Once upon a time (1648–1673 AD), in the United Kingdom, boroughs and cities started producing trade tokens.
At the time, the crown (government) was not producing enough small change. As a response, shopkeepers also started issuing private tokens to be used for their businesses, merchants would recognize the value of these tokens and trade with them as such.
So far, if you know anything about cryptocurrency, this should already be sounding very familiar.
Privatized trade tokens to be used solely for one particular business, or product. So let’s make a comparison of 17th century Britain and their use of “tokens”, and modern-day digital tokens.
Coffee-house tokens: Tokens issued by coffee houses throughout London, given to customers as change. Customers could return to the coffee-house and use the tokens (which usually were worth a halfpenny or penny).
BowheadHealth: A company specialized in pharmaceutical and medical technology. They plan to create a smart-dispenser which can analyze blood, or other samples in real-time. Powered by blockchain, as it uses it to store the information. Their token (AHT) is earned as users can opt to share their health data (anonymously). The token could be used on Bowhead’s platform to purchase tests, supplements and refills, for example.
Apothecary tokens: Apothecaries used to give people medical advice and dispense medical treatments. They issued tokens which could be used to purchase such services and goods from apothecaries.
Seeing as businesses in the past could make-do with the issuing and usage of different tokens, it does not seem that this could not be the case today. Many cryptocurrencies are being developed (albeit most will not thrive). This is proof that we can learn from the past, as 17th century Britain made use of tokens to fill the gaps left by the government, we can use today’s digital tokens to fill in the gaps left by the corporations, government and banks. Cryptocurrencies gives back to the people, as can be seen in BowheadHealth’s case. Companies pay a lot of money to have access to medical data from people, the Bowhead platform allows one to decide whether they want to share their data, and the money goes straight to the people who choose to do so.
Moving forward, we as a people should learn from the past, and start adapting digital tokens (cryptocurrencies) in our daily lives. In fact, just recently Russia had declared that they want to start issuing their national token — the Cryptoruble! Corporations are joining in the fun too, as Microsoft now allows one to add funds to their account using Bitcoin.