The Economics of E-Cash

Electronic cash may end government monopolies on the lucrative business of minting money

14 min read
The Economics of E-Cash

For all the hype over electronic cash, one point is usually left out: it may never come to pass. It all depends on the economics of e-cash, and that's a complicated mix of issues--including whether producers can find an opportunity for profit, whether consumers will accept it as money, and whether governments will allow it to flourish. If all the stars don't line up, it could go the way of the geodesic dome--just another big idea with few important applications.

Electronic cash includes electronically stored value designed for use either in a single transaction or in many. E-cash meant for repeated use is also called electronic currency. Currency and other kinds of e-cash store and convey value in and of themselves rather than merely representing value residing elsewhere, such as a deposit account. By contrast, electronic checks and debit cards do not store intrinsic value and thus are not considered e-cash, which can be used in transactions off-line and with no transfer of physical material.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

"SuperGPS" Accurate to 10 Centimeters or Better

New optical-wireless hybrid makes use of existing telecommunications infrastructure

3 min read
illustration of man looking at giant smart phone with map and red "you are here" symbol
iStock

Modern life now often depends on GPS(short for Global Positioning System), but it can err on the order of meters in cities. Now a new study from a team of Dutch researchers reveals a terrestrial positioning system based on existing telecommunications networks can deliver geolocation info accurate to within 10 centimeters in metropolitan areas.

The scientists detailed their findings 16 November in the journal Nature.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
Close-up of a colorful semiconductor wafer held the white gloved hands of a clean room technician.

A 300 millimeter silicon wafer at the Globalfoundries Inc. semiconductor plant in Dresden, Germany, on Thursday, 12 August 2021.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This is a guest post in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor. It is adapted from an essay in the July 2022 IEEE Electron Device Society Newsletter. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

On the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, a device to which I have devoted my entire career, I’d like to answer two questions: Does the world need better transistors? And if so, what will they be like?

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}

Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!