Google Announces GoogleBit Digital Currency

By Chris Dickman
Founding Editor, Graphics.com


The love of money grows as the money itself grows

Juvenal, A.D. 60-140

Today's announcement of Google's new GoogleBit digital currency makes sense of some of the company's recent initiatives. For example, the firm's focus on security dovetails with the need for a secure online environment, if digital currency is to finally go mainstream. And if one of the most important aspects of such a currency is its anonymity, the last thing you want is government operatives tracking your every purchase — hence Google's participation in a move to end the bulk data collection practices currently authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act. And then just last week Google announced that its new chief financial officer would be Ruth Porat, formerly the CFO of multinational financial services corporation Morgan Stanley. Nothing like that to instill confidence in an audacious new cryptocurrency.

Apparently this is a project Google has been working on for some time, with bitcoin being simply an earlier proof of concept. Created by a team working within Google's secretive Project X under the codename Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin had surpassed its objectives and in fact had become so popular that it was increasingly seen as a barrier to the eventual adoption of GoogleBit. In addition, Facebook's long-rumored ZuckCoin currency was nearing completion and Apple Pay, designed from scratch to enable AppleCoin, one of Job's last Big Ideas, was receiving widespread acclaim. So the launch was moved up from its planned fall release.

Will the new blockchain-based GoogleBit currency find acceptance? Much will depend on how it's integrated into the Google ecosystem, with early indications pointing to the AdWords online advertising service being the first to shift to the new currency. Given that the firm is generating 60 billion a year from AdWords worldwide, shifting to GoogleBits will instantly make it a currency to be reckoned with. This will be followed by its adoption on the Play store, a good fit for the mobile-friendly digital currency.

Beyond that? Keep your eye on the Google high-altitude balloons that will deliver Internet access to the two-thirds of the world's population that currently doesn't have access. Once that access is available, guess what currency those folks will be using? That's right, since digital currencies are a perfect fit for countries without a developed banking infrastructure. In short, the future looks bright for GoogleBits.

On a curious note, the announcement concluded by stating that Google's original company motto, "Don't be evil," had been changed to a saying of the Marquis de Sade, "Those who define are the masters." We're not quite sure what to make of that.

File under: the shape of things to come.