Every economy, even a digital economy, needs some physical currency.
In a collection of digital economies trying to avoid the problems of fiat economies, there should be a liquid medium between currencies that has some ‘natural authority’ over local currencies.
In other words, once there are tribal currencies based on natural groups, there should be a natural mechanism that distinguishes the values of currencies that are ‘subordinate to natural economics’ and less natural currencies.
For example, suppose x language tribe and y language tribe have their own currency, and x fiat corporation and y fiat corporation have their own currencies.
Each will produce a product with their currency, i.e., artificial intelligence that develops some science, but the corporate coin will have a more speculative nature, the focus will be more on growth, while the tribal coins will focus more on stability.
Potentially this could lead to a currency deviating from its 'natural' value, which should normally be a function of what it produces. Arbitrage is what balances values on exchanges, people buy on cheap exchanges and sell on expensive ones. But there should be some 'natural' way to arbitrage both currencies and the digital economy itself with some physical commodity.
An example would be the way the U.S. dollar has unnatural weight in many foreign countries. Gold was demonetized to allow this. In other words the dollar was separated from any 'natural' currency so that it could be used to the advantage of whichever group decoupled the dollar and gold.
This has lead to a situation in which one country could use fiat to monopolize a commodity, which could destabilize economies and cause problems. People today trust 'governments' to not monkey with commodities, but trusting is not really a good basis for anything in economics.
Digital currencies should be coupled to some natural currency for stability, both in local use and across currencies.
There will be exchanges to convert one digital coin to another, but there should also be some 'objective currency' that is simply a natural money on its own, and produceable outside any network.
Food would work, except it's bulky. Likewise most commodities.
Gold is the normal choice, but gold is easily counterfeited with tungsten.
The heaviest of the platinum group metals, Ruthenium, Rhenium, Palladium, Osmium, Iridium and Platinum, are ideal metals for coinage because they are much more difficult to counterfeit than other materials and do have intrinsic value.
Osmium is the densest naturally occurring stable element. If you have a chunk of something and a person tells you it is Osmium, all you have to do is check its size/volume and mass/weight, calculate its density, and you will know whether or not it is Osmium. Gold is often counterfeited by putting a lump of tungsten in the middle of it. The gold bar/coin seems to have the correct density, and passes chemical tests, but the core is tungsten.
Coins made from the heaviest platinum group metals would reduce this problem.
The genuineness of an Osmium coin can be checked without having to purchase anything by most people. All that is needed is a small object that holds some water, some clear water and a simple balance that can be made from string and some pieces of wood. In major cities clear water might be hard to find but the other items are easily available and free.
The platinum group metals, pgm's, have historically been expensive, because they are rare and difficult to mine on land.
Technology is developing new chemical uses for these metals, as well as making ocean mining more likely soon, which will increase the supply of many heavier metals. After that of course asteroid mining. Some heavier elements are common on asteroids.
The Chinese, along with other countries, have been laying claim to vast areas of unclaimed new ocean territory, and can be expected to start mining these areas within a few years. Once these metals see increased demand from new technology uses, and increased supply from ocean mining, they are likely to become monetized as a more liquid medium within the digital economy.
Because these elements have unique properties that are being discovered rapidly, their use is growing faster than their supply. Iridium is almost indestructible, melts at an extremely high temperature, resists all acids. Others among these elements are used in superconducting compounds that can be used near room temperature, fuel cells and batteries that create or store energy in novel ways, etc.
Are the Chinese preparing to control rare earths and pgm's?
At first glance it looks like the Chinese are trying for a sneak monopoly on these elements. Their fake islands and offshore territorial disputes are clearly based on mid level strategists trying to gain a long term edge.
China produces most of the world's rare earth metals.
They also have been wandering into other countries' supplies. Greenland Minerals is an Australian company that has rights to a possibly very rich rare earths deposit in Greenland.
But the majority shareholder in that Australian company is Shenghe Resources, a publicly traded Shanghai company.
But that company seems to be controlled by the Chinese government.
"Shenghe Resources Holding Co., Ltd (Shenghe Resources) is listed in Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE:600392) with the Institute of Multi-Purpose Utilization of Mineral Resources (IMUMR) as the first majority shareholder, the latter of which is directly subordinated to China Geological Survey, Ministry of Land and Resources. Shenghe Resources is a world-class developer, producer and supplier of rare earth (RE)resource and relevant products. Its mixed ownership structure is proposed by Chinese government and unique in Chinese RE industry."
So, it looks like some strategists in China are trying to control supplies for their advantage. It's a tactic the U.S. has engaged in for many decades, so the U.S. doesn't have a strong defense against it. Globally it would seem wise to prevent one group from getting a stranglehold on any single part of the global economy, but unfortunately the United States has legitimized that sort of misbehavior, and the next step is either a 'new' monopolizer or a shift away from general acceptance of 'government / corporate' dominance.
The 'tranquil' solution would be decreased national and corporate power, a decentralization that allowed individuals anywhere to 'select' their own economy.
The two best candidates for such an economy would be pgm's / rare earths, and digital currencies.