Claim: Most people DON'T want to be their own bank


Nathaniel Whittemore recently sparked a discussion around whether people want to be their own bank or not. We’re going to be debating this claim live on Tuesday March 19th.

In the meantime, I wanted to use this thread to highlight some arguments for why someone would back or challenge this claim. :point_down:


Arguments to back the claim:

  • For most non-techie people it only makes sense to be your own bank in specific circumstances & in stages, leveling up when your skills match that responsibility. [source]
  • It’s currently waaaay too complicated for a total newbie. With ominous “high price of failure” tones hanging over the entire conversation. [source]
  • Some people do not have the ability to really grasp and understand this stuff. It’s the same as voting - not everyone will do it no matter how hard we push. [source]
  • The “BYOBank” slogan is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what affordances arise from tech systems vs emergent complex/network/social systems. You can’t be your own bank, even if you want to. [source]

Arguments to challenge the claim:

  • It’s not about not wanting to but being able to. Open finance on Ethereum allows any developer to deploy a trust minimized financial service. That doesn’t necessarily mean that my grandma will interact directly with these services, but the implications are huge. [source]
  • BYOB = option (not requirement) to exit. As the exit cost from the existing system falls, the power balance automatically shifts in favor of the individual. That way the option to be your own bank improves the conditions for everyone if they use it or not. [source]
  • Once it becomes common knowledge that it is possible for anyone to be their own bank, that changes the way existing monetary system participants behave. [source]
  • Bitcoin is about optionality and freedom. [source]
  • Not everyone has to be their own bank for the new ability to be your own bank to make the bank better for everyone. [source]
  • Crypto ensures safety and independence. Nobody really chooses to put their money in banks, they do because there’s no other option. [source]
  • People use banks because they “need” to use banks not because they “want” to use banks, people will be their own banks because they will need to not because they will want to. [source]
  • Maybe [this is true for] most people in developed economies with access to financial services and who don’t have hyper inflation and/or capital controls. [source]
  • People don’t want to be their own bank today because it’s inconvenient and unsafe. This is a very well defined problem that a smart team will likely solve in the next decade. [source]
  • I think that is relative to where you live or grew up. I have a friend who moved to the US from Uganda 15+ years ago, still won’t fully trust the banks here. [source]
  • Very big difference to being your own bank, and being your own bank vault Being your own bank, means your AUM is growing, deploying it how you wish. Just like a bank. But programmable. [source]
  • Bitcoin replaces banks for some, and improves banking for the rest of society. [source]
  • The fact that people can be their own banks holds the banks to the same standards. It’s the threat of competition that destroys the monopolistic power that’s so damaging. [source]
  • Crypto has properties which will make the system work way beyond what banks can do. We are just not there yet. [source]
  • There has never been an option to be your own bank. Thus, how do we know if people don’t want to be their own banks if they’ve never had a choice before and they’ve never had the experience of being their own bank. [source]
  • Diversity of choice is the key point. You can choose to trust 3rd parties or verify. [source]
  • That’s fine, because the threat of them being able to hold onto their own bitcoin very easily will keep those banks in check… Also Bitcoin cant be inflated and the ledger is open, so I think banks will be forced to be more transparent and honest through competition. [source]
  • Banks provide trust, but our deposits are extremely leveraged and risk being depleted due to financial crises or inflation. Crypto gives us the option to assign trust to anyone we want - an exchange, friends, family, law firm, etc. with less counterparty risk. [source]


I think people just want convenience. Convenience always win at the end of the day, this is because human nature is lazy. Including me. I don’t really care if it is by the bank or not, what matter can I trust and simple enough? I might stand to be corrected, but this question is similar to: Does people care about decentralized or not? Most people won’t care about that. What matters, will it work for them and can we trust the system?

My answer could be over simplistic, but looking at the real world and my experience in the consumer world seems to be validating that line of thinking


Utterly agreed.

I think it depends. Someone like me who lives where a banking system is reliable and widely available would not want to be my own bank.

Now, if I lived in a fragmented economy or high inflation country it would be different. Then I’d lean more towards creating a payments system that mobile and not centralized because of free of totalitarian regimes.

At the end of the day, every person wants a banking system to make transactions and store value without threats of security.