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Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets

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The video titled “Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets” is an informative and educational lecture by Prof. Dr. Fabian Schär. It is part of the University of Basel Lecture series organized by the Center for Innovative Finance. The lecture aims to discuss the fundamentals of monetary theory in relation to Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptoassets. It covers topics such as the functions of money, the difference between a barter economy and an economy with a dominant medium of exchange, and the properties a good should have to be a suitable monetary unit. The video encourages viewer feedback and provides an open platform for comments and exchanges regarding the content. In order to maintain the integrity of the channel, the Center for Innovative Finance reviews comments before publishing them. Understanding monetary theory is crucial for anyone interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as money is the foundation of the world economy and affects everyone’s daily lives.

In the hypothetical scenario of a barter economy where no money exists, self-sufficiency or engaging in barter would be the primary options. However, these options have limitations and are not feasible in our modern society. Money solves the problems of trade in a barter economy by serving as a medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value. It allows for more efficient trade and optimizes the allocation of goods and services. The lecture explains various concepts such as the double coincidence of wants, the relationship between the number of goods and services and the number of possible trading pairs, and the properties a good should possess to be a suitable monetary unit. It also discusses examples of dominant mediums of exchange throughout history, categorizes money into different types, and highlights the role of acceptance in the emergence of a dominant medium of exchange. Overall, understanding monetary theory is essential for anyone interested in cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and the future of finance.

Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets


Welcome to this comprehensive article on monetary theory basics in the context of Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptoassets! In this article, we will explore the fundamental concepts of money, its functions, and its role in the barter economy. We will also discuss the properties of a suitable monetary unit and categorize various forms of money. Finally, we will delve into the unique characteristics of Bitcoin as a form of fiat money. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of monetary theory!

Functions of Money

Money plays several crucial roles in our everyday lives. First and foremost, it serves as a medium of exchange, facilitating the trade of goods and services. Instead of relying on the cumbersome barter system, where goods are directly exchanged, money provides a standardized unit that simplifies transactions. As a unit of account, money also serves as a common measure for establishing the value of goods and services. Additionally, money acts as a store of value, allowing individuals to save and accumulate wealth over time.

Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets

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Barter Economy vs. Dominant Medium of Exchange

Imagine a world without money, where individuals were solely reliant on bartering to acquire the goods they desired. In such a barter economy, the inefficiencies and challenges become apparent. The lack of a commonly accepted medium of exchange complicates trade, as individuals must search for others with reciprocal wants. This phenomenon is known as the double coincidence of wants, where two individuals must mutually desire each other’s goods in order to complete a trade. Money serves as a solution to these problems, providing a dominant medium of exchange that streamlines transactions and promotes economic prosperity.

Number of Goods and Trading Pairs

In a barter economy, the number of goods available for exchange greatly impacts the complexity of trade. With each additional good introduced, the number of possible trading pairs increases significantly. In fact, the relationship is quadratic, meaning that as the number of goods grows, the number of potential trading pairs grows exponentially. This exponential increase further emphasizes the importance of money as a facilitator of trade, simplifying transactions and reducing the complexity associated with bartering multiple goods.

Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets

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Examples of Dominant Mediums of Exchange

Throughout history, various substances and objects have served as dominant mediums of exchange. From seashells and beads to precious metals like gold and silver, societies have sought out materials with intrinsic value and durability. These mediums of exchange provided a common measure of value and facilitated trade on a broader scale. The emergence of paper money and national currencies further evolved the concept of dominant mediums of exchange, bringing about increased convenience and efficiency in economic transactions.

Properties of Suitable Monetary Unit

A suitable monetary unit possesses specific properties that ensure its effectiveness. Storability is a critical attribute, allowing individuals to safely store value over time. Whether it be physical or digital, a stable and secure form of money ensures that the stored wealth retains its value. Transferability is another essential characteristic, enabling easy and efficient movement of money across various locations and individuals. Finally, divisibility allows for the accommodation of transactions involving different magnitudes, ensuring that money can be used for both small and large-scale exchanges.

Monetary Theory Basics in the Context of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets

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Promise of Payment and Liquidity Premium

Determining the value of a good or service is an integral part of the monetary system. The monetary value of a good is influenced by factors such as its scarcity, utility, and demand. The promise of payment, backed by the trust and confidence individuals have in the value of money, creates a liquidity premium. This premium represents the confidence in the ability to convert money into desired goods and services. As the promise of payment strengthens, the liquidity premium increases, enhancing the stability and acceptance of the monetary unit.

Categorizing Money

Money can be classified into three distinct categories: commodity money, credit money, and fiat money. Commodity money, historically used throughout various civilizations, derives its value from its intrinsic worth. Precious metals like gold and silver are prime examples of commodity money. Credit money, on the other hand, relies on trust and a belief in the issuer’s ability to fulfill the promised value. This form of money includes banknotes, checks, and electronic money. Lastly, fiat money is the most prevalent form of money in modern economies. Its value derives from government decree, backed by the trust and faith of the public.

Bitcoin as Fiat Money

Bitcoin, the most well-known cryptocurrency, holds a unique position in the monetary landscape. While it does not have physical form like traditional currencies, it functions as a form of fiat money. Bitcoin’s value is not intrinsic but derives from the trust and confidence individuals place in its decentralized nature and inherent security. It operates independently from any central authority, relying on complex cryptographic protocols to validate transactions. Though it still faces challenges and regulatory scrutiny, Bitcoin exemplifies the promise and potential of cryptocurrencies as a revolutionary form of fiat money.


In conclusion, understanding the basics of monetary theory is essential in the context of Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptoassets. Money’s functions as a medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value, along with its crucial role in replacing the challenges of barter economies, highlight its significance in driving economic growth and development. The properties of a suitable monetary unit, such as storability, transferability, and divisibility, ensure its effectiveness in facilitating transactions. By categorizing money as commodity money, credit money, or fiat money, we gain insights into the various forms of money throughout history and in modern economies. Finally, the unique characteristics of Bitcoin as a form of fiat money exemplify the technological advancements and paradigm shifts in the monetary landscape. So embrace the fascinating world of monetary theory and its intersection with Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptoassets as we embark on a journey of open learning and exploration.

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