Bitcoin is just the beginning

beginning25 Apr 2014 / The Globe and Mail – The bitcoin saga has it all: Money! Crime! Hackers! A mysterious founder! A fortune’s worth of the Internet-based currency lost and then suddenly found again (or some of it, at least)! It’s an absolute circus. But the real story here is not so much bitcoin itself, but the demonstration that such a system can even be devised. And that makes it more than a currency—it’s a portent of upheavals to come.

Bitcoin is beloved by its fans because it offers a way to transfer cash without going through a bank or a central authority. Rather than wiring sums from one account to the next, people can trade bitcoins as directly as they might swap a suitcase of polymer $20s. Transactions are anonymous, direct and non-reversible, in a way that appeals to libertarians, troublemakers, criminals and people who don’t like paying bank fees (which, on the whole, is pretty much all of us).

And if you lose the cryptographic keys to your bitcoins, they’re gone for good. (Late last year came the story of a Welshman who accidentally threw out a hard drive containing roughly $7.5-million worth of the things and was left rummaging in vain through a garbage dump outside Newport.)…. Read more

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