Exploring the potential of cryptocurrencies for positive change

Just the mention of Bitcoin peaks peoples interest, but what exactly makes bitcoin and the crypto economy so alluring? On 1 February, two leading experts in this field, Ferdinando Ametrano from the Università Milano Bicocca, and David Yermack from the NYU Stern School of Business, discussed Bitcoins, blockchains and everything in between at UN Headquarters in New York.

Joining the Facebook live event on “Everything you want to know about bitcoin, blockchain and the crypto economy”, the two experts answered questions shared by the online audience. UN DESA’s Facebook friends wanted to know for example, how to make the production of cryptocurrencies more environmentally friendly; what the implication of bitcoin is in developed versus emerging economies and if they can be used to minimize corruption risks when the UN sends funds to its programmes internationally.

Following the live event on Facebook, Professors Ametrano and Yermack delved deeper into the topic of the crypto economy as they took the stage at the seminar “Understanding Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Crypto Economy,” hosted by UN DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division.

In a jam-packed conference room, the attendees learned more about what is often described as “digital gold,” a term used to describe Bitcoin because of its similarity to gold in its value. Bitcoin allows people to send money without the interference of banks and its attraction lies in their transferability, ability to not be duplicated or manipulated, and their security.

This new technology can bring significant change to societies around the world. Both experts agreed that many of the economic challenges that society face can be solved by the use of cryptocurrencies.  The seminar also touched on the other potential benefits that using cryptocurrencies could have, most notably the removal of a third party when making transactions.

As it is now, third parties, such as banks, regulate how we use our money. But without this interference, money can be transferred between people, or between people and businesses without any issues. This is a huge leap forward in the way we conduct monetary transactions, with some people on board and others taking a more cautious approach.

No matter what side of the coin people fall, one thing is for sure, cryptocurrencies are not going anywhere. It is a new frontier that not everyone understands, but everyone is curious and excited about.  Professors Ametrano and Yermack agreed that the future of Bitcoin and the crypto economy are bright and that the changes it can make to our society will be extraordinary.

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