Ann Baldwin – The virutal currency challenge

Now I understand. The reason we haven?t embraced the euro is because euro notes and coins are not going to be issued until the year 2002.

Our prime minister, or should I say the people?s prime minister, knows you cannot win the hearts and minds of the UK population without real money, actual dosh, the genuine filthy lucre. Compu-ter-generated currency transactions are not going to bring anyone on side.

What good is a currency if you can?t get a packet of fags at midnight from a machine with it, if you can?t put it on the snooker table to show you?re next, if you can?t drill a hole in it and use it to mend the arm joint of a teddy bear?

What good is a currency that you can?t bite on, can?t jingle in your pocket while making a presentation, can?t toss to see who?s to start, can?t spin on the table when waiting for someone to buy the next round, can?t fold and tuck away in your spectacle case for emergencies, can?t save up in empty whisky bottles for your holidays or for a new church roof?

It won?t be a currency until we can collect a mile of euros (or should that be 1,500 metres?) for good causes and place them side by side along the high street. What about all the beggars, buskers and street traders? Without notes and coins, how can they join in the world of the new currency without employing brokers?

Not until the three coins in the Trevi fountain are all euros will this part of our unification ever get off the ground. Meanwhile, Tony Blair has to hope he can stop Scotland, Wales and – pretty soon perhaps – Northern Ireland, creating their own currency and putting a real spanner, or groat, in the works.

The market makers and the currency hedgers can play with this pseudo stuff, but the man on the Clapham omnibus (who, had we adopted euros, would have had nothing with which to pay his fare) will know better.

Any country that takes on a virtual currency has lost the most important competitive edge known to man since he first moved from barter to currency, namely the negotiator?s final question: ?And how much is that for cash??.

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and speaker

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