The Future of Money: the 9 Best Books

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After Bitcoin’s astronomic rise to $19,000 in 2017, and subsequent plummet back down to earth, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the future of money lies elsewhere, and that cryptocurrency was yet another technology bubble. But looking more closely, the underlying blockchain technology contains astonishing potential to revolutionize industry across the board. Some believe that the very basis of our valuation of money will change in the years to come. It seems as though we are on the cusp of radical changes in one of the pillars of economic exchange.

In order to understand these future upheavals in our economic life, we’ve put together the top nine books on the future of money; from the end of the US dollar as global reserve currency, to the rise of Tesco Reward Points as the preferred medium of exchange, these works will challenge you to reconsider some of our most basic assumptions about what money is, and how it can be used.

The Currency Cold War: Cash and Cryptography, Hash Rates and Hegemony

by David Birch

Birch, one of the UK’s leading futurists and thought-leaders in the field of monetary theory, outlines the extent of the coming disruption to the world’s current monetary systems. The growth of digital currencies, whether corporate, state-backed, or individual, will accelerate already existing tensions between the East and the West, the old and new, and the private and public spheres. The Currency Cold War is a wake-up call to the international financial community to discuss and plan our adoption of these new technologies now, rather than in a reactive manner later when it is already too late. Birch’s book will engross readers curious about the rise (and fall) of Bitcoin, as well as those who have seen their high street banks roll out digital products and internet-based services and wonder where it is all headed. No matter your background, The Currency Cold War is your best guide to the coming digital currency future.

How Would You Like to Pay? How Technology Is Changing the Future of Money

by Bill Maurer

Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine, Maurer is also a Professor of Anthropology, and he brings his training in the social sciences to bear in this informative, insightful work. In looking at the history of money as a social instrument, Maurer illuminates the way in which we use currency today, and how our practices may change in the future. The fields of economics, technology and cryptocurrency are often viewed as the domains of scientific specialists, but Prof. Maurer reveals the extent to which human subjectivity has influenced the uses and purposes of money throughout history, and how it is human practices, not machine algorithms, that will continue to define the role of money as a transactional medium in the future. How Would You Like to Pay? is a fascinating and accessible introduction to the story of money’s past, present and future, told from a human perspective.

Personal Currency: The Future of Money

by Roger Colburn, Alex Riegelmann

Colburn and Riegelmann start out with one of the most well-known truths about money; it has no intrinsic value. Its only value is that which we ascribe to it. Without an agreed ascribed value, it has no value in and of itself. From there the authors take apart some of the major flaws that currently plague our relationship with money; its scarcity, its creation through a cycle of debt, and the inability for us to ever fully repay this debt burden. And yet, alternatives to traditional currency have so far proven underwhelming, such as the previously much-vaunted Bitcoin. After examining the reasons behind the failure of previous alternatives to cash currency, Colburn and Riegelmann introduce their work’s eponymous concept; personal currency. That is, a value that represents an individual person or entity’s reputation, and can be traded in exchange for goods and services. This ground-breaking concept, broadly-outlined in the book, would revolutionize our relationship with currency, and re-define our most basic economic relationships.

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money that We Understand to Money that Understands Us

by David Birch

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin is fundamentally a work of atavism. Birch has delved deep into the history of money to uncover its origins and most basic functions, and he believes that we are in the process of witnessing its return to these core functions. The author’s central concept is that money, from its inception and even more so after 1971 and the US’s departure from the Gold Standard, is inextricably connected to its user’s identity. Under-pinned by blockchain technology, the money of the not-too-distant future will demonstrate memory; of its use in past transactions, who by, and what for. In this kaleidoscopic future, your air-miles, gym membership points, supermarket club points, and mobile phone credits will all become separate, exchangeable currencies. In doing so, the money of the future will transform from a mere vessel of quantified value, into a carrier of community identity and culture. The anticipated effects of Birch’s proposed future currencies would up-end the financial status quo, and potentially return us to a more dependable, trustworthy basis of exchange.

The Internet of Money (vol. I-III)

by Andreas M. Antonopoulos

Entrepreneur and information-security expert, Antonopolous previously authored the acclaimed Mastering Bitcoin. Having written one of the definitive accounts of the technology behind the cryptocurrency, the author has written, in 3 volumes, the why. The Internet of Money explores the broader philosophical ideas and implications behind Bitcoin. In his analysis of the potential solutions afforded by the decentralized technology, blockchain, in broad areas such as economics, politics and society as large, Antonopoulos reveals how Bitcoin represents a technological and financial evolution that will revolutionise everything from accountancy to taxonomy. Originally published in 2016 on the cusp of Bitcoin’s shattering rise in valuation, the author’s full-throated advocacy of the technology is startling for its intellectual rigor, and well worth keeping in mind today as Bitcoin begins to rise again after its first ‘winter’.

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order

by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

Vigna and Casey, both Wall Street Journal writers, published The Age of Cryptocurrency in 2015, two years before Bitcoin strapped on its booster rockets and took off for the skies of over-valuation. Even after dropping to earth with a resounding bump (and audible groans from suckered investors), Vigna and Casey’s work remains a readable and deeply informed introduction to the subject. Going beyond simple description of blockchain technology, its uses and abuses, the authors delve into the decentralized revolution broad adoption of the technology will entail, founding a broad-based cyber-economy that will be radically different from the current one we know today. The Age of Cryptocurrency cuts through the technical jargon to give readers the inside story on one of the future’s most ubiquitous, and ground-breaking technologies.

The Future of Finance: The Impact of FinTech, AI, and Crypto on Financial Services

by Henri Arslanian, Fabrice Fischer

An engineer/AI expert and a banker/lawyer walk into a bar and……….co-author a book about the future of FinTech (haven’t heard that one before?). But seriously, Arslanian and Fischer have been writing, presenting and lecturing about the future of FinTech, cryptocurrency and AI for years, not to mention being entrepreneurs and industry leaders in their respective fields. The Future of Finance is the summary of their research, thinking and predictions for the future. What makes Arslanian and Fischer’s work stand out from the crowd is their inclusion of real case studies from industry to illustrate the uses companies are putting AI, FinTech and cryptocurrency to in the current corporate environment, and their plans for the future. This practical handbook will not only leave you better informed about these revolutionary technologies, but also clearly able to conceive of their application and benefit to existing companies looking to gain an edge over their competitors.

Blockchain Bubble or Revolution: The Present and Future of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe, Parth Detroja

Product Managers at Google, Microsoft and Facebook, respectively, the authors have leveraged their insider status to bring us a book not only packed with deep analysis of blockchain technology and the foundations of cryptocurrencies, but also information gleaned from wide-ranging interviews with colleagues and other industry insiders. The insight on offer is second to none as some of Silicon Valley’s most knowledgeable and far-sighted executives reveal their plans and expectations for how blockchain will be implemented across future industries. Illustrated throughout with real world case studies, and including analysis of Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency Libra as well as China’s e-RMB, the authors have created a work of astounding depth and clarity to enable the casual reader to fully understand the potential extent of the upcoming revolution, or whether this feverish anticipation will all collapse in a pile of unrealized potential.

Beyond Blockchain: The Death of the Dollar and the Rise of Digital Currency

by Erik Townsend

Beyond Blockchain is Townsend’s warning call to America’s Federal Bank, Treasury Dept. and politicians of both parties. The message? Digital currencies are the vector by which China and Russia will seek to destabilize the US dollar, and ultimately displace it from its perch as global reserve currency. A former distributive systems architect (blockchain technology) and hedge fund manager, Townsend’s two previous careers have provided him with unparalleled opportunities to work with the technology underpinning digital currencies and observe their impacts, positive and negative. Beyond Blockchain explores the nefarious uses both state and non-state actors could potentially implement for this revolutionary technology, and demands that politicians take legislative and fiscal action now to ensure the West remains ahead in this new arms race, one whose winner will have the capacity to dominate world markets, and undermine entire economies.  

Reckon it’s time to convert those dollars into Bitcoin (or Ethereum, or Ripple, or……….)? After reading our top nine books on the future of money, we’re certainly not so sure about the long-term viability of the change in our pocket. Do you think we missed a classic from our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Alternatively, check out our Current Events page for the latest curated book recommendations on the hottest topics in the global news media; deep dive into the issues behind the headlines! Until next time.

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