Is Big Tech taking over our money?
Cryptocurrencies promised to eliminate centralized institutions. Now, their core technology is underpinning the largest power grab in the history of finance.
Over the past years Big Tech has been re-writing the rules of financial services step by step. The powerful four – Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook – pushed relentlessly into the payment space from where they could reach for other banking segments too. Technological progress kept dealing them the cards they needed to succeed in this colossal endeavor. With the rise of decentralized finance tech giants’ possibilities are heaved onto a whole new level. A worrying trend? For sure it will keep bankers, regulators, and politicians up at night. And while customers are enjoying new features, better prices, and improved usability they should be worried too. But let’s start from the beginning.
A technological Wild West and the new robber barons
In Blockchain Babel, I warned that blockchain technology would let Big Tech break into multiple banking segments and do so on multiple layers. Four years later that prediction has turned into grim reality. Amazon’s cloud powers the vast majority of cryptocurrencies. Google’s money fuels the rise of countless blockchain unicorns. And Facebook attempted to issue its own global super-currency.
Under the banner of usability and financial inclusion data giants are conquering financial services around the world. Regardless of how you feel about them biting banks’ balance sheets, their efforts might threaten the monetary sovereignty of states, stifle the free market, and completely end data privacy.
Governments and banks counter with their own centralized blockchains, while the original idea of crypto has been reborn as decentralized finance (DeFi). The battlefield is a Wild West in which gold diggers, robber barons, and sheriffs vie to dominate tomorrow’s autonomous economy. It is also a battle critical to the geopolitical clash between the US and China. For decades America has run the global financial system thanks to a powerful dollar and pioneering institutions. Today, China challenges this order by betting big on blockchain and its tech titans. It’s core instrument: A digital yuan that is outpacing all other major central bank digital currency projects. The outcome will determine much more than the future of banking.
My new book hitting the shelves
For my readers it will come as no surprise that I see Big Tech’s entry into finance as the most transformative trend in decades. Nor will they be surprised to hear that I consider blockchain the most disruptive technology of the day, even more impactful than Artificial Intelligence. This is why I have dedicated the past one and a half years to intense research and analysis on what tech titans are doing with blockchain and how they will shape the future of money.
I have interviewed leaders of each affected group, all with vivid stories and sharp minds. I spoke to the early monetary economist who inspired the cryptographers behind Bitcoin, as well as to America’s leading voice against tech monopolies, who felt Big Tech’s grip on his own career and that of his employees. I spoke to regulators, bank managers, and tech executives who shared their aspirations and anxieties off-record. And I spoke to entrepreneurs and investors who have earned and lost millions, and are back on the hunt for the next big thing in the future of finance.
Despite their unique angles and starkly opposing visions, all interviewees agreed on one thing: Big Tech is about to rewire the global monetary and financial system at a scale and pace never seen before. I have collected the lessons from the interviews and supplemented them with striking revelations on major initiatives, acquisition strategies, and leaked stories to create a readable guide to what is next in the world of finance.
On May 3 my new book will hit the bookstores and carries the title Big Tech in Finance: How to Prevail in the Age of Blockchain, Digital Currencies and Web 3. In short: It is my take on who eventually has the best chances to run our money, what it means for each of us as customers, and how it will impact the geopolitical balance.
I am certain that as a reader of The New Frontier you will enjoy the analyses and the style. So make sure to order your copy today and be the first to read it!
Still not sure if this is something for you? These are some of the themes tackled in the book:
Big Tech’s race for finance
The illusion that crypto and DeFi are libertarian
The future of decentralized autonomous organizations
Central bank digital money and how it jumbles the crypto race
How Big Tech, Big Banking, and Big Government will react to DeFi
Why Facebook sets out for the metaverse and how this links to Libra and the future of money