The world economy is in a fascinating period. It is an encouraging time for those hopeful about Bitcoin and other open blockchain-based systems, but many high-level decision-makers still must be persuaded of this technology's global impact.
The United States seems to be doing fine in the aftermath of 2008’s Great Recession. Despite technological change causing some workforce pain, the U.S. economy is doing well.
But other parts of the world are still feeling some nasty economic aftereffects. Some might say this is due to colorful central banking policies. One of these policies is negative interest rates imposed by various central banks around the world.
The idea of negative interest rate policy becoming normal is concerning, as this could set a dangerous precedent for the global economy. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for alternatives to thrive. Negative interest rates could actually influence enormous growth for cryptographically backed open blockchain assets.
Negative Interest Rate Problems
Sweden, Switzerland and Japan are among countries currently enforcing negative interest rate policies. Negative interest rates, which essentially charge savers a fee to put their money in a bank, are set to induce borrowing to stimulate a sagging economy. They are also a reason for central banks to print more cash, popularly known as quantitative easing.
Over time, negative interest rate policy results in bank holdings being worth less. Therefore, it is arguable that this is not really a solution, but a stopgap until something else comes along. Some have described this policy as medicine for a “weak patient.” This refers to the concept that negative interest rates can’t heal what has already been broken for too long.
Europe has become a popular place for negative interest rates.
Negative interest rate policy forces people to look for alternatives and creates a need for services that can reflect growth rather than contraction. Retail banking relies on everyone storing cash in bank accounts, but in a negative interest rate world, people are better off borrowing money than they are saving.
In the standard fractional reserve environment, banks rely on savings to lend. Yet holding cash, for most people, is actually more lucrative in a negative interest rate environment. Even when factoring in inflation, there is long-term value in holding cash rather than putting it in a bank imposing a negative interest rate. But physical cash can be tough to hold because of security and storage issues.
Many countries believe negative interest rates are a benefit to their economies. The common mindset is that these policies are staving off even more economic problems. Distributed blockchain-based assets are clearly an attractive option in this scenario.
Choices Over Traditional Assets
As an early stage technology, Bitcoin and open blockchain are in growth mode. This is especially true since it’s not clear what long-term impact negative interest rates will have on banking. People seeking financial alternatives should be aware that there are options over traditional assets.
Bitcoin is no longer the only viable open digital currency option, with platforms such as Ethereum also offering a promising choice. With impressive performance metrics and many developers working on Ethereum projects, that choice benefits everyone. The back-end of open blockchain tech is looking more promising than ever.
Ethereum, with 14-second block times, is an attractive alternative to BTC.
The price of Bitcoin has been performing well as a store of value. Ethereum’s price performance in 2016 has been remarkable, and the fiat-to-open-blockchain exchange infrastructure around the world continues to improve.
Because of these factors, there has never been a better time to invest in and use cryptographically backed open assets. Companies such as Circle, Abra and Lawnmower are making it easier to use borderless forms of money. These startups offer a solid premise: open banking, done entirely on a digital device.
Open digital assets could provide a salvo from economic problems like negative interest rates. They can be an alternative to less transparent cash-based systems. However, there is still work to be done. This growing ecosystem still requires understanding by influential leaders to achieve widespread success.
Championing Bitcoin and Blockchain
Given the growth of Bitcoin and blockchain, new application platforms will emerge from these technologies. Global economic conditions resulting in negative interest rates certainly provide some motivation for this. But there are still obstacles to overcome for open blockchain platforms to succeed.
In Steve Case’s new book, The Third Wave, the AOL cofounder discusses today’s era of technology. In the “third wave,” current technological entrepreneurs must work to champion Bitcoin and blockchain to global leaders. This is similar to the work Case had to do at AOL in the 1990s, where he fought hard to convince regulators that the Internet would become an enormous economic opportunity.
Today, entrepreneurs must educate about the importance of Bitcoin and open blockchain. This means promoting it as an engine of economic growth and financial inclusion.
The challenge today is convincing others that this open technology is needed in economic systems. That will take dedication to developing inventive applications to solve global economic problems.
Transparency, combined with tools such as programmable agreements, ranks among the most exciting characteristics of open blockchain assets. As such, these assets should be considered highly impactful to the future of the global economy. In the case of negative interest rate policies, it is obvious that new solutions to economic problems are necessary.
Bitcoin, Ethereum and other open blockchain systems now exist to help make that happen.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Daniel Cawrey and the opinions offered are those of the author.