Six year ago, I became obsessed with money, not having it but understanding it. Money is the most central thing in all our lives but yet, most of us know little about how it works. It seems to me that you can trace almost all problems in the society to money or not having it. I am a tech entrepreneur and one day like most days our engineering team were fiercely debating on a new technology. On this day, they were talking about money, not the regular fiat money but internet money. They have discovered something called Bitcoin, and they said, it will change the world radically.
The promise of Bitcoin and the tech behind it called the blockchain was to allow us to safely transfer digital money over the public internet directly between us without the need for an intermediary like banks. You may be thinking like I did that companies like paypal and online banking platforms already let us send money online. You are wrong like I was because, in all of these transactions online, money doesn’t really move directly between us on the internet, it actually sit in closed private networks owned by large corporations, banks and governments. And every time we send money, we are asking these gate keepers permission to move money around on their systems.
There use to be a good reason for this, because the value stored in money is different from the values stored in information which we share publicly on the internet. Information like text, files, videos etc can exist in many places at the same time. When you send it to someone, you and the person now have it. With value stored in money, it can exist only in one place at a time. When you give money to someone, you no longer have it. When you are receiving value stored in money, its central to know that you are not receiving a copy. No one has ever figured out how to secure an open network like the internet in such a way that will guarantee that money cannot be changed, copied or duplicated up until now.
For someone who grew up in an internet generation and watched the internet change our world and reshaped our society, this was really a big deal and this was why.
Think of how information moved before the internet. You needed to ask permission from a newspaper, a radio station or a TV channel in order to broadcast your opinion to the general public. The internet came and changed all of those things by allowing us to share our ideas instantly and cheaply directly between us. This ushered in the information revolution and it completely changed our society. Now anyone with a laptop or even a mobile device connected to the internet can topple a government. That was just sharing ideas stored in information. What would it mean for values stored in money.
This new technology called the blockchain is creating a new internet of money that will allow us to transact freely and directly between us without asking permissions or paying gate keepers. The implication for society having an open global network for the free exchange of money between people is massive and the opportunities there in are even bigger than the internet itself.
Imagine a world where salaries of workers are automatically settled, taxes are collected automatically, senior citizens, veterans and state benefits are automatically executed. We can create a much smarter money supply, money that are custom made to meet our changing and diverse needs, money that catches up to the complexity of our modern economy and reflects modern values.
Blockchain technology even go beyond money. Think of the other services other than money that are controlled centrally. What will a social network look like without a company in the centre keeping all the profits that is generated by our comments and likes. What will a news network look like without a media company beholden to shareholders and politicians. These projects and many more are already underway on the blockchain and they will fundamentally change how we pool and share resources and will mark the beginning of a new era.
Blockchain’s decentralised control helps shift society from a pyramid like structure with a limited room at the top to a web with more access to opportunities and more consensus on what is valuable. Economic freedom is the next great challenge of our time and a movement to achieve it has already and we call it the value revolution.
Israel Martins is a cryptocurrency researcher and trader since 2016, passionate about blockchain and other emerging technologies.