Book Review: Digital Is the Cash

“Digital is the Cash” is a short, accessible read, looking at cryptocurrency from a vaguely African perspective, with a strong preference for Dash.

“Understanding the Past, Present & Future of Finance in One Read,� boasts the subtitle of Digital is the Cash by Nathaniel Luz. Whether the book achieves this lofty aim is likely to depend on the readers feelings towards Dash (DASH) being the future of finance.

You see, Luz is an ambassador for Dash Africa, and strongly believes that the cryptocurrency represents the future of money. His story is actually more interesting than that, as I discovered when I spoke to him, but potential readers should be warned that parts of this book read more like a press release.

It should be noted that Dash did not fund the writing of the book, although it has paid for a print run of hard copies which are being distributed to libraries and institutions around the globe.

Start at the beginning

The first topic that the book tackles is money: what it is, how it has developed, and the various forms it has taken. From bartering to commodity money, through cash in metal and paper forms, and finally to digital currency in both credit/debit card form and cryptocurrency.

The writing style is accessible and enjoyable, with clear examples illustrating the concepts explained. The book would have benefited enormously from a decent editor, but once you get over the odd incongruous turn of phrase, the content is solid.

Luz then turns his sights on the history of the global financial sector. He explains the integration of national economies, the foundation of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the gold standard and its subsequent demise and the frequent failings of financial authorities across the globe.

Banking the unbanked

The focus then shifts to banks and banking. Access to banking services is provided via a variety of methods, but traditional banking excludes a large proportion of the population in many parts of the world.

Luz explains how financial technology (FinTech) is enabling the unbanked to access financial services without needing a bank. Blockchain technology underpins these advances in the financial industry.

From overview to deep dive…

At this point the book suffers from an abrupt change in style. Although the writing is still accessible, the content goes from an interesting overview to a quite technical examination of the next two topics.

First we get a look at blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, but the chapter goes into a level of detail which perhaps starts to hint at its target audience. We learn about different consensus algorithms, types of wallet and addresses, and then get a guide to buying, receiving and owning cryptocurrency.

It starts to feel a bit like a quick-start manual for those wanting to get into cryptocurrency for the first time. And in case there was any doubt as to which cryptocurrency the newbie reader should be getting into… we get to the chapter about Dash.

… to sales brochure

This chapter is an unashamed trumpeting of the magnificence of all things Dash. From its history and its functionality as a cryptocurrency, with sections on each headline feature, down to elements such as its treasury system, masternodes, governance and future development.

It is by far the longest chapter and in my opinion it feels a bit incongruous, which is an awful shame. On speaking to Luz after reading the book, I realized however, that this is not some corporate line, but down to his genuine belief in Dash’s potential to change the financial system in Africa.

He is an award-winning libertarian, and when travelling around the African continent, came face to face with the barriers of a lack of interconnectedness between national banking systems, each using different currencies.

Seeing the possibilities of cryptocurrencies to overcome this, he became an evangelist for the technology. When he discovered Dash, he felt that it ticked all of the right boxes and fell in love with its ease of use.

He explained that the African approach to cryptocurrency is to preserve wealth, not to speculate and make wealth:

“Cryptocurrency in Africa is a need. Cryptocurrency in the first world is a want. Cryptocurrencies should really focus on Africa, as Africa has the momentum to make it go mainstream.�

He is not paid to be an ambassador, but he can apply for funding from the treasury for certain promotional projects, such as the printing of hard copies of this book.

It’s not over yet…

The final chapter of the book returns to its earlier style. We get an overview of areas in which blockchain technology is being harnessed, with examples of use-cases in a number of fields.

We also get a brief look at blockchain technology in Africa. Throughout the book, topics are discussed with a vaguely African perspective, but with Luz’s personal experience, I felt that this could have been explored more. This perhaps though, is missing the point, which is to turn people onto Dash.

To hammer this home, the book rounds off with “A Note to Regulators� and a rebuttal of some “Common misconceptions about Dash.�

On the whole, the book is informative and an enjoyable read. The Dash promotion is a bit blatant, although the content is still interesting, and might even sway you. To be fair, Dash’s remarketing from being privacy-focused to its ease of use for consumers and retail payments is pretty impressive.

If you are vehemently anti-Dash, then maybe this book isn’t for you. For everybody else, it’s an easy read at just 67 pages, and is now available as a free download, so why not?

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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