LEARN5: Not just the Future of Money, but the Future of Community & Social Capital
There are two aspects I see for us in this 'future of money' -- or, value exchange. There is a social component, and a technology component. Hopefully, if done right, the technology component supports the success of the social.
First the social:
In the future we will evoke a world in which we share skills and talents we possess in exchange for those that we do not - instead of money exchange for 'goods' that are 'stuff' only. (Yah, this is slippery and hard to define: one woman's schtuff could be necessary for another's survival...) Anyway. Here's a working example that gives us a taste of what this world could be:The Global Giving Circle
is a "destination for all of you out there who know deep down that helping others is the biggest high. It doesn’t matter whether you are well off or just getting by – there is a place for you here to contribute your time, your skills, and your passions. All of it is valuable and valued. This is how to make that difference."
The mission of the Global Giving Circle is "to enable its members [to] feel fulfilled by channeling their talents and resources, be they financial, intellectual or physical into projects that empower others in need with the tools necessary to truly better their lives."
Shana Dressler, the multimedia artist who founded the Global Giving Circle," observed that many people were not sure that they could channel their energy and how to connect this energy to the causes they felt so strongly about. She did a great deal of research on some of the brilliant alternative thinking in the field of humanitarian problem solving. She didn’t just research THINGS, she researched PEOPLE and met some amazing women and men who are as excited about this endeavor as she is to share their passion with you. (See Photo: the women of Swaziland and their water tubs!)
Next, a technology example that could help advance the goals of the social component:
M-PESA and mobile money: http://tbmdb.blogspot.com/2009/09/m-pesa-and-special-report-on-telecoms.html
. Here is a means by which money (or airtime) can be moved simply and directly to people in need without too much overhead. An example (from the blog linked above): "
"If I want to send $20 to my mother back at home in a village, I go to the guy on the corner where I buy my scratch cards and I give him the money and he types a few things into his handset and i get a message saying that my money has gone into my mobile account and I can then by sending another little text message send a message to my mum that says here is the $20 and then she takes that message to the phone operator in her village who gives her the cash. Much cheaper, faster and more reliable than the alternatives."
Caveats: At bottom, this is really $$ exchange and not necessarily skills'/talents' exchange, but seems to hold more direct benefit to the recipients than current banking and loan models (which often seem to benefit the bankers/loaners more than the recipients). It seems a more local, peer-to-peer exchange than more hierarchical models....
Another issue: Like all technologies, such a system could easily cross over to 'bad' causes ($$ exchange for opium farmers and carriers, mafiosa-type exchanges, enabling weapons proliferation...almost anything). It may turn out that if people want added security against users with nefarious purposes, a simple system may become more bulky/bureaucratic again.
More info can be found at: http://technology.cgap.org/2008/11/05/m-pesa-a-very-simple-and-secure-customer-proposition/