Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Marc Andreessen writes in an op-ed in the NYT that Bitcoin is an Internet-wide distributed ledger that gives us, for the first time, a way for one Internet user to transfer a unique piece of digital property to another Internet user, such that the transfer is guaranteed to be safe and secure, everyone knows that the transfer has taken place, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. "The consequences of this breakthrough are hard to overstate," writes Andreessen. "Anyone in the world can pay anyone else in the world any amount of value of Bitcoin by simply transferring ownership of the corresponding slot in the ledger." Andreessen says that Bitcoin can be a powerful force to bring a much larger number of people around the world into the modern economic system. "Only about 20 countries around the world have what we would consider to be fully modern banking and payment systems; the other roughly 175 have a long way to go. As a result, many people in many countries are excluded from products and services that we in the West take for granted." Another use for Bitcoin is micropayments. "Bitcoins have the nifty property of infinite divisibility: currently down to eight decimal places after the dot, but more in the future. So you can specify an arbitrarily small amount of money, like a thousandth of a penny, and send it to anyone in the world for free or near-free," writes Andreessen. "Another potential use of Bitcoin micropayments is to fight spam. Future email systems and social networks could refuse to accept incoming messages unless they were accompanied with tiny amounts of Bitcoin – tiny enough to not matter to the sender, but large enough to deter spammers, who today can send uncounted billions of spam messages for free with impunity." Finally says Andreessen there's been a lot of sensationalistic press coverage that Bitcoin is a haven for bad behavior, for criminals and terrorists to transfer money anonymously with impunity. "Much like email, which is quite traceable, Bitcoin is pseudonymous, not anonymous," says Andreessen. "Every transaction in the Bitcoin network is tracked and logged forever in the Bitcoin blockchain, or permanent record, available for all to see. As a result, Bitcoin is considerably easier for law enforcement to trace than cash, gold or diamonds." Bitcoin offers a sweeping vista of opportunity to reimagine how the financial system can and should work in the Internet era concludes Andreessen, and "a catalyst to reshape that system in ways that are more powerful for individuals and businesses alike.""