While aware of bitcoin for some time being professionally involved in payments, my interest in bitcoin was triggered when I had the opportunity to discuss bitcoin backgrounds and developments with Amir Taaki en Donald Norman from Bitcoin Consultancy right after their rather informal but very inspiring keynote at the 2012 Congress on Online Payments in Amsterdam. I was truly inspired by them and the story behind Bitcoin they spoke so passionate about. At the time I was starting to prepare for a presentation at the congress on the Future of Payments (Amsterdam, June 2012) myself and this was the type of coincidental but energising encounters that created the right focus at the right time for my keynote “Payments 3.0”.
In April 2013 bitcoin has been the subject of media hype. The media interest and the bitcoin exchange rate seemed closely correlated and going through the roof simultaneously. A slew of articles and blog posts started popping up on the Internet, but also in the traditional news channels bitcoin received lots of coverage. Some suggested that the only reason for the exchange rate to explode was the media hype itself. [LINK]. Though much of the discussions and contributions could be discarded as hype and scratching the surface at most also interesting topics where raised.
Even when bitcoin proves to be a bubble, as many believe, the legacy of the technical and business concepts involved will leave its mark on the future of currency and payments. Bitcoin, as a representative of a new bread of crypto-currencies, is a new phenomenon that needs to be understood better. Not only by payment professionals but also by society as a whole.
I feel the need to address several aspects of currencies and payments that were hardly mentioned at all or referenced only implicitly at most. How does the development of crypto-currency relate to the megatrends we are part of? How will society (and the respective governments with heir own interests) deal with an “anarchistic” currency beyond institutional control? What will be the impact on traditional currencies, payments and financial institutions?
To answer these type op questions we have to take a step back and answer: What actually is money/currency? What is the contribution of money to our society? How did it evolve and where do these new currencies fit in? What is trust, on which our currencies are based, about in a digital age?
I personally have two interests in answering above questions:
- 1) as a professional I have been involved in strategy and business development assignments for clients in the payments industry.
- 2) with the Red Planet Dust blog I have been investigating aspects of human collaboration and payments are one of the mechanisms of collaboration covered.
I will set up my own article on crypto-currencies and bitcoin as the most well known example. My article will be constituted in a series of posts here at Red Planet Dust. Without having the ambition to create the conclusive paper on crypto-currency I do hope to be able to shed some light on aspects that are part of the foundation of currency and payments and are worth considering when thinking about the possible impact of Bitcoin and its crypto currency cousins or other payment related developments.
For a quick introduction into bitcoin have look at this vimeo (via Gizmodo):
NB I have touched upon virtual currencies at Red Planet Dust in several posts before:
- Payments should be about democratisation not commercialisation of the internet
- Amazon Coins: Fun for Amazon, not for us
- Bitcoin gets legally regulated in the US
- Bitcoin is getting more traction by the day
- Bitcointipper: Bitcoin transactions made easy via Twitter