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ZOOMING SOON: On Bitcoin's Heels, a Whole New Internet of Money?

Connections between digital currency users on Ripple network
Ripple Live Network, Ripple Labs

A whole new Internet seems to be forming. It's the Internet of Money, which promises to transform everything economic, just as the existing Internet has with communications.

When the Internet of Money is mature, finance, commerce, employment, and society may be streamlined, quickened and humanized in revolutionary ways. 

Bitcoin, the controversial cyber currency, may or may not be the basis of it.  No matter.  The cat is out of the bag. Thanks to Bitcoin's rocket ride, we now know that a global digital currency can work, and that people want it.

Some form of e-money, bypassing banks and local governments (but regulated) is the wave of the future. If not Bitcoin, then it will be Namecoin, Peercoin, Ripple, or another of the e-coin contenders now emerging. Or a combination of them.

A mature e-coin system, spanning the globe and all institutions, would enable us to --

  • Avoid bank fees and bank debt.
  • Throw away our credit cards.
  • Earn income through micro-payments for services or creative contributions of all types.
  • Obtain food, products, and services through sharing networks, with e-coins keeping track.
  • Travel more easily as the need for currency exchange evaporates.
  • Do more business internationally thanks to one common medium of exchange.
  • Even have a better shot at reducing waste and pollution, extremes of wealth and greed, and abuses of power thanks to the decentralization and democratization of economic forces.
  • And much more.

Possible drawbacks and unintended consequences include:

  • Infection of cyber money networks by criminal interests.
  • Disruption of networks due to natural disasters, terrorism, or war.
  • Blowback from Wall Street and bankers threatened by the change.
  • Inability of many citizens to adjust to an ever more digital culture.

The benefits and possible drawbacks will take time to materialize. A way to participate now is to stake a small claim in one of the leading e-coin contenders:

My own choice is Ripple from Ripple Labs. Reason: It offers a way to earn money while doing good and making things better for people and the planet. Also it's got sound, substantial backing by Google Ventures and other Silicon Valley investors. Here's how it works:

Computing for Good, a service of Ripple Labs, makes use of a computer's idle time to perform useful research: developing clean energy or finding cancer cures, for example. Anyone with a personal computer or mobile digital device may participate. Ripple coins, earned by computing hours, mount up fast and may be converted at any time into other currencies.

Like Litecoin and Peercoin, Ripple is a Bitcoin alternative, but with a difference. A cyber currency in its own right, it also embraces Bitcoin within its unique currency conversion feature. This added service let's users switch instantly between Ripples, Bitcoins, U.S. dollars, euros, yen, or other currencies. And it's quicker and cheaper than conventional currency exchanges.

More fundamentally, Ripple is great because it's not just a currency, but a complete payment system. It's designed to function as a "value web" that's complementary to today’s information web. The aim is let us all move money as easily as we move information.

Computing for Good with Ripple offers even more benefit. It's good for the environment because it conserves energy and equipment. There's less need for research institutions to buy expensive mainframe time to perform needed scientific research. Also, the Ripple way of distributing coins eschews Bitcoin's wasteful "mining" process, which ties up countless computers in useless calculations. 

Computing for Good invokes the World Community Grid, supported by IBM, for the idle-time computing functions.

The shift to decentralized cyber currency is a subtrend of the highly-human megatrend that is now possible, the shift to an era of enhanced health, mind, science, economy, culture, and living.

More information and interaction available at Highly-Human Focus.

About the Author

Richard W. Samson is director of the EraNova Institute and has served as a consultant to IBM, AT&T, and other large organizations. His work appears in the SuperLife social network; the Highly Human Focus website; and The Futurist Magazine, published by the World Future Society. His books include The Mind Builder, Creative Analysis, The Language Ladder, and Mind Over Technology.

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