Happy Decimal Day

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

by Ross Laurie CEO, Visible Capital

Today, 15 February, the UK celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Decimal Day with the launch of a new 50p coin, launched to commemorate the biggest change in Britain’s monetary system for more than 1,000 years and designed to give a nostalgic nod to the centuries-old system of pounds, shillings and pence.

Last week Tesla announced that it has bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin and would start accepting the cryptocurrency as payment.

Money has come a long way since 1971.

And things definitely move faster these days. Decimalisation didn’t happen overnight - it had been the subject of heated debate for centuries. Sir Christopher Wren was an enthusiast, suggesting in 1696, according to the Royal Mint, that a decimal coinage based on a silver noble divided into ten primes and 100 seconds, “Which Centissimal Division will be very proper for Accounts.”

By contrast, Bitcoin has only been around since 2009, devised by its creator Satoshi Nakamoto in reaction to the money-printing of 2008. But since then, according to Dominic Frisby’s recent MoneyWeek cover story, “it has been underestimated by its critics”. Until now.

Reported on the CNBC website this week, Mike Novogratz, founder of Galaxy Digital sees Elon Musk’s move as a pioneering step which other companies will adopt. He says:

“Every company should be looking at how to accept digital currencies, digital payments as part of their business scheme. It’s not that difficult. It’s what customers want, it’s where the world is moving. And so that I think he’s getting ahead of the curve, and I think you’re going to see every company look to figure out how they could, from McDonald’s to Bojangles, you name it.”

And it’s not just the corporates that are seeing the opportunities of bitcoin, it’s clearly on the verge of being adopted by institutional investors and corporations, as Frisby points out in Moneyweek.

He says: “And it’s not just CEOs sitting on huge cash piles. UK fund management group Ruffer invested in bitcoin in November, with total exposure worth around 3% of its portfolios, reports Citywire. In the latest update from its investment trust, the Ruffer Investment Company (LSE: RICA), the group noted that: “Due to zero interest rates, the investment world is desperate for new safe havens and uncorrelated assets. We think we are… at the foothills of a long trend of institutional adoption and financialisation of bitcoin.”

The bitcoin story is moving fast. In an investment cycle tale which unconventionally started with the ordinary retail investor and later attracted the institutional investor, there are signs around the corner that even governments are eyeing it up. As Frisby says in his article: “You may think such a scenario – governments using bitcoin – is absurd, but already both the Iranian and Venezuelan governments, whose national currencies are weak, have set up extensive bitcoin mining rigs.”

If money does indeed make the world go round, it has certainly been spinning it at a giddying rate since 2009.

We have been talking in our blogs over the last few weeks about the importance of the ways in which digitisation is accelerating across the financial services environment. As we continue to move forwards with our technology, it’s exciting to see the huge strides which bitcoin has taken in such a short time.  We are living in interesting times.

Perhaps as the commemorative 50p pieces start to roll out, there are already plans afoot to launch a Crypto Currency Day.

I, for one, will be happy to celebrate it.

Richie Braidwood