City Coin: a Cryptocurrency for the Metropolis

Growth is City Bound

Many cities have announced their interest in releasing a crypto token that correlates to a particular city. Cities like Akon in Senegal,  Seoul in South Korea, Naples in Italy, and Dubai in the UAE show the global interest in such a coin. City coins serve many purposes, from marketing gimmick, to cash replacement within city limits, to a way to raise money, similar to a municipal bond.

To understand the potential of a city-specific coin, it’s vital to recognize the changes that cities are experiencing now, and will undergo in the future. The United Nations predicts that a whopping 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, up substantially from the current figure of 55% in 2018.

There are many factors owing to this trend. Besides the fearsome growth of urban areas, which has seen mega cities like New York not only occupy its 5 boroughs but extend its reach far into New Jersey and Connecticut, there has also been social and generational change.

Once upon a time, people by and large lived a life where they held employment similar to that of their family, but in the since the rise of globalization, many traditional jobs in manufacturing and similar fields have disappeared. This has resulted in a massive influx of workers into urban areas, giving rise to numerous mega cities throughout the world. People who previously socialized chiefly with those from their own ethnic or religious background, now encounter living environments that are far more ethnically diverse and multicultural than they were prior. Living in a city has a new pull in this era to people who want to experience the rich diversity of the world without needing to catch a plane.

While there are positive traits for cities, the emerging challenges of massive, sprawling urban areas cannot go overlooked. Many aspiring homeowners around the world are seeing their cities shift decisively away from offering affordable homes and apartments.

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An ur city coin. Image credit: By Dwight Burdette – scan of my personal property, CC BY 3.0,

The Near and Far Divide

To people already living in apartment-heavy cities like New York, they may feel such a change is no big deal. But the outcome — hordes of young people shifting to the outer edge of the city (or simply beyond it) to buy a home — could, overtime, create new divides in urban areas between those who live close and rent, and those who live far and own, with only the wealthiest in the mix able to have the best of both worlds.

This in turn grows the risk that today’s great cities will shift further away from the dynamic, bustling, and attractive epicenters they are now, and really become a new political battleground.
The greatest risk here is not only a divide between residents of one city, but between multiple cities. Economic giants like New York will further outpace cities like St Louis that once upon a time held parity.

History typically proves that things never turn out quite as good or quite as bad as people anticipate. While the issuing of city crypto coins may not create worldwide utopias in every place that has traffic jams and crowded trains, neither will they reshape urban areas into dystopias out of sci-fi classics like Blade Runner.

Yet, any planning for a future city coin must be done in recognition that the challenges of the future for cities are already plain and clear today. It is up to each city to decide its fate, and that includes whether or not to create a cryptocurrency for itself.


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Ed Kennedy is a journalist at BlockTelegraph News and a web developer from Melbourne, Australia. A keen technologist with an enduring interest in the rise of a truly digital global economy, Ed is passionate about the transformative potential blockchain offers our world.

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