If you follow financial news at all, you’ve likely heard about cryptocurrencies, or digital currencies that work using blockchain technology to secure their transactions and decentralize control of financial exchanges from, say, the Federal Reserve.
When Bitcoin started almost a decade ago, it was bought and sold by tech-savvy individuals who understood that blockchain was essentially untraceable, meaning that it helped financial transactions stay secure but could equally be used to conduct illegal or untaxed transactions. Regardless, no one really took the hype seriously—until now. In recent years, hundreds of cryptocurrency startups have created their own digital coins looking to get a piece of the virtual finance pie, but will it realistically affect the meetings market anytime soon?
The answer so far is pretty divided and depends on several factors.
The first major factor is people themselves. Most people don’t invest in the stock market because they find it confusing, so mixing technology with the already-confusing finance market will likely make it difficult for society as a whole to adopt cryptocurrencies as a main form of payment.
That said, the second factor depends on the Federal Reserve and other national banking systems from across the globe. Futurist Thomas Frey predicts that cryptocurrencies will displace about 25 percent of national currencies by as early as 2030, reported Money magazine. In mid-February, Venezuela rolled out a cryptocurrency called the Petro, the first ever to be issued by a nation state. Leaders of other nations such as Iran and Turkey have publicly stated their interest in creating their own crypto coins as well, according to Forbes.
Needless to say, for planners who organize meetings abroad, the use of cryptocurrency may become more of a reality than in domestic meetings. However, the Federal Reserve could issue its own digital currency just like some global central banks are considering doing. Just last year, Futurism reported that several banks, including UBS and Barclays, announced partnering on their own cryptocurrency, mainly a way to transfer money through blockchain so it doesn’t pose a security risk to customers.
So, if anything, the use of blockchain to create better security for financial transactions seems more like a possibility than the actual exchange of digital coins themselves, which could, at the very least, mean less financial security risk for meeting planners. Beyond that though, the use of cryptoccurencies has a wide range of potentials. Just like we thought having a computer in our pocket seemed unreal 30 years ago, only time will tell if we’ll be swapping digital tokens in lieu of cash at future tradeshows.