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Shaping the future of finance

Moving money has never been easier, but is a headache for governments

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I was talking with a friend about growing up. Back in my day, as the old farts say, I had cash and a bank account. I had one bank account and that was it.

During the years, I moved around a bit, switched accounts between banks, but cash, cheques and card was it.

Then a revolution happened. A technological revolution. Money moved from being physical to digital, and it suddenly became easier to move money around. The result is some of us have many bank accounts – Monzo, Barclays, Lloyds – and many transaction accounts – Wise, PayPal, Revolut.  But, more than this, investments in cryptocurrencies from bitcoin to polygon to cardano.

In other words, we have moved from one account to so many it’s hard to keep up with them all. So then, I said to my friend, how does a government keep track of so many accounts?

You see, the thing is, that as money moved from physical to digital it, in parallel, moved from centralised to democratized. This, in turn, has led to a mess for governments around the world as, when you can’t see money, how do you tax it?

It’s a critical question.

Money is moving away from mainstream banks into a diffuse network of connected systems, and governments have no idea how to deal with it anymore. It’s why they bring in arcane laws that say anyone who have anything to do with democratized money is a suspect.

Been through this myself, after using Coinbase, but I was also intrigued to see others questioning government positions on cryptocurrencies, such as this tweet from Max:

Could it be true? Could it be possible? Could it be credible? … Revolut can’t get a banking license in the UK because of their relationship with crypto dealings? After all, they have just launched Revolut X, a stand-alone crypto trading platform for experienced traders.

On this latter point, I'm not sure crypto is the issue here, as there are many companies offering crypto dealings who have kept their licenses, such as Monzo; but it is interesting to look at the nature of the world today.

You can deal with someone in Rio, who sends you money via PayPal to your American registered account through Wise; which you then transfer to a European bank and forward to your UK account with Monzo to pay a bill requested by Xero with NatWest.

It’s nothing like it used to be, back in my day. Is it better or worse? Who knows. The only truth is that it’s far more diverse, and that is the issue the governments and regulators are struggling to deal with.

Democratized finance? Maybe more like global finance.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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