随着越来越多的人日常依赖电子而非有形资金，世界金融体系似乎变得越来越复杂，许多人只能思考金钱和货币的未来。一位读者曾向我发过一个问题，其中描绘了一幅未来主义的金钱画面。在这种情况下，我们都依赖于全世界的电子信用系统。在这个时刻，我们所有人都不是用纸币来处理，而是以一种通用货币的形式处理无形资产。也许他们会被称为地球货币单位或ECU。 “这有可能吗？”，读者问道。虽然几乎任何事情都可以在无限的时间内完成，但让我们讨论未来围绕金钱的一些更合理的现实。作为About.com的经济学教授和经济专家，我个人认为纸币在不久的将来不会完全消失。确实，电子交易在过去几十年中变得越来越普遍，我认为没有理由不再继续这种趋势。我们甚至可能达到纸币交易变得非常罕见的程度 – 对于一些人来说，他们已经是！在那时，表格可能会转变，我们现在认为纸币可能实际上是我们电子货币的支持，黄金标准曾经支持纸币的方式。至于一种通用货币，我不确定我们是否会很快到达那里，尽管我怀疑货币数量会随着时间的推移而下降，世界变得更加全球化。我们已经看到今天发生的情况就像一家加拿大石油公司与一家沙特阿拉伯公司谈判合同而且这笔交易是用美元或欧元而非加元谈判的。我可以看到世界到了只有4或5种不同货币在使用的地步。在这一点上，我们可能正在争夺标准，一个是对这种全球变化的最大威慑力量。但即使是这种情况也难以描绘，部分原因在于我们历史上如何将价值放在纸币上。金钱背后的概念可以追溯到文明的开端。毫不奇怪，为什么钱在文明人群中流传：这是一种更有效，更便捷的交易方式，而不是与其他商品和服务进行交易。你能想象你的所有财富都像牲畜一样吗？但与商品和服务不同，货币本身并不具有内在价值。事实上，今天，钱只是一张特定纸张或分类帐上的数字。虽然重要的是要注意到情况并非总是如此（在历史的大部分时间里，金钱是用具有实际价值的金属铸造的），今天该系统依赖于相互的信念。也就是说，货币具有价值，因为我们作为一个社会赋予它价值。从这个意义上说，你可以仅仅因为我们想要更多的钱而将货币视为有限的供应和需求。简单地说，我想要钱，因为我知道其他人想要钱，所以我可以换钱换货和服务。这个系统是有效的，因为我们大多数人，如果不是我们所有人，都相信这笔钱的未来价值。因此，如果我们已经处于货币价值仅仅是分配给它的价值的未来，那么什么阻止我们走向完全数字化的货币，就像我们的读者所描述的那样？答案在很大程度上归功于我们的国家政府。我们已经看到像比特币这样的数字或加密货币的上升（和下跌）。有些人继续想知道我们还在用美元（或英镑，欧元，日元等）做些什么。但是，除了用这些数字货币存储价值的问题之外，很难想象这样的货币会像美元一样取代本国货币。事实上，只要政府继续征税，他们就有权决定可以支付这些税款的货币。
As more and more people rely on electronic rather than tangible forms of money on a day-to-day basis and the world’s financial systems appear to become more and more complex, many are left to ponder the future of money and currency. A reader once sent me a question in which a futuristic picture of money was painted. It was a scenario in which we all depend on a system of electronic credits across the world. It was a time in which we all dealt with not with paper money, but with intangibles, in the form of one universal currency. Perhaps they would be called Earth Currency Units or ECUs. “Is this even possible?”, the reader asked. While almost anything is possible in an unlimited period of time, let’s discuss some of the more reasonable realities surrounding money in the future. As an economics professor and economic expert here at About.com, I personally don’t think paper money will completely disappear any time in the near future. It is true that electronic transactions have become more and more common over the last few decades and I see no reason why this trend will not continue. We may even get to the point where paper money transactions become incredibly rare – for some, they already are! At that point, the tables could turn and what we now consider paper money may actually act as the backing to our electronic currency, the way the gold standard once backed paper money. As for one universal currency, I’m not sure if we’ll get there anytime soon, though I do suspect that the number of currencies will fall as time goes on and the world becomes more globalized. We already see that happening today like when a Canadian oil firm negotiates a contract with a Saudi Arabian company and the deal is negotiated in American dollars or EU euros, not Canadian dollars. I could see the world getting to the point where there are only 4 or 5 different currencies in use. At that point, we’ll likely be battling over standards, one on the largest deterrents to such a global change. But even this scenario is difficult to picture, in part because of how we have historically placed a value on paper money. The concept behind money dates back to the beginning of civilization. It’s no surprise why money caught on amongst civilized people: it was a much more efficient and convenient way to transact business as opposed to bartering with other goods and services. Can you image keeping all of your wealth in something like livestock? But unlike goods and services, money does not hold an intrinsic value in and of itself. In fact, today, money is merely a piece of specialized paper or numbers on a ledger. While it’s important to note that this was not always the case (for much of history, money was minted in coins of metals that held real value), today the system relies on a mutual set of beliefs. That is to say that money has value because we as a society have assigned it value. In that sense, you can consider money a good with a limited supply and a demand simply because we want more of it. Simply put, I want money because I know that other people want money, so I can trade money for goods and services. This system works because a majority of us, if not all of us, believe in the future value of this money. So if we are already in a future where the value of money is simply the value assigned to it, what has stopped us from moving toward an entirely digital currency, like the one our reader described above? The answer is in large part due to our national governments. We have seen the rise (and falls) of digital or cryptographic currencies like Bitcoin. Some continue to wonder what we’re all still doing with the dollar (or the pound, euro, yen, etc.). But beyond the issues of storage of value with these digital currencies, it is difficult to imagine a world in which such currencies replace the national currencies like dollar. In fact, as long as governments continue to collect tax, they will have the authority to dictate the currency in which those taxes may be paid.