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Digital Currency Options for an Independent Scotland

How might Scotland's independence plans intersect with the hottest technology trend in the world today - The future of money itself?

An upcoming DigitalScot.live webinar will explore ‘Digital Currency Options for an Independent Scotland‘.

It’s an intersection of tectonic shifts that represent the tip of the spear of the ambition to build a world leading Digital Scotland: An independent nation with an ultra-modern economy, achieved through pioneering globally leading edge technology innovation.

In short this will explore the marriage of two key trends:

A Scottish Currency

The number one topic at the heart of the Scottish Independence debate is what currency would be used. This OpenDemocracy article sets the scene through a critical analysis of the SNP’s Growth Commission plans, being especially harsh of their currency strategy.

Thought leaders pioneering alternative ideas in Scotland include Tim Rideout, heading up the ReserveBank.scot initiative, Common Weal who have published this paper on how to make a Scottish currency, Richard Murphy and Modern Money Scotland.

See all of them together discussing the topic on this panel discussion webinar.

CBDCs – Central Bank Digital Currencies

In global technology innovation terms a Scottish currency has the potential to be implemented through the white hot topic in the Blockchain industry right now of “CBDCs” – Central Bank Digital Currencies.

It’s a behemoth of a worldwide opportunity now taking shape – In the USA former CFTC chair Chris Giancarlo has set up a not-for-profit called the Digital Dollar Foundation, to pioneer the creation of a US CBDC.

The World Economic Forum says it’s time to take them seriously, CNBC explores what they would look like, the US Federal Reserve published a literature review, the IMF a set of considerations for their use and Brookings a set of design options. The Bank of England offers this discussion paper to explore the topic in detail and HSBC comments on them here.

Early pioneers include Switzerland and Canada, and China has ambitions to lead the world in this field.

There are concerns and critics of course. Coin Telegraph writes that they have the potential to upend global finance, and also that they are dead in the water, and the Economist asks if they will break the banking system.

The Future of Money

From the perspective of technology innovation the key point is that this is not just about the straight digitization of money as we understand it, but an entire transformation of how money ‘works’, headlined through the idea of “Programmable Money”.

A key standard that could make it possible is ‘DAML’, a programming language for creating Blockchain smart contracts that run across multiple infrastructure options. DigitalAsset is the world’s expert on this and explore the trend in more detail in this series of blogs.

Not only does this provide the technology to digitally enable currencies as they behave now, but to make possible a future of Programmable Money, where a variety of behaviours and actions can be coded into the flow of money not possible with physical currency.

A Canadian visionary in this field is Alex Tapscott. He articulates the scale of the transformation he believes is coming through explaining that while the Bitcoin revolution has been massive, it will still only be a bit player in comparison.

Indeed he defines it as the wholesale reinvention of capital, a journey he foresees in his 2016 presentation ‘Blockchain is Eating Wall Street‘.

Digital assets are smart and programmable. Let’s say you’re sending money to your kid studying in college. You can now program the money to only work at certain retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods, rather than the Ontario Cannabis Store or LCBO.

By rethinking capital, we can reimagine markets, money and finance. Entire swaths of the financial services industry currently worth trillions of dollars — banking, payments and even money itself — will be questioned, challenged and upended in the years to come.

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