Virtual money
Fiber optic cable blue chaitawat/cam.ac.uk

A researcher at the University of Cambridge has proposed a new form of virtual money which allows users to make decisions based on information arriving at different locations and times.

The researcher also believes that this virtual money, named 'S-money', is ultra secure, even from attacks emanating from quantum computers.

S-money is expected to ensure completely unforgeable and secure authentication than any other existing financial technology. This theoretical framework could conduct commerce across the solar system and beyond, but experts believe that commerce on a galactic scale is still a fanciful notion.

"It's a slightly different way of thinking about money: instead of something that we hold in our hands or in our bank accounts, money could be thought of as something that you need to get to a certain point in space and time, in response to data that's coming from lots of other points in space and time," said Professor Adrian Kent from the Cambridge's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, who is the lead author of the study.

The researcher at University of Cambridge will test the practicality of this new virtual money on a smaller, earth-bound scale later this year.

It should be noted that the new virtual money protocols make use of protocols as bit commitment, a mathematical version of a securely sealed envelope to maintain the privacy of the user. In layman's language, data from party A to party B will be sent in a locked state, and information will only be revealed if party A provides the key.

"Quantum money, insofar as it's currently understood, would require long-term storage of quantum states, or quantum memory. This would require an awful lot of resources, and even if it becomes technologically feasible, it may be incredibly expensive," said Kent, who is now trying to understand practicalities, advantages and disadvantages of S-money.

This study is now available in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.