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Communications of the ACM


Why You Should Be Able to Make Your Own Individualized, Digital Nano-Currency

'IOU' on official-looking seal

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates, Shutterstock

The enthusiasm regarding Bitcoin and other blockchain enabled currencies revealed there is significant interest in imagining new digital currencies. While fascinating, the social utility of Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currencies remains debatable1 as they may facilitate money laundering,2 fraud,3 and increase financial instability.4

In contrast, we believe the ubiquity of mobile devices makes possible a completely different type of currency system, one aimed at financing entrepreneurial ventures. We propose the creation of individualized nano-currencies: small localized, self-resolving currencies specially designed to solve problems for ordinary people or small firms cut off or distanced from the resources of the traditional financial system. Whereas most cryptocurrencies and proposed central bank digital currencies11 design digital currencies to add features to transactions, nano-currencies are designed to expand financing by creating tradable IOUs.


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