The rapid pace of change means such questions are not out of the realm of possibility.

It’s interesting how the world is so different today to a year ago, or even 10 or 25 years ago. I usually contextualise this in terms of how we consume media. I remember replacing all of my LPs with CDs 25 years ago; 10 years ago, I was converting these CDs to a digital format and storing them on my iPhone; today, I stream music and don’t have any physical representation of my music collection.

More importantly is how we think about relationships and social connections within the same timeframe. A quarter-century ago, most of my discussions were with friends in pubs; 10 years ago, it was on Twitter and Facebook; and today, it’s on Instagram and TikTok.

Onto banking: in the 1990s, most people were still using branches, not internet banking; in the 2010s, while things had moved on, most people weren’t using mobile banking; in 2022, due to the pandemic and other factors, this has changed again.

Our world changes quite fast. Let's take it a step further and think about money.

We often think of money as cash and physical exchange; however, the reality today is that money is data and data exchange. We think money can be regulated and managed, and yet it is moving outside the regulated system. We think of money as national and run by governments, but it is now global and run by networks.

I guess there’s the rub. Our world has been reinvented in just a short period of time. It is interesting that Europe has spent most of the past quarter century trying to harmonise rules for cross-border trade and access, while the developers have decided the network can do that, and countries and country borders don’t matter much anymore.

It is not impossible that we will have colonies living on the moon and on Mars within the next 25 years, so what currency will we use there?

Regulators talk about cash in and out of the system. My question to them is: why do people need to cash in or out anymore? Governments talk about border restrictions, but I ask what restrictions? Politicians talk about taxing and regulating, and the network replies: find us.

It’s a very different world and so, looking forward a year, 10 years or another quarter-century, what changes are coming down the pipeline?

Well, the friction between regulators, governments and politicians with the network will likely continue and, if anything, get even more agitated. Of course, the physical world can police anything happening physically. If you fly to another country or if you deposit a ton of money in the bank, then that can be monitored and reported. But what if you don’t fly and don’t deal with a bank?

A while ago, a friend of mine said that he now “lived on PayPal”. He had opened an account and had much of his work deposited into a PayPal balance. As a result, he left his bank. 

That was 10 years ago. Today, he lives in cryptocurrency. All of his life is transacted through coins that governments and borders likely don't realise exist — if they do, they have no idea how to regulate them.

Money is just data and data is where we are today. Eventually, we are going to be living in a multiplanetary society. It is not impossible that we will have colonies living on the moon and on Mars within the next 25 years, so what currency will we use there? Who will regulate it? How can it be taxed?

As we move from localisation to globalisation to multiplanetary, money as data becomes an interesting minefield of challenges and opportunities. Maybe we should already be thinking about the opening of our first branch on Mars.

We need to build a financial system where we transact between worlds, have customers on Mars, offices on Venus and staff on Earth. How would that world look? Brainstorm it.


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