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Digital Money

April 16, 2012

Digital Money

I was invited to speak at the 15th Annual Consult Hyperion Digital Money Forum,[1] and chose a presentation based on “In Safe Hands?”[2] The global scenarios from this – which include possible worlds in which international mechanisms no longer apply – raised a number of interesting issues for structures such as the internet which assume that information and identity can be passed reliably across boundaries.

Some snippets from the very rich discussions on aspects of digital money:

I talked with Annette Broios who is researching factors in customer acceptance of digital money for the Danish Future of Money Project. In discussion it seemed that, since people will not (it is found) choose their device – laptop model, mobile phone – because it has a specific digital money set of features, they choose the device and network provider first. So people who will not use “computers” will often use an Apple iPAD or iPHONE. Perhaps applications on these will prove acceptable access points for digital money when other devices are not, or maybe access to music and other media will act as path-finder. The NESTA experimental projects on HyperLocal media [3]are based on community activities as a start point: it will be interesting to see how the portfolio of applications pans out – my guess would be different for different age and interest groups.

On access devices for money, there was a side conversation about the locations that people trust and the placing of ATMs there – in the UK its supermarkets, in Germany train stations and in China it is Pharmacies. I’m not sure what that shows!

David Rennie of the Cabinet Office talked about the “digital by default” policy behind the Race Online 2012 project and the approach that they were taking to leverage existing developments. The discussion about privacy which resulted included a great quote from Robin Wilton of Gartner –  “people care about privacy like losing weight – not enough to do anything about it”, as actions are remote from the consequences.

Mark Brule of the Royal Canadian Mint had some fun statistics: there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (from Paypal), and David Wolman of Wired has – in his book “The End of Money” [4]some more: 99% of the UKs paper money is contaminated with cocaine; it takes nearly half a gallon of water to grow the cotton used in a $100 bill.

And an interesting thought from Chris Skinner – in his FS Club blog [5] on one of the consequences of digital money – the ability to transfer money wirelessly – which changes the nature of transactions and the role of intermediaries, with peer to peer relationships gaining in importance and new forms of payment emerging thanks to contactless mobile devices  and digital wallets.


[4] First Da Capo Press, 2012.

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