Bitcoin – an ancient and (possibly) noble concept

Written by on May 25, 2015 in BillingViews, Opinion with 0 Comments

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I was reviewing the day with my wife over a glass of something cool, crisp and white and described – as best I could – Bitcoin and the impact it was having on digital currency, banking and the world. I felt authoritative.

She laughed.

I felt less authoritative.

Unofficial currencies, controlled by powerful but unofficial people have been around for centuries. Well, at least two. In those days slightly before the invention of the computer and the internet, these tokens came in real, coin form.

They were, in the main, issued by the owners of Woollen Mills in the UK in the 19th century and given to workers who used to work and live within a village built around the Mill. These tokens were accepted in the shops in the village. And, importantly, the value was completely controlled by these few people. The supply and therefore the distribution of the tokens was controlled by the Mill owner.

The point of the tokens was to control the workforce. If the workers, so the thinking went, were given real money, they might go to real places and be tempted to branch out into the real world. Not that there was much opportunity in that real world, it was altogether safer and more secure in the virtual world of the Mill village.

Whilst this is, I am sure, fascinating, it does bring one important question to light.

We do not know the owner of the digital Mill.

The person who invented Bitcoin is anonymous. The tokens are controlled by people unknown. Their value is controlled by people unknown. The currency is gaining in influence and power, daily. The New York Stock Exchange is launching an index to track it, the Bank of England believes the technology behind Bitcoin to have the potential to bring an end to traditional banking (and seems quite relaxed about it).

Just how much power and influence do these persons unknown have – maybe not now, but when Bitcoin has gone mainstream, and perhaps been adopted as Facebook’s currency of convenience and choice?

Or will the mainstream adoption of the technology (and therefore the currency) prevent this?

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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