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W&L Law's Josh Fairfield on Virtual Currency and the Digital Wallet Revolution

Washington and Lee law professor Joshua Fairfield, along with Indiana University media professor Edward Castronova, address the implications of Apple Pay and digital wallet payment systems in a commentary in today’s (Sept. 11) New York Times.

Fairfield and Castronova argue that the distinction between different kinds of currency is eroding and that soon digital payment systems will allow consumers to exchange everything from airlines miles to loyalty points offered by retailers.

“The idea is that you can buy anything, with anything. The wallet will find the best deal and execute it. In so doing, it will ignore the historical and cultural differences between dollars, points, coins and virtual property. It’s all bits anyway.”

This revolution, they write, will create enormous purchasing power for consumers, but also create regulatory challenges for governments around the world.

“Consider the tax implications. If you get caught cheating on your taxes and flee the country, the government could compel your bank to freeze your assets and cough up the money. But what if there’s no bank?”

The entire commentary is available online. In the video below, Fairfield expands on the commentary by examining the good and the bad of this revolution and how government regulators should react.