As early as 1999 Milton Friedman remarked of the Internet:
The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash. A method where buying on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B, without A knowing B or B knowing A.”
Well it’s here; crypto currencies are here to ease the transition from buyers to sellers without the intervening costs and delays familiar with bank services. That’s not to say I would be pleased to see my bank go. The day Lloyd’s Bank issued a first cheque book to a young man just starting out was a proud one. I met the manager; he shook my hand and offered some advice on the types of account, where to come for that first car, the first house, when the first baby comes along. . . It was all so reassuring; so comforting to be respected in that manner.
That was then. That was before customer service was relegated to the ATM and the Debit Card. In truth I no longer long for a chat with the teller or even an hello to the manager. We move too fast for all that now. We need to draw cash 24/7; change flights in Azerbaijan in the middle of the night and make last minute decisions about a gift for the wife. We wanted speed and we have it. Now we want all that without the cost of banking; without paying salaries and building costs and all those bits of paper that festooned out lives since the Gilgamesh and we have it. In the Blockchain we have it
So what now you may ask. Well nothing. Nothing is what now. It’s as nothing as going to the evening market armed either with goats or bananas to trade, or with pieces of eight or plugs of tobacco. Anything goes if the seller of what you want wants what you have. There is no in-between. If you have a crypto on your phone you can transfer the agreed amount to the seller’s phone. Point, click, done. No one else involved: how wonderful but, it’s revolutionary. It’s radical. In one simple step governments lose their grip on your finance. In one simple step banks can go out of business. You can bet they won’t go gently; you can be sure of a rearguard action to save their empires but they will have to adapt to no longer serving as custodian. They are, in one simple step, relegated to secondary services.
Governments, too, are in need of adapting and some are doing just that. Japan embraced the Bitcoin from its early innovation. Scandinavia, along with most European nations, have crypto currencies as part of their financial services. The United States have not. The US are in a panic. They are sending out letters warning of dire consequences to those known to have crypto accounts – they’ve even threatened to confiscate passports of law-abiding citizens who do not conform to laws yet to be defined. Such blunt hypocrisy in the face of technological advance has to be seen as Luddite in nature and oppressive in adoption. From whence comes such retarded thinking in a nation so advanced? Could it be from the top: from the pinnacle of industrial and military might? Let’s hope not; let’s hope against all odds that is not the case. Let’s hope the current administration cotton-on to the march of progress, recognize its inevitability and help the world move forward.