OK, so money isn’t irrelevant …yet, but it will be. Like so many things that are in existence, they are only still used because they have either achieved global ubiquity, or there is nothing better to replace them, or both.
Money, in all its forms, is probably the definitive example of this, but I can actually see a time in the not too distant future when it will be replaced with what it has always represented; Value.
Let me take a step back here and say that this subject is wayyy too complex for me to do true justice, and I have no intention of reading any books on economics to ensure it’s factually accurate, but by its very nature, money is limiting to the continuation of globalisation. Like it or not, the world is getting smaller and less unique across traditional borders both physical and political. People are starting to want the same things, and while not all of things they want are good, the common ground between them is once again driven by value.
Money simply cannot keep up with the changes, and the massive complexity of producing cash, providing debit and credit services, exchange rates, inflation, and a plethora of other things I have made it my goal to never understand, will eventually drive a requirement for something new;
I’m calling it ‘Digital Identity and Virtual Value Management’.
Another step back; In the past, if you were a wheat farmer and needed meat, you would exchange wheat for meat at a ratio you agreed directly with the person standing right in front of you. You would then each go on your way happy that you have received fair value for your goods. However, if you wanted dairy products, carpentry skills, metal working skills or a whole host of services, you had to repeat this process, and of course, the representative values would always change depending on your immediate needs.
Now, in a massively over-simplification of history and probably fact, it was decided in the year [mumble-mumble] that it would make sense to replace the bartering system with a universally agreed (i.e. by the ‘government’) meaningless object (money), which would represent the VALUE of every commodity so that the holder of this meaningless object was owed the value of it in any commodity they chose.
Great, so now instead of carrying around huge quantities of wheat, our farmer can now walk up to any provider of goods and exchange their meaningless objects for whatever they want.
Eventually these meaningless objects became paper-based, then plastic, and now it’s digital, but it’s still meaningless. Only the VALUE of what it represents means anything, and you SHOULD be able to spend that any time, any place, anywhere, without the need for a meaningless object.
Your identity should replace the meaningless object, and your value should replace money in all it’s forms.
But who sets your value? Who is to say that the services of a lawyer are more valuable than those of a plumber?
Currently, if you accept £50,000 / year for your employment, YOU are the one who set that value, not your employer. If you think you’re worth more, go somewhere else, or, what you should do is increase your value by improving yourself in some way (education, experience, work harder, you name it). And herein lies one of the biggest mistakes people make their whole lives; focussing on money when what they SHOULD be focusing on is improving their own worth, their VALUE to others.
So, what is Digital Identity? It’s the unequivocal ability for you to prove that you are you, to anyone, anywhere. If everyone in the world KNEW that you were you, then you would not need money, passports, or any physical form of identity. Whether this is effected by biometrics and knowledge verification or [more likely] a combination of these and other yet-to-be invented factors is unclear, but the digitalisation of everything will continue until this form of Identity Management is commonplace.
And Virtual Value? This you can see happening already with Bitcoin and its brethren. What’s missing is the input of non-monetary value, or in other words, I have no way of entering my self-determined worth into a virtual environment, then have others validate it for my actual work in a way that I can spend on something else. But this is coming too, it almost has to.
I can imagine a time when I perform a piece of work for someone, immediately be ‘credited’ with the agreed virtual value, then be able to walk into a store, pick up what I want and walk out again without performing any manual payment transaction whatsoever. My Digital Identity will be confirmed the second I walk into the store, the value of the goods will be automatically calculated based on my choices, and the value of those good will be deducted from my virtual net-worth (or Internet-worth! :)) as soon as I step back out into the street.
Seems rather ridiculous that we still use credit cards, doesn’t it?