Global

Money without banks? Bitcoin innovation spreads

Ryan Derham
Global Editor

The Bitcoin takes on a new persona of currency. This innovative concept is the first neutral global currency.   It is not a paper bill and it does not have an important historical figure printed on it.  The Bitcoin we keep in a digital wallet and go to our computers to receive.  We don’t have to dig around for loose change in our pockets, but can make instant transactions online.  There is no bank, only person-to-person trading.  The software is free and available to everyone, opening up access to a global market.  While the language surrounding Bitcoin is unfamiliar now – “mining,” “block chain,” “private keys” – it works in a similar way to online banking.  It was developed in 2009 under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who has since left the project.  Leaving it up to the crypto-currency world, the Bitcoin Foundation was officially formed on September 27th, 2012.  Following the 2008 market crash in the United States and Greece’s current currency crisis, Bitcoin may be a solution to these problems.
The Bitcoin gives consumers greater flexibility when deciding where to invest their money.  As we lay amidst a global currency war, this digital money concept allows us control: it is decentralized, it cannot be seized by a higher power, all transactions are public, and we can hope to regain trust in our governments.
Although this alternative currency is quickly gaining popularity, the concept of decentralized currency is not new.  Local governments have employed similar small-scale operations as well.  The Baltimore Green Currency Association developed “Baltimore Bucks” whose mission is “to foster economic opportunity through the administration and expansion of an alternative currency, the BNote, for the communities of Baltimore.”  July of 2013 marked that 35,000 BNotes are in circulation around Baltimore.  The idea is to keep individuals’ money out of outsourced jobs and in the hands of local business owners.  BNotes are currently partnered with over 200 businesses.  These partnerships are Baltimore owned and operated like Ethel and Ramone’s in Mt. Washington, not multinational corporations like CVS.  While these are physical bills, this alternative form of currency – much like the Bitcoin – has a mission of social responsibility.  The possibilities are endless.
The BNote, partner with Maryland Hunger Solutions, offers an incentive program in order to increase usage of the Food Supplement Program which includes food stamps.  It develops small business and encourages people to keep their money within the community.
While the BNote has local implications for social change, imagine a whole world where one’s transactions aren’t tied to politics.  In China the Bitcoin would give citizens of the middle class an alternative form of investment; In Greece it would provide a stable form of currency outside the grasp of banks; In the United States it would give us the opportunity to control our own economic destiny.  While these two ideas are vastly different in operation, the ideology remains the same.  Economic systems flourish when people are in charge of their currencies, whether locally, with BNotes, or globally, with Bitcoin.

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