This article is part of the June 2012 ieee 'Special report on the future of money'
The Last Days of Cash
How E-Money Technology is Plugging us into the Digital Economy
Bitcoin: The Cryptoanarchists’ Answer to Cash
How Bitcoin brought privacy to electronic transactions
Morgen E. Peck
June 2012 (published 2012-05-30)http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/bitcoin-the-cryptoanarchists-answer-to-cash
The dream of an anonymous, independent digital currency—one where privacy is maintained for buyers and sellers—long predates Bitcoin. Despite obituaries in magazine articles from Forbes, Wired, and The Atlantic, the dream is far from dead.
If Bitcoin does fail, it may die in an act of cannibalism. Nakamoto introduced the block chain, but cryptographers are now already working on improvements. The minting rate is only one of many things that could be tweaked. “Bitcoin is the first of a new breed,” says Garzik. “People will learn from Bitcoin and build something better, or Bitcoin’s critical mass will force it to evolve and learn from its own mistakes.”
Bitcoin is also briefly mentioned in other sections of this special :
The Beginning of The End of Cash
Cash’s role is waning, as mobile, encryption, and other technologies let us plug directly into the digital economy
More interesting and much more ambitious are the cryptocurrencies, chiefly Bitcoin, which is backed by no government and has a fluctuating value linked in part to a scarcity that is mathematically predetermined. Unlike other forms of digital cash, Bitcoin is truly untraceable and therefore, like cash, cannot be recovered if lost or destroyed.
Don’t Write Off Checks
Like the paperless office, a check-free society is still far off
Despite the emergence of online payment systems like PayPal and Bitcoin, swipeable payment chips, and smartphone money apps—as well as plain old debit, credit card, and online bill pay schemes—paper checks don’t seem to be disappearing.