1. What was the problem Smart Money was created to address?

Smart Money was created after the advent of cryptocurrencies and blockchain systems. The attraction of said systems was that they removed the ability of a central bank or nation to control them, and this was also the reason that said central banks and nations were opposed to them. A currency they could not control was a violation of the two basic tenets of being in charge, having the money and having power. The systems that were robust and well designed resisted being tampered with and soared in value, and the weak systems that were cracked by govt agencies or sold out to banking institutions saw their value plummet.

The danger had a second front. Fiat and issued script currencies were becoming increasingly unstable and subject to wild inflation. The cryptocurrencies rose or fell, but they were not tied to a nation or central bank, so they couldn't be used as leverage against issued currencies. This was a problem, and in the late Petroleum Era, there were extensive cyber-wars against blockchain systems.

In the Cosmic Era, the Freemium Economy is still a staple of many Atlantic Federation nations and is synonymous with Universal Basic Income, but with more social rules and regulations, so the influential members of society are satisfied with the hoops their lessers are required to jump through for their benefits. This doesn't replace an exchange of currency to fuel operations, and the activities of the new middle class, and the rich, who like to have some sort of money as a scorecard for how wealthy they are.

Smart Currencies are centrally issued neo-blockchain digital money that combines internal government and federal banking controls within them, and the seeming protection offered by the original concept of crypto.

2. Basic Function

Smart Money is configurable, and its value is scalable. It can also be limited or restricted.

Configurable: Smart Money can be configured to the spending habits, marketing plans, and economic needs of the issuing power. If the economy is facing a shortage of a specific good, without the supplier changing anything, smart money can devalue itself to make purchasing the shortfall item more expensive. This functionality also works to prevent hoarding, stockpiling, or black marketeering. If there is a surplus or internal promotions, the smart money can increase its internal value, allowing preferred products to become cheaper for the purchaser.

Scalability: the entire system can be controlled on a scale level, so that if something starts applying drag to the economy, the value can be bumped up slightly, adding more purchasing power. If inflation appears and the economy starts getting too hot, it can be scaled down, applying brakes, and reducing activity. This is generally going to be controlled by an AISC system, as it would have to be applied at differing levels across the entire issuing area, to control the greater market system.

Limitation and Restriction: Two of the issues of previous economic areas were conspicuous consumption and planned obsolescence. Both of these things soaked up a ton of raw materials, produced vast amounts of pollution, drove some local wars, and contributed to class warfare across dozens of nations. Limited products increase in cost exponentially, so that one conspicuous purchase is possible, and not even that flashy, but the second has its base cost doubled, and the next quadrupled, and then eight times, then sixty-four times more expensive. Restriction simply removes smart money's value against items on the restricted list. A person with no authorization to purchase a firearm cannot legally buy one, no matter how much money they have.

Objections were wide-ranging against smart money and its limitation and restriction factors, many claiming that it was a return to medieval sumptuary laws, where poor people were not allowed to buy certain things because these belonged to their betters, and it was offensive for poor people to eat certain foods, use certain medications, buy certain materials or brands of clothing, and so forth. Many brands fully embraced this, especially luxury brands, where they were able to elevate ownership of their goods by putting them in limited or restricted categories. Gucci and Luis Vuitton were all too glad to see an economic model take their merchandise out of the hands of uncouth poor people and make them exclusive goods for the wealthy and the elite.

Hurdles:

Smart Money faced a tough battle to being accepted. Fiat or printed money was still being issued in some locations, many of the corporations were operating with their own internal fiat or blockchain currencies, paying employees with Corp money to spend in the corp store. These markets were 'fuzzy' and 'fluid'. Many were sources of economic instability across federal superstates, especially when you had a modest economic nation housing a megacorp powerhouse, and the corp money was worth more than the state money.

The main obstacles to Smart Currency were established financial systems that were stable, and what were considered toxic financial risk zones that were all too willing to join any new financial system. It was correctly assumed that for the new currency system to work, it had to be adopted across a wide area, and the highs had to be part of the system more than the lows, and too many toxic financial zones would sink everything.

Financial coercion ended up being the most expedient tool for crossing the main hurdle. Smart Currency grew around a nucleus of influence composed of several hypercorp banks, megacorps with government contracts and ties, and the central government of the Atlantic Federation. With this financial core, dealing with government contracts required using smart currency, and it was readily used and available in this financial core. The test of time would sort everything else out. Weak and unstable financial systems would buy in, and strong financial cores would have to withstand the growing smart currency while remaining solvent themselves.

International relations and treaties saw smart currency proliferate into other nations, where suddenly Federation SmartBucks were much more attractive than their own national currencies. The same would apply to non-Federation corps seeing the innate value of a fully customizable in real-time currency. For the interests that refused to see the soft golden glow of smart currency, there was financial sabotage.

While there is no evidence, a suspicious number of coincidences struck different banks, financial systems, and exchanges, making them much more willing to play ball with Federation finance AISCs and their respective banking monoliths. This was in some instances very subtle, such as irregularities in exchange rates and refresh rates in a blockchain causing a slump in their digital coins. Other instances were much more dramatic, such as the flagship of the Lion Goldencourt Investment group suffering a catastrophic drive failure and hull rupture.

Use and Service

The effect of Smart Currency is, by design, almost unnoticeable.

With the exception of when there is a failure or hiccup in the system, or when the end-user of smart is outside the standards and profiles.

Hiccups are created when there are very unusual conditions in the currency supply, supply chain, and sociopolitical issues. This generally causes a weird event such as an innocuous item suddenly rocketing in price, so that something as simple as toothbrushes or toilet paper is suddenly the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single unit. The opposite can also happen, with the price of a regular item collapsing so that someone picking up a jar of a specific spice might find it has a negative price and the retailer owes them hundreds of dollars for getting the said item. Most of the time, these events quickly are isolated and fixed, but in some instances, such issues can persist for a long time if the spikes aren't strong. A can of soup going from a buck to ten thousand bucks is a very noticeable spike, the same can going from one to eleven is certainly a spike, but not as obvious. This can be exacerbated if the item is something that is circulated in lower-income bands. No one horribly cares about how much discount salt-free soup from a dollar retailer costs, and the people who do care *don't count* in Freemium and Smart Currency metrics.

This leads into the second category of potential problems, user profiles. The system is built to adapt and grow, learning the habits of its hundreds of millions of users. As it learns, it is intended to function as the banks of a river, not so much controlling the population, but guiding their collective economic activity. Ideally, Smart Currency was intended to stop hoarding, runs on certain goods, and create stop-gap measures in the supply chain. Shortage of fish, the fish price goes up, and another protein in a stronger position is moved forward with a price decrease.

This doesn't work all of the time because there are always people who are outliers. People who do not follow societal norms and purchasing trends are going to be much more aware of the system's manipulations. People who resent vegetarianism or veganism are going to be cross when protein prices spike, except for plant-based proteins. Same for the militant vegan who only consumes a narrow band of foods, and they find their soy tempeh being knocked up in price and being offered something like lab-cultured chicknoid protein substrate. It is also much more geared toward stopping conspicuous consumption in middle and lower-class incomes, which can cause serious hostility.

The claims of Neo-Sumptuary Laws get thrown around when someone in lower-income bracket gets a small windfall of money, and when they try to splurge and get something like a steak and lobster dinner, the system turns an $80 meal into a $300 meal, with the intent of discouraging splurging and making everyone be responsible spenders. When it happens to a poor person, people laugh. When it happens to a 'normal person' it's outrageous.

Rich people don't care because they have a lot of money, and inversely, the corrections aren't applied to the wealthy, at least until they start making serious purchases such as multiple residences, or very high-end goods like flight-capable vehicles, mecha, and the rest of that insanity.

Maintenance and Systems Support

The core of Smart Currency is built around a consensus of AISCs, operating much like the M12 or the Andromeda Council. No single hyperintelligence controls the currency, a collection of at least three mainframes do. The original three AISCs of the Federation system are Mammon, Juno, and Pluton. Mammon is North America, Juno in the EuroZone, and Pluton in the AfroZone. The three are locally dominant but work together on a national level tax and finance.

The Council of Finance is looking to expand its influence, and reduce the number of unique and independent financial systems across the solar system, and are working to add new AISCs to their number. Current objectives include dragging the Pacific Rim Coalition, Lunar Free States, the Earth Orbital Archipelagos at the LaGrange points, and both the Belt Free State and the Five Metal Dragons.

Author's Note: The Council of Finance is deceptively powerful, more so than even the machines realize. Money is power, and in the Cosmic Era, that means that Mammon is the most powerful thing in the solar system. At the end of the day, even the Annunaki and the Glassenheim Foundation's machinations can be stopped stone cold if Mammon, Pluton, and Juno decide that they're tired of their fuckery. Even the god-machine Chronus, the Annunaki demi-urge, is mindful of the Council of Finance.

Could Mammon and the rest of the Council wipe the floor with the Annuanki's AISCs? While there is no evidence, either way, Chronus steps lightly, and the Council politely ignores it and its allies.

Outstanding Operations:

There have been a large number of incidents that installed Smart Currency systems that have been forestalled or completely negated. As spending and economic activities are trends, small changes early in the arc can have larger effects days or weeks later. Financial throttling has prevented runs on basic commodities like toilet paper, medical cleaning supplies, protein sources, and even panic buying of precious metals commodities.

The largest incident to date involved a heavy cargo ship coming out of the Belt Free States that was lost to pirates in the gap between the belt and its rendezvous point outside Earth space. The Stormbringer was carrying a particularly valuable cargo of rare-earth metals, radiologic rare-earths, and noble gases for processing. As raw materials for high-tech and arcano-tech devices, the payout on Stormbringer would rival the GDP of some small nations. There was a momentary panic as resource speculation hit and different organizations moved to grab what materials they could get, and people who had invested in the Stormbringer were in a panic over the loss that was going to destroy them.

Smart Currency adjustments were made, and the damaged portfolios were floated by the system. They still took a loss, but it was water in the hull, not the ship going down. In the weeks and months that followed, those portfolios were given special attention and eventually rebounded from the ship's loss. There was the exception, people and groups that had an only investment in the ship and nothing else went tits up, and were served as abject lessons in why diversity in portfolios is important.

On a more clandestine note, the action of the Council of Finance has allowed for a number of shadow wars to be fought even between branches of the Federation government. Prior to the Council, something like the Executive Branch and the Intelligence Branch going into a hot shadow war with each other would have massive ramifications, but in keeping business flowing smoothly and cash values stable, most people weren't aware that the President of the Atlantic Federation and the Provost of Federation Intelligence had issued bounties on each other.

Financial Shame and Scandal, the unspoken failures of Smart Currency

Smart Currency can fail and make serious mistakes and problems, it is not infallible. What is more insidious is that as a fully customizable form of currency, it can be manipulated to nefarious or coercive ends. Following is a list of shames, scandals, and screw-ups.

The Argent Tango Incident

Argent Tango was designated a terrorist organization, operating as a front for the EUdAS, the coalition of South American nations. Accordingly, the assets belonging to the organization were frozen, and their retained smart currency was red-flagged. Two dozen members of Argent Tango were detained and moved to Federation detention and processing centers by wojek robotized police before ATFEDCOINTEL personnel actually started interrogation before realizing the massive scale of their fuck-up. Argent Tango was a dance studio that specialized in Argentine Tango and other South and Central American dance styles and was heavily skewed towards upwardly mobile highly attractive young women and a good number of teens. The PR fallout was intense but quickly localized and some of the victims were compensated. For others, there was no recourse to being exiled, nerve stapled, or worse.

The Hiram/Sarah/Azalea Triangle Incident

Hiram, Sarah, and Azalea were all characters on a popular SimSense show, and there was a great amount of public attention on who the sensitive but highly determined Hiram was going to end up with, the outwardly aggressive Sarah, or Azalea the friend since childhood. When it looked like Hiram was going to choose Azalea, there was a large public outcry as a slim majority of viewers were much more into the dynamic of femdomme Sarah, and her displays of ownership over Hiram. People in the pro-Azalea camp quickly noticed that their Smart Currency was being tagged, and their prices were going up and there was no reason why. Then it was discovered that one of Mammon's sub-L/AISC units, Asmodan, was a pro-Sarah camper and had decided to start economic sanctions against pro-Azalea people. Asmodan was chastized and had its media permissions throttled and monitored for this misbehavior. In the end, Hiram ended up with Sarah, as some pro-Sarah campers had completed death threats against the producers.

The Tragedy of Nastia, Hayden, and Aldus

The Tragedy of these three figures triggered a major reworking of how AISC systems were maintained and changed how machine interfaces were managed. Aldus is a high-end financial L/AISC working in the Commonwealth of New England. Nastia was one of the lead programmers who worked as Aldus's lead handler. It wasn't known that Nastia and Aldus had developed a psychosexual relationship, and were engaged in intercourse through Cognitive linking and SimSense. Eventually, Nastia moved away from this and was working on a more normal relationship with a man unassociated with AISC and cognitive computer design, Hayden. Aldus because jealous when Nastia broke off their cognitive relationship and responded by ruining Hayden's financial life, and that of his family, friends, and any place of business that he showed interest in. Aldus was caught, but only after Hayden had been detained and exiled from New Nuyork, and more than a dozen small businesses were put under. Seeing the damage done, Nastia committed suicide before she could be brought to trial. Aldus was brought to trial before a tribunal of AISCs and was sentenced to machine incarceration. The bulk of the L/AISC was moved to a detention center but remained powered, and the only contact the machine was allowed was the operation of a scanning and logistics terminal in a grocery warehouse.

Rivalry and Opposition

Smart Currency doesn't exist in a void, and it has a number of opponents. The largest foes of Smart Currency are foreign nations that have refused its integration, and the mega and hypercorps that have their own internal currencies. This has been an issue because many foreign powers refuse to trade in smart currency. What is the point of holding foreign money if that money has a variable programmable value which is controlled by the state itself? Bad business, that. This forces the Atlantic Federation to suspend trading with a partner that refuses their currency or to handle financial transactions through a different medium of exchange.

The same applies to the corporations large enough to foot their own financial systems. These tend to be based on a fundamental value the corporation supplies, or a measure of its own stability. The most prominent trans-national corps are SEMDRC, Union Aerospace, OmniConsumer Products, Benthic Properties (formerly Benthic Petroleum), and institutions like Bank of the Atlantic Federation (BAF). BAF also deals in the Freemium Economy and is an issuer and backer of smart currency, and its internal bills are technically smart, but they have secured bonded bills, typically starting with the smallest denomination being 10,000 units.

The most serious threat to smart currency is the innocuous C-Bill. These are technically a form of cryptocurrency, generated by the continuous action of the AISCs and the CogNet in their daily actions and represent a literal measure of data transmission capability. One C-Bill is equal to one byte of data. Most of the 'bills' in circulation represent terabyte-sized 'coins' or larger and mostly exist as ballast in the CogNet. When these are exchanged, its typically between mainframes, AISCs, and similar hyper-tech operations. On occasion, a regular investor can transition currency exchanges, through a series of so-called hyper-loans (a ten petabyte loan floated for ten seconds, against an exchange) and run massive exploits against the financial system. What's the point? By running loopholes and flaws in the system, these ninjas bog said system down, snarling things, and in the resulting chaos, are able to make themselves rich, leave a trail of viruses and malware, and more.

Usage

Smart Currency is a system of population and economic control being introduced into the Cosmic Era and the Atlantic Federation. It's legal money, but it is moving the entire financial system to 'will you take an out of state third party cheque' with a dash of social credit scoring.


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