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Standard Vs. Digital Currency: Both Sides of the Coin

In the battle of the digital dollar versus the printed, minted physical version, which is a more viable option in an increasingly networked age?

Through the course of money’s history, it has often developed and adapted around the existing society who needed to use it.

For one example of electronic money, take the Bitcoin, which is in the e-currency spotlight and soring, falling and rising again in value. Surfacing in 2009, bitcoins are online cash in which holders, referred to as miners, can accumulate and spread around coins. Collected bitcoins are ready to be gifted, traded or used for payments by accepting vendors, which are periodically appearing in several countries.

Bitcoins can be spent or transferred to others online via your wallet. However, there are many obvious downsides of internet based money, although on the other side, cynicism over financial banking institutions was probably the spawn of digital currency. A major caution is privacy issues. Since bitcoins are stored in a virtual wallet, skeptics are rightfully wary. Just like a real life wallet can be stolen, so can an online version, so you clearly don’t want to risk keeping your life savings in one wallet.

It probably depends which side you tend to lean towards in forming an opinion of the bitcoin, but from an environmental perspective, is digital cash currently a better choice? Is it a better alternative to plastic, paper or coins? Some say, possibly hesitantly, yes, but is that a correct choice?

Manufacturing money presents a huge energy expenditure, not mention the actual process of gathering materials through mining metals for making coins, the minting process, and plastic-ing credit cards are all practices carrying environmental risks. Additionally, the collection of paper resources for printing money, along with the bleaching and inking procedures required for paper currency, all do have their collective ecological impacts.

Again, there is another side presented. It takes a vast amount of processing to power up a bitcoin mining operation, especially when multiplied across the board. Often quick firing processors are employed to calculate the mining systems, which use up a lot of electrical energy.

While time, earned trustworthiness, legitimacy and pending regulations may be the ultimate deciding factors in the continuance of electronic cash, it remains to be seen if digital currency is a financial fad or is here to stay. Either way, seemingly both sides could green up their production.

Source: Serwer, A. & Liebelson, D. (2013, April 10). Bitcoin, Explained: Everything you need to know about the new electronic currency. Retrieved from Mother Jones

Image Source: 123RF Stock Photos

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