To E or not to E
Imagine if your collection of wallets was gone. All your money was stored on your smartphone. This is the society the Swedish government is imagining: a world in which one has the option to use cryptocurrency, as opposed to physical currency. Introducing the e-krona.
According to Riksbank, known as Sweden’s Central Bank, cash in circulation has fallen by twenty-five percent since 2010. Additionally, Emarketer.com reports that eighty-six percent of mobile users in Sweden use digital currency. This is due to the rise of online shopping and additional digital payment methods.
As such, the e-krona would provide plenty of advantages for Swedish consumers. Riksbank states that the e-krona will always be a real asset, and though it will not initially generate interest, it should be able to do so later through a built-in function. E-krona is not meant to completely replace Sweden’s physical currency, but rather, it provides a safer payment option for consumers as transactions using cryptocurrency can not be copied or forged, according to Interactive Crypto. Moroever, Swedish consumers would not have to be concerned with loose coins or cash, as it is all stored collectively on one device.
If Riksbank’s idea is implemented, Sweden would be one of the first countries in Europe to have central-bank-supported virtual money, following Norway. This idea may appear popular, due to the growing trend of consumers paying without cash and appearance of mobile payment services like Venmo, but there is also a degree of skepticism arising from the government’s idea. Emarketer.com suggests that consumers do not trust virtual money, due to technical concerns. For example, if there is a glitch on people’s phones or devices, then their access to their money is disrupted.
The ample discussion surrounding e-krona, as well as other forms of cryptocurrency, points to a greater phenomenon. Students should be aware of the changing culture of money. The prevalence of technology in our everyday lives means that change will likely arise with regards to the way we handle our finances, and the US government is no stranger to technology’s effects.
According to San Francisco Fed President John Williams, the U.S. Federal Reserve is not planning on creating a digital currency any time soon. However, the Fed is researching the possibility of introducing a digital currency in the near future. This digital currency would not replace the dollar, but it would complement fiat money, which is currency that is not backed by any physical commodity.
It would be interesting to observe the effect of two different U.S. currencies in the economy and how they would compete with one another. Even though the Fed does not plan to do anything immediate with digital currency, Congress is currently drafting a bill that will protect digital currencies from government interference. Nonetheless, government regulation on e-currency may not be well-received. Take Bitcoin as an example . Especially with its 700% increase in price over the past 12 months, according to The Boston Globe, there would be much angst if this currency was taxed or used nefariously. In addition, the lack of security surrounding Bitcoin enables individuals to make untraceable bets for their own benefit.
Students across the United States have also profited tremendously by making bets through digital currency, especially Bitcoin. If there were to be government interference, the government would be potentially destroying a valuable learning source for trading, financial literacy, and current events. Digital Currency Executive even predicts that Bitcoin can help students with college debt.
Riksbank will decide by 2019 whether they want to issue the e-krona, but for the rest of the world, only time will tell whether digital currency will reign.