[Copied from my post on G+]
I think bitcoins are an amazing invention. And I think the time is right - or very nearly right. There is a build-up of anger toward corporations and banks, and toward a government that is consistently eroding our freedom and our rights. A way of exchanging value that is under no particular person’s control, where transactions don’t go through self-serving and profiteering middle-men, and which cannot be inflated at the will of those in power, is just what we need. With almost ubiquitous internet (even in some poorer nations) and an increasing number of businesses accepting payment in bitcoins, they are fast becoming a viable alternative to cash for many. “There’s an app” for your phone. The core of the system is protected from manipulation by mathematics - which we can (by and large) trust. The main problems, I think, are things like the degree of usability of the tools and lack of education with regard to digital security - which can be fixed.
Looking far into the utopian, star-trek-like future, I like to imagine a world where the government doesn’t need the option of using force to extract taxes, which is a world suited to a population that controls it’s own currency.
Your bitcoin wallet contains the keys necessary to spend coins stored in your different addresses (like accounts). I was reading today about a way to generate a key, and it’s corresponding address, from a passphrase (which should be long, unique, and hard to guess but easy to remember, like a sentence including your name and pet’s birthday or similar). This means that, just by remembering your passphrase, you can store money in your head!. This implies amongst other things that you wouldn’t need to worry about the security of a digital wallet - just create the key when you need it, spend, and then erase it again. In theory you could also store bitcoins against your fingerprint, or retina scan, or voice signature, in a similar way. You could store them against GPS coordinates.
I’m probably getting ahead of things, but it seems to be a bit like the invention of electricity; there are issues, but bitcoins could solve some big problems, and for now we can only guess at the amazing things that might be built on these foundations.
Info on bitcoins here.