Six months on from the emergence of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the world is in an almost unrecognizable shape. The world over, ways of life, from business, to personal, public to private, have shifted in operation so dramatically that one cannot help but marvel at its enormity and sheer, brutal force.
What we held sacred – those things previously-thought immovable, things like the logical behavior of pricing functions in markets like oil, or the demand for previously-assumed necessary goods like cars and public transport – are now in a state of crisis. What is certain is that the wake of the coronavirus has left experts and laymen alike uncertain about the future of the things that matter the most to them.
And as global markets begin to return to the “new normal”, it becomes more important to take stock of the global situation and reflect on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies could, and should, be used to mitigate and repair the damage inflicted by COVID-19. In a recent interview on blockchain news site Coin Journal, industry heavyweights from companies like eToro, Huobi Group, Interlapse, and TAAL gave their opinions on the blockchain landscape now that COVID-19 has settled in.
Fed Dollars: The Next Step?
Yoni Assia, CEO of eToro, who are the world’s largest social investment network, spoke to Coin Journal in the interview, and expressed his opinion that COVID-19 has allowed us to see how blockchain solutions could be used to deal with issues brought to light during the crisis.
As governments try to ease the household squeeze and protect local and global housing markets, state wage schemes in many countries globally have been introduced. This has brought up the topic of universal basic income (UBI) frequently, and how these schemes rely heavily on quantitative easing, adding to inflationary pressures. Yoni said:
“Worries over inflationary currencies like the USD dollar caused by unlimited quantitative easing measures have also provided impetus for using deflationary cryptocurrencies instead. Furthermore, furlough schemes around the world have brought the topic of UBI to the fore.”
This raises the questions: “Could a UBI be funded by a fundamentally anti-inflationary financial instrument? What about crypto?” Yoni suggests something akin to a “Fed Dollar”, deployed to a “Fed Wallet”, through which money could be channeled. What would this mean practically, though? The eToro CEO believes such an implementation could result in less delay, lower transaction cost, and with more transparency and reliability than that of archaic banking verticals.
In this vein, eToro has funded the GoodDollar – a project which aims to achieve these outcomes for now, and in the future providing a UBI without any eligibility criteria at all.
Blockchain-based Tracking Apps
Governments, in their capacity as societal regulators and guardians, have been the primary line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen many initiatives – social distancing, the closing of shops, and lockdown. One measure which has caused particular controversy worldwide is the use of contact-tracking apps. These apps work by locating users and keeping track of their whereabouts using triangulation and warning anyone who has crossed paths with an infected individual.
Now, on the surface, this sounds fantastic. But the privacy implications are numerous – Norway’s Data Protection Authority ruled their Smittestopp app represented a disproportionate intrusion into users’ privacy. In the Middle-East, findings are even more worrying. Amnesty International recently found that Bahrain and Kuwait were using their apps like mass surveillance tools.
In the case of Norway, the app was mainly flagged for putting its citizens’ privacy at risk for collecting and storing location data on a central server. What this means is that a distributed method of storing data could go some way to relieving the trust issues inherent with this type of technology. With privacy issues out the way, we can easily bring down global numbers and identify hotspots before an infection outbreak – crucial when dealing with a virus with a longer incubation time.
Ciara Sun of Huobi Group agrees, stating in a recent interview:
“Healthcare organizations, governments, non-profit organizations and private enterprises struggle to efficiently collaborate on coronavirus response efforts.”
The benefits of blockchain technology have only just started to be discussed in this article and we can already see their potential to improve the way we live our lives during future pandemics. We know what we should have done this time. Will we make the same mistakes, when the next black swan event rears its ugly head, or will we heed the experts’ warnings to adapt and overcome?
To read more of the interview with Yoni Assia, Simon Peters, Ciara Sun, Wayne Chen, and Jerry Chan, please visit this link.