Ever since the Romans established a central currency system in the third century BC, money has been controlled by the state as a tool of political power. This control was exerted by manufacturing coins, issuing currencies backed by stored gold and, eventually, through central currency reserves. In each of these phases of monetary history, the state had near universal control over money. As such, the state could tax and regulate its use and fund its own activities.
Bitcoin was imagined by an anonymous computer programmer (or group of programmers—their identity is unknown) known as Satoshi Nakamoto in an attempt to break the tie between the state and money. It was intended to be the lingua franca of the internet—a currency born of, designed for and using the attributes of the World Wide Web.
After Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, Brexit’s loudest advocates scurried from public view and the political establishment descended into a caustic battle for control. Emerging from the melee was Theresa May, who has a reputation for consistency, if little else. But Britain doesn’t need a caretaker in these uncertain times. It needs bold, innovative leadership.
One person has quietly stepped up: Canadian Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. Mr. Carney acted quickly to stem the Brexit panic. Now, he can and should do more.
The buzz surrounding the much-anticipated book Blockchain Revolution: How the technology behind bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world co-authored by renowned media visionary Don Tapscott and his son, blockchain expert Alex Tapscott, is well founded. I was lucky to be seated at the standing-room-only Canadian book launch and presentation at Rotman School of Management recently, attended by Canada’s business elite. Much of what Don Tapscott had predicted in his 1994 book The Digital Economy had come to pass, and as such, the audience was all ears.
To understand blockchain technology, or to try to at least, is to understand the buzz. At a high level, according to the Tapscotts, the blockchain is the most important digital innovation to follow the Internet. It is the technology which underpins the digital currency bitcoin, and its disruptive capabilities are expected to be huge, impacting not only financial services, but virtually every industry, institution and even government in the world.
Proposed in 2008 and launched the following year, bitcoin – a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system” – was initially viewed by many as the preserve of geeks and criminals. Yet it has subsequently taken giant strides towards the mainstream. There have been various high-profile attempts to unmask the “real” Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by bitcoin’s inventor(s). And in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, some hailed bitcoin, surging as the pound plummeted, as “digital gold”.
It is now recognised that the still-mysterious Nakamoto did more than invent a currency. He also solved a longstanding problem in computing, to do with date and networks. His solution was complex, but it involved the use of an infrastructure comprising “blocks” of confirmed transactions that form a chronologically linked “chain”. As other digital currencies, and other blockchains, have emerged, banks and some governments have begun to pay attention, and investment is rocketing. The World Economic Forum predicts that, within a decade, 10% of global GDP could be stored on blockchains.
Don Tapscott and his son Alex Tapscott are authors of the book, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World.
While the UK and the world grapple with the implications of last week’s vote, a technological revolution is quietly unfolding that offers a glimmer of hope, not just to Britain, but also to Europe as a whole.
We’re not talking about the social web, cloud computing, or artificial intelligence. We’re talking about the blockchain, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. This technology represents nothing less than the second era of the Internet and it holds far-reaching opportunities for Europe. If wielded correctly, it could provide the foundation for a more prosperous Europe. It is also the UK’s best hope at fulfilling the “Leavers” lofty promises of a more global and dynamic Britain.
When Don and Alex Tapscott began writing “Blockchain Revolution”, not a single bank was investing in the revolutionary technology. Now virtually every company in the financial services industry is investing heavily as they realize this new technology is the second generation of the internet – the “internet of value”. In this exciting episode of AQ’s Blog & Grill, we are honored to have Don and Alex on to discuss their new book and the implications and opportunities in blockchains.
You’ve probably heard about “the blockchain” recently. A lot. The technology underpinning bitcoin has attracted billions in venture capital funding, the interest of almost every global bank, and the attention of governments around the world. Essentially a digital distributed ledger that anyone on the internet can access, the system has the ability to keep information secure, create a permanent record of transactions to avoid fraud, and instantly transfer assets. But for all the talk, it’s simply not that useful yet. For now, the technology is stuck in the back offices of financial firms, an area that the average person doesn’t care about or really benefit from.
A new book, Blockchain Revolution, envisions a future where the technology doesn’t just change finance, but bring more people into the global economy and disintermediate startups like Uber and Airbnb. Quartz spoke with Alex Tapscott, the founder and CEO of blockchain advisory firm Northwest Passage Venture, about some of the more novel ideas in the book he coauthored with his father Don, and how blockchain could shape our future. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.