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Finding Purpose: The Future Roles of Cryptocurrency

Tufts Gordon Institute hosted the second panel in its keynote debate series featuring insights from cryptocurrency experts.

With a reported market value above $3 trillion, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero have influenced the financial landscape. Will crypto permanently change the face of that landscape or will it blow away with the wind?

George Blount, Founder of nBalance Financial
George Blount, Founder of nBalance Financial

At Tufts Gordon Institute’s most recent Keynote Debate, industry leaders — including experienced FinTech experts and early adopters of crypto committed to educating others about the blockchain — came together to debate the future of cryptocurrencies and whether the future would have one at all.

George Blount, financial therapist and Founder of nBalance Financial, praised the benefits of the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrency, but remained unconvinced that crypto could be a game changer when it comes to common issues of money like financial literacy. “When compared with other investments ... I would have to ask: ‘What is so attractive about cryptocurrency? How does it help you achieve your goals?’” he posed.

On the other hand, Tomer Strolight, Editor-in-Chief at Swan Bitcoin, argued that Bitcoin specifically was "engineered" to serve the purposes of money, meaning it is built to be reliable, scarce, send-able, and many other traits necessary for money.

In the heat of the panelists’ debate over the future of cryptocurrency, “purpose” was a looming theme, determining whether cryptocurrencies could be considered marvels of engineering or ambiguous investment opportunities.

Patrick Murck, President & CLO at Transparent Financial Systems
Patrick Murck, President & CLO at Transparent Financial Systems

Patrick Murck, President and CLO at Transparent Financial Systems, described his own experiences learning about cryptocurrency as a matter of discovering its purpose. Sinking his teeth into Satoshi Nakamoto’s, the mysterious personage who developed Bitcoin, whitepaper, Murck realized crypto “isn’t about payments ... it’s about property. It’s about the relationship between people, property, and power.”

For Murck, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are an innovation that revolutionize the way users own digital artifacts. Instead of a centralized source of power distributing permissions to use or access a digital asset, he argues that Bitcoin allows individual users to be true owners, making that asset a piece of property.

That conclusion raises the question of whether all cryptocurrencies share the same utility and purpose. Is Dogecoin a force for individual financial power or something else?

Dr. Alexandra Andhov, Associate Professor in Corporate Law and Law and Technology at the University of Copenhagen, suggests the adoption of cryptocurrency will play out on a case-by-case basis as we gauge the utility and purpose behind each currency. “Figure out what kind of premises, what kind of ideas are behind it, and if you accept those and if you understand those, then maybe it is something you want to invest in,” she argued.

Dr. Alexandra Andhov, Associate Professor in Corporate Law and Law and Technology
Dr. Alexandra Andhov, Associate Professor in Corporate Law and Law and Technology

Whether panelists viewed cryptocurrency as a passing fad or a game changer, they seemed to all agree on the importance of individuals understanding the value of a particular crypto asset before investing resources into it. For the panel, “understanding value” means more than tracking prices on a graph. The value of a currency is tied to its purpose and what that purpose means to each individual.

Is cryptocurrency purely a type of investment? Is it a means of securing digital ownership? Is it a pathway to participating in a financial system of decentralized power? More so than price fluctuations, these may be the indicators of value worth studying as we ask ourselves whether we should embrace cryptocurrency. For more from our expert panelists, watch the full debate below.