Beware of the Moneros

I was tired. After several hours of frantic coding I really needed a break. I was improving some multisig transaction handling commands in one of Monero's wallet programs, with a hardfork fast approaching: A deadline that I did not want to miss. I definitely wanted my code to be in when a new release of the cryptocurrency software would get published, and so I was working overtime.

A "power nap" would have to do. I set an alarm to 20 minutes on my smartphone, put away the computer keyboard, folded my arms on the desk, bowed down to rest my head on them, and waited for my mind to drift and recovery to start.

I was walking with 3 or 4 of my fellow cryptocurrency friends towards an office building. I looked around: It seemed we were in some Arabic or African city. In a short bout of lucidity I understood that instead of dozing or even sleeping through my break I had started to dream almost immediately. Oh my, I thought, now I am really reaching my limits, but hey, this might become fun, let's see where it leads.

I noticed one of us wearing a T-shirt with an acronym on it: F.R.O.M.A. What did that stand for again? Ah yes: "Fluffypony's riders of monetary apocalypse". Cool, so I was a member of the gang who would intervene when something threatened to go seriously wrong monetary-wise, and save the day thanks to the powers of Monero.

That acronym had gone out of favor lately, not sounding good enough and frankly a little silly, so we were known now mostly as "the Moneros".

We entered the office of some Mr. Tinibu or similar and took a seat. "I am sorry that the finance minister has no time to meet you. He is a very very busy man, please understand. I am his main adviser however, so I can assure you that your time won't be wasted." We nodded. They clearly did not take us very seriously around here, it seemed. More fun that way I thought, this guy just did not know it yet.

Mr. Tinibu quickly checked his smartwatch: "I have put away 15 minutes for this talk. I am busy myself, you see" he said, looking quite proud about this. "So, straight to the matter: You wrote you have some interesting offer to make to our government, related to that cryptocurrency you represent." He frowned. "Ah yes, Monero it is called, right?"

Pete, our most talented speaker, took over. "Thank you, Mr. Tinibu, for seeing us. Straight to the matter, like you said: Your government is very close to put final signature to a credit contract with big international banks, over a volume of more than 50 billion US dollars. Cancel all talks, don't sign the contract."

Tinibu blinked. After a few seconds he recovered from first surprise and asked: "What the hell do you mean: Don't sign the contract?"

"It's quite simple, actually" explained Pete. "Your country in no way can afford this credit. It will undermine international trust in your economy, and more importantly in your currency. It will devalue, inflation will become rampant, and almost your whole populace will suffer. We won't allow this."

Again some seconds of awkward silence until he had digested this. "Are you people crazy? Who are you that you think you have anything at all to say in this matter?"

Pete responded calmly: "We are the Moneros. MON-E-RO-s. Monetary Emergency Ronins. Proudly independent from any masters like those Japanese warriors of old times, and fighting for the people where governments are on the brink on wreaking some monetary havoc, like yours is now unfortunately."

That was too much for poor Tinibu. He started to laugh out loud. "Ha, that's a good one. Ronins, huh? Tell me, how will your sorry bunch of silly-named nerds fight anything bigger than a mosquito?"

"If this credit goes ahead we will basically take away control over your own currency from you" explained Pete. "We will show people a better alternative to the quickly crumbling and devaluing government money, and will make sure it's within easy reach for them. They will switch in droves in no time, believe me."

"And that alternative money, that will be Monero?" asked Tinibu in disbelief.

"Correct. And in case you doubt our abilities and determination: Please check the website of the big and respected US cryptocurrency exchange Octopus. Today's main announcement will probably surprise you: They offer a brand-new currency trading pair for your local Franc and Monero, suspiciously the first and only such pair for any African fiat currency. Look up currency symbol XMR."

We waited patiently until Tinibu had have time to open a web browser on his desktop computer and check the website. "And please also have a look at the order book: There are XMR on sale for Francs with a value of roughly a billion US dollars right now. That is us." Pete added.

I had lucidity coming back for a few seconds and thought, where would XMR for a cool billion under our control come from just for this stunt here? Impossible. But hey, this is a dream, so onward!

Tinibu asked with a strange mix of worry and hope showing on his face: "There are no trades taking place. Why nobody buys Monero now?" "Well, for now we set the price much too high. We can change that in no time, of course. All depends on your next steps. May I suggest to call your so very busy finance minister now? I am sure he will have some time to spare for this" said Pete with a calm that I could only admire.

A phone call and a few minutes of waiting later we had indeed finance minister Okiro with us. He listened with patience to Tinibu's briefing about the situation and our demand to cancel the credit talks, seemed to think intensively for half a minute or so and then finally addressed us:

"So, dear Moneros. Nice try, looks like we underestimated you. But if you think you can impress us with Octopus, or even force our hands, you are mistaken, or may I say deluded. One phone call from me to US financial regulators where I have some good friends, and that currency trading pair is already history."

Pete sighed. "Alright then. You asked for this, you know." He made some taps on his smartphone, and a few seconds later almost simultaneous notifications could be heard from both Okiro's and Tinibu's own personal phones. Tinibu was first to check and read the message aloud he had just received: "Welcome to Biscuit distributed currency exchange. Your trading account is ready and only needs confirmation."

Okiro however was the one to first notice that something was very wrong here. "The messenger addresses of all high-ranking government members are top-secret. Where the hell did you get them?"

Pete smiled. "I come to that, but first let me say that you can forget about shutting down Biscuit and similar distributed exchanges. They run over the Tor network, pretty much uncensorable and unstoppable. No companies behind them to target either. Your US buddies won't save the day there."

"And those messenger addresses. Well, about a week ago we asked around in the Darknet whether somebody happened to hold them and would be ready to sell. What can I say, our questions set a number of talented hackers to work, which stole some very interesting number and address databases from your local telecoms and gladly sold them for hard XMR. We are able to directly address more than half of the population of your beautiful country and make them find their way into XMR trading easily."

"Tinibu". Okiro almost bellowed. "Check where the prime minister hangs around. Looks like he has to move his ass over here right now and discuss those credit matters after all."

Again some notification sounded. It was quite insistent and grew louder. It took me some seconds to wake up and get over my confusion: That was my own smartphone now, back in the real world, with the alarm to wake me up after 20 minutes. Holy cow, what a crazy dream, I really should not program so much, I said to myself. Let's call it a day, I need more rest. And maybe tomorrow I will get me a F.R.O.M.A. T-shirt printed. Revolutions have to start somewhere, you know!