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June 1 2013
When talking about the online currency Bitcoin – a currency backed not by any nation state, but instead a series of mathematical rules – coverage tends to focus either on the surging value of each coin (currently about $130 or £85) or the fact that Bitcoins are quite a handy way to buy drugs online, using the Silk Road website.
Both are of interest, but are roughly akin to focusing on how the aeroplane might disrupt the hot-air balloon industry: it's true, but drastically misses the true potential of an innovation to change the world – for good or for ill.
The real transformative power of Bitcoin, or something like it, lies not in a speculative bubble, but in its potential to put currency outside of the control of governments, or law enforcement agencies.
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