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"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Electronic Cash  
  A digital currency, like Bitcoin.  

Of course, once these techniques were in place, they conclusively destroyed the ability of governments to control the flow of electronic funds, anywhere, anytime, for any purpose. As it happened, this process had pretty much destroyed any human control at all over the modern electronic economy. By the time people figured out that raging nonlinear anarchy was not exactly to the advantage of anyone concerned, the process was simply too far gone to stop. All workable standards of wealth had vaporized, digitized, and vanished into a nonstop hurricane of electronic thin air. Even physically tearing up the fiber optics couldn't stop it; governments that tried to just found that the whole encryption mess oozed swiftly into voice mail and even fax machines.
...

Alex did not find it surprising that people like the Chinese Triads and the Corsican Black Hand were electronically minting their own cash. He simply accepted it: electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous, global in reach, lightninglike in speed, ubiquitous, fungible, and usually highly volatile. Of course, such funds didn't boldly say "Sicilian Mafia" right on the transaction screen; they usually had some stuffy official-sounding alias such as "Banco Ambrosiano ATM Euro-DigiLira," but the private currency speculators would usually have a pretty good guess as to the solvency of the issuers.

From Heavy Weather, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by Bantam in 1994
Additional resources -

Neal Stephenson wrote about something similar in his 1995 novel The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. He describes a "media net":

...designed from the ground up to provide privacy and security so that people could use it to transfer money.

[As a result] ...financial transactions could no longer be monitored by governments,

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Heavy Weather
  More Ideas and Technology by Bruce Sterling
  Tech news articles related to Heavy Weather
  Tech news articles related to works by Bruce Sterling

Electronic Cash-related news articles:
  - Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000

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