Why Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain Matter

Monday, September 24, 2018 5:05 PM | Anonymous
“I have no interest in investing in Bitcoin”; “Bitcoin has not practical use in my life”; “This is a fringe technology that will never replace currency or change geo-politics”.  These, and many other, thoughts may be running through your head as you think about whether or not to attend this year’s Global Business Summit.  Hopefully, this post will help to convince you otherwise.

Personally, cryptocurrencies seem risky.  How can something with no backing in reality provide a safe store of value? Is this technology ever going to touch my life? Can it really change the way we do business in the world?  The more I research this topic in advance of the Global Business Summit, on Oct 9th, the more convinced I am that the answer is yes.

Step away from the very real worries about criminal use of this technology and you will see some equally real opportunities, starting with the Blockchain.  For those who do not know, the Blockchain is the technology behind all cryptocurrencies.  For an easy explanation, think of the Blockchain as a Google Spreadsheet.  Everyone can update it in real time and everyone can see what the others are doing.  However, instead of the information being housed on Google’s servers (where the potential for hacking is greater), this information is simultaneously stored on thousands of computers.  This means that a hacker would have to instantaneously hack all of the computers in this distributed network at once to change all the records.   

“Ok, so it may be a safe store of information, but I still don’t want to put my money into cryptocurrencies.”  That is perfectly fine, and I am right there with you.  However, imagine you are a small business working on a big international deal.  You have the opportunity to make a huge sale that could completely change your business.  However, you don’t know anyone in the country you are going to work in and don’t know who you can trust. Certainly you can go to a bank and get them to manage the international wire transfer.  However, this can be a complex and lengthy process (not ideal when you are waiting on funds to enter your bank account).  Most international wires take 1-5 business days, but for much larger sums it can take longer.  Also, the various banks involved will take about 4-6% of the funds as their fees.  For a small business, that can add up quickly and ruin profit margins.  However, using a trusted cryptocurrency allows for this transaction to take place instantaneously.  Once the distributed spreadsheet is updated, you can use your currency right away, either purchasing other goods or converting it to a fiat currency of your choice. 

“Maybe it makes sense for business, but it’s still not for me.”  I get it; however, look at how this technology could revolutionize the banking industry, particularly in areas that do not have strong banking systems.  Almost 1.7 billion people in the world do not have access to a bank account or financial institution.  That means that these people are holding their life savings in their homes, where once it is gone, it is gone for good.  Cryptocurrencies can help provide a safe space for people to easily store their money and make payments online.  Imagine going from storing your money underneath your mattress to an online system that allows you to make purchases at your local market without the worry of being robbed on the way there.  If you use online banking to pay your bills, it works in a similar manner, as in both cases physical money is not transferred, simply the ledger is updated.

“Fine, that may work well in other countries, but I already have a bank account.  How is this ever going to affect me?”  You may well be surprised to know (as I was) that New Hampshire is one of the biggest adopters of cryptocurrencies in the country.  Per capita, we have the highest number of crypto ATMs, and have a variety of respectable companies in the state who accept cryptocurrencies.  When the online retailer Overstock.com started accepting cryptocurrencies in 2014, NH accounted for 19 transactions, making it the largest purchaser on a per capita basis.  This is truly an emerging market here in the state and something that has the potential to touch everyone’s lives in the near future.

“Well, that is all well and good, but I am still not convinced”.  If this is still your thinking, try this on for size.  These technologies have real and far reaching implications for the global economy and international diplomacy.  There are several countries looking into creating their own cryptocurrency, including China and Venezuela.  The biggest benefit to these countries, as well as others, would be to avoid any international sanctions. Since ownership of the funds is encrypted, sanctions cannot target individuals or corporations who hold money in these systems.  Terrorist organizations can exploit these systems to raise funds to continue their fight against their enemies. Criminal organizations can use this to launder their money and purchase materials for their operations.  How this will be regulated and investigated is the next step in the conversation, which you will have to show up to hear. 

“Alright, now I am excited! Where do I sign up?”  Great to hear! We are so excited you are excited!  You can visit our website to register www.wacnh.org/eventcalendar  or you can call our office at (603) 314-7970.  Want to try your hand at cryptocurrency? Create a Bitcoin or DASH account and send us your payment through Coinpayments Inc

Looking forward to seeing you on October 9th!


WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCIL OF NH
SNHU - 2500 N. River Road - Manchester - NH - 03106
council@wacnh.org - (603) 314-7970

WACNH is an independent, non-profit, educational organization located on the campus of SNHU. © 2010-2018

    


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