A few weeks ago, I saw a funny comic. The comic portrayed a thief who demands a woman’s money. She says she only has bitcoins, and the thief doesn’t understand. He asks her to give it to him, but she explains that it’s not tangible and that she needs his bitcoin wallet address. Upon learning that he doesn’t have a wallet, she helps him set one up.
Will this be the future of theft? Will thieves hold people up until five confirmations go through? And will they make their victims manually type in their address, thus risking making a mistake, or will they have them scan a QR code? Or will theft by holdup not even exist, and the primary form of theft will be through hacking into people’s wallets?
This led me to thinking about family life in the future of digital currency. Will kids have their own wallet? At what age will they receive their wallet? Maybe parents will entrust them with a few bitcoins (or whatever the popular digital currency is at that time), and as they get older give them more and more trust and bitcoins.
In fact, situations like this are already happening. On reddit, /u/SiON42X‘s nine year old son is not only a young entrepreneur — he’s a bitcoin fanatic. On his eighth birthday he asked for Apple stocks, and later asked to invest in Minecraft because he thought the next update would be “epic”. Upon being informed that Minecraft stock wasn’t a thing, he was told about bitcoin and asked to transfer his Apple stocks to bitcoins. But he didn’t stop there — he’s trying to figure out how to sell rubber band bracelets to his friends for bitcoins. He’s also created his own rubber band bracelet website, and most of the bracelets are sold out. He used some of his bitcoins to help buy Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people through the cryptocurrency-powered charity, Sean’s Outpost. His entrepreneurship has made him feel accomplished and much more confident about his financial future.
And what if a kid wants to go see a movie? Perhaps a method will be in place where the parent can press a button and a previously determined amount of bitcoin will be sent to the kid’s wallet.
Will physical money ever cease to exist? Methods already exist to own physical bitcoins, one of which is a paper wallet: a piece of paper with a QR code on it that links to an address with preloaded bitcoins. Maybe QR scanning or a similar system will be the way to pay in the future, with physical money a more minor but still-existing substitute (likely for the old-fashioned).
How will we transition? What will happen to the US dollar? I personally think most of it will be converted to digital currency, with a few dollars still in circulation, but rarely used.
Will governments tax the digital currencies? I see it as inevitable; if the dollar dies, the government needs some form of income. As it currently is, it’s difficult for a government to tax a digital currency, as the transactions are generally anonymous and the addresses are hard to trace. Governments will need to develop new means to keep track of taxes, and will perhaps need to intervene with the development of digital currencies.
What will mining look like? Will the giant corporations be spending millions, maybe even billions of dollars on miners? Will mining as a hobby cease to exist? Maybe hobbyists will still mine for the fun of it, but they’ll probably lose money due to the electricity costs.
And how about the security of your money? Will banks even exist, or will secure wallets do the job? Will people begin paying for more secure, better, and faster wallets?
The answers to these questions will come in time. For now, we just have to wait and see.
Comic linked and described with permission of Jonathan Rosenberg, story and image of /u/SiON42X’s son used with permission.
Last modified (UTC): April 24, 2014 00:57