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Currency stored on electronic systems

Taxonomy of money, based on “Fundamental banking company cryptocurrencies” by Morten Linnemann Bech and Rodney Garratt

Digital currency
(digital money,
electronic money
electronic currency) is any currency, money, or money-like asset that is primarily managed, stored or exchanged on digital computer systems, especially over the internet. Types of digital currencies include cryptocurrency, virtual currency and central bank digital currency. Digital currency may exist recorded on a distributed database on the internet, a centralized electronic computer database owned by a company or bank, within digital files or even on a stored-value card.[1]

Digital currencies exhibit backdrop similar to traditional currencies, just by and large do non accept a classical physical form of fiat currency historically that y’all can direct concur in your hand, like currencies with printed banknotes or minted coins – notwithstanding they do have a concrete form in an unclassical sense coming from the computer to computer and computer to human interactions and the information and processing ability of the servers that store and continue rails of money. This unclassical physical course allows nearly instantaneous transactions over the internet and vastly lowers the cost associated with distributing notes and coins: for instance, of the types of coin in the United kingdom economic system, 3% are notes and coins, and 79% every bit electronic money (in the form of bank deposits).[2]
Usually non issued by a governmental body, virtual currencies are not considered a legal tender and they enable ownership transfer across governmental borders.[3]

This blazon of currency may be used to buy physical goods and services, simply may also exist restricted to certain communities such as for use within an online game.[4]

Digital money tin can either be centralized, where there is a fundamental point of control over the coin supply (for case, a bank), or decentralized, where the control over the coin supply is predetermined or agreed upon democratically.


In 1983, a inquiry paper titled “Bullheaded Signatures for Untraceable Payments” past David Chaum introduced the idea of digital greenbacks.[5]
[half dozen]
In 1989, he founded DigiCash, an electronic cash company, in Amsterdam to commercialize the ideas in his research.[seven]
It filed for bankruptcy in 1998.[7]

east-gold was the beginning widely used Internet money, introduced in 1996, and grew to several million users before the U.s.a. Regime shut it downwardly in 2008. eastward-gold has been referenced to every bit “digital currency” past both US officials and academia.[9]
In 1997, Coca-Cola offered ownership from vending machines using mobile payments.[14]
PayPal launched its USD-denominated service in 1998. In 2009, bitcoin was launched, which marked the commencement of decentralized blockchain-based digital currencies with no central server, and no tangible assets held in reserve. Too known every bit cryptocurrencies, blockchain-based digital currencies proved resistant to attempt by authorities to regulate them, because there was no central arrangement or person with the power to turn them off.[15]

Origins of digital currencies date back to the 1990s Dot-com bubble. Some other known digital currency service was Liberty Reserve, founded in 2006; it lets users convert dollars or euros to Liberty Reserve Dollars or Euros, and exchange them freely with one another at a 1% fee. Several digital currency operations were reputed to exist used for Ponzi schemes and money laundering, and were prosecuted by the U.S. government for operating without MSB licenses.[16]
Q coins or QQ coins, were used every bit a type of article-based digital currency on Tencent QQ’s messaging platform and emerged in early 2005. Q coins were then constructive in China that they were said to accept had a destabilizing consequence on the Chinese Yuan currency due to speculation.[17]
Recent interest in cryptocurrencies has prompted renewed interest in digital currencies, with bitcoin, introduced in 2008, becoming the most widely used and accustomed digital currency.

Sub-types of digital currency and comparisons

Digital currency as a specific blazon and as a meta-group name

Digital Currency is a term that refers to a specific blazon of electronic currency with specific properties. Digital Currency is also a term used to include the meta-group of sub-types of digital currency, the specific meaning can only be determined within the specific legal or contextual example. Legally and technically, there already are a myriad of legal definitions of digital currency and the many digital currency sub-types. Combining different possible properties, there exists an extensive number of implementations creating many and numerous sub-types of Digital Currency. Many governmental jurisdictions have implemented their own unique definition for digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, e-money, network coin, due east-greenbacks, and other types of digital currency. Within any specific authorities jurisdiction, unlike agencies and regulators define different and often conflicting meanings for the dissimilar types of digital currency based on the specific backdrop of a specific currency blazon or sub-type.

Digital versus virtual currency

A virtual currency has been defined in 2012 by the European Central Banking concern equally “a blazon of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and commonly controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community”.[18]
The US Section of Treasury in 2013 divers information technology more tersely as “a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, just does not have all the attributes of real currency”.[19]
The The states Department of Treasury also stated that, “Virtual currency does not take legal-tender condition in any jurisdiction.”[nineteen]

According to the European Central Bank’s 2015 “Virtual currency schemes – a further analysis” report, virtual currency is a digital representation of value, not issued by a central depository financial institution, credit institution or e-money institution, which, in some circumstances, tin be used as an alternative to money.[20]
In the previous written report of October 2012, the virtual currency was divers equally a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and commonly controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.[eighteen]

According to the Banking company for International Settlements’ November 2015 “Digital currencies” report, it is an nugget represented in digital class and having some monetary characteristics.[21]
Digital currency tin can be denominated to a sovereign currency and issued past the issuer responsible to redeem digital money for cash. In that case, digital currency represents electronic money (due east-money). Digital currency denominated in its ain units of value or with decentralized or automated issuance will exist considered every bit a virtual currency. As such, bitcoin is a digital currency simply as well a type of virtual currency. Bitcoin and its alternatives are based on cryptographic algorithms, so these kinds of virtual currencies are also called cryptocurrencies.

Digital versus cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a sub-type of digital currency and a digital asset that relies on cryptography to chain together digital signatures of asset transfers, peer-to-peer networking and decentralization. In some cases a proof-of-work or proof-of-stake scheme is used to create and manage the currency.[22]
Cryptocurrencies can allow electronic money systems to be decentralized. When implemented with a blockchain, the digital ledger system or record keeping system uses cryptography to edit separate shards of database entries that are distributed across many separate servers. The first and most popular system is bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic monetary system based on cryptography.

Digital versus traditional currency

Most of the traditional money supply is bank money held on computers. They are considered digital currency in some cases. One could debate that our increasingly cashless society means that all currencies are becoming digital currencies, but they are non presented to us every bit such.[26]

Types of systems

Centralized systems

Currency tin can exist exchanged electronically using debit cards and credit cards using electronic funds transfer at point of sale.

Mobile digital wallets

A number of electronic coin systems use contactless payment transfer in order to facilitate piece of cake payment and requite the payee more confidence in not letting go of their electronic wallet during the transaction.

  • In 1994 Mondex and National Westminster Bank provided an “electronic purse” to residents of Swindon
  • In well-nigh 2005 Telefónica and BBVA Bank launched a payment organization in Spain called Mobipay[27]
    which used simple short bulletin service facilities of feature phones intended for pay-as-y’all-go services including taxis and pre-pay phone recharges via a BBVA electric current depository financial institution business relationship debit.
  • In January 2010, Venmo launched as a mobile payment arrangement through SMS, which transformed into a social app where friends can pay each other for minor expenses like a cup of coffee, rent and pay a share of the restaurant nib when 1 has forgotten their wallet.[28]
    It is popular with college students, but has some security issues.[29]
    It can exist linked to a bank account, credit/debit card or have a loaded value to limit the amount of loss in case of a security breach. Credit cards and non-major debit cards incur a 3% processing fee.[30]
  • On xix September 2011, Google Wallet released in the The states to brand it easy to deport all i’south credit/debit cards on a phone.[31]
  • In 2012 Ireland’s O2 (owned past Telefónica) launched Easytrip to pay route tolls which were charged to the mobile phone account or prepay credit.[32]
  • The UK’south O2 invented O2 Wallet[33]
    at about the same time. The wallet can be charged with regular depository financial institution accounts or cards and discharged by participating retailers using a technique known as ‘money messages’. The service closed in 2014.
  • On nine September 2014, Apple Pay was appear at the iPhone 6 consequence. In October 2014 it was released equally an update to work on iPhone 6 and Apple Spotter. It is very like to Google Wallet, simply for Apple tree devices simply.[34]

Central Banking company Digital Currency (CBDC)

Central Bank Digital Currencies are a grade of universally accessible digital money in a nation and hold the same value as the countries newspaper currency. Similar cryptocurrency, CBCD’south are held in the form of tokens. CBDC’s are different than regular digital cash forms similar in online bank accounts because CBDC’s are established through the central bank within a country, with liabilities held by one’s authorities, rather than from a commercial depository financial institution.[35]
Approximately nine countries take already established a Central Bank Digital Currency, with interest in the organization increasing highly throughout the world. In these nations, CBDC’s take been used equally a course of exchange and a mode for governments to try and preclude risks from occurring within their financial systems.[36]

Decentralized systems

Digital Currency has been implemented in some cases every bit a decentralized system of whatsoever combination of currency issuance, ownership record, ownership transfer say-so and validation, and currency storage.

Per the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), “These schemes do not distinguish between users based on location, and therefore allow value to be transferred between users beyond borders. Moreover, the speed of a transaction is not conditional on the location of the payer and payee.”[3]


Since 2001, the European Wedlock has implemented the East-Money Directive “on the taking up, pursuit and prudential supervision of the business concern of electronic money institutions” last amended in 2009.[37]

In the U.s., electronic money is governed past Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code for wholesale transactions and the Electronic Fund Transfer Deed for consumer transactions. Provider’south responsibleness and consumer’s liability are regulated nether Regulation Eastward.[38]


Virtual currencies pose challenges for primal banks, financial regulators, departments or ministries of finance, as well as fiscal authorities and statistical regime.

Adoption past governments

As of 2016, over 24 countries are investing in distributed ledger technologies (DLT) with $i.4bn in investments. In addition, over 90 key banks are engaged in DLT discussions, including implications of a central bank issued digital currency.[40]

  • Hong Kong’southward Octopus card system: Launched in 1997 as an electronic purse for public transportation, is the most successful and mature implementation of contactless smart cards used for mass transit payments. After only five years, 25 pct of Octopus card transactions are unrelated to transit, and accepted by more than 160 merchants.[41]
  • London Transport’s Oyster card system: Oyster is a plastic smartcard that tin can hold pay-equally-you-go credit, Travelcards and Bus & Tram flavour tickets. An Oyster carte du jour can be used to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and virtually National Rail services in London.[42]
  • Nippon’s FeliCa: A contactless RFID smart bill of fare, used in a diverseness of ways such as in ticketing systems for public transportation, e-money, and residence door keys.[43]
  • Kingdom of the netherlands’ Chipknip: As an electronic cash organisation used in holland, all ATM cards issued by the Dutch banks had value that could be loaded via Chipknip loading stations. For people without a bank, pre-paid Chipknip cards could be purchased at various locations in kingdom of the netherlands. As of i Jan 2015, payment tin can no longer exist made with Chipknip.[44]
  • Belgium’s Proton: An electronic purse application for debit cards in Belgium. Introduced in Feb 1995, as a means to replace cash for pocket-size transactions. The system was retired on 31 December 2014.[45]

In March 2018, the Marshall islands became the get-go state to outcome their own cryptocurrency and certify it as legal tender; the currency is called the “sovereign”.[46]


U.s. Article Futures Trading Commission guidance

The Usa Article Futures Trading Committee (CFTC) has determined virtual currencies are properly defined equally commodities in 2015.[47]
The CFTC warned investors against pump and dump schemes that employ virtual currencies.[48]

United states Internal Acquirement Service guidance

The US Internal Acquirement Service (IRS) ruling Discover 2014-21[49]
defines whatsoever virtual currency, cryptocurrency and digital currency as belongings; gains and losses are taxable within standard property policies.

US Treasury guidance

On twenty March 2013, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a guidance to clarify how the U.South. Bank Secrecy Act practical to persons creating, exchanging, and transmitting virtual currencies.[50]

US Securities and Exchange Commission guidance

In May 2014 the The states Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC) “warned about the hazards of bitcoin and other virtual currencies”.[51]

New York state regulation

In July 2014, the New York State Department of Financial Services proposed the most comprehensive regulation of virtual currencies to date, commonly chosen BitLicense. It has gathered input from bitcoin supporters and the fiscal industry through public hearings and a comment period until 21 October 2014 to customize the rules. The proposal per NY DFS press release “sought to strike an advisable balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity”.[
citation needed

It has been criticized past smaller companies to favor established institutions, and Chinese bitcoin exchanges have complained that the rules are “overly broad in its application outside the Us”.[53]


The Bank of Canada have explored the possibility of creating a version of its currency on the blockchain.[54]

The Bank of Canada teamed up with the nation’southward v largest banks – and the blockchain consulting firm R3 – for what was known as Project Jasper. In a simulation run in 2016, the central bank issued CAD-Coins onto a blockchain similar Ethereum.[55]
The banks used the CAD-Coins to exchange coin the fashion they do at the stop of each day to settle their master accounts.[55]

Red china

In 2016, Fan Yifei, a deputy governor of Cathay’s central banking concern, the People’s Banking concern of China (PBOC), wrote that “the weather condition are ripe for digital currencies, which can reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and enable a wide range of new applications”.[55]
According to Fan Yifei, the best style to take advantage of the situation is for central banks to take the lead, both in supervising private digital currencies and in developing digital legal tender of their own.[56]

In October 2019, the PBOC announced that a digital renminbi would be released later on years of preparation.[57]
The version of the currency, known every bit DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment),[58]
is based on cryptocurrency which tin can exist “decoupled” from the banking system.[59]
The announcement received a variety of responses: some believe it is more than about domestic control and surveillance.[60]

In Dec 2020, the PBOC distributed
¥20 RMB
million worth of digital renminbi to the residents of Suzhou through a lottery program to further promote the government-backed digital currency. Recipients of the currency could make both offline and online purchases, expanding on an earlier trial that did not crave net connection through the inclusion of online stores in the program. Around 20,000 transactions were reported by the e-commerce company in the first 24 hours of the trial. Contrary to other online payment platforms such equally Alipay or WeChat Pay, the digital currency does not have transaction fees.[61]


The Danish government proposed getting rid of the obligation for selected retailers to accept payment in cash, moving the land closer to a “cashless” economy.[62]
The Danish Sleeping accommodation of Commerce is backing the movement.[63]
Virtually a third of the Danish population uses MobilePay, a smartphone application for transferring money.[62]


A law passed by the National Assembly of Ecuador gives the government permission to brand payments in electronic currency and proposes the creation of a national digital currency. “Electronic money volition stimulate the economy; it volition exist possible to attract more Ecuadorian citizens, especially those who exercise not accept checking or savings accounts and credit cards alone. The electronic currency will be backed past the assets of the Central Depository financial institution of Ecuador”, the National Assembly said in a statement.[64]
In December 2015, Sistema de Dinero Electrónico (“electronic money system”) was launched, making Republic of ecuador the first country with a state-run electronic payment organization.[65]

El Salvador

On Jun ix, 2021, the Legislative Associates of Republic of el salvador has get the starting time state in the earth to officially classify Bitcoin as legal currency. Starting 90 days after approval, every business concern must have Bitcoin as legal tender for goods or services, unless it is unable to provide the technology needed to do the transaction.[66]


The Dutch cardinal bank is experimenting with a blockchain-based virtual currency called “DNBCoin”.[55]


The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a real-fourth dimension payment organisation for instant money transfers betwixt any two bank accounts held in participating banks in Bharat. The interface has been developed by the National Payments Corporation of India and is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. This digital payment organization is available 24*vii*365. UPI is agnostic to the blazon of user and is used for person to person, person to business, business to person and business to business transactions.

Transactions tin exist initiated by the payer or the payee. To identify a bank account it uses a unique Virtual Payment Address (VPA) of the type ‘accountID@bankID’. The VPA tin be assigned by the bank, simply can also exist self specified merely like an email accost. The simplest and near mutual form of VPA is ‘mobilenumber@upi’. Money tin be transferred from 1 VPA to some other or from 1 VPA to any bank account in a participating bank using account number and banking concern branch details. Transfers tin exist inter-depository financial institution or intra-bank.

UPI has no intermediate holding pond for money. It withdraws funds directly from the depository financial institution account of the sender and deposits them straight into the recipient’s bank account whenever a transaction is requested. A sender can initiate and authorise a transfer using a two step secure procedure: login using a pass code → initiate → verify using a passcode. A receiver can initiate a payment request on the system to send the payer a notification or past presenting a QR code. On receiving the request, the payer can decline or confirm the payment using the same two stride process: login → confirm → verify. The arrangement is extraordinarily user friendly to the extent that even technophobes and barely literate users are adopting it in huge numbers.


Authorities-controlled Sberbank of Russian federation owns Yandex.Money – electronic payment service and digital currency of the same name.[68]


Sweden is in the process of replacing all of its physical banknotes, and most of its coins by mid-2017.[
needs update

However, the new banknotes and coins of the Swedish krona will probably be circulating at about half the 2007 elevation of 12,494 kronor per capita. The Riksbank is planning to begin discussions of an electronic currency issued by the fundamental bank to which “is not to replace cash, but to deed as complement to it”.[69]
Deputy Governor Cecilia Skingsley states that cash will continue to spiral out of use in Sweden, and while information technology is currently fairly easy to go cash in Sweden, it is ofttimes very hard to deposit information technology into banking company accounts, especially in rural areas. No decision has been currently made about the decision to create “east-krona”.

In her speech,[

Skingsley states: “The first question is whether eastward-krona should be booked in accounts or whether the ekrona should be some class of a digitally transferable unit that does not need an underlying business relationship construction, roughly like cash.” Skingsley also states: “Another important question is whether the Riksbank should issue e-krona directly to the general public or go via the banks, as nosotros practice now with banknotes and coins.” Other questions will be addressed similar interest rates, should they be positive, negative, or zero?[
citation needed


In 2016, a city authorities first accepted digital currency in payment of metropolis fees. Zug, Switzerland, added bitcoin every bit a means of paying minor amounts, up to SFr 200, in a test and an attempt to advance Zug every bit a region that is advancing future technologies. In social club to reduce run a risk, Zug immediately converts any bitcoin received into the Swiss currency.[70]
Swiss Federal Railways, government-endemic railway company of Switzerland, sells bitcoins at its ticket machines.[71]


In 2016, the Britain’s primary scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, brash the government to consider using a blockchain-based digital currency.[72]

The main economist of Depository financial institution of England, the central depository financial institution of the United Kingdom, proposed the abolitionism of newspaper currency. The Bank has also taken an interest in blockchain.[55]
In 2016 it has embarked on a multi-year research program to explore the implications of a primal bank issued digital currency.[40]
The Banking concern of England has produced several research papers on the topic. 1 suggests that the economical benefits of issuing a digital currency on a distributed ledger could add together as much as 3 percentage to a country’s economical output.[55]
The Bank said that it wanted the next version of the bank’s basic software infrastructure to be compatible with distributed ledgers.[55]

Adoption by financial actors

Authorities attitude dictates the tendency amidst established heavy fiscal actors that both are adventure-averse and conservative. None of these offered services around cryptocurrencies and much of the criticism came from them. “The first mover among these has been Allegiance Investments, Boston based Allegiance Digital Avails LLC will provide enterprise-class custody solutions, a cryptocurrency trading execution platform and institutional advising services 24 hours a day, 7 days a calendar week designed to align with blockchain’due south always-on trading cycle”.[74]
It will work with Bitcoin and Ethereum with general availability scheduled for 2019.[
needs update

Hard vs. soft digital currencies

Hard electronic currency does not have the ability to be disputed or reversed when used. Information technology is nearly impossible to reverse a transaction, justified or not. It is very like to cash.

Soft electronic currencies are the reverse of hard electronic currencies. Payments tin exist reversed. Commonly, when a payment is reversed there is a “immigration time.” A hard currency tin be “softened” with a third-party service.


Many existing digital currencies have non yet seen widespread usage, and may not be easily used or exchanged. Banks by and large practice non accept or offer services for them.[75]
At that place are concerns that cryptocurrencies are extremely risky due to their very high volatility[76]
and potential for pump and dump schemes.[77]
Regulators in several countries take warned against their utilise and some have taken concrete regulatory measures to dissuade users.[78]
The non-cryptocurrencies are all centralized. As such, they may exist close down or seized by a government at any time.[79]
The more than anonymous a currency is, the more attractive it is to criminals, regardless of the intentions of its creators.[79]
Bitcoin has as well been criticised for its energy inefficient SHA-256-based proof of work.[eighty]

According to Barry Eichengreen, an economist known for his piece of work on budgetary and financial economics, “cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are too volatile to possess the essential attributes of money. Stablecoins have frail currency pegs that diminish their utility in transactions. And key bank digital currencies are a solution in search of a problem.”[81]


Digital Currencies accept become popular due to their convenient nature. Many users believe digital currency allows them to transfer money quicker and in a simpler manner. Many countries have adopted forms of digital currency due to doubts in the strength of their banking systems and distrust in the country of their economy. Other users prefer digital currency due to the freedom information technology gives them in their spending habits. Due to the fact that regulation over digital currencies is weak, many users tin can get around typical rules and regulations that are upheld with fiat currencies. In times of financial predicaments inside a country, digital currencies may also aid protect a user’s assets.



Currency Code Year Est. Active Founder Monetary base of operations (April 2013) Notes
Beenz 1998 No Charles Cohen[83]
eastward-gilt 1996 No Gilt & Silver Reserve Inc.
Rand 1999 No James Orlin Grabbe Non related to South African rand
Ven 2007 Yes Hub Civilization

See as well

  • Complementary currency
  • Automated clearing business firm
  • Cashless catering
  • Cashless society
  • Community Exchange System
  • Cryptocurrency exchange
  • Cryptocurrency wallet
  • Central depository financial institution digital currency
  • Digital wallet
  • E-commerce payment system
  • Electronic Money Association
  • Electronic funds transfer
  • Local commutation trading system
  • Payment organisation
  • Individual currency


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