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Controlling the digital economy

Government tries to follow the money

Now that the bulk of the so-called ‘capitalist political economy’ operates on digital platforms and through digital channels, it’s inevitable that government wants more influence and control. But will it work?

In the aftermath of the dotcom boom, everybody wanted more access and better networks, and it wasn’t long before broadband came to be regarded as a basic human right. Wireless networks and smartphones connected everyone else, and suddenly the whole world was on the ‘net!

Sure, some governments tried to ban social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, for a while, and the Great Firewall of China still throttles communication in that country; but most market economies are totally dependent on web-enabled communication and transaction networks, that are by definition globally connected.

That’s where the problems started. Internet giants like Alibaba and Amazon had more control of global trade than governments, and we all know how government loves control. And then there was Bitcoin, and blockchain, and autonomous crypto-businesses that don’t have a national residency. How do you tax that?

Which is why there are now state-sponsored efforts to get a piece of the action. America is issuing the Fedcoin digital currency, and offering free crypto processing on ‘secure’ Federal servers. India is openly competing in the market with state-owned 5G networks and an ‘energy internet’ for trading electricity. In China the government is embedded in all the digital giants, while the EU churns out regulations faster than compliance officers can speed-read them.

It’s all a bit of a mess, and most business owners just want the government to butt out. That’s not going to happen, because it’s not just business anymore, it’s all digital – and that’s where the money is.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.