How Black People Could Become The New Power Holders In A Crypto World
Cryptocurrencies are an anomaly of sorts in our society. Chased like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or chastised for high-level fraud, crypto has both very strong proponents as well as detractors. Recent comments by one of the former are raising some eyebrows and could have some very interesting implications for Black people and communities of color across the country.
Tech pioneer, rebel and at times controversial outlier John McAfee, founder of the first commercial antivirus software (currently owned by Intel), recently conducted an online video interview with digital currency news outlet, Crypto Finder.
A presidential candidate for 2020, McAfee spoke about a number of topics, including the upcoming Hollywood film about a segment of his life in which he’s portrayed by actor Michael Keaton. However, in the video interview, the topic of the future implications of crypto were most intriguing from the cybersecurity and future-proofing firestarter.
McAfee began by noting that of all the world-changing technologies today, blockchain and crypto are the only ones that did not arise from either previous government usage or as the brainchild of a big tech company. “Blockchain came from the people,” explained McAfee.
McAfee believes this stunning point is key because the technology offers the opportunity to free oneself from what he calls the “financial cage”. This cage is created, according to him, for everyone who relies on fiat currency. The supply can be increased or decreased by the entity that owns it, therefore one can be completely controlled.
Conversely, McAfee explains that crypto offers the opportunity to free oneself of such control, and that’s what is driving governments and financial institutions to rush their own forms of digital currency and enforce exclusive usage.
McAfee warns against such integration. He says that central bank digital currency can be tracked even more than fiat currency, providing an ultimate knowledge of citizens in an exponential manner. He warns of its impending appearance in our society.
However, if one looks just a bit further at cultural trends as they intersect with this prediction, the future balance of power takes on a potentially intriguing position.
If McAfee’s musings are true, could the new power play to be off the standard money grid? If so, it’s not far from the position of many Black people and people of color in America today who, for a number of historical reasons, could slowly start to become the new power-holders over time.
Here’s why. Most people of color make up the largest number of unbanked and underbanked demographics in America today. Indeed, the FDIC notes that one out of every four U.S. households — roughly 25 percent — do not have access to banks and other financial services.
And according to Congressman David Scott’s (D-GA) website, only 45.8 percent of African American families are considered fully banked compared to 77 percent of white households.
If monitoring, tracking and data — much of it potentially conducted via new forms of currency — is the optimal goal of the new era, could the new status symbol actually become being unbanked?
With digital currencies, central banks “can see everything, every single penny that you spend or you make,” McAfee said in the video interview. “This is the holy grail for totalitarian governments and those governments that implement this will soon become totalitarian because they will have ultimate knowledge of the citizen… .”
However, you can’t track what you can’t see, so the unbanked just may find themselves in a unique position should the currency tide change. This class could enjoy the greatest amount of privacy and any number of actions could arise from such a position of power.
Of course, if virtual currency becomes mandated — similarly to when Western European companies had to turn in their own currencies in exchange for euros — all bets are off. But if not, and options remain in currency type, it is reasonable to say that behavior and norms could find themselves inverted, to a certain extent.
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In addition, McAfee argues that current cryptocurrency platforms should focus more on creating catalogs of what one could buy and present the benefits of using crypto so that they are well-entrenched with consumers should government-attached and/or central banking forms of crypotcurrency actually enter the picture later. Using such current platforms would ensure privacy as well.
The unbanked could find these offerings of interest and prove to be strong customers. However, such a campaign would probably be quite a long haul because those creating the current offerings seemingly have no idea how to market and reach diverse demographics, much less move those operating primarily in a cash-only world onto a digital platform. Currently, for many new companies in the space, it’s all about the trade, which just may be a bit short-sighted.
No one knows for sure what the shape of currency will be in the next decade or two, but interviews, no matter how controversial, with people such as McAfee should cause us all to ponder our values, our intentions and our ideal next moves in a society that is fast-changing with many gaps for new players and new hierarchies.