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Dark Net examines digital money that links people as diverse as bitcoin miners and fetish cam workers

Student debt has seen many young women turn online for additional income
Student debt has seen many young women turn online for additional income

This week Dark Net plunges into the fascinating and sometimes murky world of digital money as virtual currencies like bitcoin start to have real economic significance.

Bitcoin might have started with a 10,000 bitcoin pizza delivery but it now best known for its rags to riches reputation with tales of early adopter geeks making millions from the coins they mined relatively easily in the early days of the project.

The currency and others like it have been hailed as a revolution in how goods and services are paid for with the intermediaries like bank cut out of the transaction.

Bitcoin mining has become increasingly resource hungry as the coins become more complicated to generate, by design
Bitcoin mining has become increasingly resource hungry as the coins become more complicated to generate, by design

However, like most money there is also a much darker side to how it is used. The avoidance of the regular banking system means it is popular with criminals and online marketplaces selling everything from illegal drugs to weapons often use bitcoin as their means of transacting.

Conversely there are signs that some governments are now taking it seriously with Japan making it a legal payment method just this month.

Dark Net airs Thursdays at 10:00 PM on Showtime.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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