Fractional Ownership and 24/7 Trading: Unlocking New Investment With Crypto

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For decades, the global financial system has run on government-issued fiat currencies like the US dollar, euro, yen, and yuan. However, the inception of Bitcoin in 2009 introduced a radical new form of decentralized digital money based on blockchain technology.

In the decade since, cryptocurrencies have exploded in number and adoption. The total market cap of cryptocurrencies now exceeds $1 trillion, up from just $10 billion five years ago. Major corporations and institutional investors are starting to add crypto to their balance sheets and portfolios.

As cryptocurrencies gain more mainstream traction, they have the potential to truly disrupt and reshape global finance in the years ahead. Here’s how crypto could drive profound changes to the financial landscape as we know it:

The Rise of Non-Sovereign Money

Historically, governments have had a monopoly over currency issuance. Central banks like the Federal Reserve manage fiat money supplies and monetary policy. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin however are created by public blockchain networks with predetermined supply schedules. This introduces non-sovereign money outside of government control.

The fixed capped supply of cryptocurrencies makes them attractive as inflation-resistant stores of value. Individuals in countries with high inflation are already adopting crypto to preserve their wealth. If this trend accelerates, we could see a decline in demand for unstable government currencies. Central banks may have to compete with deflationary cryptocurrencies as alternative savings vehicles and units of account.

Greater Access to Financial Services

Today over 1.7 billion adults globally lack adequate access to financial services. However, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology can expand financial inclusion, especially in developing countries. Transferring or accessing money via crypto avoids the need for formal bank accounts or credit checks. Transaction fees are much lower without multiple intermediaries. Crypto remittances circumvent inefficient traditional remittance processes.

Already, crypto adoption in the developing world is surging. Countries like Venezuela and Zimbabwe suffering from hyperinflation are turning to crypto as a stable alternative. If these trends continue, cryptocurrencies could fundamentally bank the unbanked and reshape personal finance in emerging economies.

Streamlined Global Commerce

Cross-border payments via traditional finance are slow, expensive, and siloed through commercial banks. Cryptocurrency payments however settle instantly on blockchain with minimal fees. This creates a frictionless medium for international trade and commerce. Businesses can transact seamlessly across borders using unified cryptocurrencies that remain cheap to transfer.

Platforms like BitPay already facilitate crypto payments for merchants worldwide. If businesses widely adopt crypto for B2B and B2C transactions, it streamlines global commerce. Companies save on payment fees and forex conversions. Settlement times accelerate from days to seconds. Global trade becomes more efficient and integrated on open payment networks.

Tokenized Investment Assets

Beyond payments, cryptocurrencies also enable a new paradigm for investing and trading assets. Tokenization turns real-world assets like real estate, commodities, and securities into digital tokens on blockchain. This unlocks fractional ownership and 24/7 liquidity for previously illiquid assets.

For example, tokenized real estate enables fractionalized property investment via purchase of property-backed tokens. Commodities like gold or oil can be tokenized for easy trading and ownership transfer. Stocks, ETFs, and bonds can be natively issued as securities tokens with automated dividend payments. As tokenization gains steam, it could make portfolio diversification and risk management more seamless.

Decentralized Finance: Reimagining Banking

Decentralized finance (DeFi) refers to blockchain-based financial services that do not rely on centralized intermediaries like banks. DeFi applications include lending platforms, derivatives, insurance, asset management, and more. Everything is implemented transparently on blockchain with public code.

By decentralizing traditional banking, DeFi expands access and reduces costs. Services become permissionless and available to anyone 24/7. Without legacy overhead, interest rates also become more competitive. As DeFi matures, it could reshape banking by displacing financial institutions as the middlemen of money services.

Micropayments and Machine Transactions

Cryptocurrencies facilitate tiny transactions known as micropayments that were previously impractical with traditional finance. Online content and APIs can now charge minuscule per-use fees. Machines can also transact between each other on blockchain automatically using smart contracts. This unlocks new monetization models.

For instance, news sites could charge per-article payments of a few cents versus monthly subscriptions. Electric vehicle charging stations could accept direct micropayments from cars automatically. As digital payments get granular, economic activity explodes on crypto networks tailored for machine transactions.

Shift Toward Decentralization

Broadly, cryptocurrencies align with the Internet’s ethos of decentralization and permissionless access. Transferring value via public blockchains rather than private ledgers reflects this paradigm shift. Crypto proponents envision an open financial system that is more transparent, inclusive, and empowering to individuals.

If decentralized cryptocurrencies displace centralized fiat currencies over time, it could have philosophical implications. Society depends on and trusts institutions less for financial security and stability. Power shifts back towards self-sovereignty. While decentralization faces challenges, crypto at least begins pivoting the financial system further in that direction.

Uncertainty From Volatility and Regulation

Of course, these disruptions come with uncertainty. Cryptocurrencies are still extremely volatile compared to fiat money. Massive price swings introduce risk and instability as adoption scales up. There are also unanswered questions surrounding regulation, security, and long-term viability.

Governments are still assessing how to regulate cryptocurrencies, and uncertainty around future laws remains. Meanwhile hacking and theft plagues crypto exchanges and users, though security is improving. There are concerns around electricity usage for mining coins like Bitcoin. And decentralized systems like blockchain have yet to withstand major real-world crises.

So there are certainly roadblocks in the way of cryptocurrencies reshaping finance entirely. But the momentum toward mainstream adoption continues. Large investors and companies want exposure to crypto to hedge future disruption risk. With every cycle, retail appetite for crypto grows. This expanding use will further push cryptocurrencies toward wider integration with the global financial system in some form or fashion.

The Final Frontier for Disruption

Silicon Valley pioneer Marc Andreessen famously stated that finance is the “last great unconquered frontier for innovation.” For decades, vehicles like digital wallets and stock trading apps made finance more accessible, but core systems went unchanged. Cryptocurrencies feel like the final frontier to truly disrupt the rigid, inequitable financial system from within.

Unlike previous financial innovations, cryptocurrencies are decentralized, borderless, and programmable by design. This allows an entirely new financial stack to be built from the ground up using crypto networks and tokens. One that opens access, speeds up transactions, removes rent-seeking intermediaries, and bridges economies. Incumbent institutions will resist, but the crypto wave will be difficult to stop.

In a decade, cryptocurrencies have gone from an obscure academic concept to a $1 trillion asset class that the world’s wealthiest investors and institutions are trading and accumulating. The foundational layers for a new open financial system are being laid in real-time. While adoption faces speed bumps, cryptocurrencies appear destined to fundamentally reshape and reconstitute global finance for decades to come. The economic and philosophical implications of decentralized money are vast. Fasten your seatbelts, the disruption is just getting started.

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