By Simon Cocking, review of The Currency Cold War: Cash and Cryptography, Hash Rates and Hegemony written by David Birch. Published by the London Publishing Partnership available here

The Currency Cold War by David Birch is a special volume in London Publishing Partnership’s Perspectives series, edited by Diane Coyle.

Money is changing and this may mean a new world order. In this new book, David Birch sets out the economic and technological imperatives concerning digital money, discussing the potential impact of it and the tensions involved — between public and private and between East and West — to contribute to the debate that we must have to begin to shape the International Monetary and Financial System of the near future.

Further information can be found on a dedicated website for the book, here:

The Currency Cold War: Cash and Cryptography, Hash Rates and Hegemony, reviewed

The latest book from the usually interesting, engaging and often even funny Dave Birch. This one very much expands on the ideas and concepts teased out in Beyond Babylon, Before Bitcoin  and is quite a logical book to complement it. For starters we loved the cover, several of the kids picked it up, and, briefly, contemplated opening it. For adult readers this book does reward further reading, especially as many of the issues are even more relevant since the onset of covid-19. Unlike some books we have recently reviewed which have been blindsided by the corona onslaught, the content of this book remains prescient and relevant.

First we need to take a big picture view of relations between China and the US in particular, with the EU jostling for relevance, (god knows what the UK’s strategy for remaining relevant now that there are at least three other global powerhouses, and that’s before you even factor in Africa and India too). Then, it becomes all the more apparent that the days of the US’s dominance of global markets via using the dollar as an economic weapon are on the wane. It is surely a matter of when,  not if, and so the country, entity, organisation, or distributed non organised entity that can deliver digital currencies most effectively to the world.

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Birch takes us through an interesting, wise and provocative discussion about how this could all play out, and why China remains the key player to watch. He doesn’t purport to know exactly how, or when it will all play out, but he is a good traveller to spend time listening to. We would agree with his observations on the unlikeliness of the Facebook Libra digital currency to be the one coin to unite them all, however they may die trying and if not them, then someone else will aim to achieve their goal.

Through a series of logical and timely topics Birch walks us through what might happen, what will almost certainly happen, and the areas of doubt between these two states. It is written well and in an accessible way for the more general reader. If you want to have an articulate and informed opinion on these matters that will affect us all then you could do far worse than to read this book.

David G. W. Birch is an author, advisor and commentator on digital financial services. He is Global Ambassador for Consult Hyperion (the secure electronic transactions  consultancy that he helped to found), Technology Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (the London-based think tank) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey Business School. An internationally recognised thought leader in digital identity and digital money he was named one of the global top 15 favourite sources of business information by Wired magazine and one of the top ten most influential voices in banking by Financial Brand; created one of the top 25 “must read” financial IT blogs; was found by PR Daily to be one of the top ten Twitter accounts followed by innovators (along with Bill Gates and Richard Branson), was rated Europe’s most influential commentator on emerging payments by Total Payments and was awarded “Contributor of the Year” by the Emerging Payments Association.

His last book was Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money We Understand to Money that Understands Us (London Publishing Partnership), which the LSE Review of  books said should be “widely read by graduate students of finance, financial law and  related topics as well as policymakers involved in financial regulation”.

Dave graduated from the University of Southampton with a B.Sc (Hons) in Physics.

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