Can companies do better by doing less? | Guardian Sustainable Business In mainstream economics and politics, “growth” is a largely unquestioned good, generally associated with positive attributes like “progress” or “innovation”. “Degrowth”, on the other hand, connotes negative trends like recession, decline, unemployment and social disruption. Viewed from this angle, the idea of voluntary degrowth seems bizarre. Or, as British economist Tim Jackson puts it, “Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries.” Not surprisingly, when policymakers and business leaders look for solutions to environmental and social crises, they usually focus on technology-based “growth” strategies like “green growth”, geo-engineering and carbon capture. However, a growing number of scientists have argued that growth-based technology solutions alone will not be able to stop the dramatic human overuse of nature, or eradicate poverty. Building degrowth communities – and economies The food sector is an especially fertile area for innovation.
Bitcoin: Fact. Fiction. Future. Introduction Despite an explosion in media coverage, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are misunderstood. Every day, news articles describe exchange meltdowns, price volatility, and government crackdowns. This focus on Bitcoin as a volatile and even renegade currency may be distracting governments and businesses from its potential long-term significance as a disruptive new money technology. Bitcoin is more than just a new way to make purchases. As the Bitcoin ecosystem evolves and use cases emerge, the public and private sectors will face new challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities. This report explains the technology underlying Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, identifies new applications, and explores the impact of potential future scenarios. Bitcoin overview Bitcoin is best thought of as a natural next step in the evolution of money. Bitcoin is one of the first currencies born on the Internet to be used in the real economy. How does Bitcoin work? Bitcoin: Beyond money
Coinbase One of the interesting things about Bitcoin is the contrast between how it is portrayed in the press and how it is understood by technologists. The press tends to portray Bitcoin as either a speculative bubble or a scheme for supporting criminal activity. In Silicon Valley, by contrast, Bitcoin is generally viewed as a profound technological breakthrough. The Internet is based on a set of core protocols that specify how information such as text, photos, and code should be transmitted. This matters for two reasons: 1) It fixes serious problems with existing payment systems that depend on centralized services to verify the validity of transactions. 2) More importantly, Bitcoin is a platform upon which new technologies can be developed. But to proliferate widely, Bitcoin needs a killer app the same way HTTP had web browsers and SMTP had email clients. Coinbase has grown extremely fast and is now the most widely used Bitcoin service in the US.
How Uber and the Sharing Economy Can Win Over Regulators - Sarah Cannon, and Lawrence H. Summers Sharing economy firms are disrupting traditional industries across the globe. For proof, look no further than Airbnb which, at $10 billion, can boast a higher valuation than the Hyatt hotel chain. Uber is currently valued at $18.2 billion relative to Hertz at $12.5 billion and Avis at $5.2 billion. Beyond individual firms, there are now more than 1,000 cities across four continents where people can share cars. These firms bring significant economic, environmental, and entrepreneurial benefits including an increase in employment and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (in the case of car sharing services). However, rather than rolling out the red carpet, city governments have resisted many of these new entrants issuing subpoenas and cease-and-desist orders. Regulation is often the most significant barrier to future growth for sharing economy firms. The relationship between sharing economy firms and regulators will likely remain uneasy for the foreseeable future.
Is Bitcoin the future of money? Not a chance ZDNet's Great Debate asks whether Bitcoin is the future of money. Bitcoin's appeal lies in being anonymous, untraceable, and unregulated. These attributes give the virtual currency appeal to a broad spectrum of speculators and investors, entrepreneurs, and the criminal underworld — including drug traffickers, terrorists, and anyone wanting to circumvent currency or tax regulations. Recent events such as the shutdown of Bitcoin marketplace Silk Road, where anyone could purchase drugs, guns, and even hire a contract killer, demonstrate the government’s position on Bitcoin-related crime. At the same time, financial regulators have taken steps to pull Bitcoin toward compliance with currency laws. Bitcoin’s long-term future is being a regulated financial instrument that serves certain purposes; in other words, once the dust settles, Bitcoin will become a niche financial services product. Still, for the geeks and techies who know about Bitcoin, there is an allure for several reasons:
Bitcoin – The Internet of Money This post is old – I wrote it for Wired, which just published an excerpt in “The Wired World in 2014″ issue, but the article was written in July. Apologies for the obsolescence. Bitcoin will eventually be recognized as a platform for building new financial services. Most people are only familiar with (b)itcoin the electronic currency, but more important is (B)itcoin, with a capital B, the underlying protocol, which encapsulates and distributes the functions of contract law. Bitcoin encapsulates four fundamental technologies: Digital Signatures – these can’t be forged and allow one party to securely verify a transaction with another.Peer-to-Peer networks, like BitTorrent or TCP/IP – difficult to take down and no central trust required.Proof-of-Work prevents users from spending the same money twice, without needing a central authority to distinguish valid from invalid transactions. Proponents of the role of government argue that a currency with fixed supply will fail.
And what about the money? On September 15, 2008, six years ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed. Despite a “tsunami” of reforms, the financial system has not been transformed. To change finance, there might be a need to change our basic understanding of the financial system. This come-back to fundamentals has led reformers as well as central bankers to focus on money itself. Interestingly, new thinking comes with new methods of producing and spreading knowledge, and new ways of forcing ideas into the political agenda. By Fabien Hassan, guest poster* Since its creation in 2012, Finance Watch has been trying to have an impact on the regulatory agenda in Europe, and has achieved some remarkable results (see annual report for 2013). But what of the reforms that have not made it onto the mainstream legislative agenda? The role of money in macroeconomics Mainstream economics, a science which deals with prices, wealth, and production essentially claims that money doesn't matter. Who are the advocates of monetary reform?
Prof G-J van Rooyen » Blog Archive » Understanding cryptocurrency “confirmation time” Bitcoin transactions take about 10 minutes to confirm. That makes it pretty useless for point-of-sale services. Litecoin has improved on this by bringing the confirmation time to below 3 minutes, but cryptocurrencies are still dead in the water when competing with the fast transaction processing time of credit cards and EFTs. The above quote paraphrases a common sentiment about an aspect of cryptocurrencies that can be confusing, namely the time that it takes, on average, to mine a new block of transactions. Does this mean that Bitcoin transactions are doomed to slow transfers of money, and that it cannot be used in retail? Transactions are instantaneous Firstly, let’s get one point completely, unequivocally straight: When a payer makes an honest transaction in an active cryptocurrency network, the recipient receives the funds immediately. There is no delay (except the usual network latency, up to maybe a few seconds). Well, actually it is different. Anonymous transactions Double-spending
What Bitcoin and Internet of Things Startups Have in Common Bitcoin has captivated the imaginations of many with its quasi-anonymous, hyper cost-efficient payment network. The potential for Bitcoin to change foreign exchange is hard to overstate. In the same vein, the technologies that enable the internet of things (IoT) like Bluetooth Low Energy and Apple's Beacons and Electric Imp's infrastructure will transform the way we interact with the physical world to something akin to the mall in Minority Report. The startups that bring Bitcoin and IoT to the mass-market won't declare themselves Bitcoin companies or connected devices companies. I've never seen a computer marketed as a TCP/IP machine or a bank that promotes the ACH compatibility of its checking accounts or a social network trumpet its H.264 codec support. I doubt I ever will because supporting a protocol isn't a value proposition that attracts end users. I suspect the first mass-market successful Bitcoin company won't have Bitcoin (or any subset of the word) in its name.
“The circular economy is the basis of a new EU industrial policy” | Europe’s World The European Commission’s paper “For a European Industrial Renaissance” underlines the importance of boosting manufacturing industry’s share of the EU’s GDP to around 20% by 2020 from 15% today. To reach that, adjustments to the regulatory framework will be vital. Although derided sometimes as the “old continent”, Europe is nevertheless very well placed to kick-start a new industrial era around the world thanks to its wealth of productive infrastructure, its skilled workforce and innovation capital. But first, what must Europe, as cradle of the industrial revolution, do to re-invent itself and re-think the future? Faced with unprecedented price rises and volatility on commodities markets, Europe’s industrial economy needs tangible solutions if it is to be at the forefront of globalisation. “The throughput economy has since the industrial revolution been based on a take-make-dispose flow of resources and energy no longer provides the socio-economic solutions we need”
Health care providers tout "paradigm shift" as path to reining in costs - Greensboro - Triad Business Journal Owen Covington/The Business Journal Triad Business Journal Publisher Doug Copeland, left, kicks off the Health Care panel discussion at High Point University featuring panelists, from left, Dr. Greg Taylor with High Point Regional Health, Dr. Michael Ogden with Cornerstone Health Care and Brad Roehrenbeck with MedCost. Health care is undergoing a "paradigm shift" toward placing more value on quality and outcomes, and to help change the trend in spending that has the country heading toward spending more than 20 percent of its gross domestic product on health care within 15 years, panelists at the Triad Business Journal's Health Care Reform Panel said Friday. It's requiring changes in the way hospitals do business, doctors provider care and insurers pay providers, the panel agreed. "Higher quality can be the solution," said Dr. Perhaps the broadest shift is in how health care providers will be paid for the services they provide, several panelists said.
Bitcoin Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Future of Money | Wired Enterprise Illustration: WIRED The price of a bitcoin topped $900 last week, an enormous surge in value that arrived amidst Congressional hearings where top U.S. financial regulators took a surprisingly rosy view of digital currency. Just 10 months ago, a bitcoin sold for a measly $13. The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: “What the hell is a bitcoin?” The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: ‘What the hell is a bitcoin?’ Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it’s money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world. With that in mind, we give you this: an idiot’s guide to bitcoin. Bitcoin isn’t just a currency, like dollars or euros or yen. Bitcoin is much more than a money service for illegal operations. Birth of the Bitcoin