In the age-old idiom, time is equal to the value of money—but in modern times, money is not merely the physical entity it was when said statement was made.
It’s a fair statement to define that any time taken to produce something should be repaid with money, because time is our most precious commodity; undervalued in both monetary and humane circles. I believe it can be said that money is to be the root of all evil, but it’s also an evolving beast; giving light to those who’ve previous seen the evil from the sole of the shoe, that money drove upon them.
As we see Britain be graced by fistfuls of new notes, we also see physical money become more and more irrelevant, with roughly only 8% of the world’s money having a physical existence. But alas, cogs still turn and creatives are still paid, whether the money can be folded or not—but money is in the mist of a rebrand.
When the day to day invoices are sent and paid on the magical digital highway, with the exchanging of money for services becoming little more than numbers decreasing in one account, to be screen to raise in another. Even with all this digital presence, money as an entity hasn’t changed too much; despite the ever oscillating exchange ranges and inflation, the value of a single pound is an easily translated amount for any given service.
But what is money if not the body we’ve always known it to be; what is money when it’s a unregulated, anonymous block-chain segregated from the banks that we’ve always known? With the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum leading the way in ‘cyrptocurrencies’ we’re seeing the sea of modern economy rocked by decentralised anarchic economies—it seems expected that these rebellious infrastructures should eventually cross paths with the rebellious careers of the creatives.
For those unaware, the above image strangely accurately explains how Cyrptocurrencies work. Whereas cash is printed by the government and released into the population to give physical means to it’s economy, Bitcoin (like others) release blocks on it’s currencies when computers ‘mine’ by solving complex algorithms, splitting the end amount by how many computers – or users – were used to solve said algorithm in a chain of infinite ever-changing algorithms.
For Bitcoin at least, there is no central bank or lender managing the money, it’s creator is a mystery and it’s value is rocketing annually—a nice change when compared to the post-brexit pound. As yet, I haven’t seen it become common place for creatives to be paid in any cryptocurrencies but as freelance becomes more worldwide with internet access becoming as common as electricity; I can’t see why being paid without a cheque book wouldn’t become a mainstay for the future of the industry. Here lies a problem though, money is already complicated and Bitcoin (or Ethereum) is even more complicated.
As it stands 1 Bitcoin is equal to £7,198 GBP* so a problem arrises in working out payment for any given creative service, unless of course you work at a price of £7,200 an hour. Then once you’ve set your price and likely been paid an amount similar in value to 0.14345675 Bitcoin, you need to ask where this money has come from—with it’s existence being anonymous and it’s legality in various countries being a grey area that even EL James would be jealous of.
Now you look at your digital wallet with more numbers after the decimal point than you’d imagine any calculator could comprehend, gained from sources unknown, you need to ask yourself how you’ll keep it and what will happen to it. Where a bank will give you a set interest rate and a high-street branch to withdraw that money from, you wallet exists and little more than an application on your desktop and the value of those points of a penny can jump more erratically than a gazelle on pure columbian cocaine.
Speaking of cocaine, cocaine is illegal and cyrptocurrencies are used to buy almost all illegal items available on the ‘darknet‘—this makes being funded by an anonymous source a risky income for you conscience. There is no real difference between legally bought Bitcoin as there is to illegally gained Ethereum. Though on the other hand, these decentralised digital wallets give people possible access to a global economy that they hadn’t previously had; people living outside regions of easily accessed bank branches.
I’m not sure how creativity can integrate to an anonymous economy as living job-by-job is hard enough, never-mind having to try and pay your water bill with 0.143754834658 Bitcoin. I’m also not certain how taxing these non-physical currencies would even happen but I’m excited to see whether it can become an arsenal for your average creative. Whether a honeypot to put away your first big pay cheque and gain a passive income on it’s rocketing value or even to allow creative work to be more available to those previously unable to get it—for good or bad.
I’m not personally certain about how I feel about the block-chain because it both scares and excites me; I love the opportunities it gives to the people on mass and the risks involved in an unstable, modern, rebellious economy. I like that I could give the chance to produce work for someone who doesn’t have the privilege of a standard bank account, opening the doors for creativity in the communities of lesser developed nations. But I also hold caution to how these ‘digital coins’ exist, where they come from and how people got them—I am a personal bastion for neutrality, anonymity and an anti-capitalist mentality but I have slowed my haste to join this economic revolution for my xenophobia and scepticism.
That said, I would certainly work for Bitcoin. Oh, and records. Always work for records.
*Bitcoin price correct as of November 27th 2017