The World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Cryptocurrencies inaugural report is an overview of the cryptocurrency landscape.
The report, titled “Crypto, What is it Good For?” makes the case that “cryptocurrencies have reached a point of inevitability”.
The authors call the report a ‘non-exhaustive list of companies, protocols, and projects’. They attempt to show the diversity of primarily financial use cases and their solutions using this set of technologies. However, they also state that they wish to broaden the scope of the discussion of cryptocurrencies ‘beyond price and financial speculation’. To that end, they also include non-financial applications.
Under the hood
The majority of the report is a series of one-page descriptions of major cryptocurrency-related projects. There should be surprises for most readers who are already involved in cryptocurrency, given the the report’s scope.
In short, the report covers:
- Base layer blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Besides Bitcoin and Ethereum, it includes Ripple, Tezos, Celo, Litecoin, Zcash, Filecoin, and Arweave;
- Six second layer (L2) protocols – Bancor, Lightning, Compound Protocol, Uniswap, Etherisc, and OMG Network;
- Financial products and services – XBT Provider, Deutsche Bank, BitGo, Gemini, Cowrie, Binusu, Metamask, Ripio, Paypal and LocalBitcoins;
- Non-financial applications and services including Rally, SuperRare, UNICEF CryptoFund, and World Food Programme.
The Council has two co-chairs, namely Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer at CoinShares, and Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa USA. Other members include C-suite officers from cryptocurrency projects, and heads of crypto and blockchain units from institutions such as the UN and the WEF.
In a press release regarding the report, Meltem Demirors emphasized that, “meaningful analysis of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is about imagining what could be possible in the future with this technology…”. Likewise, Co-chair Cuy Sheffield stated that, “Our Council is focused on finding ways to make cryptocurrencies comprehensible, accessible, and inclusive…”.
Crypto beyond the exchanges
Reading carefully, a central focus of the report is the beginning of the Council’s attempt to take the crypto industry beyond speculation and institutional investment. To this end, the short section at the end points to the reason for the Council’s existence. The co-chairs are clear that they want to explore how digital currencies can help humanity as broadly as possible. The projects listed demonstrate the possibilities Demirors wants imagined in an analysis.
The World Food Programme listing concisely lays out the use of cryptocurrency to implement a humanitarian cash aid project. The size of the agency’s task is enormous. For example, in 2019, it distributed $2.1 billion to 28 million people in 64 countries. These people are often in positions where becoming banked is impossible.
Crypto-enabled relief can improve project efficiency while lowering banking-related costs. One example is a project focusing on Syrian refugees in Jordan. It has already engaged in 1.1 million transactions totaling $23.5 million in food assistance.