Cryptocurrency is slowly but surely becoming an popular form of payment.
Despite the growing curiosity in crypto, however, governments are cracking down on the digital currency because it is decentralized, meaning it has no central authority in the way the U.S. government holds authority over the dollar. Therefore, some experts believe crypto poses a threat to central banks and national security.
So, why should someone risk investing in a currency unregulated by the government and that is subject to potential digital threats?
"The benefits of cryptocurrency are many and profound," cryptocurrency education company Luno CEO Marcus Swanepoel told FOX Business in a statement. "We’ve heard how it’s going to solve problems across the current financial system that nothing else could – everything from the truly significant, such as banking the unbanked, to the seemingly trivial, such as providing a more efficient way to buy a car."
"Cryptocurrency is not just a financial instrument. It’s also a technology. Any benefits it offers are only possible because of the strength of the technology that underpins it because it works," Swanepoel added.
No middle man
Cryptocurrencies don't use middlemen, so transactions are usually easier, faster and require less or no additional transaction fees.
Some experts believe, however, that taking out the middle man goes beyond these simple benefits.
Swanepoel said cryptocurrency has the ability to "give power back to the people. To eliminate current social structures and systems that disenfranchise individuals. To provide the foundations of a system that’s transparent yet secure. Where corruption is exposed and rampant inflation ended."
Each cryptocurrency transaction is a unique exchange between two parties, which protects users from issues like identity theft.
"Cryptocurrencies can do this because of the technology that underpins them – blockchain," Swanepoel said. "Blockchain technology is decentralized. This means that no one person, institution or government has central control. Rather, it is the network that is in control. Policies are hardcoded in, and it cannot be manipulated to suit agendas."
This is another reason why governments feel threatened by digital currency. Crypto is more confidential and therefore a favored form of payment among criminals trading illegal goods and services. But there is also a general lack of trust in corporate and government operations, Swanepoel said.
"The financial system as it exists today is built on trust. But people no longer trust that it exists to help them – that it helps only people working in the industry," he said. "Cryptocurrency removes this need to trust people’s motivations."
Potential to help the "unbanked"
On a global scale, more people have access to the internet than they have to banks or other currency exchange systems. This opens the opportunity for underprivileged people to establish credit.
Swanepoel suggested that crypto could be the key to eradicating global poverty and corruption for this reason.
"Cryptocurrency is uniquely positioned at the apex of technology and finance. It has been lauded as a potential game-changer for society, poised to eliminate corruption, bank the unbanked, and redistribute wealth in a way that’s fairer and more equitable," Swanepoel said.
During Luno's Pennydrop initiative, which shares the stories of ordinary people who use cryptocurrency, the company met "many people who first got into crypto because of its potential to help build a better society," he said. "Whether it was understanding something in the fundamental design of cryptocurrency ... or seeing first-hand its impact on a more personal level, there was a real belief that it could be used for good."
Easier international exchanges
Cryptocurrency offers an opportunity for international business people or parties to make one-on-one exchanges online without the complications and added fees that traditionally come with international currency exchanges that involve third parties.
Cryptocurrency is happening now. The currency became a topic of interest when the world witnessed the sudden drastic rise and subsequent fall and steady rise again with Bitcoin between 2017 and 2019. It sparked interest and education. Now, cryptocurrency is becoming more a part of the everyday norm than some people realize.
"Cryptocurrency is money for the digital age. It leverages technology in such a way that it’s able to integrate seamlessly into the digital ecosystem. It is native to the internet, which allows it to work in conjunction with other technologies," Swanepoel said. "A square peg in a square hole. Not money as we know it today – a round peg in a square hole, developed and built for the analog age."
Maglan Capital Co-founder and President David Tawil similarly said technology, in general, has "rendered massive upheaval and disruption to every business line"
Now, that technology is moving into the way the world uses currency.
"It is the natural and logical next step in financial services in the world," Tawil said. "Once upon a time, shares of stock were physical and transferred physically; those shares are now entirely digital. Similarly, currency needs to be digital and global."