Fractional reserve banking is a system in which banks are required to hold a minimum reserve amount of cash on hand, but are able to lend out the remainder of their deposits. This practice has a long history dating back to ancient civilizations, where goldsmiths began issuing receipts for deposits of gold, and eventually started lending out these deposits while still honoring the receipts.

In modern times, fractional reserve banking is regulated by central banks and is a key component of the modern banking system. It allows banks to expand the money supply through the creation of new loans, but it also carries with it certain risks.

Much of the recent contagion in the crypto market has been a result of centralized companies practicing varying forms of fractional reserve banking.

One of the main risks of fractional reserve banking is the potential for bank runs. When too many people try to withdraw their deposits at the same time, banks may not have enough reserves to cover all of the withdrawals. This can lead to a panic and a downward spiral, as more and more people try to withdraw their money before it’s too late.

Sound familiar?

Another risk is that banks can become insolvent if they lend out too much money and don’t have enough reserves to cover their debts. This can lead to bankruptcy and a loss of confidence in the banking system as a whole.

Sound familiar as well?

To mitigate the risk of a bank run, many countries have implemented deposit insurance schemes, which guarantee that depositors will receive their funds in the event of a bank failure. However, these insurance schemes rely on the assumption that the number of depositors seeking to withdraw their funds will be small enough to allow the insurance fund to cover their losses. If a large number of depositors try to withdraw their funds at the same time, the insurance fund may not be sufficient to cover all of the losses, leading to a potential crisis.

Cryptocurrency has the potential to fix many of the problems associated with fractional reserve banking. Because it is decentralized and not controlled by any one entity, it is not subject to the same risks as traditional banks. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not susceptible to bank runs or insolvency, because they are not backed by any physical assets.

Another benefit of cryptocurrency is that it allows for peer-to-peer transactions without the need for intermediaries like banks. This eliminates the need for fractional reserve banking altogether, as people can simply send and receive cryptocurrency directly without the need for a third party to hold their funds.

Fractional reserve banking has been the traditional model of banking for centuries, but it has its inherent risks and vulnerabilities. Cryptocurrency offers an alternative that eliminates many of these risks and allows for peer-to-peer transactions without the need for intermediaries. While it is still a relatively new technology, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about money and banking.