A bite-size digital business magazine from DraytonPartners

BitZon Vs Google Cash? Can blockchain technology turn the FAANGs into countries?

An Amazon cryptocurrency… would change the world itself.

The first step to nationhood is the adoption of a common currency, so, what might happen if an Amazon, Google or Facebook decided to do just that?

by Chris Rickaby

Napoleon’s farsighted foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, a man who played his part in helping the diminutive Corsican conquer most of Europe once said:

“I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos - these men are today’s digital lions. And we, their customers - if the evangelists of disruption and programmatic marketing are to be believed -little more than sheep. So where might these lions lead us? In the case of Amazon, at least, there is now some subtle evidence which suggests the Seattle behemoth’s ambition is no less towering than Napoleon’s.

But, rather than conquer a continent through force of arms - with all the distressing inefficiency, fiscal excesses and other unnecessary expenditure that might entail - the ever-prudent Mr Bezos simply plans to become one, instead.

And the first step to nationhood? How might they plan this magical transition to virtual country, cybernetic continent? Why, as that modern-day Talleyrand, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Union will most assuredly tell you - create your own currency, of course.

“An Amazon cryptocurrency… would change the world itself.”

As crypto-specialist, Sam Town, writes in Cryptobriefing.com: “An Amazon cryptocurrency wouldn’t just change the face of the world’s largest online retailer. It would change the world itself.”

Not convinced? Think all of this sounds a little too far-fetched? Well, truth is, it may actually be happening. Amazon has already acquired the AmazonEthereum. com, AmazonCryptocurrency.com, and AmazonCryptocurrencies.com domain names.

Sam Town again, in Crypto Briefing: “While Amazon has made no announcements regarding the registrations and is tight-lipped regarding any potential blockchain- related movements, speculation is rife within the cryptocurrency community about the potential implications of the move.” Here are some of those possible “implications:”

Just imagine if Amazon were, in fact, to introduce its own, let’s say BitZon, and then, over time, adopt a dual- pricing strategy. Every item bought on its vast $177-billion-revenue global emporium could then be offered at both a local-currency price-point and a BitZon price-point. But the BitZon price could be left always slightly lower to encourage take-up of the new currency. Cheaper still, perhaps, for Amazon Prime members? Given the online giant is already doing business in 16 countries, you would then be able to buy almost anything - books, bikes, TVs, washing machines - for less with its exclusive new retail coin of the virtual realm.

So, why pay in pounds, euros, or dollars when just the simple financial transaction, itself, will cost you more? BitZon would then begin to evolve into the currency of choice in each country, slowly draining power from the national exchequers and drawing it towards 410 Terry Street, in Washington State. An even more likely scenario when you add in the relentless expansion of fintech, as it continues to eliminate the need for actual banknotes. BitZon as a first step to world domination? Who knows? But Amazon’s adoption of blockchain could also simply be a very pragmatic bottom-line focussed move. Especially in the area of supply-chain management.

As Sam Town points out in Crypto Briefing:

“Most of the discourse surrounding Amazon and the blockchain is focused on the possibility of an Amazon cryptocurrency allowing users to pay for goods and services around the world. While this is an important point, it overlooks one of the most disruptive applications of distributed ledger technology supply chain optimization.”

But, Town continues: “Distributed ledger technology not only allows for the creation of decentralized digital currencies, but also functions as a game-changer for the supply chain industry. The blockchain can be used to create transactions that log each step of the movement of a unit through the supply chain life cycle, dramatically increasing the resolution of order recording, tracking, and fulfilment.” A blockchain-based supply chain could, then, make each and every sale cheaper for Amazon. A considerable saving for a company with, according to Statista, more than 310 million active customer accounts.

Blockchain is still very new technology and it’s still not clear how the FAANGs and their Chinese techno-competitors will progress with it. As Nathan Reiff, of Investopedia, writes: “…some of the biggest companies in the world have taken a strong stance against the cryptocurrency space. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, has described bitcoin as a bubble, suggesting that his company will not use the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap for payments at any point in the future.”

But just because Ma hates Bitcoin surely doesn’t mean he wouldn’t adopt his own AliZon, or similar, if the commercial opportunity and, in his case, the all-powerful Chinese government allows it. And, it’s also possible, given the implied supply- chain efficiencies, this reticence could prove to be a commercial error.

As Monsieur de Talleyrand’s emperor, Napoleon, commented: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Exactly the kind of martial advice the always commercially sure-footed Mr Bezos will most certainly follow.