Either the US leads on crypto, or China will

Even casual viewers of US cable news are familiar with commercials featuring actor William Devane – usually golfing or horseback riding – exhorting them to invest in precious metals. Lately, Devane has been joined in this pursuit by financial educator Robert Kiyosaki, creator of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book series.

The prevalence of these ads should not be surprising. In these volatile times, the Donald Trump administration has spent big and printed money. (The United States is not alone in borrowing and printing its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic.) There is no reason to expect different behavior under President-elect Joe Biden.

It’s no wonder that alternative stores of value are flourishing. Days ago, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin reached yet another all-time high, just as it became clear that a Biden-Harris administration was a fait accompli.

But while Bitcoin is the best-known digital currency, it is only a small part of a technological shift that could satisfy our demand for safer, cheaper, and faster ways of doing business in times of crisis and disruption.

Bitcoin’s underlying technology, blockchain – a sort of shared, secure ledger of transactions among networked computers – has applications ranging from supply-chain management to securing international payments. It could be “a game changer for the global economy,” according to JPMorgan Chase.