A year ago, a single Bitcoin was worth $800. Today, it is valued at $10,370.

The explosion of the cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin shakes our core assumptions of what we consider “money:”  Now, a single individual create something that can function as currency. It no longer needs to be tethered to government assurances of value.


Quite quickly this confusion becomes distrust.

After all, how can we treat as money something we can barely understand, much less trust?

Cryptocurrency is teaching us that our global currency systems already rely upon a system of trust. We tend to treat as money only that which we deem reliable—like a bill issued by a strong and healthy government institution. But even institutions can become unaccountable, like so many Wall Street banks in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.

Is the surge in cryptocurrency a sign that our current systems of trust are changing? Are we suspicious of the institutions that underlie our current monetary system? Does cryptocurrency’s popularity indicate a transformation in our moral systems of trust?

We are searching for something more worthy of our trust.

Where will this search that take us?


Dr. Filipe Maia is an instructor with the Ignite Institute’s Certificate of Leadership and Innovation for an Unpredictable Future, which wrestles with questions of ethics, society, and technology. The inaugural cohort of the Certificate launches in late February.

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Filipe Maia

About Filipe Maia

Filipe, a Brazilian theologian, studies and teaches the religious dimensions of economic systems to imagine different ways of organizing human communities. He is particularly interested in how traditions of ancient wisdom help us to engage with the unpredictability of the future.

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