Bitcoin may still be the fringe coinage of technophiles, but the idea behind the crypto-currency is rapidly marching towards mainstream.
Reuters reports that IBM is considering adopting Bitcoin's blockchain technology to create a new digital cash and payment system. "IBMCoin" would allow users to send money anywhere in the world without having to use a third party that charges service fees.
The unconfirmed rumour stems from an anonymous "person familiar with the matter". So far, official media representatives at IBM and the US Federal Reserve have declined to comment.
The blockchain is considered to be Bitcoin's main technological innovation. It's a public ledger that records digital transactions, allowing users to make anonymous payments without government regulation. But unlike Bitcoin, where the network is decentralized, IBMCoin would be controlled by central banks and linked to users' bank accounts, according to the unnamed source.
"It's sort of a bitcoin but without the bitcoin," the source said. "These coins will be part of the money supply. It's the same money, just not a dollar bill with a serial number on it, but a token that sits on this blockchain."
While it's worth emphasising again that this is an unconfirmed rumour, IBM is not the only major company or government entity that's purported to be dipping its toes in the digital economy: Rumours of both a "Fedcoin" and "Eurocoin" have bubbled up recently. There's no doubt that if IBM were to become the preferred government partner for next-gen fintech, the payoffs could be enormous.
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