Travel abroad is not just an experience in terms of food and the visual experience, often when I come back from a trip abroad I have a handful of coins jangling in my pocket and some oversized or strange bank notes in my wallet. Although credit card use in Europe in particular, is becoming easier it is still not as widespread as it is in the United States.
At the airport there are charity receptacles that you could dump the currency into, but often times I hang onto the currency because I know I will be back and having a bit of cash in your pockets can always be useful even if only to buy a bottle of water or a cup of coffee at a café.
Over the years I have gathered up some interesting currency and have a cigar box loaded up with pre Euro coins and coins from other parts of the world too. But these coins and stray bank notes are not the only money I have. A legacy of living in several countries has resulted in me having some small funds in a scattering of savings accounts across the globe.
I have currency in my XBOX live account, I have gift cards that have probably all expired now, I have Skype phone credits and Facebook currency to send virtual gifts and I have Rewards currency. I have airmiles and if I was a gamer then I would have Second Life Linden dollars, World of Warcraft gold or a ZyngaFarmville credits. Oh and I almost forgot, Paypal! If I lived in Kenya in a remote rural community I could probably even have currency in my mobile phone like M-PESA!
Having all this currency is interesting and frustrating all at the same time. Converting conventional money into credits and coupons is easy enough. Most of these systems are dealt with by credit card companies as merchants and once you have made the charge your credits appear in the domain that you are using but converting them back into conventional money is a little more challenging. So, it has been with some interest that I have been eyeing the developments in the realm of BitCoin and now the eWallet. I am neither a believer nor a speculator in either of these but I see the merits in such a system as that suggested by BitCoin. Cryptographic currency as they call it certainly seems contemporary and catchy but the whole pegging to markets seems very stocks and bonds-ish. Even in its virtual world, it seems that BitCoin could be subject to the weaknesses of many of the things it is trying to counteract when compared with regular currency
I guess most importantly,this BitCoin currency is positioned as something very portable, very unbound by geographic or physical limitations and importantly, very difficult to steal because there is a full transaction log available.
Undoubtedly things will continue to evolve in the world of BitCoins and one wonders how it would be dealt with in the world of SAP and whether it has implications for the world of banking and banking solutions. PayPal is already an SAP customer but they are still working in the world of conventional money, using Paypal is largely a monetary broker functioning like a bank or a credit card company for that matter but many of us don’t think of them as a bank but rather as a merchant. XBOX, a Microsoft division is also an SAP customer but I wonder how they keep track of, and record the value of my points. As for the others, I can only imagine.