From Barter to Blockchain: the History of Money with HEC Prof. Olivier Bossard #Ep1


To understand the blockchain revolution,
I like to go back in time and try to understand the
different stages of the history of Money. It has three functions: it is an
intermediary of exchange, it is a unit of account,
but also a store of value. At the origins of the history of humanity,
the exchange of goods was done on the basis of barter with units of account:
a goat against 5 chickens or against 50 bananas. However, none of these goods
could serve as a store of value: Then, palaeo-currencies appeared,
for example early shells, infalsifiable and
therefore rare in the mountainous regions,
to serve not only as an intermediary of exchange and unit of account,
but also as store of value. he value of money became guaranteed
by the rarity of its support (gold or electrum coins in Antiquity)
and also by the fact that it was stamped
or minted by a guarantor. And then, over the centuries,
we went from those currencies that had intrinsic value (convertible into gold)
to so-called fiduciary currencies, that is to say without intrinsic value, but based on
our confidence in a state and its central bank. That is the case of our current monetary units
(the euro, the dollar) which have lost their convertibility
to gold, but are solely guaranteed by the confidence in our states.
In addition, the physical money (palpable physical coins and notes) is
gradually disappearing, being replaced by scriptural money,
i.e. literally written on Finally, we arrive to the
third stage of this evolution: money has undergone a last evolution
step with digitization: exchanges
are now in electronic form, with bank cards and online payments,
where a controlling body still exists, but does not intervene directly.
And finally, we get there, the Blockchain is opening up a new revolutionary chapter in this “History of Money”, precisely with
the emergence of Crypto-Currencies: And this is a totally different form of digital money Yet, the blockchain technology preserves the essence of money: an abstract token that is
inherently immutable, infallible, eternal, retains its value and
represents the exchange of value, cannot be seized or frozen, can be
transmitted anywhere in the world, can be independently verified
by anyone who receives it. But it is not controlled by anyone.

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