Like a lot of crypto nuts, when I was younger, I was very interested in electronic cash. I haven’t really followed in recent years and wasn’t even sure if such systems were still under active development. It turns out that they are in fact.
I saw this post at the P2P Foundation announcing that BitCoin, a distributed electronic cash system, is now in public beta. They’ve set a cap on the total number of coins they will release into circulation and are using the contributed CPU cycles for participants as a gauge to help in the initial distribution of the currency. There is a white paper with more detail for the curious.
The software needed is currently available for Windows and Linux. The Linux version even comes with a pre-built binary but I’m going to have to dig into the documents to figure out how to partake in the offer of coins for cycles. The P2P Foundation article points to several exchanges where BitCoins can be converted to other currencies making it an interesting option sending and receiving consideration online that doesn’t carry the usual hefty transaction costs of the current, popular but non-anonymous micropayment services.