The Future of Money

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David Birch has some interesting observations:

In essence, we are still using industrial era money in the post industrial age. The mobile phone is truly disruptive and is likely to displace cash and replace it by many kinds of money. Innovation will come from entrepreneurs and not from governments. Putting virtual replicas of plastic credit and debit cards into phones isn't sufficient, as it needs to be really easy to pay anyone either face to face or across the other side of the World. Once that is realized we can expect to see the flourishing of community based virtual currencies together with accompanying systems of exchanges between different currencies. Some examples of existing community currencies include Second Life's Linden Dollars, and Facebook Credits.

What does this mean for W3C? There won't be one payment system, instead, there will be many, along with many currencies, most of which will be purely virtual. It may be practical to create standards that abstract away from the differences, making it easy for developers to accept payments in a variety of currencies. Lower level standards will also be important, e.g. access to secure elements such as SIM cards, emulation of smart cards for touch based payments and so forth. Payment solutions will need to support offline payments when you want to pay someone, but don't have network coverage.