It occurred to me that a more useful cryptocurrency would be one which didn't require a network to validate transactions. It would consist of some kind of (self-mined?) token that can be proven to be unique and to be "owned" only by the holder and likely be associated with a wallet. Spending it would simply change the token so that it's associated with a different wallet. Something like this might be even more fungible than a fiat note having a serial number.

Has a white paper been released describing a token which precludes doublespending without needing a network, at least after it is initially created?


Sounds nice, but may pose some challenges.

HashCash, bit gold, and b-money all tried to use self-mined proof of work as cash directly. Those projects were unable to solve the doublespending problem as they did not feature a global consensus system. DigiCash on the other hand was able to solve doublespending but required a central operator to clear payments and issue new tokens—shutting down the operator meant that the currency stopped existing.
Bitcoin's great breakthrough was that it provided a practical solution to the doublespending problem without a single point of failure. It combines the strengths of the above two approaches into a system where network participants both issue coins and decentrally author the global state. The latter removed the need for a central operator, while still providing the referee function which enabled every participant to locally resolve the doublespending problem.

What you describe as

"some kind of (self-mined?) token that can be proven to be unique and to be "owned" only by the holder"

is essentially a description of the doublespending problem: how do you guarantee that a digital good cannot be transferred multiple times?

So, your proposal boils down to a suggestion that we would "only need to find another, even better way of solving the doublespending problem" and then we'd be able to create an even better cryptocurrency. Sounds about right, but might be a bit optimistic since this solution already took a few decades to emerge, and the requirements you describe sound a lot more challenging.

  • Thanks. The issues are becoming clearer to me. That's nicely put about not having a single point of failure. DigiCash might be useful in certain circumstances, I guess, such as if the Federal Reserve had our best interests at heart. But then we wouldn't need DigiCash. – Tom Russell May 10 at 22:06
  • great answer. just add 2 cents to the asker. if you read the bitcoin white paper the first line is basically, "how do we solve the double spend problem" – Alexis May 10 at 22:10
  • @Murch It's nice to know the names of previous, failed attempts. You also taught me the useful term, "self-mined". – Tom Russell May 10 at 22:15
  • @TomRussell: Especially if they had our best interest at heart we/they would need DigiCash. If we must have a digital book money issued by the state, it would be neat if it had some built-in financial privacy. – Murch May 11 at 0:23
  • I suppose that's a more accurate way to put it. I expect that any state-issued digital currency will have perfect privacy in that only the state can monitor transaction details. – Tom Russell May 11 at 2:14

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