“Blockchains are simply distributed transaction processing engines. The technology allows data to be stored in a variety of different places while tracking the relationship between different parties to that data. Most people trying to explain blockchains like to compare it to a ledger. Anytime someone makes a transaction, such as a currency changing hands or a new device being added to a network, it is recorded in the chain and anyone can track what has happened. This is why law enforcement is so keen on Bitcoin-the digital footprints are easy to trace.” Fortune tech, Stacey Higginbotham, May 29, 2015
What if we lived in a world where global access to money was available to everyone? Money can zoom around the globe at the speed of digital as a peer-to-peer decentralized and cooperative process – no top-down banking system needed. Trust relationships happen automatically via digitally signed, permission-less transactions, destroying the inevitability of poverty. Would this represent a giant step for humanity?
Such is the utopian dream of tech developers. The next generation of computer networking gears up to surround the world for the greater good. Welcome to the intended blockchain (financial) transformation of the world.
Ignore it at your own peril.
My article of May 2016, The Power Behind the Throne, discusses the mostly under-reported, yet steady advancement, towards a cashless society via blockchain technology, and my thoughts about who really benefits. It could end up as the giant leap for the banking industry, gaining omnipotent control over our financial transactions. A Bloomberg article, Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash, May 2, 2016, cited representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup Inc., Visa Inc., Fidelity, Fiserv Inc., Pfizer Inc. and others in attendance.
Enter 2017 and the documentary produced to inspire and excite: The Blockchain and Us. Some say that 2017 will be the year this technology moves into the mainstream; others say it’s just too risky.
The infomercial-type documentary introduces “leaders” from countries around the world who extol the virtue of open source money, the grassroots, and bottom-up cultural game-changer begun by Bitcoin in 2008. Blockchain technology and its potential impact is likened to how the introduction of the airplane changed society; the structure of the financial services industry, alone, is said to transform 100% to digital within 20 years. Additionally, blockchain technology is expected to:
- Affect every industry as a “value” platform with military-grade cryptology
- Create a generational shift in technology, an opportunity capable of “lifting people out of poverty”
- Accommodate what they called, “smart” contracts
- Exert a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and new ways of transacting value
- Generate more jobs due to automation
There you have it… Blockchain and Us. Yet naysayers, such as myself, cannot see the commensurate personal benefit. Surrender the paltry financial privacy we have left via cash to the Goliath banking industry? It occurs to me we may not have a choice since the “little” people appear to be the revenue units simply along for the ride.
That said, using cash and paying as you go, has obvious and maybe not so obvious benefits:
- Transaction privacy
- No bank-interest charges (overdraft, credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.)
- Possible 5% vendor discount upon request
- Fiscal responsibility that credit use has destroyed
- Curbing the instant-gratification mindset easy credit encourages
- More personal time when keeping up with debt means working harder/faster
I think living in a material world makes is easy to forget that the complete definition of wealth includes more than accumulation. The intangible wealth of personal wellbeing and peace of mind are priceless until they are overlooked and under-valued. Instead of the utopian dream, imagine this: We no longer make purchases we don’t need, with money we do not have to impress people who do not really care about us. If more people would make a habit of using cash, we could strengthen our own money-management skills towards building real wealth, and also send a message to those who own the gold.