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Understanding the Blockchain Economy

An Introduction to Institutional Cryptoeconomics

Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

Blockchains are the distributed ledger technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But blockchains can be used for more than the transfer of tokens – they are a significant new economic infrastructure. This book offers the first scholarly analysis of the economic nature of blockchains and the shape of the blockchain economy. By applying the institutional economics of Ronald Coase and Oliver Williamson, this book shows how blockchains are poised to reshape the nature of firms, governments, markets, and civil society.
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Chapter 5: Money, dequity, and the barter economy of the future

Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts


This chapter answers the question of whether cryptocurrencies are money. Blockchain tokens do not fit neatly into our categories of financial assets. The chapter asks whether, and how, money is a public good or emergent social institution, and then applies this to crypto-tokens. Money can be seen as ‘dequity’: a unique instrument with the features of both debt and equity. The chapter then considers the evolution of money in a world of a multiplicity of cryptocurrencies and other technologies – such as artificial intelligence – that allow for barter transactions to occur at a low cost.

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