The killer application for electronic networks isn’t video-on-demand. It’s going to hit you where it really matters – in your wallet. It’s not only going to revolutionize the Net, it will change the global economy.
Clouds gather over Amsterdam as I ride into the city center after a day at the headquarters of DigiCash, a company whose mission is to change the world through the introduction of anonymous digital money technology. I have been inundated with talk of smart cards and automated toll takers and tamper-proof observer chips and virtual coinage for anonymous network ftps. I have made photocopies using a digital wallet and would have bought a soda from a DigiCash vending machine, but it was out of order.
My fellow passenger and tour guide is David Chaum, the bearded and ponytailed founder of DigiCash, and the inventor of cryptographic protocols that could catapult our currency system into the 21st century. They may, in the process, shatter the Orwellian predictions of a Big Brother dystopia, replacing them with a world in which the ease of electronic transactions is combined with the elegant anonymity of paying in cash.
He points out the plaza where the Nazis rounded up the Jews for deportation to concentration camps.