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  4. > Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoins Could Transform Consumer Communication Services

Scope

Cryptocurrency is a logical way for over-the-top communication services to be bought and sold. Operators will want to familiarize themselves with such currency, and may well find a significant opportunity in enabling transactions involving crypto-currencies.

Executive Summary

Cryptocurrency is a term that has not seen wide recognition. Among those involved in international banking, though, the concept is becoming more important and, in fact, is seen by many experts as a game changer. For the first time in history, currency, the primary medium of exchange, can be issued by individuals without recourse to governments. The implications of such a change are profound: money, after all, is more than simply a surrogate for value that supports economic transactions based on a common assessment of worth; it is a system by which government manages the flow of trade, collects taxes and imposes economic control.
Now, imagine that a government need not issue currency—need not even know about a financial transaction—and one begins to understand the threat that cryptocurrency poses to existing banking and economic structures. Once money is an artifact of one-to-one transactions, the economy moves largely out of the control of central banks.
Regulation of crypto-currencies, in fact, is beyond the reach of countries. This is due to the nature of a cryptocurrency. In the case of Bitcoins, the value of the Bitcoin is set by an agreement of the transaction participants themselves. This is possible because a Bitcoin transaction is posted to several transaction exchanges, and then voted on by exchange participants. The transaction itself is completely anonymous and encrypted, but the ability of the transaction participants to conduct further business is limited by the approval of the exchange. In effect, a bitcoin exchange is similar to early music streaming sites where participants could exchange music on a peer-to-peer basis, and their transactions were not tracked.
Although this all may seem somewhat esoteric, the practical effect is to turn the Internet into a massive bank; one where goods and services can be exchanged, and where value is assessed using a completely virtual currency. Most importantly, this new banking system is available to purchase or sell just about anything that can be found in more conventional markets: including communication services.
Communication services are increasingly compatible with cryptocurrency: as communications migrate to broadband delivery, there is an opportunity to integrate financial experiences into the overall communication experience. Although the evolution of cryptocurrency is very preliminary, communication service providers should begin considering the implications of synthetic currency now.

Table Of Contents

Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoins Could Transform Consumer Communication Services
Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Introduction
What is Cryptocurrency or Why are Bitcoins Valuable?
Consumers and Cryptocurrency
Implications for Communication Service Providers
The Last Word

List of Exhibits

Exhibit 1: How Bitcoins Work
Exhibit 2: Mt. Gox Valuation (2012-2014 Failure)
Exhibit 3: Bitcoin Awareness
Exhibit 4: Relative Use of Cryptocurrency by Income
Exhibit 5: Virtual Everything

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