The crypto heroes and villains of 2023

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As 2023 comes to a close, Contelegraph takes a closer look at the crypto community to identify the people who have best embodied the Christmas spirit and those who have spoiled the good cheer. 

Crypto had its fair share of Christmas cookies and a few sour candy canes this year, so here are seven Santas and seven Grinches, with some unlikely candidates joining the ranks of each.

Santas of crypto

Numerous individuals this year have tirelessly contributed to improve the crypto industry. Ranging from commitment to social impact to empower individuals and promote financial inclusivity, these individuals exemplify the potential for cryptocurrency to be a force for good in the broader global context.

Larry Fink

This year, Larry Fink’s BlackRock has fought the Securities and Exchange Commission in pursuit of winning approval for a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF), endearing both him and his company to the cryptosphere in ways that institutional finance rarely manages.

BlackRock’s spot Bitcoin ETF may not be approved just yet, but the general feeling is that an ETF is now inevitable, potentially providing the rocket fuel that will power the next crypto bull run.

ZachXBT

He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice — but mostly who’s naughty. Over the past few years, ZachXBT, a rug pull survivor himself, has shown his worth to the crypto community by exposing multiple scammers and con artists operating in the field.

This year, ZachXBT has also been vociferous in raising the alarm on SIM swap attacks, which are increasingly common in the United States. The main takeaway is that it’s significantly safer to use an authenticator app than it is to rely on SMS two-factor authentication.

Are you protecting your crypto funds this Christmas? It’s the best present you can give yourself.

Vivek Ramaswamy

He’s the 2024 Republican presidential candidate with a sales pitch that many crypto enthusiasts love: Elect Vivek Ramaswamy, and he’ll fire half the SEC. As for those who remain, they’ll be told to take a lighter touch to the crypto industry.

Ramaswamy also launched a crypto-positive policy framework titled “The Three Freedoms of Crypto,” making him one of the biggest proponents for the industry in U.S. politics.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

If Ramaswamy is the presidential Santa on the Right, then Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is his counterweight further toward the Left. This former Democratic presidential candidate (now running as an Independent) says he’ll back the U.S. dollar with Bitcoin if he ever makes it to the White House.

In truth, both Ramaswamy and Kennedy, Jr. are long-shot presidential candidates, and it’s unlikely they’ll be unable to enact their wish lists. But, as the old Christmas saying goes, it’s the thought that counts.

Casey Rodarmor

Ordinals are the gift that artist and programmer Casey Rodarmor gave Bitcoin this year — although, like socks, it’s not the kind of gift everybody appreciates. Rodarmor introduced nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to the Bitcoin blockchain in January, opening the door to Bitcoin NFT projects such as Taproot Wizards.

Not everyone is thrilled with Ordinals, but the NFTs have helped to push up transaction costs on Bitcoin this year, making miners a nice profit. Merry Christmas, Bitcoin miners!

Samson Mow

Through his work at Jan3, Samson Mow is focused on hyperbitcoinization and nation-state Bitcoin adoption. This year, Mow encouraged Suriname to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, prompting Bitcoin advocates to seek out the South American country.

Suriname may not have been the nation on every Bitcoiner’s lips at the start of this year, but thanks to the efforts of Mow and others, the small nation now joins El Salvador on the Bitcoin map.

Michael Saylor

Bitcoin up? Buy Bitcoin. Bitcoin down? Buy Bitcoin. Is Bitcoin not doing much at all? Buy more Bitcoin, and keep on buying. Over recent years, Michael Saylor has been one of the biggest proponents of Bitcoin, and that didn’t let up in 2023. Don’t ever change, Michael.

The Grinches of crypto

Some individuals, including regulators and traditional institutions, continue to bet against crypto. While few cite potential risks such as market volatility and security vulnerabilities, o

Gary Gensler

SEC Chair Gary Gensler is the perfect Grinch for the crypto community. For years, Gensler’s SEC has brought lawsuit after lawsuit against crypto projects, leading a governing body that is both opaque and highly litigious.

Recent: Head of South Korea’s financial regulator to discuss crypto with Gary Gensler: Report

Gensler resists all attempts to clarify the playbook but is always quick to prosecute for breaking the rules he keeps to himself.

Why is Gensler like this? Is it because his head isn’t screwed on right, or because his shoes are too tight? Or is it because, like the Grinch of Christmas, his heart is two sizes too small? Whatever the reason, it’s unlikely that Gensler will have a Grinch-like moment of epiphany this Christmas.

Elizabeth Warren

Bitcoin: According to United States Elizabeth Warren, it causes terrorism, nuclear proliferation, global warming and Fluffy Kitten Death Syndrome. Okay, that last claim was made up. But the point remains that Senator Warren is one the staunchest critics of crypto and isn’t prone to letting facts get in the way of her criticisms.

Her latest attack on the industry comes in the form of the “Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act,” a bill that she hopes to pass through Congress. But as anyone who knows anything about Warren will know, her record on passing bills is not a stellar one.

Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is undoubtedly one of the biggest crypto Grinches. The JPMorgan chief has a long history of bashing Bitcoin, and his temperament hasn’t mellowed in recent times.

“If I was the government, I’d shut it down,” Dimon said of crypto in a congressional hearing at the start of December, confirming two things about him: his Grinch status and a profound misunderstanding of Bitcoin fundamentals.

Meanwhile, Onyx, the not-at-all hypocritical crypto wing of JPMorgan, continues to perform well.

Mainstream media

No list of crypto Grinches would be complete without the mainstream media, which regularly lacks investigative rigor and parrots the same debunked lines ad nauseam. Whether it is unquestionably repeating criticisms from the likes of Senator Warren or Greenpeace (more on that later), the mainstream media has earned its place on this list.

Ben McKenzie

Ben McKenzie is an actor best known for starring in the television show The O.C., but he’s also so much more than that. He’s an activist and a political campaigner, and he wants you to know just how terrible Bitcoin is.

“If I have a superpower, it’s as a mid-level celebrity and econ [economy] dork,” McKenzie told Time magazine. That’s a pretty terrible superpower for a Grinch.

Greenpeace

Greenpeace tried to scaremonger the public on Bitcoin’s “outdated code” and, in the process, created the perfect crypto meme. If only all crypto naysayers were so creative.

During its anti-Bitcoin campaign, Greenpeace pointed to Ethereum as a model that Bitcoin could follow, showing a profound misunderstanding of the arguments likely to appeal to Bitcoiners.

Nouriel Roubini

Economist Nouriel Roubini was dubbed “Dr. Doom” for his scathing attacks on Bitcoin and the wider market. Roubini recently announced he’d be demonstrating his deep-seated hatred for all things blockchain by issuing his own stablecoin — or “flatcoin,” as he calls it.

Roubini’s asset management firm, Atlas Capital, will issue the Atlas Climate Token, a stablecoin pegged to “a carefully chosen portfolio of liquid real-world assets,” the firm announced in October.

Of course, everything else in crypto is still trash, in Roubini’s opinion. What a cynical Grinch.

Magazine: DeFi’s billion-dollar secret: The insiders responsible for hacks