BitClout is the next software platform.
Product idea of the day: A spreadsheet that can pull in and calculate on-chain metrics.
Buy the dip
There are lots of reasons we want to save money. We might need it for a rainy day, something expensive, or maybe our children’s future.
But money is only “saved” if it holds its value over time.
Some forms of money decay over time. Flowers die, metal corrodes, and cows get less tasty. But chemistry isn’t the only thing that can make money lose value. Money will lose its value if it becomes less scarce.
A dollar might buy a house if there were only a million dollars in the world. But if we created hundreds of trillions of dollars, a dollar might only buy a stick of gum.
Throughout history, technology has helped people create new money easily.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, wampum beads were money in North America before gold and the dollar. When Dutch colonists recognized wampum’s value, they began mass-producing it in the 19th century using their new industrial technology.
Once the newly made wampum flooded the market, its value diminished. Soon everyone was forced to switch to a form of money that wasn’t easy to create, gold. Today wampum is used for ceremonies and traditional jewelry.
Today’s money faces similar risks. Governments control the supply of money within their borders. Occasionally, a governing body will be short on the money they need. Instead of raising funds through taxation, they issue new currency to meet their needs.
If a government prints too much, hyperinflation begins, and the country’s economy tanks. This has happened dozens of times in just the last 100 years. It’s currently happening in Venezuela, and there isn’t much that the citizens of Venezuela can do to stop it.
A currency that is easy to create can make everyone poor.
Ease of spending isn’t the only quality that matters when picking a medium of exchange. Good money is also easy to move.
This concept is rather simple. Money has to be able to move from my possession into yours easily.
Cows were once considered money. It’s easy to see why that didn’t catch on. Not only are cows difficult to spend, but they are also difficult to move. The people you trade with need to be within walking distance.
Gold coins were easier to move. They could fit in a pocket and move across large chunks of land quickly without much thought. This proved to be the most efficient money to move until the invention of government-issued money.
When we invented central banks, we put our gold in a central location and used it to back our government currencies. Moving money at this point required either handing over our new paper currency or relying on banks and companies to process our checks, card swipes, or wire transfers.
While these systems that we use today seem convenient, they come at a cost. When I buy a cup of coffee with my Visa card, Visa has to:
- Make sure my account has the funds available.
- Authorize the payment (so I can leave with my coffee while the rest of this takes place.)
- Tell my bank to deduct my $4 purchase at the cafe.
- Tell the cafe’s payment provider to add that $4 payment, minus the costs and fees Visa and the banks take.
Assuming this process goes smoothly (and the payment isn’t disputed after it is authorized), it could take over 24 hours for the merchant to get their money.
Moving money to another country involves even more institutions. Payments can take over a week to settle and usually come with higher fees.
Needless to say, we’ve come a long way in our ability to move money, but it is far from perfect.