If you regard money as a merchandise just like any other, then you would come to my same conclusion: money is an industry, not a public service, and it has been monopolized by governments around the world.
At the same time governments around the world occupy, as economic agents, shares ranging from 30% to 60% of their economies when measured by tax revenues or spending. If you add to this the imposition of their currencies as the only legal tender, then you can realize how their populations have no chance of escaping said monopolies.
This may be changing with the internet, the concept of peer-to-peer direct interactions, and crypto-currencies.
In the last few days I explored the world of digital currencies and have come to the realization they will be big. Governments may resist and banks will lobby against them. But they will be increasingly adopted and will become mainstream money sooner rather than later.
These are some reviews and stories from the last few days:
Charlie is the creator of Litecoin the other digital currency that is gaining popularity. A week ago he moved from his position at Google to Coinbase to dedicate himself 100% to the business of crypto-currencies.
Coinbase is doing something really important by bringing bitcoin to the mainstreem consumer through easy-to-use services like the Coinbase Wallet. Coinbase is like a PayPal for the bitcoin currency platform.
In this interview Charlie was kind enough to talk about his background, vision for Coinbase, and digital currencies in general. I asked him about these things:
1) His background: from MIT to Google.
2) Why did he create it and what is Litecoin? What is the difference with Bitcoin?
3) Why Coinbase and what will he work on? Will Coinbase be multi-currency?
4) Will other services like Wealthfront, Motif Investing, Mint.com, Check, Go
5) Will traditional banks and brokers adopt digital currencies?
6) Will digital currencies occupy a primary or secondary roll in the future of money?
The Ripple Network is still in its early stages. It is in “beta” which means they are discovering and fixing bugs and adjusting the user experience. Nevertheless it is worth exploring and getting a Ripple Wallet to buy some XRP and move money around the world for free.
The Ripple Wallet has been around for some time. Last June I got the invitation to open one and OpenCoin Inc., the creators of The Ripple Network, gave me 1000 ripples as part of their global distribution program of the XRP digital currency.
The Ripple Network is a global open payments system that supports any currency including bitcoin. It also has its own native currency (the ripple or XRP) to facilitate money transfers within the system. To learn more about The Ripple Network please read my review or watch my interview with Patrick Griffin, head of business development at OpenCoin Inc..
Last week OpenCoin Inc. contacted Ripple Wallet users again to distribute more XRP, but in this case I had to join a new “gateway” service called SnapSwap.us to get my 1500 new XRP.
Just like email was created to send messages from person to person around the world for free, bitcoin was created to send money from person to person around the world for free.
And just like the email system works with email addresses and emails, the bitcoin system works with bitcoin addresses and bitcoins.
While on the email system the format of an address is firstname.lastname@example.org and you have to type this on the “To:” space to be able to send an email, on the bitcoin system the format of an address is a 30 character code like 1JqjAHgjCmNCRUHWKHrtUcvCo
Coinbase, one of the premier bitcoin wallet services in the world, launched their new website design today so I am taking the opportunity to review their service and tell everybody that I think it is time to open a bitcoin wallet.
I say this not only because I opened my own, but because while the majority are still analyzing if bitcoin will be a valid currency or not, I say it is a store of value, an exchange mechanism, and a unit of count,therefore it is already a currency.
The question then is where to open a bitcoin wallet. There are many services based in many countries, but Coinbase is a very appealing alternative for the regular consumer who needs a smart and practical solution.