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What Problems Does Crypto Solve, Anyway?

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What Problems Does Crypto Solve, Anyway?

Freakonomics Radio,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Blockchain could change everything – but for most people, it’s not changing anything yet.

Editorial Rating



Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFTs. If these are just beginning to sound like meaningless, hype-crazed buzzwords to you, you’re not alone. Most people, on meeting a crypto enthusiast at a party, will let their eyes glaze over as they reach for another drink. Another tech-inspired flash in the pan? But in this episode of the Freakonomics Radio podcast, you can listen in as experts – both crypto boosters and crypto detractors – discuss the potential of blockchain and the reasons it may not reach that potential. 


Regulators are unsure how to handle digital currencies. 

When Meta (Facebook) announced they were going to create a digital currency, it concerned many, including former Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman Chris Giancarlo. Before the name change, Facebook had already been under intense scrutiny for user data practices.

If a company gains access to an individual’s financial data, they have a tremendous amount of knowledge about that person. As Meta stepped in to try to harness the power of digital currency, regulators were already concerned about user privacy, though they had a limited understanding of the new technologies. Meta’s involvement also raised concerns because of its encroachment into the imagined “Web 3.0” of the future. Meta’s digital currency project ended in early 2022, but it may have a lasting impact on the interoperability of digital and cryptocurrency spaces.

Historically, the US government has taken a conservative approach to tech regulation to avoid stifling innovation. 

The rather inert experience of the 1990s internet made up Web 1.0. When Facebook, Google and other big tech firms got involved...

About the Podcast

Stephen J. Dubner is a journalist, podcast and radio host, and the co-author of the Freakonomics book series.

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