Social media platforms have helped break down the information order of the world. Now, by exploiting the possibilities of the digital domain, blockchain and cryptocurrency can potentially do the same to the financial order.
Within that shift, there is tangible political power to be gained.
Recent reports about China’s ambitions suggest its digital currency and payments systems could challenge and one day supplant the Western-led financial order that has dominated since the 19th Century.
But China’s technological challenge to Western power is more complex and varied than 5G and payments.
Blockchain-Based Service Network would allow China to create the platforms and standards on which a new class of networked technology is built, according to blockchain expert Yaya Fanusie.
The Chinese Communist Party believes “blockchain technology offers a foundational infrastructure for future technological innovation and that China should set the global standards in that arena.”
“The BSN is … important because it accentuates China’s broader push toward an information-based economy and supports its strategy to dominate in financial technology and become a ‘cyber superpower.’ “, he has written in Lawfare.
The CCP is not so much in the business of supporting single apps for existing networks. It wants to help build the ground floor of new platforms for as yet undetermined technological possibilities that increase China’s global power.
“Blockchain experimentation, whether it has scaled up to wide use or not, is where researchers are working on many difficult computer science challenges associated with the internet ecosystems—such as digital identity management. Research and trials with distributed ledger technology will likely unlock technological insights and breakthroughs.”
Fanusie says its analogous to how during the space race the US benefited from the numerous spin off technology created by NASA.
The lesson is that if a country wants to guide development – and hence – technological destiny, it has to embrace both planning and uncertainty. In laying the groundwork, a nation must build in the standards that will support political and trade ambitions. At the same time, in order for technology to be adopted, it must genuinely be accepted by markets, which is something that takes time and can’t be engineered.