Digital currency: Everybody’s talking about it!It’s been a high-profile year for digital currency (AKA cryptocurrency), with mentions in the media recently reaching a crescendo.
It seems that everybody’s talking about it – will the price go up? Will the price go down? Seeing it solely as a speculative venture and overlooking its possible long-term advantages and uses. Well, now this groundbreaking innovation has its very own designated day, to highlight what it has to offer, and is attracting the attention of some prominent people with its potential benefits.
Digital Currency Day, which took place on 16th January 2018, was the first of what will be an annual occasion, to shine a light on the potential of this groundbreaking innovation, providing a forum for debate, discussion, and education.
Launched by the Digital Currency Foundation at an event at the UK Houses of Parliament, the first Digital Currency Day attracted great interest, with some 29 Members of Parliament and nine Members of the House of Lords attending the launch.
An international flavour
In fact, the event had a strong international flavour with representatives from the embassies of many countries in attendance, including China, Oman, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Ireland, Israel, Finland, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Pakistan, France, Guadeloupe, and UAE. Such a wide-ranging international presence was particularly fitting, considering the potential digital currency has for oiling the cogs of worldwide commerce, making it easier to trade across geographical borders.
Mihir Magudia, Managing Director of the Digital Currency Foundation, explained in an interview to mark the occasion, on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show, a leading UK current affairs programme with weekly audiences of over seven million: ‘It can be sent anywhere in the world for next to nothing.
There’s no bank in the way, there’s no exchange rate in the way, there’s no percentage clip here or there. It gives you the opportunity to do business anywhere in the world, with anyone you want in the world, and it’s free from the old-fashioned constraints of day-to-day country-wide politics.’
At a time when developments such as the Trump-Brexit political situations are threatening to create more barriers between countries and their international trade, any way to build cross-border bridges for businesses should not be dismissed lightly.
The world is watching
The world is certainly waking up to the possible benefits that digital currency could offer and not a day goes by without fresh news reported on the subject. Each country seems to be closely watching developments in this burgeoning field and considering the stance to take in the sector.
Undoubtedly, many will be intently watching the approach the UK government takes, as it is widely seen as a leader in legislation, which others may follow. It is therefore vital that any policy is based on a full understanding of the field, and so opportunities to learn more, such as the Digital Currency Day event, are invaluable.
Of course, the recent media frenzy of reporting on digital currency has focused on the rocketing prices on exchanges last year, with Bitcoin (the original and still highest-value cryptocurrency) achieving a 1,300% rise in price from January to December 2017, and the volatile values since. However, this is only a small part of the story, as digital currency has the potential to be world-changing in the long term.
With its ability to enable users to carry out international transactions more speedily and inexpensively than traditional methods, and with its enhanced privacy and security, people are even talking about the possibility that one-day cryptocurrency could replace cash altogether.
Fintech for the forward-thinking
Such benefits are therefore understandably catching the eye of forward-thinking people across various sectors, and representatives of a number of industry trade bodies and academic institutions were also present at the Digital Currency Day event to discuss this innovative fintech and what it can offer.
Another benefit which many may find particularly appealing is that it cannot be counterfeited and transactions cannot be canceled later by the sender, in contrast to credit card payments. Although cryptocurrency might seem strange and new to many at the moment, no doubt credit cards also initially appeared that way, and in practice, once you get past the techno terminology, it is very easy to use.
In fact, one company present at the event, LEO, has its very own digital currency which has been specially designed to be accessible for all, and is also championing this trailblazing technology as a means for even entry-level entrepreneurs to do business worldwide more easily in the future.
So, aside from the interest digital currency is garnering from the short-term speculators, those with some long-term foresight are now jumping on board. Like all new technology, there will always be skeptics, but the visionaries in the vanguard of this field can see past the purely short-term attractions of speculating to the potential long-term benefits, which are winning interest at the highest levels.
Indeed, speaking at the Digital Currency Day event, the Right Honourable Norman Lamb, MP and Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, summed this up when he said: ‘The potential benefits of digital currencies are absolutely clear.
They offer a quick and low-cost payment method, with potential benefits for consumers, retailers, charities, government and the wider economy’. This was a sentiment echoed by another speaker, John Howell, MP, who commented: ‘I think that digital currency has a tremendous amount to offer’, and emphasised by attendee, Paul Southworth, OBE, Chairman of Northamptonshire Community Foundation, who said: ‘There is no question that digital currency will become a major part of everyone’s lives in the future.’
So, the digital currency conversation is clearly gathering pace and looks set to continue, considering the implications this new technology could have for us all in the future. Indeed, you can already use it to buy anything from a car to a plant, but who knows, in five years’ time we may all be buying our groceries with Bitcoin!