But suppose the next evolutionary period is different, in that the technology has decentralised invention to the point where rapid experimentation can take place “at the edge” as the OpenTech crowd would say, not business pull as in the past but business experiment on a large scale. Well, it may be that the next near-money to shift from store of value to medium exchange might already be being traded in some small community somewhere, just waiting for the dynamics of networks to take their course. So what is it? Linden Dollars or Pieces of Telefonica Eight, Microsoft Moolah or Google Groats? To cross the chasm into the mainstream, the near-money would need to be something that it is easy for people to understand and easy for them to visualise holding and using: My candidate is access to telecommunications services (mobile minutes or broadband megabytes or similar). What’s yours?
Here is, in fact, the oval table.
Chris Skinner, sitting to my left in this picture, drew a useful distinction between alternative monies (ie, air miles, mobile phone minutes and various form of The IBM Dollar) and community currencies (eg, the Totnes Pound). This completes the taxonomy of near-money, alongside commodity monies which were not discussed. Anyway, Chris’ point, which I reinforced, was that the adoption of community monies would not be subject to the same drivers or discipline as the adoption of alternative monies, because there is an “emotional” component. I may choose to use the Totnes Pound not because it is the most rational or economically efficient choice, but because I want to express some other aspect of my personality or character through the money I use. It won’t be the brand of card I use that is the battleground of the future, but the brand of the currency I use to transact.
These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]