Making Money: How Virtual Currencies Impact Our Markets, Government and Society

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What is money? It used to be tied to resources, like gold – the Mayans used cocoa beans. In recent time, the value of money is guaranteed by central banks. But increasingly, digital currencies enter the financial systems. It started with game currencies like World of Warcraft-gold tradable for harder money. Lately, a number of peer-to-peer currencies have appeared, most famously Bitcoin.

The rate of one Bitcoin was 13 dollars in the beginning of 2013 and recently peaked at over 1000 dollars, before dropping 20% following a ban from People’s bank of China on Bitcoin-transactions. Still, mining Bitcoin (this is done by cracking cryptography with computers) is a lucrative enterprise and third party manufacturers sell Bitcoin mining machines. There is a growing market of Bitcoin services: wallets, trading platforms, even cash machines. In August, Germany’s Ministry of Financed announced Bitcoin is a legitimate financial instrument.

Skeptics criticize Bitcoins and virtual currencies on grounds like money-laundering and tax evasion. The real challenge is that such currencies challenges the nation state and democratic governments’ reach. How do we tackle the next financial crisis if a currency exists outside the central bank system? So far, governments have been split over virtual currencies, some invest in supporting technology or acknowledge it as legitimate payment. Others ban it. Netopia has a two-column special on Bitcoin by German journalist Dr Ralf Grötker (Part 1Part 2).

It was inspiring to find that NTDTV’s coverage of Netopia’s 3d-printing seminar aired to a potential audience of over 100 million viewers. Watch the video!

This post was also distributed as Netopia’s newsletter