How to (Re)Invent Money

El mercado de las criptomonedas ha experimentado en los últimos meses un espectacular desplome como consecuencia de diversas estafas multimillonarias. Pero para comprender la verdadera finalidad de esta tecnología es preciso conocer su origen.

Margaret Stone

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Sarah Davison

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Born in the early 2000s, cryptocurrency’s origins lay in libertarian culture (anti-establishment and fiercely individualistic) that flourished on the internet. Those behind it called themselves Cypherpunks. Its ideas were mainly borrowed from the ultra-liberal school of thought of Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman, which championed free trade, as well as low or inexistent taxes and regulations.  

disrupting money

These cypherpunks pushed for a new economic model in which money could no longer be used as a political tool to benefit the private banking industry and the dominant elites. It was, in a way, a return to the roots of private economic relationships before they came under the control of political and corporate powers. Thus Bitcoin meant to be to the financial system what e-mail had been to the postal system or social media to mass media: a disruptive technology that would break the balance of power and give back control to individuals over governments and corporations. 

By decentralising the management of money, Bitcoin would stop central banks from provoking inflation by flooding the system with money at a low interest rates, devalue the currency or finance themselves through public debt. Without control over money, the role of the State in the economy would be very limited. 

cyberbubble

Crypto’s bubble may end up bursting spectacularly, and investors and users might abandon it, but the changes in the perception of money and the technological innovations that it has introduced to the wider public will remain. Indeed, anyone is capable of creating anything — be it a coin, a strip of paper or a long encrypted algorithm — and call it ‘money’; all that is necessary is a certain consensus among others who will agree that it has value and use it. 

In 2010, a computer programmer bought two pizzas in exchange for ten thousand bitcoins. Today that dinner would be worth seventeen million dollars, in November 2021 it was worth sixty-two million. This story, one of the foundational myths of the cryptosphere, attests to the rapid growth of crypto, but also to its volatility. It is an uncertain sector, where one can get rich overnight but also lose all of one’s savings in the ether of cyberspace even faster.

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