This has been asked and answered on the main Stack Exchange meta. The delay is justified with two reasons:
- If a bounty is awarded quickly, it discourages other potentially better answers.
- Some seemingly unnecessary restrictions on the bounty system are there to prevent abuse.
The first point is the most important, I think. Bounties are a mechanic for incentivising high-quality site content, and it makes a lot of sense for the 24-hour period to be read as a kind of dare to other users: "I think this answer is worth 200 rep. Can you do better?"
The question isn't "What does the delay prevent from happening?" but rather "What would an instant transaction inhibit which a delay allows?"
Bounties are incentives for encouraging high-quality answers, not a tool for moving reputation around. Giving a 24-hour period for other answerers to step up their game results in a net gain for the site which immediate reputation-exchange transactions does not.
It's not about frustrating your desire to reward a good answer--you still can, obviously. The delay is designed to goose the entire site's forward momentum, at the cost of asking a little patience on the part of people who have already shown a willingness to go out of their way to personally reward awesomeness. This inserts a bit of healthy competition into a mechanism which might otherwise quell ambition: at the very least, it gives 24 hours for everyone else to see "Hey, if I write a good enough answer, someone might give me a massive lump sum for it!" Makes the transaction public, y'see?