The Null Device


An interesting WIRED article about E-Gold, an anonymous, gold-based online payment system which can be used to buy everything from EFF memberships to ammunition to cheap books and flag-burning kits (not to mention shares in pyramid schemes and online gambling). It has a related denomination called the E-Dinar, based on an Islamic gold standard defined in the Koran, and for all the anarcho-libertarian kudos it gets, it owes its existence to a radical Islamic sufi sect sworn to the cause of eliminating the evil of paper currency and destroying capitalism:
E-dinar's British COO, Yahya Cattanach, and his family share a communal condo with CastiƱeira in the comfortable Jumeirah district of Dubai. The company's Spanish president, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, is also the president of the Islamic Mint. And finally, uniting all three men - as well as e-dinar's Swiss CEO, Malaysian CFO, and German CTO - is one crucial biographical datum: All are high-placed members of the Murabitun movement, a modern, Western offshoot of Sufi Islam and possibly the only religious sect in history whose defining article of faith is a financial theory.

A global gold-backed Islamic currency may not be so far-fetched. Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad (best known for berating Australia for its racist commitment to pluralism and intolerance of "Asian values" and such, and denouncing currency trading as a Jewish plot to destroy the economies of Muslim nations) has proposed a global "Islamic trading block" based around the gold-backed "Islamic dinar", which would instantly make E-Gold the currency of a big chunk of the world.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League, the pressure group best known for releasing a list of "hate symbols" including the "peace" and "anarchy" symbols and the Wiccan five-pointed star, has warned that E-Gold is a terrorist tool; then again, aren't open 802.11 access points and MP3 sharing networks also a terrorist tool? Is anything not a terrorist tool these days? (via

There are 3 comments on "E-Gold":

Posted by: Hobbes http:// Sat Jan 25 20:46:51 2003

Funny, I would think that a world wide electronic currency would be the final victory of capitalism. I do think however, that a gold standard is ultimately a fruitless endeavour. If something like this is ever to become an international currency, it will need to wean itself off of gold. In the mean time, they do need some extremely liquid asset, which I suppose gold will work for. However, these days, at least the US dollar and the Euro are probably both more financially stable than gold.

Besides, to to be a filthy US centric American, but the US dollar is effectively already an international currency. The best proof of that is that despite GWs economic "smarts" and the stagnation in the stock market, the USD is still holding up pretty well. It is not really "free-floating" as the wired article claimed, but based on things far more valuable than gold, which are the assets of people holding the dollars.

Posted by: richard Sat Jan 25 21:40:06 2003

I don't know about that USD statement - sure, it's a strong currency, but it's not an international currency. Can't just use it to buy something anywhere in Australia (and we even have our "special friend" relationship with the US)...

Besides, even the Aussi Peso is doing pretty darned well against the greenback at the moment, almost every day gaining ground against it. And we're a drought-ravaged primary producer...

Posted by: Ben Sun Jan 26 03:02:55 2003

The US dollar is the global Reserve currency, on which other currencies ultimately fall back on (or attempt to).

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