Imagine Solutions Seminars: How Technology Is Changing Money

If you asked a room of people, have you heard of cryptocurrency, and do you understand its function and impact, likely most everyone would answer in the affirmative to the first question, and a lesser number would concur with the latter. If you asked the same room, have you heard of blockchain, and do you understand it, the rates of response might be a little fuzzier, though still skewing towards a higher number of yeses to the first query. It was with these questions in mind that Imagine Solutions welcomed author and noted financial expert Thomas J. Anderson to the stage for our second of three 2019-2020 Seminars, held on January 21, 2020 at the Community School of Naples.

With more humor and wit than you might anticipate for a seemingly esoteric subject, Tom regaled the audience with anecdotes about his early miscalculations about the monetary value if Bitcoin, which today remains the most commonly heard of form of cryptocurrency, and used helpful analogies and visualizations to help listeners come to their own understanding of this burgeoning technological phenomenon. Without delving into the arcane, technical nitty-gritty of how it all works, which could take up an entire seminar of its own and then some, Anderson gave a high-level presentation on how, practically, we can all expect these advances to impact our lives.

A primary theme of the presentation was trust. Blockchain is, as described by Anderson, a digital version of the world’s most secure diary. Information stored using these methodologies cannot be altered or manipulated in any way absent particular access permissions. This kind of security engenders trust, which subsequently is a net positive for financial markets and other large systems. Data become impenetrable, and unchangeable. The example was given of the United States Constitution. Even if all original physical copies were somehow destroyed, its contents survive in perpetuity. There is societal trust in the words of the Constitution that cannot be compromised.

Cryptocurrency is merely a vehicle that demonstrates a potential application of blockchain technology. As global financial markets face uncertainty and destabilization, cryptocurrency is an illustration of individual action doing what it so often does: proposing an alternative. Anderson was largely neutral on the merits of cryptocurrency, particularly insofar that it is still in its earliest, most exploratory stages of growth. While it may yet prove viable, it’s equally not about to supplant our current financial infrastructure. Worth noting, however: the abstraction of cryptocurrency isn’t altogether different from how we today think about the storage and conveyance of money. As our world only becomes more and more digital, cryptocurrency starts to look less on the fringes.

As with each Imagine Solutions Seminar, guests were captivated, and engaged in a lengthy question and answer session with the speaker, who was happy to accommodate, sharing his clearly considerable knowledge. Imagine Solutions is thankful to the Community School of Naples for sharing their space, and to Florida Gulf Coast University for helping to make this speaker series possible. Interested readers may look into Anderson’s book, Money Without Boundaries: How Blockchain Will Facilitate the Denationalization of Money. For those curious to learn more about future economic trends, the Imagine Solutions Conference, coming up in Naples on February 24, will feature a presentation from Ed Hyman, a leading voice in economics for more than 40 years.