The Attempted Securitisation of Bitcoin and The Question of Money

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Money is the pivotal institution of society and yet, after more than 300 years, it remains a polarising and unresolved socio-economic issue, with deep implications for equality across the world. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have emerged as potential solutions to some of the old problems with money, but they are often dismissed and criticised. And a narrative has emerged that they are a security threat. This thesis uses the lens of securitisation theory to examine and explore this perceived threat.

Using document analysis, the speech acts of prominent figures and the extent to which cryptocurrencies are used in illicit activity are explored, revealing that cryptocurrencies are only used in a relatively small amount of crime. The thesis then considers the views of illicit users of cryptocurrencies and UK law enforcement officers. Analysis of scraped internet forum data shows that anonymity is not the main advantage of cryptocurrencies in illicit activity, as is commonly thought. And through the use of interview, the views of UK law enforcement officers reveal an ambivalence to cryptocurrencies as a technology. Finally, a case study of HullCoin, the world’s first local cryptocurrency, shows that other forms of money do potentially have a valid role to play in the future of money.

With a focus on the economic sector of securitisation theory, this thesis concludes that there has been an attempted securitisation of cryptocurrencies, but this has not been accepted by some audiences. Illicit use is not a valid justification for claims that cryptocurrencies are a security threat, and the securitising speech acts are more likely an attempt to protect the established alliance, which draws wealth and power from the control of the supply of money. Bitcoin is money. The world could well benefit from reimaginations of this pivotal institution.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationPh.D.
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Martin, Keith M., Supervisor
  • Adey, Peter, Supervisor
Award date1 Jan 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Bitcoin
  • Securitisation
  • Money
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Simmel
  • Cyber Security
  • Cybercrime
  • Geopolitics

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