• Consider a global digital wallet and the potential future it could hold

  • Here’s what the world and daily life could look like as governments and citizens embrace digital currencies of all kinds, from Bitcoin to CBDCs.

    The World Cup is being co-hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico in 2026. Nolan arrives in Mexico City from Denver, eager to see the upcoming soccer match at Estadio Azteca. She’d already loaded her digital wallet with digital Mexican pesos (PesoCoin) to supplement her usual stash of USD in the form of a central bank digital currency (FedCoin), Ether, and Bitcoin before taking off. She typically keeps FedCoin for general transactions and because it is her native currency, Ether for “gas” when using decentralized applications (dApps) on the Ethereum blockchain, and Bitcoin for general cryptocurrency liquidity.

    Nolan uses one of her rideshare apps to summon a car to take her to her hotel. After numerous cyberattacks and user demands for more robust data protections, the rideshare app she uses recently switched to a decentralized blockchain. Surprisingly, both Nolan’s digital wallet and the rideshare app use the same borderless cybersecurity technology to keep hackers out.

    Nolan chooses a multinational rideshare company that accepts payment in a variety of digital currencies and CBDCs — a concept that still raises eyebrows in many countries concerned about their financial sovereignty — so she can pay for her ride however she sees fit. Local Mexican small businesses, on the other hand, generally only accept PesoCoin, so Nolan came prepared. Of course, she could have waited until she arrived in Mexico to reorganize her assets and ensure she had enough PesoCoin, but she prefers to do so ahead of time.

    When Nolan’s rideshare arrives at her hotel, she opts to pay in PesoCoin. She thinks to herself, “Our world is becoming more connected by the day, but why not act locally when given the opportunity?” Furthermore, her time in Mexico City will provide her with ample opportunity to fully utilize the capabilities of her digital wallet and the currencies contained within it.

    Today’s digital transition

    Over the last year, we’ve seen a widespread push for credibility in the digital currency space, ranging from more decentralized tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) being investigated by governments all over the world. While no one can predict which currencies will be the most popular once the regulatory barriers to digital currencies are overcome, one thing is certain: digitalized money and financial systems are here to stay. Though most people think of day-to-day transactions in a single currency, the financial landscape of the future will most likely necessitate ownership (and literacy) in several different types of money. Just as there is technology that is more useful for performing specific types of functions and tasks, these digital currencies of the modern world will each have their own distinct benefits for a user. As a result, we can envision a virtual wallet that will be commonplace among all consumers, requiring each person to choose from a basket of currencies for each transaction. This wallet could “live” in a variety of places and take a variety of forms, as we will see below, but the basic idea will remain the same: decentralized and centralized digital currencies coexisting for use in a variety of exchange situations.

    Various types of digital currency wallets

    When we are used to buying and selling things in a single denomination of money, having a virtual wallet that holds more than ten balances ranging from Bitcoin to Ethereum, digital yuan to digital dollars, can seem overwhelming, overcomplicated, and unnecessary. However, when considering the strengths and weaknesses of each currency in greater depth, it is clear why this will be the preferred method of storing monetary value. At the end of the day, modern capitalist consumers prioritize choice, efficiency, and optionality over all else — and this is no different when it comes to payment methods. Understanding the format of digital wallets and holding digital currencies is the first step toward understanding the larger picture of a changing financial landscape.

    Virtual “hot” wallets are a purely digital way of storing assets that are connected to the internet. They are deemed “hot” because the assets can be easily accessed and the value exchanged. This type of wallet is frequently linked to a personal bank account, from which funds can be transferred. Physical “cold wallets” are physical devices that store digital asset accounts offline. They are classified as “cold” because they must be connected to the internet in order to become “hot” or to exchange value. Users can further protect their digital assets by taking a wallet offline, which protects them from malicious actors who could compromise a system or platform via Internet-enabled services.

    What will be in your wallet?

    In the coming years, we will see a rapid shift toward the use of digital currencies for a variety of purposes ranging from business-to-business (B2B) transactions to simple consumer transactions and banking. Because different currencies are preferred for different types of transactions, it is reasonable to expect that individuals will have their own distinct set of digital currencies as their primary means of exchange. Your virtual wallet will contain the currencies in which you primarily transact, with the ability to exchange, add, or subtract value based on your changing needs.

    NFT (virtual wallet)

    Virtual wallets will have a graphical user interface that shows all of the different currencies side by side, each with its own value. The non-fungible token being auctioned with this piece is an artistic vision of what will be possible with the use of digital currencies in the future. This user interface displays a variety of currencies that a user would encounter when opening their virtual wallet application or software. This NFT is the first of its kind, highlighting a new type of digital wallet that will become popular and necessary for the modern consumer or business owner.

    When Nikolaus Otto invented the internal combustion engine in the mid-19th century, did he appreciate the revolutionary impact it would have? Could he imagine the vast American Interstate Highway System constructed nearly one century later to accommodate the automobiles that his invention had begotten? If digital currencies and wallets are revolutionary technologies akin to the combustion engine, are we imaginative enough to foresee the digital equivalent of the interstate highway system and the radical change it will bring? What if liquidity in digital currency markets is so great that individuals never have to “carry” more than one digital currency in their mobile wallet?

    Digital finance will continue to change the world in unpredictable ways. The evolution of the digital wallet will be an important part of this “brave new world.” It is critical that we ask ourselves some broad questions: Are we projecting the future of digital finance onto our existing financial world, rather than reimagining a completely new architecture?

    Did Nikolaus Otto realize the revolutionary impact of the internal combustion engine when he invented it in the mid-nineteenth century? Could he have imagined the vast American Interstate Highway System built nearly a century later to accommodate the automobiles he had invented? If digital currencies and wallets are revolutionary technologies in the same way that the combustion engine was, are we imaginative enough to envision the digital equivalent of the interstate highway system and the radical change it will bring? What if digital currency market liquidity is so high that individuals never need to “carry” more than one digital currency in their mobile wallet?

    Will anyone choose to carry multiple currencies if the digital world advances to the point where financial settlement is near-instantaneous, rather than carrying the one with the most utility and liquidity for him and then swapping as needed? How will this affect global currency markets and the weaker currencies traded on them?

    Innovation in the United States and Next Steps

    As the year 2026 approaches and this concept becomes more concrete, the United States must innovate quickly while preserving American values such as privacy, financial inclusion, ethics, and morality. Simultaneously, it must compete with other currencies and countries vying for positions at the top of the global financial totem pole. A world with a “basket of currencies” is almost here, and with it comes the optionality and choice that global citizens value the most.

    While it is unavoidable that the US dollar will remain high on the list of preferred currencies for members of the global economy, it must innovate in order to remain the preferred currency in the future. This will necessitate a steadfast commitment to American values, as well as rapid innovation as technology advances.

    What's your reaction?