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Only 10 Years Away From a Financial System for ‘The People’?
- Nov 2015 -

Imagine a world where everyone has the opportunity to be part of an egalitarian financial system...

What a mess our global financial system is. $230 trillion of global debt. Imploding currencies all over the world, whether it’s the Brazilian Real, Russian Rouble, Venezuelan Bolivar etc. Money printing and devaluing of currencies by central banks on a scale unimaginable ten years ago. Banks drowning in litigation for fraud, market rigging, money laundering, drug smuggling and the list goes on. And the result?

While a tiny minority has become obscenely wealthy, billions of people are struggling and suffering all over the world due to a system that was designed badly and evolved into something monstrous. What’s more, most of those people don’t even have access to some of the benefits of our system that we often take for granted, such as online banking, credit, and ATM’s.

So what would a financial system look like that truly functions for the average person on the street in any country? A system that empowers people to have complete control over their finances without any third party interfering? A currency that can’t be devalued at the whim of politicians or central bankers? An honest transparent system that has equal opportunity for everyone?

Imagine owning money that you could use anywhere in the world without the hassle and costs of exchange rates. Imagine not even having to have a bank any more….no more ridiculous charges for everything you do, like taking cash out of an ATM. In this new system, not only would you be able to safely store your money without a bank but you could also send any amount to any individual or business anywhere in the world, instantly and almost without cost.

Imagine a world where everyone has the opportunity to be part of this egalitarian financial system. Not only can they be part of it, they can leverage it for their own benefit. Poorly educated people in underdeveloped countries could make money online in completely new ways like they’ve never been able to before. Whether it is creating original content for educational or entertainment purposes (videos of music, cooking, dancing) or carrying out tasks for others, they would have access to a global audience that could tip them any amount – large or small – with one click and no added expense.

That system is being developed right now and it’s called Bitcoin. Of course it already exists to a certain extent but it still has a long way to go before it becomes a stable scalable global system that’s user friendly. We also need the internet to keep spreading to the remotest parts of the globe, although probably bitcoin will be able to function in the future without internet.

“Bitcoin is the perfect payment system for the creativity and entrepreneurship of people in the developing world”

Documentary that shows the potential of peer-to peer-digital currency in the unbanked world.  M-Pesa in Kenya has helped millions of people but it has constraints. It is not open to everyone, it’s not good for merchants and it’s not international, that’s the opportunity for bitcoin.

I’m not suggesting that bitcoin will replace our existing system – although who knows – but rather it can be a radical alternative financial system to the one now that’s so badly flawed. It has been a rough ride for bitcoin until now, a new emerging technology that has mainly received mainstream media coverage for being ‘dodgy’, used by criminals and drug smugglers. The irony of course is that the scale of criminality in our existing financial system dwarfs anything that bitcoin has instigated.

The technology behind bitcoin – The Blockchain – is extraordinary, the vision for what it could become was genius. Now there are new versions of that technology known as ‘blockchain technologies’ that are being studied and adopted by major financial institutions globally, as they grapple with this new disruptive phenomenon that threatens to pull the rug from beneath their feet. The media has jumped on board…“no need for bitcoin, it’s all about blockchain tech”.

It’s certainly true that these new bitcoin free versions of the blockchain could help banks become more efficient and save costs. In other words it will help maintain the status quo and probably make inequality even greater, as banks make even more money….

But that’s not what excites us. As the world leans more and more towards a peer to peer economy – think Airbnb, Uber, Lending Club – it makes perfect sense to have an alternative peer to peer financial system that empowers everyone, not just the few. At Zinc, we are excited by the possibilities of improving the world that technology brings. Sometimes those are small everyday experiences and other times those can be game changers. Bitcoin has game changing potential but one of the essential requirements for its maturity and adoption will be to design genuinely user friendly products and services. We’re really excited at the idea that we could help in that respect.

It’s time to put aside prejudices about bitcoin, it’s not there yet, and of course it may never fulfill its potential, but we’re optimistic. In ten years from now, it could be a financial system that is about as perfect for the people as we can conceive. Will it solve all the world’s problems? No, but at the very least, it should be a fairer, and more honest transparent system than the one we have now. That’s got to be worth pursuing.

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