In the MIT Technology Review “10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2020”, digital money is correctly identified as one of the most important technologies of the year. It really is, and not only for financial reasons. Their article says that
The rise of digital currency has massive ramifications for financial privacy.
Indeed it does but, as I suggest in the book, we can make design choices about how digital money works to “set the dial” on privacy. So I think that the privacy issues can be managed. But what really caught my eye in the MIT piece was the closing statement that the “digital money wars have begun”.
This may seem hyberolic, but it really isn’t, which is why I wrote this book.
As to who might win these wars, well, who knows. The truth is that after writing this book I don’t know any more than anyone else knows. I can say that I doubt that Libra is the future of digital money (many observers noted that Mark Zuckererg’s Vision for 2030 that was published on Facebook in January 2020, did not mention Libra at all) but it has certainly been a catalyst for thinking about the future of digital money. What I am more certain about is that there are some people who take the notion of this coming digital money war seriously, have a strategy for the battles to come and a long-term plan to win it.
If you want to understand some of the big picture around the coronavirus, currency and what the Hoover Institution senior fellow Niall Ferguson refers to as “Cold War 2” (but what I call “The Currency Cold War”) then have a listen to this podcast from CoinDesk. It is a wide ranging conversation between Ferguson and CoinDesk’s Michael Casey about our disrupted world, inevitable crisis and what it could mean for money. As the author of one of the best books on the history of finance, The Ascent of Money, Ferguson has a very wide and well-informed perspective on the issues and indeed I quote him more than once in this book.
One of Ferguson’s central points is that the US depends to a greater extent than people realise on the US dollar being the international reserve currency. As he says in the podcast, the US has “an almost unlimited capability” to borrow in its own currency because the dollar is so dominant nand that “we are going to have a period of challenges to the US dollar of various forms and tenacious defence of its dominance by a US government that understands its existential importance to the United States”. This is the coming currency Cold War and it will shape international order far beyond finance.
The table of contents for the hardback edition of the book that will be published in May 2020 will be as follows:
Part 1: Digital Currency
Chapter 1: What is Digital Currency?
Chapter 2: Technology as Catalyst
Chapter 3: Anyone can Make Money
Part 2. Drivers for Change
Chapter 4: What Problem will Digital Currency Fix?
Chapter 5: Rethinking Money
Chapter 6: Creating Digital Fiat
Part 3. Currency Cold Wars are Coming
Chapter 7: Private Digital Currency
Chapter 8: Public Digital Currency
Chapter 9: Red vs. Blue
Coda: A Call to Action