It was way back in 2013 when Brett Scott first contacted me. He told me he’d written a book called The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance, ‘which I actually sell for bitcoin,’ he explained. Buying something with bitcoin? The idea seemed preposterous then; now I wish I’d sold my own book for bitcoin. There are few people who have spent as long in the world of cryptocurrency as Scott, so when he talks, it is worth listening.
The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance was a joyful ride through ‘guerrilla finance and activist entrepreneurialism’. It was all about ‘jamming’ conventional finance and building alternative systems, including with cryptocurrency. Now, nearly a decade later, he presents a starker and far less optimistic message in his new book, Cloudmoney.
You may remember Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, announced to great fanfare in 2019 and then quietly rebranded a year later. Facebook wanted to create a global digital payments system that could be integrated into the company’s vast online estate. ‘Libra was the culmination of all the trends covered in this book,’ Scott explains. ‘Facebook explicitly joined the war on cash.’
Scott’s story begins with the origins of this war back in the last decade. Cash is hard to track and control, making it good if you want to avoid surveillance and, he argues, for providing life support to ‘grey areas’ – zones of ‘creative deviance’ on the edges