The internet era has generated a requirement for low cost, anonymous and rapidly verifiable transactions to be used for online barter, and fast settling money have emerged as a consequence. For the most part, e-money has filled this role, but the last few years have seen two new types of money emerge. Centralised virtual currencies, usually for the purpose of transacting in social and gaming economies, and crypto-currencies, which aim to eliminate the need for financial intermediaries by offering direct peer-to-peer online payments. We describe the historical context which led to the development of these currencies and some modern and recent trends in their uptake, in terms of both usage in the real economy and as investment products. As these currencies are purely digital constructs, with no government or local authority backing, we then discuss them in the context of monetary theory, in order to determine how they may be have value under each. Finally, we provide an overview of the state of regulatory readiness in terms of dealing with transactions in these currencies in various regions of the world.
|Journal||The Journal of Financial Perspectives|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|