“A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things …the economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century. The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” — Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
In Gene Roddenberry’s future, we rise above our urges for riches and concentrate on more noble goals beyond money, to create a world without war, hunger, disease, and poverty.
We are already making leaps and bounds toward our digital future, because of the pandemic and lockdowns. Many people no longer go out to have fun, but instead, choose to watch Netflix and shop on Amazon.
Money is digital and cash is disappearing. Whether we are talking about using banking apps to send money or debit/credit card to pay for things, we no longer use cash.
Financial technology has changed financial services.
Banks will always be around, but they will become “curators.” Banks will connect us with reputable, external technology startups that will provide us with the financial services we need. The battle for the customer will be about the customer experience.
Everything has become a subscription.
Subscription services have exploded over the last decade, automatically charging the customer’s debit or credit card for services delivered directly. More than 42% of customers have forgotten they were still being charged for subscription services or what the cost is.
People don’t think about money anymore unless they have to.
When we paid for things in cash and had to count out the money and we were more conscious of what things cost and how much money we had in our wallets.
Digital networks are forming right now, some without centralized governance, that let us exchange value. A dual system is emerging. The first is one we are familiar with, money managed by the government. The second is new, money managed by some kind of decentralized governance. Today we have decentralized cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and centralized bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
In a physical world, governments and banks issue and control money. The problem is that these structures were there to control our behaviors, transactions, and thinking. In a digital decentralized world, without borders and centralized control, money is issued and controlled by some kind of decentralized governance. The problem we’ve been trying to figure out is how to build energy-efficient structures that manage governance in a trusted and decentralized way.
People love Bitcoin because they have the power to control the network. Part of its appeal is that it is a real-life example of concepts described in science fiction books and movies – an advanced, universally accepted form of currency.
But the recent crypto meltdown brings again to the surface questions about the best way to govern these networks. We are in a battle between the old and new, centralized versus decentralized.
In the next step of our evolution, with mathematical certainty, we will move to a global universal currency. Still, it remains to be seen which path we follow: one that is already known to us from our analog past or a new digital one that is still developing and unknown. The last thing we want is government control over value exchange, but maybe we’ll end up having both.
Today we can trade and transact from anywhere as long as we’re connected. One way or another our money has become like “credits” in the cloud.
In the future money might not be as it is today, but it will be some kind of value that we use via mobile devices to pay for things, in connected global networks, recorded on a blockchain.