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Paul Kemp-Robertson

Co-Founder & Editorial Director / Contagious, Contagious Communications

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Are people starting to trust brands and corporations more than governments?

Technology has reconfigured the mechanics of the traditional business landscape, changing what we buy and how we pay for it. Peer-to-peer systems like AirBnB and TaskRabbit encourage people to swap, share and rent amongst themselves rather than buy from stores. Concurrent with the growth in collaborative consumption is the emergence of a new understanding of 'money'. The limits of traditional monetary units are being tested against a backdrop of financial uncertainty, currency volatility and technological progress. People are coming to realise that their data, everyday activities and social chatter are alternative forms of value and payment. Slowly, we're seeing new micro- and crypto-economies being forged that aren't necessarily based on a traditional understanding of cash.

Surveys such as the Edelman Trust barometer suggest that there is a global weakening of trust in institutions and governments, If people are starting to trust businesses and brands more than their civic leaders, should we be questioning whether governments need to be in sole charge of money any more? In 1860 there were 1600 varieties of currency in America. Are brands hoping that history will start repeating itself? In a digital age, are loyalty programs becoming new forms of currency? Will people start to demand commodities (products and services) from brands in exchange for access to their personal data and consumption patterns? Are mobile phone credits more useful to modern consumers than loose change from a shopkeeper?

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    Jul 30 2013: Absolutely not. Government, even corrupt ones, are still 'big brother'. corporations do go bankrupt, do cheat, and without auditors and legislation could get away with murder. the corporate currencies are still only marketing tools.

    Just take a look online at how many health products are out there and look for the disclaimer saying it's not an FDA approved drug that treats health conditions. Self medication herbals with no standards. you can still buy, and there is a market for powdered tiger bones, rhinoceros horn, hornets nests.

    remember the the cure all tonics in Tom Sawyer? or was it Huckleberry Fin? Only some of those have been eliminated.

    This is not just a feature of alternative medicine such as Ayurveda, naturopathy, reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, etc.

    Allopathy "western medicine" supposedly trustworthy according to the scientific method is still suspect... why? corporations. humans. liars and cheats. why was the whole field of pharmacovigilance invented? because thalidomide, the drug that cured morning sickness in pregnant women, caused birth defects. but the company continued to sell it untill it was forced to stop by...... governments.

    Those dirty rotten cheats in government slow down the process, but still end up doing some public services despite their best efforts.

    Brand and corporate identity is still important because the ethical consumer can directly impact human lives and sometimes speed up the bureaucracy. But will never replace government. Even in currency.

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