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Monero prides itself on being the best option (according to many) for transaction privacy. Do people really care?

When people make purchases today online or in store, a large, increasing number pay with a credit/debit card. While some people do not have access to credit cards for certain reasons, debit cards are readily available and work almost anywhere.

A consumer does not need to worry about their neighbors finding out what they buy with their cards. Neighbors already do not have access to my Amazon search history. They can only guess the person's income.

If a consumer walks into a store, the store won't reasonably use the consumer's address or personal information beyond making the initial transaction. Online, sites like Amazon can build a profile of someone based on my purchasing habits, but Monero won't really solve this problem since Amazon will still have users log in to their personal account.

Most stores do not charge people more money for paying with a card instead of cash. If there is ever a dispute of charges, a cardholder can call the bank and have the stolen funds transferred back immediately.

From a consumer perspective, using Monero, even if a phone wallet existed, is not any easier than the system that already exists.

The real question is, what value does Monero offer to normal people in developed countries?

closed as primarily opinion-based by soc1c Oct 9 '16 at 10:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Reworded. Hopefully this fits the question guidelines now. – sgp Oct 9 '16 at 17:24
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Your question is a tricky one to answer, partly because a short answer wouldn't do it justice, and partly because there is a hidden underlying premise that needs to be brought to the surface. The underlying premise is that this question is oriented in the present. That point may seem trivial, but it's not. I'll get back to this, but let me begin to frame my response.

Many reasons can be enumerated for why Bitcoin was created, but the one I want to focus on is that it enables trustless, no intermediary, peer-to-peer payments. The idea is that you can send money to anyone, anywhere in the world (with internet), and you don't need a bank or credit card company or anyone at all to help you transfer that value.

Well, that may be the idea, but it's still generally easier said than done.

The bitcoin peer-to-peer payment network is still in its infancy. The coin/protocol itself has undergone plenty of changes along the way, but most of that progress happened behind the scenes, so to speak. The "real" progress - mass adoption by its potential users as a medium of exchange - is still in its very early stages. You basically have to have something like the Shift card (using the US as an example) if you want to exclusively spend cryptocurrency everywhere, since you're actually converting your BTC to fiat, rather than sending BTC in a peer-to-peer manner. I look forward to a time when I can transaction exclusively in cryptocurrency, but that day is not here.

What I'm trying to show is that there isn't a pressing need in the current environment for a fully anonymous, private cryptocurrency. If there were, Monero would be much more expensive to buy. Rather, the current time is being devoted to developing the protocol, expanding the ecosystem, and getting users to be familiar with cryptocurrencies in general.

But the future... I'm excited about the future. I expect that the future will hold a much larger and more frictionless ecosystem facilitating cryptocurrency payments. In that future, perhaps the vast majority of cryptocurrency transactions will be mundane, and no one will have any reason to want to be anonymous, and there will generally be little need for private transactions. But what about the 1% (or 5%, or whatever it is) of transactions that require privacy, where true anonymity is desirable, or even necessary for safety?

It's next to impossible to be truly anonymous with Bitcoin; and even if you manage to stay anonymous, the transaction is still visible to all onlookers. Further, it's easy to demonstrate that you're practicing OPSEC with any cryptocurrency that doesn't have privacy and anonymity baked in at the protocol level. Many people who put value in Monero do so because they know they won't need to do anything differently when sending transactions they wish to remain private. Rather, all the transactions Monero users send are private and anonymous, and they don't need to act any differently for transactions they'd rather keep private.

(I feel like I pretty much just scratched the surface here, but the answer is long enough.)

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I will start with a quote from Edward Snowden, "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say".

Privacy is more important than we know, governments and crony capitalists use spying and data collecting as a means to control our day to day lives, they try to make us into a puppet by pulling all the strings.

Privacy enables a brighter future and equality to people who are subjected to wrong justice. Privacy is more important than we know right now and it will make our society much more better when you have your right to privacy asserted be it on society or your financial property as in Monero.

2

Imagine you started an ice cream business in a 3rd world country. Since its a very hot summer, you make a lot of money. But there is no way to store all that money since you simply do not have a passport and therefore cannot open a bank account. A debit card is basically only a plastic representation of your cash, so it does not make a difference if you store your cash under your mattress or in that card. Also inflation in your country is 1000%/year and since you do want to keep the value of your earnings, you definitely do not want to store it in the local currency, but in a more stable form like cryptocurrencies.

Now you want to go to university, and buy some books at amazon with a non-anonymous currency like bitcoin. Amazon of course, now knows your (email-)address. Then a week later, you buy a sex tape at the local store, also with bitcoin. Big Data will find out it was you, and now you will get advertisements to buy more sex tapes from amazon the coming 10 years or so.

To make things worse, the owner of the sex shop is a member of the local mafia. They see your bitcoin address, and it is very simple to see that you have a few more bitcoins on the same address. The same night you will get a few visitors to 'kindly' ask for the rest of your money.

And it can get much worse than that. Imagine a scenario where the local mafia got a little smarter and they scan the internet for everyone who owns some bitcoin, worldwide.

In your question you clearly asked it form a 1st world perspective. Your environment is presumably relatively safe, and there are systems in place to lock up bad guys. But the world is not like that. In other places you are already dead before you can call any police. Even if the bad guys are arrested, it can take years before you see any money back.

Bottom line is, we rely on band aids, like the police, that are only applied after you have been cut. It is much smarter to prevent being cut in the first place by using a private crypto like Monero

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