Bits and stuff: media, labels and awe – August 6, 2017

I’m so looking forward to getting back to my old routine of researching and writing… Soon, very soon. Meanwhile, I still have a lot of figurative desk-clearing to do. But making progress.

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My CoinDesk article this week, on how last week’s statement from the US Securities and Exchange Commission says more about the future of securities than the future of digital tokens (and yes, there is some convergence).

More Welcome Than Warning? The DAO Ruling Could Transform Securities

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The explosion of coverage of cryptocurrencies in the mainstream media is startling. Even the Daily Mail of the UK, one of the leading “tabloid” newspapers, has frequent columns about bitcoin (I confess that I’ve seen them but not read them, so I don’t know how accurate they are).

I used to summarize the mainstream coverage for the CoinDesk Weekly newsletter, and I remember that there were weeks in which it was a struggle to find a handful to report on.

These days there are so many that I get to pick and choose which to mention!

Fad or trend? I suspect the latter…

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I’ll be changing the name of this column (which, in spite of the name, is not Daily), since my friend and ex-colleague Ryan Selkis has relaunched his weekly newsletter called The Daily Bit. Given his tenure, he deserves the name much more than I do. For original thoughts entertainingly expressed, give his newsletter a look.

So far I like Bits and Stuff – what do you think?

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This stunning photo was picked from the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Award, featured in My Modern Met. Take a look at all of them, if you want to feel total awe at the beauty of this world we know so little about.

via My Modern Met
via My Modern Met

Daily Bits – alternative forms of money, governance and glass – June 17th, 2017

My article on CoinDesk this week: Bitcoin, Ethereum and a New Direction for Cryptocurrency Investment.

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From The Denationalisation of Money: The Argument Refined, by F. A. Hayek:

“Although we usually assume there is a sharp line of distinction between what is money and what is not – and the law usually tries to make such a distinction – so far as the causal effects of monetary events are concerned, there is no such clear difference. What we find is rather a continuum in which objects of various degrees of liquidity, or with values that can fluctuate independently of each other, shade into each other in the degree to which they function as money.”

Airline miles? Loyalty points? Gift vouchers?

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The above made me think a bit more about the story on CoinDesk that I mentioned a couple of days ago, about Kazakhstan’s trial of a blockchain-based mobile app that aims to sell government debt directly to investors.

Could government debt be used as a form of payment?

It’s the only idea that I have come up with so far that would justify using a blockchain for this.

Would this then run as a parallel currency? Or would the government debt currency and the traditional fiat currency morph into one? In the end, is there really much of a difference?

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I find myself agreeing more and more with Izabella Kaminska’s comments in the FT. I’m not sure if it’s me changing, or her. Probably me. How frightening.

Her piece this week on governance issues was excellent. She highlighted what I’ve been ranting about for a while now – that the vast majority of us don’t actually want decentralization. We want to be able to hold someone accountable.

“As blockchains become DLTs, shared databases and permissioned consensus networks, what the techies working on these systems fail to publicly highlight is that much of the time, “advance” means returning to tried and tested paradigms, or reintroducing trusted or governance-focused nodes.”

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Two of my favourite things – books and rocks – with slabs of embedded glass, by artist Ramon Todo. I can’t stop staring, and I so want to be able to pick them up. (Via Colossal.)

by Ramon Todo, via Colossal
by Ramon Todo, via Colossal
by Ramon Todo, via Colossal
by Ramon Todo, via Colossal

Daily Bits April 7th, 2017

This is from a couple of days ago, but still really interesting:

The FT reported on Wednesday that Kenya has just completed its first ever bond issue… via mobile phones.

It sold out two days ahead of schedule.

The M-Akiba project (Akiba is Swahili for “savings”) aimed to 1) increase public participation in government financing, 2) stimulate the savings rate and 3) raise funds for infrastructure investment.

It was open to all Kenyans with an M-Pesa mobile money account (approximately 25 million).

Another twist? It was only advertised on social media.

Considering how opaque and inaccessible most government bond issuances are, could this be the beginning of a new trend in public financing?

If so, it’s fitting that it would originate in Kenya, which is the world leader in mobile payments. It’s also a country that is investing a lot to upgrade its infrastructure.

Now, if only we could be sure that all of the funds will get used for the stated purpose… (although I hear that things might be improving on the corruption front).

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This is mind-blowingly weird and utterly enchanting: flexible silicone vases that wobble like jellyfish when in water. Why you would want them to do that is totally beside the point. (Via Dezeen.)

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CoinDesk reported that 10 Chinese insurance firms have completed a blockchain trial. A big step forward for the application of the technology to the insurance sector, but (as is often the case with news from China) slim on the details. Worth watching, though – the Chinese insurance market is huuuuuge.




It’s been a while…

I’ve missed writing here, so I’m going to try to get back into the habit, time permitting. The posts will be more frequent but less structured, and will mainly consist of musings and reflections on what’s going on in cryptocurrencies, blockchain and economics.

Most of my time these days is spent helping CoinDesk with their product. I create the email newsletters – if you don’t subscribe, you really should. Great people, solid ethics and exciting ambitions…

I also occasionally teach classes in blockchain and new media business models here in Madrid. It’s an honour to play a part in helping people to understand, however superficially, the profound changes coming in finance and communication. These changes need to get talked about, because it will take collective effort to channel the changes into shaping the society that we want for the next generation.

Glad to be back. See ya tomorrow. 🙂