New Generation of Currency

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CRThere was a time when people happily used chickens, pigs, or a nice
pile of lumber as payment for a cow, some clothes, or anything else of
value. And then some smart people got behind a breakthrough—they
introduced currency.

Swatches of buckskin, stamped pieces of
gold, and later, paper notes—these were a mighty intellectual and
technological leap ahead from that clucking bird. It may not seem like
it in today’s world, where cash has a whiff of the downright
prehistoric, but paper currency was mind-blowing in its heyday—the first
U.S. government-issued currency debuted during the Civil War—because of
its advanced features: It was lightweight, portable, reliable
(hyper-inflationary events notwithstanding), efficient, and powerful.
These are descriptors we might apply to the latest smartphone today.

The
point is, currency for hundreds of years has been an evolving form of
technology, with the faster, better, cheaper underpinnings found in all
great technologies. But arguably, not since the arrival of the greenback
has currency been poised for a more dramatic leap forward. Digital
currency is finally taking hold.

Driven by two massive
technological waves—the Internet and the mobile phone—digital currency
is bringing banking to the unbanked; it’s making new forms of
transactions financially feasible; and it’s allowing currency to do
things it could never do when trapped in a physical form.

With
digital currency as the stream through which value flows, barriers to
truly global trade are poised to fall. The knock-on effect is that the
advantage that developed nations held for so long—as hubs through which
value of all kinds move—is weakening. As with all forms of digital
goods, it’s the most connected nation, or company, or individual that
has the power. That does not necessarily mean the nations and companies
that have traditionally led the global economy will continue to lead.
The fastest, most secure data exchange will win—wherever it may be.

Read more at WIRED