Home Markets Letter: Cryptocurrencies are still solutions looking for a problem

Letter: Cryptocurrencies are still solutions looking for a problem

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As an historian of financial markets, I am constantly amazed by the claims that one should not judge cryptocurrencies based on their lack of success thus far because “it is like the early days of the internet”. Such comments are common in response to articles such as your recent piece on Binance (Big Read, July 3), but I suspect that many of these statements are by people with little knowledge of the early internet or cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be directly traced back to cryptographer David Chaum’s 1982 paper “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments” and his firm, DigiCash, founded in 1989.

In 1982, we had the first online full-service brokerage. That year, Connecticut-based North American Investment Co. established NAICO-NET, letting retail investors buy stocks from the comfort of their own home without any input from their broker. Online brokerages grew quickly after this; by the late 1980s,…

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