Evolving Forms of Money and Advancing Financial Technology

A Little Bit of Money

Thought Experiments on Cross-Border Payments - Of Couriers, Bankers, and Bitcoiners

Series 11: Evolving Forms of Money and Advancing Financial Technology

The Land of Bitcoin

In my theory, YUPIDs incorporate different cultural backgrounds and communication skills, aligning their local interest with the massive economic and sociocultural changes taking place globally. This process is based on digital connectivity. It happens simultaneously and selectively at various levels, constantly trying to reproduce successful results. Thus, participating in the Bitcoin network is an intercultural encounter made possible through the evolution of financial technology.

Disjunctive Global Cultural Flows that Defy Borders

The new digital economy can be seen as a complex, overlapping, disjunctive order, as the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai defined it. This order is composed of different interrelated, yet disjunctive, global cultural flows that go beyond landscapes. Following this meta-theory of disjuncture broken down into different dimensions that he calls “scapes,” we have to consider the scapes of various domains such as ethnicity, technology, ideology, finance, and media. As for Bitcoin, I would add the scapes of jurisdictions since regulatory compliance is a key differentiator in the financial services industry.

Disruptive does not always mean troublesome

YUPIDs love blogging about Bitcoin as being “disruptive.” Aspiring startup managers investing in crypto-currency wearing their VC hats declaim this term effusively - like how coders cant IT-slang. Nowadays, “disruptive” means that new technology brings radical change to a certain sector. The term “disruptive innovation” has been coined almost 20 years ago. It defines “innovations that create new markets by discovering new categories of customers, partly by harnessing new technologies but also by developing new business models and exploiting old technologies in new ways.”

Bank clerks get trained on demonizing Bitcoin

In this regard, Bitcoin poses a revolutionary disruption in cross-border payments. This is a fact – even if many finance professionals choose to ignore it. Anything other than legal tender might appear to be blasphemy when looking at the world from the perspective of oldschool bankers. In their mind, if money is not legal tender, it’s a sacrilege. How dare you are to disregard private money! Today’s digital world offers more than just government money. It is out of all reason why bank clerks are trained to turn pale when hearing a client mention they use Bitcoin. Unluckily, regular bankers are more likely to call the police rather than thinking about what Bitcoin really is.

As Legal as Mickey Mouse Money

“Virtual currency” is not illegal. Furthermore, it is not a “thought crime,” and let me put all conspiracy concerns to rest once and for all: There is no such crime! As in the Matrix, choosing to face reality is the red pill while living in ignorance of the truth, whether by choice or because there is no choice, is the blue pill. Whatever matrix you are living in, thinking outside the box is legal, just like cryptographic payments are. Once more, digital cash is as legal as Mickey Mouse money. Despite the warnings of law enforcement agencies out there, I’d like everyone to understand that Bitcoin is not evil personified; it’s just another way to pay.

To be continued. Further Reading:

  • A. Appadurai. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Edition 1. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
  • R. Grinberg. “Bitcoin: An Innovative Alternative Digital Currency.” Hastings Science & Technology Law Journal, vol. 4, pages 160-210, Dec. 9, 2011.
  • D. A. Bronleewe. Bitcoin NFC. Master’s thesis, University of Texas, August 2011.
  • Clayton Christensen “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, 1997