Brian Forde on the Future of Digital Currency Technologies

Former Senior Advisor for Mobile and Data Innovation at the White House, Brian Forde, recently sat down with Forbes to talk about how “Bitcoin could transform government”. Aside from his stint at the White House, Forbes founded one of the largest phone companies in Nicaragua and currently he’s the Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab.

As Director, his job basically consists in putting assembling experts from all around the world to tackle research in the area of digital currencies, specifically regarding security, scalability, economic viability, etc.

Naturally, as someone whose title includes the phrase “Digital Currency”, Forde places great stock on the significance of emerging cryptocurrency technologies:

“Digital currencies have immense potential to improve human welfare by strengthening the capacity of governments to deliver more responsive services and secure the rights of their citizens to property, identity and increase financial inclusion…And because it is an open-source protocol for innovation, a wide range of services and products can be built by entrepreneurs and non-profits on top of it.”

In Forde’s opinion, digital currencies themselves are a red herring: in their case the significance isn’t as much the money as what can be built on top of the underlying technology that makes their transactions possible, the Blockchain.

He goes on to exemplify two sectors whose practices could be completely overhauled through the implementation of such technology: banks and authentication protocols.

In the case of banks, main hurdle to tackle aren’t the institutions themselves but the fact that over 2 billion adults around the world aren’t part of the financial system, which in turn means they’re cut off from a wide variety of services that first world economies take for granted. A simple SMS money transfer technology, Forde says, could completely overhaul the way these people handle their finances by allowing them to receive easy frictionless payments and loans. When it comes to authentication, Forde imagines Blockchain technology could potentially provide a way to identify citizens with ease across borders making multiple identifications obsolete.

While these claims might seem grandiose, Forde himself comes off as grounded, he recognizes all these ideas are for the most part still nowhere close by, but it might only be a matter of years until some real game changers pop into the scene:

“… it might be a few years, but eventually we could see bitcoin technology making massive government services less painfully bureaucratic and more secure. Or, at the very least, entrepreneurs might have an opportunity to make these government services better with the White House’s help.”

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