Imagine a world in which you can buy anything in secret. No banks. No fees. No worries inflation will make today's money worth less tomorrow.
The digital currency Bitcoin promises all these things. And while it's far from achieving any of them—its value is unstable and it's rarely used—some have high hopes.
"There will be alternatives to the dollar, and this might be one of them," said former U.S. congressman Ron Paul. If people start using bitcoins en masse, "it'll go down in history as the destroyer of the dollar," Paul added.
It's unlikely that Bitcoin would replace the dollar or other government-controlled currencies. But it could serve as a kind of universal alternative currency that is accepted everywhere around the globe. Concerned about the dollar's inflation? Just move your cash to bitcoins and use them to pay your bills instead. Tired of hefty credit card fees? Bitcoin allows transactions that bypass banks.