Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the end of money as we’ve known it
Whether one likes it or not, the end of money as we’ve known it is at hand. From a more or less conventional perspective it may look something like what David G.W. Birch describes in his Forbes article, Payments In The Metaverse Will Be Huge, But They Won’t Be Based On Cryptocurrencies (Or People), but my view is rather different. Still, Birch highlights the three main issues that we both agree are crucial: trust, security and privacy.
I long ago concluded that ALL of our institutions, systems, and structures of western civilization have been thoroughly corrupted by greed and the hunger for power which are reactions to false beliefs and artificial scarcities. I take that as given and try to avoid being distracted by it while trying to keep my attention and energies focused on what I think I can do to change things. What that has meant for me has been to learn everything I could about the money system as it exists — its inherent dysfunctions and dishonesties, and to discover and develop better ways of performing the functions that money is supposed to serve, especially the function of reciprocal exchange of value. The decentralized allocation and control of credit is the key to creating an honest, efficient, and sustainable system of exchange, and there are well established ways of doing that without the need for political fiat monies. Many of these systems, like the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative and the scores of commercial trade (“barter”) exchanges, have been operating successfully for many decades or longer.
What remains to be done are:
1. The optimization of the procedures and protocols used in credit clearing systems like the scores of commercial trade exchanges now operating in many countries around the world, such as the optimizing prescriptions I’ve made in A Model Membership Agreement for a Credit Clearing Service contained in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, and,
2. The development of effective ways of dealing with interference from governments, banks, and the vested interests that is sure to come when these competing systems become big enough to be perceived as a threat to the status quo.
I consider the wave of cryptocurrencies that has emerged since the launch of Bitcoin to be attempts to address the second of these objectives by providing virtual commodities that are generated outside of the government/banking system and to hopefully provide some degree of anonymity and privacy in value exchange transactions. Those motivations are all well and good but reverting to the use of commodities, either virtual or real, as exchange media takes us back to a more primitive stage in the evolution of the reciprocal exchange process, and unlike real commodities, they have no inherent use value other than their use as media for speculation. Add to that the fact that the primary motivation in the creation of most “cryptocurrencies” or virtual “coins” has been profit seeking by their creators, and what we have now is a milieu that is littered with “shitcoins,” corruption, and fraud. It’s very difficult and time consuming to dig deeply enough to evaluate each new entry into the field, and I see no advantage in doing so.
However, the use of blockchain technology that accompanied the creation of Bitcoin may have a useful role to play in a credit clearing network or private credit currency as a way to create exchangeable “token” vouchers that represent a claim upon real valuable goods and services that the issuer has promised to deliver. Such vouchers would be real currencies.
Questions that need to answered about any currency:
- Who is the issuer?
- What is the value basis upon which the currency is issued?
- In what units is the currency denominated?
- Is the issuer, ready, willing and able to redeem the currency?
- Is the issuer credit-worthy, reliable, trust-worthy?
- Do they have the goods on hand or sufficient service capacity to deliver promptly?
- What are the terms of redemption? In what form? When? At what rate in relation to the units specified (face value, discount, etc.?)
- In what form does the currency exist? Paper notes, Physical tokens, Digital tokens, Ledger entries?
- What other characteristics of the currency contribute or detract from its use as an exchange medium?
If you want a comprehensive overview of my work and my vision, you can get most of it in the presentation I gave last year for the University of Hertfordshire.
https://beyondmoney.net/2021/11/27/transcending-the-present-political-money-system-the-urgent-need-and-the-way-to-do-it/, and if you want a deeper understanding of “the money problem” and its most promising solutions please read my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, which is even more pertinent today than it was when first published.