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Bitcoin Versus Electronic Money

Bitcoin has had a volatile journey since it was launched in 2009, attracting attention among conventional investors as well as the black market. Regulators and policy makers are also following Bitcoin, raising the occasional eyebrow as they evaluate Bitcoin’s risks and benefits and how to regulate this little understood virtual currency. Some media reports have confused Bitcoin with more popular electronic money (e-money) schemes used in many low-income countries to reach the unbanked. But the two are markedly different and should not be conflated. This brief from CGAP provides information about Bitcoin and contrasts Bitcoin with e-money to avoid alarm about the former to the detriment of the latter.

CGAP
CGAP is a global partnership of more than 30 leading development organizations that works to advance the lives of poor people through financial inclusion. Using action-oriented research, we test, learn and share knowledge intended to help build inclusive and responsible financial systems that move people out of poverty, protect their economic gains and advance broader development goals. We research and experiment to achieve proof of concept and extract lessons that can be built to scale by our partners, who apply our insights in the marketplace.

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