View Full Version : Money: Electronic or physical

11-28-2015, 10:29 PM
I may very well be using the wrong terms here, but then this is a subject I need help with.

I'm creating a space opera setting and I was wondering how to handle money in it. A lot of sci-fi settings just seem to use electronic credits, but does keeping hard currency offer some benefit for a society? Maybe it's more stable or something?
I kind of want to have a solid currency, as it leaves me more free to have traditional robberies and treasures and such.

Siri Kirpal
11-28-2015, 10:55 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The main advantage to hard cash is that you can buy or give in situations where there are no credit machines. I'd say go for the cash if it suits your book.


Siri Kirpal

King Neptune
11-28-2015, 11:36 PM
Actual cash is very advantages, especially if one is moving around. Credit is wonderful in a stable society, but there has to be a secure communication system and clearing system. Transferring credit from one star system to another can be a pain, but gold is gold wherever it is.

Dennis E. Taylor
11-28-2015, 11:44 PM
Electronic cash requires a global system of some kind, and it has to be non-hackable. Fiat currency requires everyone to agree on the value, and it has to be (relatively) non-counterfeitable. I'd go with some rare-element-backed currency, or even coins actually made out of said rare-element.
How about scrip issued by some central authority, guaranteed by said authority, with some form of online verification? To prevent counterfeiting of the scrip, use the word "quantum" in the description.

11-29-2015, 02:27 AM
I kind of want to have a solid currency, as it leaves me more free to have traditional robberies and treasures and such.

Then write it that way. Seriously. Stop questioning it.

There is always an argument for something carried on the person that can be exchanged, whether it's cash, coin, precious metals or even food. There will likely always be a segment of society that will insist on something personally held, as well as a segment actively trying to relieve them of it.


11-29-2015, 03:25 AM
Either is plausible so do it how you want, it's your story.

Don't forget that the main beneficiary of any sort of physical currency is the black market - any electronic transaction is logged, stored, traceable and taxable. Handing someone a case of cash/gold/unobtanium isn't.

Which of course lends the electronic transaction an artificial sense of legitimacy. Even these days it's becoming increasingly unusual, difficult or downright impossible to do any sort of high-value legitimate transaction with cash. Try buying a house with a suitcase full of fifties...

12-01-2015, 03:53 PM
'Electronic' is only an accepted and convenient means of transferring whatever the currency is from one point to another. It doesn't have to and probably can never replace a 'currency'.

Dennis E. Taylor
12-01-2015, 09:20 PM

12-03-2015, 08:42 AM
Angry Guy has a point, bitcoins have to be stored somewhere and specialized devices could be valuable for privacy (storing a cryptocurrency on your phone might defeat the purpose) or security (maybe if it's got an antenna, it can be hacked).

For actual currency you could use something like utility tokens. Interstellar telecommunications minutes, supercomputer processing time, whatever. They could be informal like IOUs or they could be a product that a provider sells to avoid complex accounting schemes.

Dave Williams
12-04-2015, 08:25 AM
There'll always be some form of cash. Otherwise, how will you be able to pay off mobsters and bribe politicians?

Jack Judah
12-04-2015, 09:47 AM
You could have the best of both worlds. Why not have both a digital currency (used by the majority of people in your civilized world(s)), and a commodity or commodities based system preferred by those on the frontier/outside the law? Historically speaking, that's how things have always worked. Credit's convenient, cash carries, but gold is king.

Dennis E. Taylor
12-04-2015, 08:30 PM
Gold will always be a form of currency, because A) it's rare, and B) it's purdy.