Crypto pioneers are shying away from calling what they are building as institutions. And we know the reason why. It’s because the term has a background of centralization, the one factor that cryptocurrencies want to avoid at all cost. At least until you mention institutional capital and the term is now acceptable.
If you look at history and what has driven the economy of the most advanced nations in the world today, there is one common denominator-strong institutions. If a country’s institutions are improved, the society flourishes socially, ethically and economically as well. There is no denying that institutions are essential for society.
In any case, institutions have been proven to work. So why are crypto circumventing institutions if they indeed want to make the world a better place? Aren’t they turning our backs on the one thing that has been proven to work?
Defining The Term ‘Institution’
According to Douglass North, the term institutions refer to the constraints that structure the economic, social and political interactions. They can be formal or informal. Formal being constraints such as property rights, the court systems and contract laws. On the other hand, the informal constraints refer to the taboos, traditional and social norms. All together they make us rules imposing order and certainty onto our social and economic lives.
Now, we know that risk and uncertainty are the foes of commerce. And that is where institutions come in. For instance, if you don’t trust the safe arrival of your shipment you wouldn’t transact. But with institutions, one can put their trust in them and take the risk.
The internet is arguably the last major institution to built. The premise behind its establishment is a global common ground for information. Once global information is packaged, it’s hosted in servers accessible to the public, thus everyone has access to the knowledge via a simple google search.
Now, the financial sector is the complete opposite. Every country has walled off its infrastructure. This has been so despite the digitization of currency in the modern world. Cryptocurrencies offer something different. A promise of a global financial system where information is shared with everyone freely.
Crypto Competition With Centralized Governance
Most people today world over find it hard fighting economic mismanagement. They often try circumventing capital controls and engage themselves in black markets. In future, they will have a more powerful option-in cryptocurrency.
Saying that crypto will replace institutions wouldn’t be entirely truthful. Instead, there will be an alternative of decentralized institutions built by crypto and will be more portable, global and will operate autonomously.
In the last 100 years, over 50 nations have experiences hyperinflation. Cryptocurrencies serve a powerful check against errant financial overseers. They offer the best competition against centralized financial regimes. And we know that competition is the best antidote to wicked monopoly.
The Way Forward
While crypto-anarchist would quickly rubbish off institutionalization of crypto, we know that institutions are vital for a stable economic system. They guarantee graceful evolution and allow people to conduct businesses safely, predictably and peacefully.
Immutability is a fundamental principle for cryptos, that no authority can exercise control over your assets. But this by itself is a form of institution under the norm of property rights.