Most of the buzz I’ve personally heard about the crypto space has been about which ones everyone should throw all their money into. Which one will 10x my investment? Which ones are ephemeral?
Without downplaying the value in those questions or the understandable bluster about increasing personal wealth through them, an equally significant question remains about what crypto technology itself means for everyone.
As a currency…
In a way, sometimes it feels like the focus of cryptocurrency is more about the crypto part and less the currency.
What I mean by that is that we can lose sight of the fact that there’s a reason to own Bitcoin or Ether, for instance, that is as straightforward as using it as a currency to transact with others. As other countries begin to acknowledge Bitcoin as an official currency, the idea of having a crypto wallet that is essentially a personal bank account that can be used at will to buy things from others is an attractive one.
Particularly when it comes to doing business with those in other cultures and regions of the world. Cryptocurrency by function is universal, and there isn’t a mess of confusing “my dollar is worth more than yours” situations. One Bitcoin is one Bitcoin for anyone who has one.
And if the value of that Bitcoin (or other coin) appreciates, your potential spending power increases correspondingly.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) that a lot of people describe is usually tied to not investing in a currency at the right moment and missing a huge opportunity to make money. But given that cryptocurrency is money itself, a sense of FOMO could also apply to businesses hoping to be flexible and reach a wider net of customers by offering more ways to pay.
It’s the 21st century equivalent of a company many years ago bragging about taking Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. (Though all of those used the dollar, the concept is there.)
A person may not feel comfortable to spend $1000 on a service today in cash, for instance. But maybe they’ve had a great 6 months in a given cryptocurrency and feel like they could easily part with $1000 worth of that crypto.
In a basic sense, a business being willing to accept that currency means a sale that only happened because of it.
A simple yet significant example of traditional financial hurdles?
What if you’d like to pay someone in another country, but their country doesn’t allow any of the traditional gateways?
For instance, those in Jamaica have reported not being able to use PayPal or Square, so an American or UK company couldn’t simply pay them electronically the way they’re probably accustomed to.
(That’s a potential deal-breaker for remote work.)
Crypto and its role in privacy…
Crypto as an industry or a topic, whether it’s explicitly a crypto currency or something else, has sparked a movement felt everywhere in the world.
The concept of straightforward, immediate, potentially private transactions (or exchange of data) without the clearly outdated middlemen we’ve long felt were ubiquitous is understandably intriguing.
It feels related in spirit to Tor in the sense that an average person sees the value in being able to exist digitally without every facet of their activity and existence being observed — whether by marketing companies or governments.
Critics and skeptics are quick to raise questions like, “But what about how that enables terrorists and other bad actors from communicating and coordinating things undetected by the ‘good guys’?”
There’s certainly something to that, but I feel like that also focuses so hard on a hyper-specific consequence that it misses every other meaningful element.
At a basic level, those same questions could’ve been posed at the internet period. Or of freely available email accounts, prepaid and anonymous cell phones, and any number of other technologies that occasionally get used for something shady.
I recognize that it’s reductive to make that observation and ask, “So should we block all those things, too?” with the obvious implication of its ridiculousness.
Yet those are questions we really need to ask ourselves.
And when we say block we can substitute that for “regulate into oblivion.” Same question.
To what extent does the rapid popularity of these technologies signal an intense desire for freedom from what feels like oppressive regulation, oversight, meddling, or snooping?