Digital currencies may come and go. But the banks and regulators sweating the rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin should keep a close eye on the technology behind the coins, says a report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
Bitcoin, released to the world in 2009 by a person or people called Satoshi Nakamoto, is not backed by a central bank or a government and is seen as an alternative payment system. In February 2013, Bitcoin went into the mainstream as a monetary crisis threatened to bankrupt Cyprus, seen as a safer bet. Early adopters of Bitcoin have been richly rewarded as the price has soared – in one case, a young Norwegian bought a house from an $850,000 windfall on a US$22 investment.