Exploring the influence of blockchain technology in complementary currencies

Mónica Guasca, student of Sustainable Territorial Development at the Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne, recently interviewed us as part of her Master Thesis “Technological and monetary innovations in value exchange. Exploring the influence of blockchain technology in complementary currencies”.

Today we’d like to share her research regarding the role of technology in CCS – full thesis is avaible here.

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CCS

If there is one aspect in which the great majority of the participants of this research agree is in the fact that technology play a secondary role for CCs practitioners; as Interviewee 7 puts it: “A lot of the people in the complementary currency movement are not interested so much in the technology but more in the social aspect of what they are doing. For them the change making and society building is far more interesting than talking about algorithms and software”. Practitioners repeatedly stated in the interviews that their focus was on the purpose of the currency and much less in the instrument they use. This focus on the objectives makes them adopt a very rational and practical view regarding technology, as exemplified by Interviewee 8 “technology is a ‘how’ question and I think is less relevant than the ‘why’, for ‘who’ and ‘what’ question, so technology is totally overrated as a focus point. We need technology to do the things that we do and if Blockchain is a good technology we use it, if it is not then we do not use it”.

Despite of the secondary place that technology occupies in the agenda of CCs practitioners, it seems that there is more awareness of the benefits of having digital currencies instead of paper-based currencies, mainly for matters of transparency and traceability of the money. Another output in this category has to deal with aspects practitioners consider important in a technology. For instance, Interviewee 1 states, “[the] priority is to ensure a secure and efficient system, [avoiding] for example that the transactions stop for a while”. Interviewee 8 suggests that “People want trustworthy, fast systems with good governance, ease of use” while Interviewee 10 complement by stating there is a need as well for a “friendlier and easy to use front-end”. Blockchain developers that want to offer viable solutions for CCs must have to take into account these requirements.

To conclude this section and considering the opinions and perceptions of practitioners and academics in the complementary currency field, it is possible to foresee that blockchain will indeed influence CCs initiatives. In fact, it is already having an impact as some CCs are being created using blockchain as is the case of MonedaPAR in Argentina and some other projects considering to implement it. The exact extent of the impact is still to be seen, but most probably it is not going to be minor. However, there are various challenges that could hinder a faster adoption of blockchain. If these challenges are well addressed and taking into account that apparently practitioners are not “married” with a specific technology, it could be expected a much greater impact of blockchain on complementary currencies in the near future.*

*Page 54 from the Master Thesis  Technological and monetary innovations in value exchange. Exploring the influence of blockchain technology in complementary currencies.