I’ve recently started tracking more closely the emergence of Bitcoins and even tried a bit of mining on my laptop. After spinning the fans up to full because of the work it was doing I decided that I was probably spending more on electricity and shortening the useful life of my laptop that it was not worth doing. Marc Andreesen recently gave a great overview on why this is a technology that is going to change everything for payments in the future in the New York Times.
A contrarian view to the bright picture from Andreessen is posited in this in depth analysis on CNET. Interestingly the Canadian Mint has recently launched a new payment system called MintChip. While the transactions are limited to $10 to presumably minimize risk while the nascent technology is rolled out, I’m sure we will quickly see the emergency of various digital currency systems supported also by governments. The CNET article points to some serious flaws in the BitCoin model today like anti-money laundering, the perhaps over hyped infallibility of the platform and many others.
All of this come at a time where Visa/MC are partnering with wireless carriers to support using the phone as the universal wallet, PayPal continues to evolve, Square and many other options keep coming. Far too early to see how this will pan out, but what an amazing disruption going on.