“Ah but it’s Digital now”. “Digital” a word whose origins lie in the latin digitalis, from digitus (“finger, toe”); now it’s use is synonymous with computers and televisions, cameras, music players, watches, etc, etc, etc. But what of digital money or even digital democracy?
The printing press caused a revolution in its time, hailed as a democratic force for good by many. Books available to the masses was indeed a revolution; and now we also have e-books and technological devices to read them with. The fact that the original words have been encoded into a numerical form and decoded back to words electronically does not mean we trust less the words we are reading, but we may still prefer the aesthetics of a physical book than a piece of high-tech plastic which needs to have its battery charged to keep working. Can digital currencies such as bitcoin really provide a contribution to positive social change in as spectacular a way?
To answer this we must ask what of money, how are we to understand it, use it and incorporate it into a sustainable model of a ‘better world for all?’ Money, unlike any other form of property, is unique in that it may be used for anything prior to an event even occurring. It implies nothing, yet can be used for great good or great evil, and yet it is only what it is despite its many manifestations and consequences. It is a unique but much misunderstood and misused commodity. Money has the simplicity of facilitating buying and selling, and a mathematical complexity as demonstrated by the financial markets; and yet it has no notion of egalitarianism, moral or ethical decision making. It acts as an autonomous entity, yet it is both endogenous and exogenous to the global community. It has no personality and is easily replaceable, yet it is treated as a finite resource in the global context, its growth governed by a set of complex rules Comment acheter IOTA (MIOTA) which determine the way in which it may behave. Yet despite this the outcomes are never completely predictable and, furthermore; a commitment to social justice and an aversion to moral turpitude is not a requirement of its use.
In order for a currency to effectively perform the financial functions required of it, the intrinsic-value of money has to be a commonly held belief by those who use it. In November 2013 the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs acknowledged that virtual currencies are a legitimate means of payment, an example of such is Bitcoin. Due to the very low transaction fees charged by the ‘Bitcoin network’ it offers a very real way to allow the transfer of funds from migrant workers sending money back to their families without having to pay high transfer fees currently charged by companies. A European Commission calculated that if the global average remittance of 10% were reduced to 5% (the ‘5×5’ initiative endorsed by the G20 in 2011), this could result in an additional US$ 17 billion flowing into developing countries; the use of the blockchain would reduce these fees near to zero. These money transfer companies who extract wealth from the system may become dis-intermediated through the use of such an infrastructure.