As our industry changes, it’s important to keep an eye on how trends in the wider world can affect us. While Motionographer does not specifically endorse companies or products, we do like to occasionally share interesting developments.
Our creative world is becoming more international than ever. Where entire jobs used to be done at huge studios, small teams around the world now collaborate.
But when it comes to getting everyone paid, the global financial system hasn’t kept up. International money transfers are expensive, slow, and generally a hassle for everyone involved.
There may be a solution on the horizon. Digital currencies like Bitcoin, LiteCoin, and Ripple are completely re-imagining the idea of money – and they have the potential to make it easier to settle up anywhere in the world.
Today, to pay an artist internationally, a studio either needs to send an international wire transfer – which is expensive, slow, and often requires a trip to the bank, or use a service like PayPal – which usually charges a high fee (3-4%) to the artist getting paid. And in some countries like Argentina, currency controls make it almost impossible for an artist to receive money from overseas without having a foreign bank account.
Soon, the process may get easier – and cheaper. Studios will be able to go online and use a small app or encrypted website to transfer digital currency anywhere in the world with almost no transfer fees – far less than 1%. And the process will only take minutes.
Digital currency has several important potential advantages over the current systems. Transfers are fast, inexpensive, and incorporate strong cryptography that makes them anonymous. Digital currency is also immune to the capital controls that plague many developing countries.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is a work in progress, rather than an alternative that is ready today.
Converting from digital currency into “old” money – dollars, euros, pesos, etc – is still harder than it should be. The exchange rates between digital currencies and real currencies can still go through big swings, and digital currency is similar to cash – if you lose the file, or forget your cryptographic key, it’s gone. There’s no bank to call for customer service.
Today, digital currency is no longer purely experimental – but not quite mainstream. It represents a cool attempt to bring the ideas of open architectures, distributed networks, and cryptography to money. In the larger perspective, it represents a shift away from global dominance by governments and banking conglomerates to a distributed financial system.
Digital currency could one day become a faster, cheaper, and more secure way to get paid for international work. It’s something every artist should keep an eye on.
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