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Virtual currencies- Real opportunities?
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Entrepreneurship and innovation.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (university diploma), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The European Central Bank defines virtual currencies as

”unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually

controlled by its developers, and

used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.”

(European Central Bank, 2012, p. 5) The interest in virtual currencies has increased immensely over the last few

years as they become increasingly prevalent in our society across many different industries. Up until now, the field of

virtual currencies has been mainly uncharted land and despite interest in specific currencies, few attempts have

been made at understanding or structuring the entire landscape

The main research question in this thesis is related to the previously mentioned dilemma: understanding and

structuring the virtual currency ecosystem, today and in the future. How can the virtual currency landscape currently

be analyzed in a structured manner and what framework can be used to reflect and make predictions on the future


The thesis is based on four different sources of information: a literature study of existing material, corporate

interviews with companies dealing with virtual currencies and consumer interviews with potential early adopters, an

online survey and a case study performed at Ericsson M-Commerce. The case study of Ericsson M-Commerce has

provided valuable insight into understanding how companies reason when considering adopting virtual currencies

into their product portfolio and greatly helped the process of structuring the virtual currency market in a

comprehensive manner. In return, the thesis has also provided decision material for the department concerning

virtual currencies.

This thesis divides virtual currencies into five groups: Prepaid Value, Loyalty Points, Monetization Currencies, Gaming

Currencies and Value Encoded Currencies. This model has been developed as a framework for the analysis of the

current situation in this thesis. However, the analysis in the thesis has shown that as virtual currencies evolve, it will

probably become more relevant to instead consider their functions. It is likely that virtual currencies will consolidate

into three distinct functional types: virtual currency as a unit of account, virtual currency as a business model for

monetization, and virtual currencies as a product that can be sold.

As virtual currencies evolve, the future is not only filled with many challenges, but also many new opportunities. In

this thesis, an attempt to gain an abstract understanding of how the field is developing has been made, but it

remains to be seen what the real impacts of virtual currencies will be as they continue to gain traction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 106 p.
Keyword [en]
Virtual currencies, electronic money, market analysis, case study, Ericsson
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140649OAI: diva2:692235
Available from: 2014-02-07 Created: 2014-01-30 Last updated: 2014-02-07Bibliographically approved

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