Currency Issues

First, traveler’s checks: they are out of date. While it is theoretically possible that somewhere in the world they are more readily accepted than a simple ATM card, that is not the case here. Mongolia is certainly not the most remote place in the world, but its up there, and here it is very clear that no one wants traveler’s checks anymore. Any bank that does, is sophisticated enough to also have an ATM. People will say that they are a good back up in case you lose your card, or something else goes wrong. Frankly, they are so hard to use (I actually haven’t found a bank yet that will accept them) that I’m not sure this is really a valuable back up. You’d be better served by hiding cash somewhere.

Second, there is a new currency about: bitcoins. They are an electronic currently made entirely of data. While theoretically anyone can produce them, the programming requires specialized computer equipment and limits the number that can be produced. Their structure also stops you from trying to use them more than once (because they’re data and can be copied). They are not backed by anything and have no central authority. This means that you can use them to buy things online without using a credit card or paypal. This is a video explaining it. The concept was based on a paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto and are open source, released under the MIT license. If anyone is particularly economically savvy I would appreciate input.

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