■ David Porter / Contributed
I’m thinking about creating a virtual currency, and here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor. Like any virtual currency, it has no actual value beyond what two people transacting business agree that it has. There are no guarantees, no governmental backing and, in fact, may be illegal to use in many states. Are you in?
Sure, there’s already Bitcoin out there, which at least has a digital signature and resides within some anonymous cloud-based accounting system that no one seems to be in charge of. My new currency is not so hoity-toity.
Even real American dollars don’t have much to back them up. Just the faith we have in our government. No gold. No silver. Bank accounts are insured up to a point, but the dollars themselves are traded on faith. So, the dollars you have in the bank that are not backed by anything tangible are insured with dollars that have the same intangible backing.
Anyhoo, you can now put your faith in me. Do you feel confidant with that?
Here’s how my virtual currency works: You send me $1 and I send you back an email with a coupon worth 10 virtual dollars. See, you’ve made money already. You can then take that coupon and give it to someone else in exchange for goods and services. How much in goods and services depends on what the two of you agree on.
Or, you can sell your virtual dollars to someone willing to give you cash for them. You could sell them for less than face value, more than face value or dollar for dollar. Doesn’t matter to me. That’s between the two of you.
That’s how virtual money works. Granted, some virtual currency has some level of digital security. I don’t bother with such grandiose mumbo jumbo. Let’s just get this going.
We need a name for my new virtual currency. I was thinking “Not Currency,” but that doesn’t instill much faith, does it. Similarly, I have ruled out SpamDollar, ScamCoin and You’ve-got-to-be-kidding-currency.
I actually made a proposal several years ago, when I was working at the Illinois Press Association, to come up with an online currency to manage micropayments for news content. It wasn’t a new idea — a lot of online sites use a similar system. For instance, on Spotify, you can pay them to have annoying ads removed, or you can watch a video to earn 30 minutes of free music.
The difference is that the proposal I made would be to give people the ability to purchase a pack of points that they could then redeem at any participating newspaper website for content. Rather than running a debit card for a few cents to view content, a reader could tap into his virtual wallet.
Or, if the reader didn’t want to buy points, he could view an ad to earn points, and the advertisers would put up the cash. I envisioned the points being able to be used at a variety of sites for a variety of products. That’s essentially how Bitcoins work.
At the time, there were already several companies offering virtual coin systems. Bitcoin just emerged as the most popular. Today, a single Bitcoin costs thousands of dollars, and it’s now being traded on the stock market. The virtual money is worth gazillions of dollars today.
I coulda been a contender. That’s the story of my life.
If you feel sorry for me, send me a dollar and I’ll send you 10 of my coins that aren’t worth anything to anyone. If we get 100 people to do it, at least you can feel good knowing that your participation helped me to eventually become a hundredaire. If we can get 1,000 people to do it, maybe we can help pay for the mental help that all of those gullible people will need.
I’m not saying Bitcoin has no value. The value of anything is determined by mutual consent between two parties transacting business.
I just want in on the action. I don’t want any of the time or work that it takes to turn my virtual money into a trusted, tradable commodity. I just want the money. But, that’s capitalism.
You can help. Think of all the things that you spend money on that have no value and leave you with nothing to show for it. I promise to leave you with that same empty feeling and sense of remorse. All you have to do is send me $1 today. And if you want to feel really manipulated, send me $10. Your poor decision-making possibilities are limited only by your available cash.
Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I fear I’ve painted a too-rosy picture of my virtual currency.