Sunday, December 14, 2014

Currency Multiplicity: Social Economic Networks

Cryptocoin multiplicity is just one kind of currency multiplicity in the modern world. More broadly, we are living in an increasingly multi-currency society with all kinds of monetary and non-monetary currencies. First, there is currency multiplicity in the sense of monetary currency in that there are many different fiat currencies (USD, CNY, EUR, GBP, etc.). Second, there are many other non-fiat, non-cryptocurrencies like loyalty points and airline miles; one estimate is that there are 4,000 such altcurrencies [1]. Now there is also a multiplicity of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. Fourth, beyond monetary currencies, there is currency multiplicity in non-monetary currencies too like reputation, intention, and attention as discussed above.

Market principles have been employed to develop metrics for measuring non-monetary currencies such as influence, reach, awareness, authenticity, engagement, action-taking, impact, spread, connectedness, velocity, participation, shared values, and presence [2]. Now blockchain technology could make these non-monetary social currencies more trackable, transmissible, transactable, and monetizable. Social networks could become social economic networks. For example, reputation as one of the most recognizable non-monetary currencies has always been an important intangible asset, however was not readily monetizable other than indirectly as an attribute of labor capital.

However social network currencies can now become transactable with web-based cryptocurrency tip jars (like Reddcoin) and other micropayment mechanisms that were not previously feasible or transnationally-scalable with traditional fiat currency. Just as collaborative work projects like open-source software development can become more acknowledgeable and remunerable with github commits and line-item contribution-tracking, cryptocurrency tip jars can provide a measurable record and financial incentive for contribution-oriented online activities. One potential effect of this could be that if market principles were to become the norm for intangible resource allocation and exchange, all market agents might start to have a more intuitive and pervasive concept and demonstration of exchange and reciprocity. Thus social benefits like a more collaborative society could be a result of what might initially seem to be only a deployment of economic principles [3].

[1] Lietaerm B. nad Dunne, J. (2013). Rethinking money: how new currencies turn scarcity into prosperity. London, UK: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
[2] Swan, M. (2010). “Social economic networks and the new intangibles.” Online text from the Broader Perspective blog. 
[3] Swan. M. (2009). “New Banks, New Currencies and New Markets in a Multicurrency World: Roadmap for a Post-Scarcity Economy by 2050.” Create Futures IberoAmérica, Enthusiasmo Cultural, São Paolo Brazil, October 14, 2009.

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