, and they should. On the other side of the spectrum, while we are talking about mafia: the price of a dollar can be manipulated artificially (when the mafia decides to print new ones) whereas the amount of bitcoin in circulation cannot be.

      3) Closed door meetings: please explain – bitcoin is open source, central banks act and decide behind closed doors without even being elected.

      I could go on, but I’ve got the idea you’re influenced by anti-china propaganda by the maf… sorry… media.

      • gubatron

        1) The experimental phase will be behind us when everybody you know:
        a) is willing to accept Bitcoin b) can accept Bitcoin. Right now it’s still a toy system, only 7 transactions per second, tops 28 tps after segwit, you gotta be kidding me.

        2) In countries like Venezuela, you get a trading volume of up to USD $200k/day, as much as we think they need it, thanks to 1) normal people won’t accept it, you have to really sell it to them. I’m Venezuelan and I’ve been trying to evangelize Bitcoin for years (I translated the Satoshi paper to spanish and I run diariobitcoin.com) The price of fiat can also be manipulated but it’s way harder to do so as there’s so many players, in the end, the true manipulation we know comes from central banks and it’s no secret.

        We truly need the experimental phase to be over, it’s truly very small right now, but if you spend too much time in Bitcoin land you’ll end up drinking too much Bitcoin Koolaid and have your reality perception very distorted from the grand scheme of things.

        Some good reads:

        On Scalability
        https://medium.com/@gubatron/can-bitcoin-scale-before-gigabit-broadband-is-ubiquitious-for-miners-824f0166b968#.mppznn52j

        On how Banks will own Bitcoin with higly scalable federalized interbanking-blockchains if Bitcoin doesn’t hurry
        https://medium.com/@gubatron/the-case-for-smart-bankers-a-federated-and-open-interbanking-blockchain-8add3119ad9c#.9o2c9pnz4

  • Chris Wood

    Ironically enough I was going to comment earlier and say that I was working towards becoming un-banked and had essentially invested all I had in bitcoin, PM’s and certain shares… with cash as a backup…

    Well what do you know… I got hit by my second charge-back in less than a fortnight today and my bank have now officially excommunicated me – I cannot make or receive payment and am stuck on the other side of the world from my bank… who funnily enough said that I shouldn’t have been going online
    >>> with an online bank account <<<
    to pay or receive payment anyway…

    To hell with the banks.

    • Gosh they’re awful. Bitcoin is still in its experimental stage, but that provides great opportunity. Just look at all the attention I’ve gotten just by saying “I’m using this payment system now.” There’s digital gold to be had for early adopters, if you’re willing to take risks and experience some inconvenience in the beginning.

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