Currencies are influenced by social, economic and political change, so it is little surprise that all around the world they are in a state of flux. In Europe the future of the Euro is a real concern; the ASEAN markets, fearful of making similar mistakes, are backing away from their flirtation with a collective currency unit; in China, the ambition to extend economic influence and desire that the Yuan is recognized as an alternative reserve currency is being tempered by a financial slowdown; in the US there is growing uncertainty about whether the dollar will maintain its status as the primary unit of global currency, and on top of this, instability in the Middle East and the dramatic fall in oil prices have all combined to make the currency markets increasingly volatile. The result is a fragile global financial system continuing to face the real possibility of further financial crises.
While few are suggesting the imminent demise of the existing currency order, key questions stand out. What will be the real role of currency in the next ten years? How will regulation adapt to this? Given all the disruptions, how best can we stabilize the marketplace? How can currency markets organize themselves more effectively? In ten years’ time will the focus remain on national currencies or will alternative currencies, such as Bitcoin, Amazon Coins or BerkShares take a more prominent role? The future seems like a complex game of musical chairs – positions are yet to be decided and it is by no means clear that there will be a seat for everyone when the band eventually stops playing.