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Unless you’re either really lucky in life (and use cards everywhere you go) or really unlucky in life (and have no money to spend) then you will use cold, hard cash on a weekly basis. To shop online and offline, to pay bills, to donate to charity, etc. Money is usually a physical object, with coins and notes weighing down your pockets. But it isn’t always physical.

Some currencies are virtual, existing in the digital realm but having no weight or substance. Bitcoin is one such virtual currency; one that is being discovered by the mainstream in increasing numbers. For this week’s We Ask You column we want you to air your views on virtual currencies in general, and Bitcoin in particular.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, What Does The Future Hold For Virtual Currencies Such As Bitcoin? Before you can tackle answering that question in a way that will add value to the discussion you’ll need to first understand what Bitcoin is. Thankfully we have a guide to Bitcoin waiting for you to download.

Justin recently wrote an excellent feature looking at the different ways Bitcoin could be used in the future Currency Of The Revolution, Or Tool For Online Vendors? The Many Faces Of Bitcoin [Feature] Currency Of The Revolution, Or Tool For Online Vendors? The Many Faces Of Bitcoin [Feature] It's become an annual event: the fall of Bitcoin. You've probably read about it multiple times, and maybe even believe that the online, decentralized currency is already gone forever. It isn't. Created by a mysterious,... Read More , and it seems there are at least two distinct schools of thought in this regard. Some see it as the online currency to rule them all, whereas others think it will be used to undermine governments.

This is, of course, where you enter into the equation. For Bitcoin, and other virtual currencies like it, to succeed, people such as yourself will have to adopt it in large numbers. Can you see that happening? If so, will it happen quickly or take decades of slow-but-sure progress towards mainstream adoption?

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Can you see a time when Bitcoin usurps real-world currencies such as the dollar and rupee? Are you at all interested in acquiring Bitcoins, or even mining Bitcoin guiminer - An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining guiminer - An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining As of late there's been a been a great buzz going around about Bitcoin, the latest P2P digital currency. One of the main activities of getting Bitcoins is through a process called mining. No need... Read More yourself? Do you even understand what a Bitcoin is and how it works? If you were to design a virtual currency yourself, how would you do it? Ultimately, what does the future hold for these efforts? Are they doomed to fizzle out or fuel the online world for years to come?

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, and the respect of other readers. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Zach Copley

  1. Abhishek Rai
    April 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Future of virtual currencies and especially bitcoins does not hold very bright to me. online units of exchange like gold-backed electronic money(trading of virtual gold), Facebook credits, or the Linden dollars of the virtual world Second Life rely on the authority that creates them to function. The same could be said of everyday government-issued money. Bitcoin is different because it works without a central authority. It is a shared peer-to-peer system relying on the network of people using it to work. And that is the real problem its decentralized, people would soon run to earn a profit from soaring prices and cash out before the fall.Bitcoin is not backed up by commodity therefore it will be highly speculative venture which in fact keep out a normal person like me to invest in it. Another thougt came to mind is that what if someone have accumulated bitcoins and didt want to trade it.With ordinary currencies, there is a limit to how far down the spiral can go, since people still need to eat, pay their bills," and otherwise spend money, But these things aren't true of Bitcoins you can get along perfectly well without ever spending them.Vice versa you can only get money for your bitcons if someone wants to buy. Further, the high degree of anonymity could lead Bitcoin to become a "monetary alternative for drug dealing and money laundering,". Another threat came to mind is of spammers and attackers. So summing up my comment I am not totally against Bitcoins. They are mathematical system "free of politics and human error." They are "golds for Computer Nerds", up until recently sites like Reedit and WordPress are accepting Bitcoins People are trading thier cars and houses for Bitcoins.But as i said above there are many flaws or disadvantages to it. So for me Bitcoin is not about making money. Its an interesting social tool

  2. Abhishek Rai
    April 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Too long, hope my comment would be entertained.

  3. General Melchett
    April 12, 2013 at 1:11 am

    I wouldn't touch Bitcoins with a ten-foot bargepole!
    However, a truly global asset-backed currency - supported by real, tangible, diverse, and perhaps even profitable assets/businesses - is something I'd be very interested in.

    This wouldn't have all that much to do with with technology and the internet though, which the way I see it, is part of the attraction...

    • Dave Parrack
      April 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      I cannot see a global currency taking shape without the Internet being involved somewhere along the line, to be honest. I could be wrong though!

  4. Sayed Iftekhar
    April 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I wouldnt believe a currency that is 'created' and 'earned' by people with most powerful (calculation-wise) systems. While the idea is novel, the base of the system (creation and initial owner) is severely flawed enough not to buy into it.

  5. williamworlde
    April 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Is this the same concept, like, the unified EU currency? Or, like, the English/French language? Or, like, the United Nations organization? No, no, no! Just like those concepts, it is doomed to failure. Save for the word/phrase, "like". :-)

    It is another fad that some people will adopt and become good at selling to other gullible people. This may be good in a utopic world, obviously not this one. Heck, in that world we'd just barter (once again)! If a single currency was such a brilliant idea, why did early humans moved away from gold and silver?

    I have more questions than you have reasonable arguments for.

    • Dave Parrack
      April 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      I kinda wish we'd stayed with the bartering system. It makes a lot of sense to trade skills or materials.

  6. martin
    April 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    A 'currency' that gets so up in value as we have seen the last weeks (against dollar and euro) does not seem very reliable. Most probably it will go down with at least the same speed. It may be good for speculating!
    I will not put my money in bitcoins

  7. dragonmouth
    April 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    The only way anything (rocks, shells, gold, bitcoins) can be accepted as a medium of exchange is if its value is universally agreed upon. The problem with Bitcoin is that its value is not standardized. Checking with BitcoinCharts.com I am quoted three different prices for bitcoins in my area, $160, $191 and $215. I sure would hate to be paid with bitcoins worth $160 and have to purchase goods that are priced at $215/bitcoin, or even $191. In all currency transactions there is a spread between the bid and the ask prices and that is where the exchanges make their money. But a spread of 20%-33% is ridiculous.

    • Dave Parrack
      April 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      That's a very good point. I think most people agree that to have a positive future Bitcoin needs to stabilize.

  8. Akhil Kumar
    April 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I believe virtual currencies are definitely the future, though I'm not sure how distant that future is. A currency has the value that is assigned to it or what people believe it to be. Virtual currency can be a global currency which I think will play a great role in economies. I think banks in the future can convert all 'real' currency into virtual ones.

    • Trevor
      April 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      "virtual" and "currency" are 100% opposite terms, do not work together.

      • Dave Parrack
        April 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

        I think you're splitting hairs there. Perhaps I should have used "digital" rather than "virtual" in the title but it's to signify that these don't exist in any physical way.

  9. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    First of all, there are two important factors that will determine how BitCoin's future will be. One is trust. In some part of the world where people are used to pay with smartphone and similar technology, BitCoin might have easier time to be trusted, but on the other part of the world people are skeptic of using anything but cold cash and conventional credit card. Unless BitCoin has enough support to prove its usefulness and acceptance, it'll be nothing but fancy way to pay, used only in limited area. People worry about unseen money, especially if it can vanish with just a wrong click of a mouse .
    Second is business adoption. Companies like WordPress has begun supporting it, and this actually goes hand in hand with trust. People will trust the service more if companies are supporting it, and companies will support it only if it has enough potential.

    Theoritically speaking, it's a good idea, but not without apparent flaws. For now, they say, the value of BitCoin depends on demand, but with the current situation, BitCoin market is more like stock trading. The price is fluctuative and people treat it more like an investments rather than alternative payment. It's still a long way to go until it can experience widespread adoption and stability.
    Even so, there are worries that government will try to get their hands on this, which is highly likely once it's accepted nationwide.
    Either it's going to be the currency of the future or another artifact of history, BitCoin has a lot going on for it.

    • Dave Parrack
      April 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      I can see utter mayhem ensuing if a government tries to muscle in on Bitcoin.

  10. macwitty
    April 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

    The idea is good but I doubt if it will hold in the long run

  11. SCAQ Tony
    April 11, 2013 at 4:30 am

    I believe they are a precursor to a lack of confidence in our own monetary system or any nations' monetary system.

    All it will take is a corporation or a farming consortium to create their own currency backed by wheat, oil, or even "tulips" (if you catch my drift) and that currency will probably be more respected than what we are using today.

    • Scott M
      April 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

      This is the first time that an alternative currency that wasn't backed by any government or precious metal attained a serious acceptance in the financial world.There have been teething pains caused by rampant speculation similar to what is seen in commodity markets and also a move of flight of paper money to it as investors grow disenchanted with traditional forms of fiat currency.A bubble has now been created and like precious metals of late people will begin to lock in their gains and take their profits.Whether bitcoins succeed or not doesn't matter as others will take their place.
      We have begun to see it accepted as as a valid form of payment and and alternative form of investment protection.It wasn't so very long ago that FDR and the Federal Government called in all forms of gold currency coupled with what happened in Cyprus and the legislation allowing the same type of taxation of deposits written into Canada's new banking laws,and people begin to acknowledge its usefulness.This bubble will burst but I think other alternative forms of currency will arise.This experiment has proved its possible that an electronic form of money and payment is able to be produced that will remain beyond the seizure of Governments to pay for their and large bankers greed and mistakes.These are just early days.

      • Dave Parrack
        April 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm

        You make some great points. Essentially you think Bitcoin may fail but it's proved the point and opened the door to a new way of thinking about currency?

        • Scott M
          April 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

          Yes.I don't think there is anyway to stop this from proceeding and becoming more efficient.It isn't meant to exist as a full fledged central bank and act as full currency,but merely as an adjunct.Once the bugs are out this will be a valuable tool for people living in Countries whose economies have ruined their currency.Countries with outrageous inflation.This would have been valuable during the recent Arab revolutions,or a fight against any corrupt system.Look how effective Twitter was during the revolts in Libya and Egypt.No one saw it coming.I don't think the Web has even been tapped yet.It hasn't come close to flexing its muscle yet.

        • Dave Parrack
          April 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

          The Internet is a vastly powerful tool, which is why so many governments are now realizing they need to pass laws designed to limit its powers.

    • Dave Parrack
      April 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      You may be right. The time is ripe then for a new currency.

  12. Chris Marcoe
    April 11, 2013 at 4:09 am

    I've read the articles you link in this article and they are great. IIRC, this is a link to outside MUO that is linked in one of those articles. (does that all make sense?) Its a really good write upo and gets pretty technical without losing you.

    http://codinginmysleep.com/bitcoin-in-plain-english/

    In my opinion, I don't think, even though they are beginning to become more mainstream (CBT Nuggets, Reddit, and other places outside the Deep Web) that Bitcoins are going to stay a fringe currency. They are still way outside the general public's comfort zone. I also think that there are too many people who are also outside the general public that will keep it from getting popular.

    When I look around in the Deep Web, it is almost like the majority of those who are the most vocal are trying to either get Bitcoins to survive the zombie apocalypse or they are trying to get them because you can "earn" them without having a job. I also think it is too technical, trying to get them, and it will cause people this think: "Well, I'm not a hacker and have no idea how to follow the way and means of getting these so I am staying away from them."

    • Dave Parrack
      April 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks for the link. It's a very in-depth explanation.

      I don't think anyone in the mainstream will ever create a Bitcoin, but if the currency takes hold they could acquire some another way. I consider myself a geek and yet I'm not getting involved at this stage.

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