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Evolution of Crypto in Dollar-Dominated World

Key Takeaways
  • The involvement of human beings and economics has led to the evolution of currency from barter to fiat and the next big leap through cryptocurrency.
  • The global monetary transaction is effected by the dollar as currency, crypto being a decentralized ledger challenges the US hegemony.
11-Jul-2023 Sudeep Saxena
Evolution of Crypto in Dollar-Dominated World

Evolution of Currency

The evolution of currency has been a fascinating journey throughout human history, marked by significant developments such as the transition from barter to the emergence of fiat money and the recent rise of cryptocurrencies.

In early civilizations, barter was the primary method of trade, where goods and services were exchanged directly. However, this system had limitations, as it required a double coincidence of wants and posed challenges in dividing and storing value. To overcome these issues, commodity money emerged, such as cowrie shells, beads, and precious metals, which were widely accepted as mediums of exchange.

The next major leap came with the advent of fiat money. In the late 17th century, governments began issuing paper money, which was backed by the authority and trust of the issuing entity, rather than being directly convertible into a physical commodity like gold or silver. Fiat money provided a more flexible and efficient means of exchange, facilitating economic growth and trade on a larger scale.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were established as a result of the United States, together with 29 other nations, taking on the duty of organizing the Bretton Woods Conference. By pushing the nations to maintain a sizable amount of their foreign reserves in USD, both of these institutions largely contributed to the dollar gaining its current supremacy in the economy. 

Additionally, the IMF and World Bank developed structural adjustment programs that mandated trade and capital flow liberalization as well as the maintenance of exchange rate stability, ultimately strengthening the dollar as a reserve currency. Only US dollars were accepted as loan repayments, and the World Bank mandated that the US dollar be used as the preferred currency for international commerce and finance. 

More recently, the digital revolution and advancements in cryptography led to the emergence of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, introduced in 2009, was the first decentralized digital currency, operating on a technology called blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and many others, offer decentralized and secure transactions, independent of traditional financial systems. They leverage cryptographic principles to ensure transparency, immutability, and privacy.

While cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity, they have not yet become widely accepted as a mainstream form of currency. However, they have sparked discussions around the potential of digital currencies and blockchain technology to revolutionize the financial industry. Central banks and governments are exploring the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which aim to combine the advantages of cryptocurrencies with the stability and regulatory oversight of traditional fiat currencies.

Rise of crypto as currency vis a vis impact on the US Dollar

The US government has special privileges for its currency in global monetary transactions as the trades are settled in US Dollars, presenting an opportunity to print money and issue debt at low-interest rates which in turn cuts the cost of capital for both government and firms. Alongside development and recognition by countries of cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange, store of value and decentralized technology for currency makes it equally competitive to the US Dollar. Different economies on acceptance and initiation of crypto as currency led to de-dollarization.

The dominance of the strong US dollar is in jeopardy. The ubiquitous dollar, once the unquestioned center of world monetary politics, is clearly losing its hold. Although it continues to be the principal reserve currency globally, its influence is gradually waning. The US is no longer the greatest commercial economy in the world; instead, China has replaced it as the top trading partner. As a result, in recent years, nations have begun reducing their dollar holdings. The proportion of the US dollar in global foreign exchange reserves. In March 2022, the US dollar's market share of global foreign exchange reserves dropped to around 58%, its lowest level since 1994. Prior to the Nixon shock, when the dollar's convertibility into gold was banned, its market share peaked at 85.6% in 1971 and was at 71% in 2001. 

The recent development which cannot be ignored is numerous country central banks exploring the idea of new currency issued using blockchain technology. The implications of using such technology are being explored by the issuance of concept papers, and studies on changes in behavior patterns where digital currency is being used by people, corporations, and other entities. A CBDC is a digital currency using blockchain technology whose value is fixed by the central bank which reduces the risk and volatile nature of cryptocurrency. The introduction and its wide acceptability could lead to an equal value as that of fiat money thereby jeopardizing the dollar as a global currency reserve.

Advantages of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has emerged as a significant financial technology with the potential to address some of the challenges posed by the dominance of the US Dollar.

  • Decentralization: Unlike fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies are not controlled by a central authority like a central bank or government. This feature allows for more financial autonomy and resilience against the monetary policies of dominant economies like the US.

  • Financial Inclusion: In many parts of the world where traditional banking infrastructure is not well-developed, cryptocurrency can provide a means of financial inclusion. This can help in reducing the dependency on the Dollar for international transactions.

  • Stability: Certain cryptocurrencies, known as stablecoins, are designed to minimize price volatility often through pegging to other assets. They can offer a level of stability not unlike that of the Dollar but without the same level of influence over global financial systems.

  • Transaction Efficiency: Cryptocurrency can facilitate faster, cheaper, and more efficient cross-border transactions. This can be particularly advantageous for economies with less developed financial infrastructure or those facing sanctions, which currently rely heavily on the Dollar-based system.

  • Diversification: Cryptocurrency provides an opportunity for nations and businesses to diversify their asset holdings and reduce the risks associated with an over-reliance on a single dominant currency like the Dollar.

Concluding Remark

One of the most important pillars of the economy is the monetary system. Every time individuals, corporations, and other entities engage in any type of financial transaction, they put their faith in the integrity of the financial system and the security of their money. The basic objective of central bank missions is to maintain this confidence. We think a pronounced issuer is necessary for a cryptocurrency to be properly implemented and accepted. 

This is mostly due to practical considerations since someone must push the progress in order for it to be accepted by the general public. A potential and likely issuer, Therefore, the emergence of a widely used cryptocurrency in the near future is possible, while the exact form is yet unknown. 

The current state of the bitcoin market may be compared to a swim race, where all competitors wait at the starting blocks, hesitant to enter owing to the possibility of unanticipated dangers beneath the water's surface but equally concerned about missing the start bell and falling behind.

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