Digital Cash Can Never Work Essay

Digital Cash Can Never Work Essay

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Digital Cash Can Never Work

The continued growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web is making a means of secure, on-line monetary transfers a necessity. This growth requires that companies and individuals be able to transact business safely across Cyberspace. Without incentive, in the form of increased revenues, businesses and individuals will lack the financial incentive to continue investing in the Internet. Without continued investment, the Internet will never reach its potential to dramatically change, and hopefully improve, the way that we live our lives. Fortunately, the push for digital cash is already underway. The only question is, regardless of whichever of these payment systems succeeds, will the transaction be truly anonymous or not? [FN1]

The major concern of those opposed to non-anonymous digital cash is a loss of privacy. This is a legitimate concern, although exaggerated by fear of a "Big Brother" type state. The spending of cash has never been anonymous. A cash transaction, whether it be at a store, with a vendor, or just on the street, always involves two parties. In all of these transactions the payee and the payer meet face to face as the cash is exchanged. The privacy that people feel during these types of cash transactions stems, not from cash being a truly anonymous payment system, but from the anonymity of society itself. In a society built of large metropolises, anonymity is achieved by not knowing everybody else rather than not being able to find out who they are. If someone tries to pass off counterfeit money to a shopkeeper, regardless of that individuals anonymity because the shopkeeper doesn’t know them, the shopkeeper has the recourse of calling the police and being able to give a descript...

... middle of paper ...

...where information is power, deleting all information represents an absolute loss of control and safety because information protects us all.

[FN 1] For a discussion of the various payment methods proposed and the entities involved see: Udo Flohr, Cash, checks and coupons are all going digital. Here are the technical underpinnings of tomorrow’s legal tender, Byte, June 1996. On the Internet at:; and A. Michael Froomkin, Flood Control on the Information Ocean: Living With Anonymity, Digital Cash, and Distributed Databases, 15 U. Pittsburg Journal of Law and Commerce 395 (1996). On the Internet at:

[FN 2] David Chaum, Achieving Electronic Privacy, Sci. Am., Aug. 1992, at 96. On the Internet at:

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