What has been the impact in your country/region of increasingly popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin? What are the greatest hurdles?
When I was at the World Economic Forum, in Davos this January, I found myself participating in a serious panel discussion about the importance of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In my remarks on that panel I said that there was a serious difference between public attention to Bitcoin and the actual significance of the innovation. Bitcoin does show some breakthrough in finance, but not such a big breakthrough. It will never make it as a widespread medium of exchange. It might survive as a store of value. But there are other way more important innovations in finance that could be expanded in the future, that aren't getting so much attention. I gave the examples of indexed units of account, like the Unidad de Fomento in Chile, and benefit corporations. But Bitcoin gets much more attention than these because it is attached to a speculative bubble, which excites people's gambling instincts.
Can blockchain, the technology underlying Bitcoin, serve other purposes? What are potential applications? How should it be regulated?
The concept of the blockchain, or maybe more accurately, the distributed ledger, is an important concept, that will probably lead to other applications, other than just cryptocurrencies, and this was a subject in Davos. But I find that even these applications, while possibly important, don't promise to help us with the biggest economic problems of the day. Rising inequality, enhanced by artificial intelligence and increasing control of information by the top one percent, is a serious problem. All this discussion of Bitcoin has no relation to such a problem, and seems in fact even backwards, promising if anything to reward the top one percent with even more power and invulnerability.