A Digital Pound?

I’ve bumped this to the top, because I’ve just seen that the plans have been dropped. The original article – from February (less than a month ago) – follows.

Cryptocurrency does nothing for me. Fair enough, many years ago when I first heard about mining and how much people had apparently ‘made’, I toyed with the idea.

But what turned me off was that back then, bitcoin was held almost wholly by people from the less salubrious parts of society, and it’s not that different now. It all boils down to a massive scheme where you’ve either got a million in bitcoin one day, half a million the next, or buying stuff you shouldn’t be from dark sites. There is absolutely no reason for a normal person who wants to buy some fish and potatoes from Asda to use bitcoin.

And the fact that Elon Musk got involved in it turned me off even more, because he’s not of this Earth when it comes to most things. I mean, back in 2021, he caused the value of bitcoin to fall from $70,000 to $25,000 with a single Tweet.

Now, with that risk in mind, it seems that the Treasury and Bank of England (BoE) are planning on setting up a UK Digital Pound before the end of the decade. And to further emphasise those risks, there would be a limit to how much ‘GBCoin’ (I’ll call it that) an individual could hold.

Right now, there is absolutely no point to GBCoin. It would do – and is only intended to do – everything you can already do now using bank transfers, debit cards, phone zappers, and so on. It would only have any real purpose if actual money (something you could hold in your hand) were done away with, and that isn’t likely for.. well, for the rest of my lifetime, and probably at least two more beyond that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d have no concerns if paper money became obsolete. I avoid taking it for lesson payments as much as I can, and much prefer card payment or bank transfer. But GBCoin is not the same at all once you go under the hood.

When you used it, every single aspect of what you used it for would potentially be available for people somewhere to see. In the case of Bitcoin and the other nefarious ones, they were all designed specifically to be anonymous, and all the data are deliberately obfuscated (although the blockchain can be tracked and many users are unaware of this). A state-owned one’s data would be neatly boxed for someone to open if deemed it necessary (they even admit the data would be purposely not looked at, implying it is there if they wanted to). It would take less than a month before someone used it in such a way that the authorities gave access to the police to check that person’s transactions. GBCoin makes no pretence at anonymity – it just pretty much says they won’t look while you undress, but that they can check the CCTV later if necessary.

It goes deeper than this, though. Anyone using GBCoin would need somewhere to deposit their geld – a wallet – and those are provided by third parties. Some would want access to data (likely resulting in floods of ads from toothbrush manufacturers if you bought a toothbrush using GBCoin), whereas others would promote some degree of pseudo-anonymity. And as we all know, ‘opting out’ of anything is always only partial at best – if you opt out of ads, for example, you just get general ones. But if you opt in, you get targeted ones.

Right now, there is absolutely no need for GBCoin. There won’t be for many decades. By the time it is a necessity, I’ll be long gone – and probably anyone reading this (and their kids) will be gone, too.

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