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Virtual Currency: The Future Of Money?

Virtual currencies, used in recent years as credits in online games, may soon become 'real money.'  In this week's article we will take a look at virtual currency, its many uses, and its future.  Second Life, a virtual online world, launched its own online currency called the Linden Dollar.  Linden Dollars can be purchased through their own online currency exchange.  Linden Dollars fluctuate in value against the world's major currencies in daily trading. 


From Wikipedia -

"Virtual goods include buildings, vehicles, devices of all kinds, animations, clothing, skin, hair, jewelry, flora and fauna, and works of art. Services include "camping", wage labor, business management, entertainment and custom content creation. L$ can be purchased using US Dollars and other currencies on the LindeX exchange provided by Linden Lab, independent brokers or other resident users"

Facebook also has Facebook Credits which just as with Second Life are used currently strictly for games and virtual merchandise.  For example, in the past I have purchased Facebook credits and used them to send my wife a virtual bouquet of roses.  This was just a simple graphic of a dozen roses that appeared on her Facebook page.  It only cost $2 and surprisingly enough, had the same effect as if I had sent her the real thing!

Beyond Facebook Gifts: Virtual Currencies 101

From CNN

When Santiago Martinez wants to give his friends birthday presents, he buys a cake or flowers or sometimes a teddy bear.

But the 41-year-old, who lives on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, doesn't spend pesos or dollars. He buys the gifts with an online-only currency called hi5 Coins.  Read the entire article.


Virtual Currency Evolving Beyond Gaming

No slight intended to those of you that have established virtual worlds and lives, but I have too many issues to deal with in my bricks and mortar life to even consider joining you.  What I have been fascinated to watch, however, is the transition of virtual currency from gaming to other more tangible venues.

For example, I have read that Facebook may soon launch a movie service that would allow you to use Facebook credits to rent an online movie.  That really does create some interesting possibilities.  For example, could you use Facebook credits to pay for online subscriptions, web hosting, e Book purchases, software, and on and on?  The list of virtual stuff we all buy is getting to be pretty large and virtual money may be the way that we purchase it in the future.

Amercian Express plays virtual-currency-catchup by acquiring Sometrics



Spending Virtual Currency Like Real Money

BitCoin created in 2009 is considered a leader in virtual currency and is accepted as real money by a number of online retailers. says you can buy almost anything with BitCoins using them as a facilitator.  This even includes vacations and travel.

BitCoins is a serious and viable business and is on the radar screen of the U.S. government. 

From Wikipedia

"In a 2011 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Drug Enforcement Administration, senators Charles Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia called for an investigation into Bitcoin and Silk Road. Schumer described the use of Bitcoins at Silk Road as a form of money laundering.   Consequently, Amir Taaki from Intersango (formerly Britcoin), the UK exchange, put out a statement calling for regulation of Bitcoin exchanges by law enforcement."


The Difference Between Virtual Currency and Electronic Banking

Most people are aware of Pay Pal and the other online payment systems that are widely available.  The difference between these options and virtual currencies is that online payments can be traced back to you.  For example, if I buy a soda from you and hand you two one dollar bills and walk away, you have no record of who I am or my account information.  In the same manner, I can send you virtual currency (from my virtual wallet) without giving you access to my identity.  Privacy advocates love virtual currency for this reason and point out this advantage over online payment systems such as Pay Pal.  Of course, those that have an interest in tracking our expenditures are the primary opponents of it.

Virtual Currency And The Mark Of The Beast

The Mark Of The Beast as referenced in Revelation 13:17–1 may involve a virtual currency of some form.  We know that any cashless society would require a trading mechanism to facilitate transactions and virtual currency seems to fit the bill for that.  Could the antichrist create his own currency?  Could a virtual currency be the cashless system as described in Bible prophecy?

Virtual Currency As A Safe Haven?

With the ability to exchange virtual currencies into physical cash, some are even advocating its use as a place to keep your money safe.  Read more: The First Bank of Blizzard: Are Virtual Currencies The Next Safe Havens?

Unresolved Questions About Virtual Currency

No one really knows the future of virtual currency and where exactly it will lead.  Questions about such things as taxation of virtual currency, government regulation and tracking, public trading and valuation, are all largely unresolved at this time.  Just as it took the IRS a few years to begin tracking Pay Pal income and expenditures, it will likely not be long before virtual currency is addressed with new regulations.

My Thoughts

The concept seems interesting and appears to be technologically viable.  While I am very intrigued by the idea of virtual currency I am equally uncertain as to how exactly this will develop and take its place in our economy.  For now, I am simply sitting on the sidelines watching with curiosity.  By no means am I recommending that anyone should start converting thousands of dollars into virtual money or anything like that.  The whole trend does seem worth monitoring.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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