My husband and I had an argument a couple of weeks ago – whether or not to invest in Bitcoin. To be completely honest, I am glad he won that argument.
I, as a futurist, am as susceptible to linear thinking as any other human brain – especially in the short term. We tend to presume that things will go on the way they have been. And statistically that is true. One day is more likely to be like the other then not. However, as crypto has shown us in a dramatic fashion over the past few weeks its not about statistics but about disruption.
Today, many claim to have known ‘this is going to crash’. In a way we all probably did, even though I don’t want to know how many middle class struggling households jumped on the hype train just months ago and lost quite some money in this endeavor. We knew because money is a token of trust. And as much as we might dislike bureaucratic systems and governments sometimes, we do trust them. We trust them to provide us with health care, infrastructure, law and order and our childrens’ education. And we trust in them to ensure the value of the currency. We trust without a second thought in the morning, that we can go to the bakery and buy a bun and a coffee.
So in the end crypto is also all about trust (besides its revolutionary tech). And the people in the very beginning, who trusted and handed in ‘real’ money seemed totally insane. They had absolutely no insurance. They are the ones who turned it into a real currency. The circumstance that the financial crisis deeply shook the trust in the financial system of many average citizens helped a lot, but the individuals ahead of the curve made it happen.
Today we accept it. At least in my generation. Yes, there is a crash, one that is extreme if not existential, but without regulation and failsafes that is not really shocking. The concept of crypto, however, has established itself in our minds – even in a situation like this. And that is the interesting thing. Trust can be much easier restored then established.
What really intrigues me in this is to look at the developments beyond the horizon.
The internet has opened all aspects of life up to be rediscovered and crypto is exactly that in the case of money. We traded goods, we traded valuables, we replaced it by a physical token and today only value is left. Digitally inscribed values. This opens us up to a whole other world of possibilities and to the discussion of what it really is that is valuable in our society?
By 2030 I don’t think the government and the banks have been replaced as the trustees of our valuables, however they will no longer hold the monopoly on currency as they did in the analogue age. Crypto has a place and a purpose. That is why it will be an essential part of our financial future. And there is still a lot of unknown potentials to discover, which really only will unfold in the long term.
I for my part am pretty sure that as soon as the crash found its low, I am going to try to convince my husband to invest again.
Yours, Julia | 02 Feb 2018
Update 07 Feb 2018
“You know the criticisms are just a failure of the imagination, […] Cryptocurrencies aren’t really important for human-to-human transactions … but when machines-to-machines trade economic value, they are going to plug into protocols like bitcoin and ethereum. They are not going to open bank accounts at J.P. Morgan … those were invented by bankers before the internet existed. Trying to use them as payments or money on the internet is a square peg in a round hole at best.”