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CU System
Expect virtual currency to catch on--forum speaker
PORTLAND, Ore. (5/24/10)--A man walks into a bar and orders a drink. The waitress says, “That will be $4.” The man pulls out his cell phone, and with a couple of clicks, pays his tab with credits from his frequent flyer account. That’s an example of virtual currency--an exchange of real money for credits. Its growing presence will be highlighted by Ron Galloway, who is slated to speak on the future of money at Southwest Corporate’s Economic Forum-West June 22 in Portland, Ore. “Other types of money are going to become more popular than currency,” said Galloway, a nationally recognized public speaker, business and technology writer for The Huffington Post and former investment adviser. “Money is a medium of exchange. And while the exchange will always take place, the medium will continue to evolve. “For example, rice, gold and even cigarettes during World War II once served as payment media, but they were replaced over time. With the financial problems that are occurring in Greece and the surrounding countries, the euro may be the next medium to disappear.” Virtual currency has driven revenue for game developers on social networking sites, such as Facebook. One analyst recently predicted in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that the sales of virtual goods would top $3.5 billion by 2012, said Galloway. “In the past, consumers have placed a great deal of faith in financial institutions, but some of that allegiance is now shifting to other institutions, including Facebook, Twitter and Google,” Galloway said. “The common thread is the combination of a distributor, such as Google or Wal-Mart, with information technology to create a virtual payments platform. “But the money flowing into these accounts has to come from somewhere, and many times it is from a credit union. For credit unions to keep those funds from leaving their institutions, they will have to stay abreast of what’s going on in the payment systems and when necessary, get involved,” he added. Credit unions already have the arsenal to keep member assets on their books--like knowing their members and providing service, he said.


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