While the equivalents of money existed since at least 5,000 BC, specific items in human history have been used to measure value: gold and rice, for example. While they are not money per se — what we now call fiat currency — they are nonetheless a measure of value. Traditional fiat money has value only because governments institute it and financial systems are built around it.
The Space Nation Asgardia, in existence for just two years, is building its economic and financial system from scratch. Theese days at the First Economic Forum, Asgardia is looking at financial systems — present and future — that would create the most successful economic and financial framework for the emerging nation.
Traditional money systems are not as popular as one might think. According to the World Bank, only 47% of people in low- and middle-income countries have bank accounts. At the same time, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing every day. In the Western world, banking has shifted from the concept of saving money and growing one’s investments to the concept of borrowing money.
Those with less economic power are unable to gain profits from using banks, and are distrustful of banks. They will look for other ways. Token economics, a growing phenomenon, may be the answer. Tokens represent a particular asset — a car, a painting, a piece of jewelry — that resides on top of the blockchain blockchain. In many ways, tokens are even simpler than cryptocurrencies, although the two go hand-in-hand.
The Wall Street giants already know this. Earlier this week, financial giant Fidelity announced that it is now offering Fidelity Digital Asset Services, a subsidiary whose offerings pertain to digital assets. Goldman Sachs recently invested in BitGo, a cryptocurrency custody startup. BitGo currently conducts 15% of all global bitcoin transactions, and $15 billion worth of monthly transactions across a variety of blockchain networks.
Rana Yared, a managing director at Goldman Sachs’ Principal Strategic Investments Group, said: “Greater institutional participation in the digital asset markets requires secure and regulated custody solutions. We view our investment in BitGo as an exciting opportunity to contribute to the evolution of this critical market infrastructure.”
Governments are paying attention as well. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently created FinHub, a portal to facilitate discussions about fintech between the regulators, industry leaders and the public.
With the growing acceptance of cryptocurrency and token economics, companies and governments can design tokens and assign value to them. The relationship between the market and value becomes a simple two-way street: market value is captured by those who create value for the marketplace.
This is not far off from bartering — the original way people traded goods and services. With tokens, we’re returning to a similar, simpler structure, albeit on a digital platform. Perhaps it is possible that our relationship with money, which is currently based on debt, can be aided by token economics.
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