On this episode of CoinDesk's Money Reimagined, join Jen Zhu Scott, executive chairman of The Commons Project, Tanvi Ratna, CEO of Policy 4.0, along with hosts Michael J. Casey of CoinDesk and Sheila Warren of the World Economic Forum for this deep dive into the potential of, and thought behind, China's forthcoming DCEP, better known as the digital yuan.
In the lore of digital disruption, Eastman Kodak Co.'s downfall is particularly momentous.
Kodak was once one of the world's most powerful companies. But it failed to act on digital cameras and online photo sharing, despite seeing the trends years before. (Kodak engineer Steve Sasson created the first digital camera in 1975.)
The digital yuan
It's an apt story to remember now as the digital money revolution rolls ahead at a time of historic political transition.
With DCEP, China’s supply chains will become hyper-efficient, giving it a big advantage over other countries’ production sectors. And as those models extend into China’s international One Belt One Road initiative, foreign dependency on its production processes could grow, giving Beijing geopolitical clout.
Out of this, China will forge financial autonomy. Its digital currency will eventually be interoperable with other tokens and blockchains, allowing its businesses and their foreign trading partners to move money across borders without using dollars as an intermediary. They’ll bypass New York, in other words.
Solution: Open money
This won’t happen overnight. But the effect on confidence in the U.S. could arise within the next four years.
How should Washington react? Christopher Giancarlo, former CFTC chairman and the founder of the Digital Dollar Foundation, is pushing for a digital dollar that would integrate constitutionally enshrined privacy protections, making it more appealing than the digital yuan, which many fear will become a Beijing surveillance tool.
But will people truly trust the U.S. not to monitor digital dollar transactions? After all, as Jennifer Zhu Scott, chair of the Commons Project, noted in this week’s Money Reimagined podcast, global finance is already subject to a comprehensive U.S.-led system of surveillance.
So, while we’re right to worry about a Chinese “panopticon” ingesting people’s identifying information, that’s not the data threat the U.S. can or should compete with. In the same podcast episode, Policy 4.0 CEO Tanvi Ratna said the bigger issue is how troves of DCEP-generated anonymized data will enable Chinese businesses to extract huge efficiencies and unlock innovation across decentralized economic systems.
There may be a way for the U.S. to compete here. But it will require a radical, disruptive solution. This is an episode you won't want to miss.
Original Album Art Image by Kido Dong / Unsplash modified by CoinDesk.