So it’s all over the news that there’s a new cryptocurrency being introduced. Something called “Libra”. Apparently we’re not confused enough already by Bitcoins, so they decided to up the ante by giving us a new puzzle to decipher. It seems to be a perfect opportunity to return to the special feature known as the Squeaky Wheel.
I freely admit that I’m a proud curmudgeon, but I don’t think of myself as a Luddite. I might not always be an early adopter, but I started computing over fifty years ago and have mostly kept up with the digital universe ever since. But I stayed away from Bitcoins when they started becoming the latest fad. For one thing, the whole concept seemed to be filled with pitfalls – which proved to be true when values shot up and down like a demented sparrow – but also because they quickly became known as the currency of choice for all kinds of shifty characters on the “dark web”. Oh, and one more problem — I don’t really understand Bitcoins.
Apparently Libra are (is?) different in a lot of ways, but the big one is that it’s coming to us via the fine folks at Facebook. You remember them, right? Two and a half-billion members and one security scandal after another? It’s a little scary to think about giving them access to our finances, and they recognize that so have cobbled together a bunch of big outfits as partners. Among them are Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Uber (?) with the common denominator being companies that want to encourage quick and easy ways to get your loot.
And that’s the fundemental difference between Libra and Bitcoins, or so they say. Bitcoins are a speculative investment opportunity and Libra is just a payment service. Just what we need, another way to separate us from our dough.