2014년 8월 28일 목요일

[발췌: Stan Stalnaker's] Bitcoin, Ven and the End of Currency (2011)

May 20, 2011

※ 발췌 (excerpts):

Virtual currencies are in the news again with all the discussion around Bitcoins, which is limited in supply and can be exchanged anonymously. Our own long experience with another digital currency, Ven, has made us think about the logical conclusion of these activities, and what it means for money at large. And what it means is the end of money as we know it.

Digital currencies are really just online account books that measure and record transactins of financial value between nodes on the Internet. The first onesㅡBeenz, Flooz and others, arrived with the first wave of the Internet in the 1990s and failed. By the middle of the last decade, the virtual currency economy boomed on the strength of gaming systems: the Linden Dollar in Second Life, World of Warcraft Gold, Entropia and Tencent’s QQ in China encountered success with volatility. Now Internet currencies are moving out of virtual gaming systems and into the global economy, with Flattr (an electronic tipping currency), Bitcoin, Ripple, Ven and local exchange trading systems (LETS) leading the way. The central differentiation between these digital currencies is whether they operate in a closed loop (Ven, Flattr, Amex Rewards) or open nodal architecture (Bitcoin, Ripple). This distinction determines to a large extent their ability to be managed.

On 4 July, 2007, the social collaboration network I founded, Hub Culture, released the first application for Ven, a new type of digital currency. It was a watershed moment for us, and a confusing one, because the Ven had no value or exchange rate—it simply existed and could be issued and traded at will to friends. Ven was a new type of money—as basic as picking up pebbles and assigning arbitrary values for favors or to say thanks. Everyone laughed, and we soon learned that for a currency to have relevance, it must be measured against other things. Currency needs an assigned value to be understood, a language to speak.

So in 2008 we assigned Ven a value language—10 VEN = 1 USD—and began to sell it for redemption between members and in Pavilions (retail places developed to accept the currency).  The fundamental advance in Ven was that it was global, digital, and could be exchanged to anyone, at little incremental cost. Later we made Ven more stable by pricing it from a basket of currencies, which meant the price moved less than a single national fiat currency.  To make it more grounded, we added commodities linking it to hard assets.  Then we added carbon futures, creating a carbon component to the value. The language was now efficient, stable and green, and today demand for Ven is growing rapidly.

By and large, digital currencies are changing what money can be, and widening the vistas for how our global society determines and trades value.  The size of these economies is small but growing fast—with over 6.2 million Bitcoins in an economy worth almost $50 million USD. In Hub Culture, we have 5 million Ven circulating with a GDP equal to over $500,000 USD growing at 10x annually.  Ven plays inside the more closed rules of the current system, but even Bitcoin, with its ‘radical’ open nature, is subject to the value quandary: to be traded, it must be assigned a value.  And if it can be assigned a value, it can be interchanged with anything else of assigned value.  The Internet is enabling exchange of all types of value, and helps us to measure and publish these values.  Taken to its theoretical and logical conclusion, the Internet and all content on the Internet—whether actual or representative (such as the price of a physical good or service)—will eventually be assigned a value. Once these values are assigned, essentially everything will become money, and currency itself will cease to exist.

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