Speaking at the Paris Fintech Forum in June, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, the Governor of the Bank of France, said that there is no such thing as a cryptocurrency, only crypto-assets. I understand what he means. Brett Scott, who is always thoughtful about such things, recently made a similar point. He said that just as a child trading an action figure for a football « does not undermine the Federal Reserve (which issues dollars that both are priced in) » so « swapping a dollar-priced Bitcoin collectible for dollar-priced goods does not fundamentally alter the structure of the monetary system ». Indeed it does not.
I have to say, I agree with Francois and Brett. While some people (quite rightly, in my opinion) always saw Bitcoin as more of a protest movement than as a viable alternative to Bretton Woods and some other people saw it as a way around a rotten international monetary system, I’ve been pretty consistent in my view that Bitcoin is not money but a new form of digital asset that might, in certain circumstances, exhibit money-like characteristics.
Some people go further and see it as a new dawn. In the very early days of Bitcoin, I met a number of people who saw crypto-assets as the basis for an alternative economic system, a kind of trustless base layer for a universal « internet of value » that would sweep away the sclerotic institutions of global corporatism and unleash a new wave of capitalism. These people often talked about a new gold standard, although I’m not sure why, because society had long ago decided that a gold standard was not the best way to run modern economies. I don’t see any evidence that this alternative system is emerging. On social media we see what Concoda calls » a non-stop stream of ‘freedom porn’ » from cryptocurrency fans yet in reality the crypto-asset markets are thin, opaque and manipulated.