Debates about the future of money contain a confusing jumble of predictions, many of which are warped by misunderstandings and commercial interests. We’re told that a cashless society is inevitable, that CBDCs are the result of Bitcoin, that stablecoins are going to displace the banking sector, and that cryptocurrencies are competing with the US dollar.
In this talk, Brett Scott will show why very few of these forecasts are accurate, and will do so by laying out a clear framework for understanding the different layers of money in our global economy and how they interact with each other.
Our monetary system is rife with contradictions: physical cash is under attack in a transnational economy bent towards large-scale automation, but cash actually underpins confidence in 'cashless' digital payments systems, and the consequences of total 'uberisation' of payments are dire, bringing major risks that threaten privacy, economic freedom, resilience and inclusion. The contradictions are pushing central bankers towards experiment with CBDCs, but this is turn threatens to destabilise the existing balance of power between banks and central banks. Crypto evangelists continue to market their collectibles as a solution to digital centralisation, but most crypto-currencies ride on top of the existing monetary system, rather than competing with it.
When we zoom out, digital payments go hand in hand with the rise of Big Tech and their AI systems, but in a future of extreme weather events, geopolitical insecurity, cyber-attacks and digital burnout, it's not obvious that endless digitization can survive. Pronouncing the death of analog systems like physical cash has been a futurist cliché.