For all the talk those of us at The MetaCurrency Project have gotten into about the meaning of open, the meaning of currency, and various subtleties therein, the core of The MetaCurrency Project is actually very simple. IMHO, it boils down to the following question: What would it take to make the role of 3rd party record keeping irrelevant?
For those of you who need a quick overview, 3rd party record keeping is what a bank does. It is also what a commercial barter organization does and even a timebank. When the records are denominated in terms of dollars, it is an official IRS designation. For those of us comfortable including things likes 5-star ratings in the definition of currency, 3rd party record keeping also refers to Yelp!, Ebay, etc, since they keep the records people make about fellow users.
The ability to record stuff that happened in the real world, and derive useful information from those records (such as account balances, or average user ratings) is obviously very powerful. Just being in the business of 3rd party record keeping can concentrate massive amounts of wealth (just look at the banking industry). What's more, as the failure of many local currencies has shown us, this architecture can be highly fragile, subject to the petty personal politics that so often run rampant in activist circles.
What if we had a way to perform all the same functions, but without the middle man? What if our records could be distributed in such a way that they couldn't be tampered with, and privacy was still protected? We believe this shift would open up vast new possibilities for how we organize ourselves economically, as well as offer a resilience to our economy heretofore unrealized. In essence, that has been what The MetaCurrency Project has been trying to figure out how to do for the last few years. And, this is a more difficult challenge than you may think....
However, I for one would be delighted if someone out there figured it out no matter who it was.