- This anecdote illustrates the disruptive and unpredictable nature of technological innovation. Today, some enthusiasts say crypto assets may represent the beginning of a similar breakthrough. Others condemn crypto assets as little more than a fad or a fraud. We should not dismiss them so lightly.
- Sweden is rapidly moving away from cash. Demand for cash has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past decade as a growing number of people rely on debit cards or a mobile phone application, Swish, which enables real-time payments between individuals. More than half of all bank branches no longer handle cash. Seven out of ten consumers say they can manage without cash, while half of all merchants expect to stop accepting cash by 2025 (Arvidsson, Hedman, and Segendorf 2018).
- As a medium of exchange, crypto assets have certain advantages. They offer much of the anonymity of cash while also allowing transactions at long distances, and the unit of transaction can potentially be more divisible. These properties make crypto assets especially attractive for micro payments in the new sharing and service-based digital economy.
And unlike bank transfers, crypto asset transactions can be cleared and settled quickly without an intermediary. The advantages are especially apparent in cross-border payments, which are costly, cumbersome, and opaque. New services using distributed ledger technology and crypto assets have slashed the time it takes for cross-border payments to reach their destination from days to seconds by bypassing correspondent banking networks.
So we cannot rule out the possibility that some crypto assets will eventually be more widely adopted and fulfill more of the functions of money in some regions or private e-commerce networks.