The Internet has been steadily digitizing our monetary systems – The first online e-commerce payments were followed by the ability to email money to others through to a modern day world of Bitcoin.
The transformation is not yet complete, cash is still widely used but some argue it’s inevitable that eventually we will evolve fully to a world entirely without it.
How will these advances ripple through the system? For example the Bank of England warns that the emergence of a cryptocurrency economy may weaken or eliminate bank credit issuance.
The Canadian Digital Dollar
The full blown digitization of national currencies is the grand prize and Canada is well positioned to lead the trend globally.
It’s a behemoth of a worldwide opportunity now taking shape – In the USA former CFTC chair Chris Giancarlo has set up a not-for-profit called the Digital Dollar Foundation, to pioneer the creation of a US central bank digital currency (CBDC). In his presidency campaign Michael Bloomberg proposed creating a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in a new financial regulation plan.
A Canadian visionary in this field is Alex Tapscott. He articulates the scale of the transformation he believes is coming through explaining that while the Bitcoin revolution has been massive, it will still only be a bit player in comparison.
Indeed he defines it as the wholesale reinvention of capital, a journey he foresees in his 2016 presentation ‘Blockchain is Eating Wall Street‘.
Digital assets are smart and programmable. Let’s say you’re sending money to your kid studying in college. You can now program the money to only work at certain retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods, rather than the Ontario Cannabis Store or LCBO.
By rethinking capital, we can reimagine markets, money and finance. Entire swaths of the financial services industry currently worth trillions of dollars — banking, payments and even money itself — will be questioned, challenged and upended in the years to come.
Alex tells of how in August 2019, central bankers around the world assembled for their annual Jackson Hole symposium, where Mark Carney endorsed what could be the largest change in the global financial system since the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement.
At the symposium, Carney argued for replacing the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency with a new global currency, entirely digital, and backed by a basket of digital currencies from a number of central banks.
With Canada’s optimum size, scale of banking sector and mix of industry expertise across fields like payments and the Blockchain, the country is uniquely positioned to move quickly on this opportunity and in a meaningfully substantial manner.
Already the Bank of Canada has laid the groundwork to be prepared and early innovators like the City of Calgary are pioneering the path, with visionaries like Alex illuminating it for others to follow.