In the United States alone, Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are on track to inherit around $12 trillion from their savings-conscious parents who were raised in the era of the Great Depression. Over the next thirty years, these boomers will pass on an estimated $30 trillion to their Generation X children. These two events are on track to make up the largest transfer of wealth in history.
There is however, another potential wealth transfer brewing that could end up being the greatest of them all…
Digital currencies such as bitcoin, have always held the promise of a massive redistribution of wealth. Most people within the industry expected the tech-savvy millennials to be eager adopters of bitcoin and other digital currencies, which would give them, as early investors, the potential for substantial gains in wealth. An internet currency that is out of the hands of corrupt government officials and banks, that increases in value because there is no one endlessly pressing ‘print’ on the money machine, and one that is available globally to anyone regardless of their financial or social status, should have been a match made in heaven for millennials. Perhaps what we failed to recognize is the level of ‘ease of use’ required to attract a generation hooked on high fee, mindless, credit card use. The fact that they still don’t see the possibilities or understand the long term personal financial gain potential of holding a few promising cryptocurrencies, may mean that as an industry, our education efforts are at best, lackluster.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are having no problem taking off in countries that are plagued by political unrest and corruption, where the citizens are witnessing their homeland currencies become worthless due to the runaway inflation caused by reckless government policies. This may be the start of the most significant transfer of wealth and it is taking hold in developing countries around the world. While it may not end up being the biggest monetarily, it will have the greatest social impact. Perhaps you have to witness these devastating events firsthand to really understand the impact that a global digital currency could have. Or, maybe you are one of the 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a bank account and can for the first time, because of digital currency, become part of the global economy. Whatever the reason may be, it is setting these people free.
This may not be an inherited transfer of wealth like the boomers and Gen X are set to receive, but early adopters of these currencies have the potential for the most value appreciation, much like anyone who had the insight to be an early investor in Apple. As nations of the industrialized world struggle with low or no growth, crippling debt, failing banks, unsustainable social programs, and nowhere to go for decent investment returns, a loss of individual wealth is all but certain. A moment of great financial justice will occur if the wealthy decide to invest in cryptocurrency after it has already appreciated in the hands of the poor.