Cryptocurrencies are stoking the revolution of our times
Since Dubai launched its Blockchain strategy in October 2016, it seems like every other conference we’ve attend in the city has been themed around Blockchain and/or cryptocurrency, in one way or another.
After publishing our most recent State of Play: Blockchain, we have been called on to share our views on Dubai’s latest tech flavour of the week, and the implications of the booming cryptocurrency market on the future economy.
When we talk about the impact of crypto on the economy, we are talking about a not-too-distant future where all financial transactions are exchanged through cryptocurrencies.
The Real Meaning of Crypto
On the one hand, that means that transactions will be faster and cheaper. That is a nice benefit for bankers and traders, but doesn't necessarily have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. Apple Pay is pretty damn fast and convenient already.
But cryptocurrencies represent just one very small portion of the blockchain ecosystem. If cryptocurrency was all there was to Blockchain, there would not be the massive surge of interest from every economic sector, from ICT and finance to education and agriculture.
Because of Blockchain, we're no longer bound to traditional currencies to exchange value. Anything that can be tokenised can be authenticated, exchanged and monitored in a global, indelible ledger. For the first time since we moved off the barter economy in the 600’s, anyone with something of value to bring to the table can participate in the global economy.
Take the example of this French cartoon frog. A bunch of art-technologists got together and decided to create a cyptocoin based on the perceived value of this little digital frog gif. And because everyone in the network agreed this gif had value, suddenly people were buying and trading it as if it were a regular currency (which, by the way, hasn't been pegged to gold for half a century).
Thanks to Blockchain, literally anything that has value can become a crypto “currency.” I can create a cryptocoin for an ikea desk chair. And if I can get a group of you to agree this desk chair is valuable, it can become a currency.
And then, why not create a token of myself? Want a meeting? That's 2 coins. Want me to sit on your board? That's 2,000 coins. And if I want to take a vacation? I can buy some of the coins back so you all have to leave me alone for a few days.
The New Economy
Today, we throw around catch-phrases like “gig economy” and the “transaction economy.” If you think about what is actually happening in these exchanges, peers exchanging with peers, these are just fancy words for individuals regaining control of their local marketplace. Because of Blockchain, this “new economy” will no longer the domain of hipsters in silicon valley. Everyone with a data connection, over 5 billion people, will now be able to join in. These exchanges will no longer be “alternative economies.” This will be the economy.
There is a reason that Blockchain is keeping banks and governments up at night. Even if they do build their own platforms, and even if these platforms become interoperable across international borders, these institutions will no longer be the sole guardians of economic participation. We are opening the economy to the entire world: crypto can pave the way to universal economic participation.
This change is coming, and quickly. In the past year, ICOs have ripped billions of value from traditional markets. In the first three months on 2018, startups have raised $4.8 billion. Billions of dollars have been wiped from bank’s balance sheets and put in the hands of companies with visions for real change in the world. Entrepreneurs launching ICOs are raising capital at 4x of venture capital funding.
In 10 years, no one will care that its Blockchain that's powering our new economy. Just like we could care less that Facebook runs on html. But what we will care about, thanks to Blockchain, will be the new voice that we have in the global economy.
We're already in this first battle of this revolution. It’s time to choose your side.