Why Boomers Don’t Get Cryptocurrencies

Why Boomers Don't Get Cryptocurrencies
dima_sidelnikov / Depositphotos

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently dismissed cryptocurrencies again in a TV interview, calling them “companion rocks.”[1] You might wonder if he has a hidden agenda because the bank planned an interbank crypto token called JPM Coin years ago. It was eventually discontinued, but eventually their internal blockchain team left to create their own token called Kadena (KDA).

Crypto has had many detractors in recent years, most notably Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway. Another thorn in the side of cryptocurrencies is European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde.

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Cryptographic technology and blockchain

Frankly, the recent high-profile implosions of Terra Luna, Celsius and especially FTX/Alameda have soured many people with cryptocurrencies, not just them. But put these bankruptcies aside first, as these are mostly bankruptcies of people involved in trading and selling cryptocurrencies. Pure naked greed. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a separate matter.

Remember that when the banks nearly collapsed in 2008, we didn’t call for the entire global banking system to be shut down afterward. In fact we still use it now. Similarly, while many people have lost money during the implosions of these early stage crypto projects, these are just part of the natural selection process of any new industry.

Our inability to rely on human trust was precisely Satoshi Nakamoto’s (a pseudonym) view of “trusted third parties” when he published his Bitcoin white paper in 2009. The spirit of his article is that one cannot trust the bankers. Software reviewed by the open source community, where “the code is the law,” is what fans of blockchain and cryptocurrencies believe the world should be using.

They believe the code should replace our trust in traditional finance. As a historical backdrop, many of the major cryptocurrency promoters these days were children whose parents lost their jobs during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. They still blame the banks for their sad childhood. It is this anger that fuels their desire to see cryptocurrencies and blockchains take over the way we transact.

This kind of attitude threatens establishment baby boomers like Dimon, Buffett, Munger and Lagarde.

Transition from an analog world to a digital one

Consider that there is another dynamic at play here. Most boomers and millennials grew up in an analog world. We listened to music on open reels, 8-tracks, cassettes, or on 45rpm vinyl or LP. We watched movies in theaters, or at home via videotapes and later on CDs and DVDs.

We’ve assigned value to the physical analog stuff, forgetting that the Doobie Brothers sing the same song whether it’s a cassette tape or Spotify streaming service. It’s the same Star Wars movie you’ll see if you play it from a DVD or stream it on Netflix. We made calls on analog rotary dial phones and kept putting coins on payphones just to avoid being cut off.

Generation X and Generation Alpha have alone lived in a purely digital world. They purchase “in-game” digital assets such as “skins” when playing games like Valorant or Genshin Impact. They prefer to get money on Venmo and not dirty old bills. Treasury bills? They see it as something their parents or grandparents would invest in. Buying a new car? Some of them who live in big cities will say, why not just call an Uber.

Think like this. A Boomer might think a pristine vinyl copy of a Beatles album is worth several thousand dollars. For Gen X or Alpha, however, these aren’t worth much. They prefer to stream the latest Taylor Swift or Coldplay album on demand.

So if Boomers aren’t getting crypto, it’s partly not their fault. Definitions of what is considered valuable can change over time. Digital resources are valuable to the young people who grew up with them, but are rejected by the older generations. It’s that simple.

[1] JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Calls Crypto Tokens “Pet Rocks” – Bloomberg

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