There but by the Grace of States?

Authors: Philip Garnett*,
Topics: Business Geography, Cyberinfrastructure, Economic Geography
Keywords: blockchain, cyrptocurrancy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom A, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Bitcoin was developed partly to solve a number of perceived problems with fiat currencies. Those problems included, but are perhaps not limited to, the ability of state actors to manipulate the value of currency through the creation of money, the difficulty (costs) of moving money across borders, and more generally the centralisation of the control currency in the hands of central banks and therefore state actors. Bitcoin solves these issues by having a predictable, and ultimately limited, algorithm for the creation of new Bitcoins, a decentralised and distributed transaction ledger, and the ability to move money with ease between wallets (accounts). However, even though it is the case the infrastructure of Bitcoin, and the majority of other alt-coins, is decentralised and therefore technically beyond the control of states, states still have a significant role to play in enabling their use and therefore their value.

For cryptocurrencies to move out of the shadows of the dark web they are dependant on grace of states to legalise their use and exchange. As the value and popularity of bitcoin has increased so to has its engagement with the normal apparatus of states, such as tax systems and currency exchanges. In many ways cryptocurrencies seek to circumvent the normal state infrastructure, but in order for ordinary users to benefit from them states must facilitate their use. This paper will explore this uncomfortable relationship between the new currency and the state. The paper will also look beyond simply currency, to the blockchain more widely.

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