These discussion documents were created as background material for the next century events that take place in the Life Online technothriller book series.
THE ISSUE: Bankruptcy and credit access issues disappear when consumers default all financial accounts and credit data to automatically search for, and access, any available commercial source of money, including new loans, whenever funds are about to run low.
Money is whatever we want it to be. If the public believes in the power of the dollar, then it is accepted as a tradable instrument. In a completely online world, physical money, paper and coins are rarely seen, and almost never used in transactions. Instead consumers use cards, or more likely numbers representing cards, for purchases, and allow online applications to automatically pay their bills from savings accounts. When the savings account runs dry, sophisticated applications could automatically search the entire Internet for a new source of funds, scanning thousands of offers from financial institutions to extend a line of credit or loan. The consumer’s pre-defined prerequisites from a cap on the amount borrowed or annual interest rate, to even the location of the funding institution, would define the parameters for an acceptable lender. The consumer’s account would then receive approval, before the next bill is due, and the system, without input from the consumer, would transfer the funds, and spending could continue with impunity.
Qualifying criteria applies, and interest rates are based on familiar factors, but the bottom-line is that everyone continues to have access to credit. Performing a function now dominated by high-interest payday loan companies, this service would allow consumers the best rate available anywhere, not just in their neighborhood. The image of families being forced out of their homes by foreclosure fades as online applications crunch available data on employment history, family profile, and reliability to find a solution that prevents the bank from registering a missed payment. This is a scenario where borderline credit consumers would have to provide details for the analysis of their personal online profiles, and allow that information to be regularly updated based on their utilization of the credit services. But, the service provides stability for individuals who would no longer face the fear of losing it all, or of the money ever running out.
THE PROBABILITY: At some point America’s debt dependence will run aground and this process will either be a disaster, or used to force everyone back into financial discipline by completing preventing spending when funds are no longer available from weary international lenders.