History of Digital Currencies
OS-Gold, Standard Reserve and INTGold
e-gold and 1mdc
Beenz.com - Beenz.com was a web site that allowed consumers to earn beenz, a type of online currency, for performing activities such as visiting a web site, shopping online, or logging on through an Internet service provider. The beenz e-currency could then be spent with participating online merchants.
The marketing and brand concept positioned Beenz as ‘the web's currency,’ global money that would challenge the world’s major currencies. The Beenz management team raised almost $100 million from venture capitalists including Apax/Patrickof, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Francois Pinault of PPR, Vivendi Universal, Italian financier Carlo de Benedetti and Hikari Tsushin of Japan.
Since launching a new currency is illegal in many countries, beenz management and its legal teams had to meet with finance ministers across Europe to assure them that Beenz would be categorized as virtual points. Within days of its launch in the UK, Beenz' offices in London were visited by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on suspicion of operating an unlicensed bank (apparently the FSA misunderstood that the 'Bank of Beenz' on the website was, in fact, just a marketing name for the user account area. The company agreed to change this to 'My Beenz' and the FSA was satisfied). Beenz received several awards for its marketing campaign.
Beenz operated in the United States, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Australia and China. At its peak, there were offices in 12 countries, and translations of the beenz website into several languages.
After the dot-com bubble burst, the company replaced its CEO, Philip Letts, with a team including the founder, Charles Cohen, and other Board directors Stephen Limpe, Don McGuire and Sean Lane. The company could not go public, further funding did not materialise, and the company was sold to US-based Carlson Marketing Group in 2001 for an undisclosed sum.
Carlson planned to integrate the beenz system into the customer relationship management tools they offered to clients. After the sale of the company to Carlson, beenz account holders were given a period of time to redeem their beenz before it became integrated. After 9/11, Carlson's business (which was heavily reliant upon bank and airline points programmes) struggled and the beenz concept was shelved. Carlson did not renew the domain name.
Ecash - Using cryptography, ecash was introduced by David Chaum as an anonymous electronic cash system. He used blind signatures to achieve unlinkability between withdrawal and spend transactions. Depending on the properties of the payment transactions, one distinguishes between on-line and off-line electronic cash. The first off-line e-cash system was proposed by Chaum and Naor. Like the first on-line method, it is based on RSA blind signatures.
In the United States, only one bank implemented ecash, the Mark Twain bank, and the system was dissolved in 1997 after the bank was purchased by Mercantile Bank, a large issuer of credit cards. Similar to credit cards, the system was free to purchasers, while merchants paid a transaction fee.
In Australia ecash was implemented by St.George Bank, but the transactions were not free to purchasers. In June 1998, ecash became available through Credit Suisse in Switzerland. It was also available from Deutsche Bank in Germany, Bank Austria, Finland's Merita Bank/Eunet, Sweden's Posten, and Den norske Bank of Norway.
"ecash" was a trademark of DigiCash, which went bankrupt in 1998, and was sold to eCash Technologies, which was acquired by InfoSpace in 2002.
eremiah Newhall is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School and currently serves as a law clerk in Chicago. He can be reached via the miracle of email. Joshua Sturtevant is also a GW Law grad, and currently serves as an in-house legal fellow at a renewable energy financing and development firm.