Description how can we improve how we interact with each other.
I’ve been actively involved in the visible money project for the past nine months or so. However, the basic idea of this project has been dormant in me for more than two decades. The project aims to change the established way of how people interact with each other – towards greater efficiency, transparency and understanding of the processes in society and between its members.
I should say at the very beginning that either my visionary persuasion strategies are sub par, or the project itself is nonsense. This is because so far I’ve managed to explain the particulars of this project only to a limited number of people. The thoughts that the project brings at first sight are so counterintuitive that most people reject the whole concept upon first hearing. This write-up is a kind of summary and “defense” of the idea in front of myself, and an explanatory basis of the “for” arguments for the casual reader.
So what is visible money all about? The basic premise this concept builds on is that if money becomes fully visible, people will suddenly behave very differently. And, in the long run, for the better in terms of the overall state of humanity and the planet. What does it mean that money becomes fully visible? It means that anyone wishing to do so will be able to see the financial and asset flows of anyone else in society.
And this is where most people see the first problem. People argue that under no circumstances are they willing to disclose their end-of-the-year bonuses and what they spent it on to envious neighbors even if they themselves would have the same opportunity. I believe that the sensation caused by the loss of privacy would wane after three months. The fact that such information is confidential, and the confidentiality is considered good, is determined by the current mindset of the people in today’s society where money is shrouded in a kind of attractive mystery. It is inherently linked to the social status of an individual and the “halo” of his/her successes, often regardless of how it was acquired. Over time, people will gradually cease to explicitly perceive the visibility of money – it will become standard just like a lasting fashion statement. The declared loss of privacy in the long run is a negligible side effect worth no extra attention, which will additionally be dissolved over time as people get used to the new social norms. The first people to enter the system is those who don’t mind losing their privacy, and eventually, the benefits stemming from the system will be embraced by all.
I think that in a few decades the people will look down on the historical society where money was invisible as we do now on the Middle Ages. The strange distressful era where people fought over every piece of bread, life was unpredictable, short and full of suffering. The age we live in today is the Wild West compared to what would be possible if its potential were not wasted and the view on the privacy of money changed.
What would the visibility of money actually bring? An awful lot of positive things and sometimes – literally speaking – medication tailored to the problems of today’s society. Let’s break it down.
Advantages of visible money
First of all, it will bring a lot more knowledge. About everything. About ourselves, our neighbors, about how the world actually goes by, who has ties to whom and how, and why people behave the way they do. Almost every interpersonal relationship can be traced through finance.
The problems of today’s society, such as hoaxes, would become a thing of the past. A particular suspicion is either confirmed in the financial flows, or it becomes history. Suddenly, it will be clear who the real Internet trolls are – paid by this or that politician – and who presents facts objectively because, for example, they live close to where a particular event occurred.
Your neighbor’s teenager cannot grow into an Islamic fundamentalist because you will notice his changing behavior and his flows will indicate his proclivity, which you will alert to.
For example, a semi-secret biological startup in China will never be able to develop a new variant of the Covid virus because people can see that it is buying specialized biological equipment, which is not in line with what the lab is supposedly engaged in. People with a similar background will also point it out.
The visibility of money would also create the conditions to ensure that each person has a perfect overview of where their money spent in the economy actually goes. That means where the money actually ends and who its final beneficiary is – is the yogurt manufacturer really completely organic, or did the purchase support the local economy to a greater or lesser extent? Apart from buying yogurt, people would have enough information to allow them to “vote” with their purchases and affect a particular future outcome. And I don’t mean to say that people should study the transfer of value with each yogurt they buy… But, given the existence of an information base where such information can be found, there would be companies evaluating such data. The companies offering real solutions to environmental problems would flourish and people on Earth would become much more respectful of each other and of the nature. As Rutger Bregman claims in his treatise titled “Humanity”, people are inherently good – and all they need is more information about the impacts of their decisions. And this is exactly what visible money brings.
The visibility of money would also create the conditions to rightfully award those who make the greatest contribution to society. The direct correlation between the contribution of individuals to society and their social status would thus be reinforced and strengthened. Gradually, society would cave in to the sentiment that those who work really hard and are a real asset should also be faring correspondingly well. An atmosphere where no one doubts the earned status of others is an ideal environment for peace, stability and the full bloom of society.
Visible money would also be a blessing for the developing countries aspiring to become standard Western-type democracies. When the regime collapses in North Korea or somewhere in Central Africa, should these countries embark on a distressful decades-long journey of the countries such as Slovakia after the fall of communism? Or gradually build civil society with unreliable tools, fight corruption and stumble on the various pitfalls of such processes? The solution is so simple. All it takes is to introduce the system of visible money and make sure the control mechanisms are effectively applied from day one. A bribed dictator wouldn’t survive a single day in the system of visible money.
The visibility of money would create the conditions for society to function efficiently. Suddenly, you would see that your neighbor – a rival butcher – buys meat of the same quality cheaper from this or that supplier in the neighboring village. Nothing would prevent you from not taking the same course of action. Sure, some steps in the above process might be unpleasant or unwanted – for example to your neighbor. But visible money equally equips everyone with the necessary tools to see what can be done better and more efficiently to defeat the competitors. Or it may result in a realization that one should pursue something else. The economy as a whole would flourish in these conditions.
I saved the best for last. The visibility of money would be the ultimate source of real truth to which anyone could turn at any time. In my view, that’s a priceless advantage. And sure, people may be distracting you with red herrings, but if their lines are inconsistent with their cash flows, you’ll know they’re lying.
Visible money is not a “make or break” project. What I mean is that there is no possible scenario in which visible money would be introduced instantaneously everywhere on earth, only to discover that the project doesn’t work for some reason and it is impossible to roll it back.
It is likely that the potential implementation will first involve the development of a system enabling transparent finance and banking. Then, the first pioneers will be invited to join in. I decided to try this by creating a cryptocurrency with a stable 1:1 exchange rate to the Euro. The system will be a mix between a standard cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, and the banking system. It will have the advantages of both worlds – the blockchain principle will be taken from the cryptocurrencies, so that it is not possible to question the data in the system in any way. If 10 Euro lands on my visible money account on January 1, 2022, the relevant record will be there forever thanks to blockchain. No one can come up and say – no, I sent you 20 Euro and not 10. I will be able to support the facts impenetrably thanks to blockchain.
Another positive feature taken from the cryptoworld is the potential independence of the system on one central server. The system will potentially run on multiple mutually synchronized relational databases.
It will have the “transfer” functionality we know from the banking environment, and features absent in standard cryptocurrencies, such as standing orders, direct debits or term deposits. Functionally, it will contain everything one expects from a bank.
When looking at the idea from a distance and comparing the present state of society with what would probably occur after the introduction of visible money, I’m crystal clear about what environment I would prefer to live in. It is time for a fundamental shift in human history, which will among other things mean the realization of the ancient and utopian dreams of humankind for a better society. The technology for this is already in place. All it takes is to slightly change the rules of the game in the context of the social system.
If you’re wondering how successful I am with my attempt, please visit the project page at https://visiblemoney.org and sign up for the Newsletter. I will be occasionally debriefing you on the current state of affairs.