The financial glass ceiling has been shattered. The bedrock upon which the man-made constructs of aristocracy, elitism and classism was fatally dealt a sledgehammer blow by an anonymous person, group or even a machine going by the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It happened in October 2008 with the publication of a post on an unassuming cryptography mailing list but it resulted in creating a financial market of just under $100 billion and climbing by 2017.

$100 Billion. Let’s qualify that sum. According to statistics from the Bank for International Settlements as of 31st December 2015, the UK had $103.09bn worth of currency in circulation.

Now let’s qualify that further. Hundreds of millions of pounds (dollar, yen or whatever the denomination of your country is) are held by millennials, some of whom invested $27 for a share now worth £12.6m

They are held by the savvy investor, the cook, the cleaner, the oligarch, the road sweeper – they are held by everyone and no one. I’m not being poetic. No one knows who holds what. The currency is held in anonymous and encrypted, un-hackable digital wallets which can only be accessed with a unique key (however beware of phishing scams and storing access keys on IOT devices).

Thought Experiment – If you’re at work ask the person sitting next to you, what they consider the strongest currency to be. If they answer the Euro or British Pound they will be wrong. As at the time of the writing of this article, 1 Bitcoin is currently worth: £2,530.98.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) – Piercing the Plastic Membrane

To understand what the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin achieved with that blog post in October 2008 you need to understand how financial markets were controlled and how, with the growing numbers of ICO’s they are now.

Visualize this, at the top is a huge body of water representing all the money in circulation globally, at the bottom is soil and in between the two is a plastic membrane.

Pre-2008, the only institutions tall enough to pierce the membrane were traditional institutions, the central banks. They were put in place and remain controlled by the individuals that created their wealth from early investment in innovations of the last 200 or so years, strategic marriages, partnerships; all to enable their dynasties and lineage to retain family wealth and slowly release the vaulted wealth, first into circulation and then controlled by central banks and managed by a country’s government.

Naturally, around these central banks in a drip-drip fashion, markets, countries, governments, businesses sprout up from the soil as these central banks control the flow of money into the economies of these ecosystems – just enough mind. Too much, and you lose control of the garden too little and the garden withers and dies forcing you to force-feed it water to resurrect it – Quantitative Easing.

*NB – At this stage in the journey, central banks can inject money into the economy that doesn’t really exist (they lend £200 when they only have £1) but because of the lack of transparency (they are centralised not decentralised) everyone is none the wiser and debt is created – but this article isn’t about conspiracy theories, its a top level on how the flow of money works…

There are only a few central banks tall enough to reach and pierce that membrane to control the flow of that old money, that venture money into new venture projects and continue the hierarchal system that has control on the planet.

Then Satoshi, quietly gave everyone the tools to create their own central banks tall enough to pierce the plastic membrane and create their own communities with their own recognized currency.

800 and Rising – ‘Gotta catch em’ all’

Whilst UK mainstream media reports on the whole Brexit furore, getting the best deal and securing access to the single market there is a rising market – of 800 and more. They don’t accept GBP or Euro. They don’t recognize tax or central government. They are decentralised and operate as their own micronation with their own set of rules and their own currency (which, by the way is stronger than yours.)

ICO’s are coining it in. Literally. Using protocols like Eretheum’s smart-contracts start-ups are funding their own projects and initiatives, by selling their own currency to be used in conjunction with their technology offerings. This means they are self-sufficient and are relying lesser and lesser on, which is today called ‘conventional money’ but will one day simply become another ‘altcoin’.

Money’s Evolution – It’s Already Happened

Before a house collapses due to termites, there are few signs and then it happens. Visualise this: If more and more ICO’s reach up and pierce the plastic membrane, circumnavigating the central banks (hence the term decentralised) and speak directly to the consumer, the individual person so squeezed by the current hierarchal systems and unable to change their circumstances by investment save, perhaps a weekly £2 lottery ticket telling them that ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’ we are in paradigm changing territory. People will, are, taking small bits dripped down from the banks, re-investing into non-fiat currency and making massive returns.

Which ICO? – There are so many

Knowing which currency to buy, how to buy, where to buy, where to store – these are some of the questions you need to be asking if you’ve only just arrived at the party. Companies like Qoinpro and Coinbase can get you started on the basics.

There are many factors you should tick off the box before participating in an ICO and if you’re new to the space don’t be afraid to seek guidance in this new frontier.

ThoughtSpace provide Ph.D. level thought leadership, talks and training webinars for a vast range of subjects within technology and emergent technology and is a service specifically designed for accelerators, incubators and businesses to add valuable insights to their management teams.