Could London overtake Silicon Valley as Crypto-currency’s centre of excellence?

Well, Visa thinks so. it hosted a gathering of crypto-currency start-ups and other interested parties to its Digital Catapult event in London recently.

Visa’s not alone in thinking this. An expert from the London School of Economics (LSE), one of the most respected financial academic centres in the world believes it too. They even put a date on it – 2020.

Crypto-currency set to explode?

Investment in crypto-currency start-ups in 2015 could even beat the dotcom frenzy of a few years ago.

A technology called Blockchain has the potential to transform the future of payments in the banking sector – it may even transform way we cast and count our votes in the 2020 General Election.

Financial observers have been waiting for the next big thing for a while now. Mobile payments has failed to catch the imagination of consumers, despite the presence of heavyweights like Google with Google Wallet and Apple with ApplePay, its not seeing the level of growth that the hype suggested. Maybe crypto-currency will.

Visa meets the future

Visa’s Europe Collab launch start-up innovation hubs in London and Israel are there to spot and engage with Europe’s top financial technology entrepreneurs, as the UK is now Europe’s fastest growing region for fintech with over 135,000 employees. Deal-volume, mostly out of London, has been growing at an annualized rate of around 74% since 2008, compared with 27% globally, and 13% in Silicon Valley, according to Accenture.

Speakers at Visa’s London event included leading monetary academic Garrick Hileman from the LSE, Hendrik Kleinsmiede of Visa Europe Collab one of Europe’s crypto-currency and Blockchain gurus in the financial services sector and Nicolas Cary, co-founder of Blockchain, one of the world’s best known BitCoin wallet company.

According to Garrick Hileman of the LSE, “BitCoin is in a battle with more than 600 crypto-currencies. The governance structure in Europe and the US surrounding BitCoin may be an inhibitor to expansion for crypto-currencies whilst it may flourish in fertile territories like Sub Saharan Africa with over 50% of BitCoin mining being provided by China.”

The UK is leading the way

Sian Jones of COINsult feels “The UK is the only jurisdiction that is coming out with a holistic approach to digital currencies regulation.”

While according to Hendrik Kleinsmiede of Visa Europe Collab, “The level of investment in crypto-currencies is at an unprecedented high – to date over $667million. If you compare 2014 to 1995 at the beginning of the dotcom boom, there’s now more money being invested in crypto-currency than there was in dotcom.”

Will the Banks jump in?

Nick Cary of Blockchain noted “Banks are being exceedingly cautious but by summer there should be new policies in place to make it easier for BitCoin companies to operate in Europe and the US.

The US is seeking a compliance pathway for Bitcoin start-ups, with New York setting the future as the model for regulation of Bitcoin “banks.”

Great news, but let’s not forget what became of the dotcom boom…

#MoveOverSiliconValley

visa

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Organic Hospitality goes to Crowdcube to fund expansion Specialist marketing agency Organic Hospitality is using crowdfunding to raise capital for expansion.

Graeme Kerr, the Glasgow entrepreneur behind Organic Hospitality, is using Crowdcube, the commpany chosen by TV’s Kevin “Grand Designs” McLeod recent £2 Million pound investment plans.

Graeme is looking for £150,000 to grow Organic Hospitality as a specialist marketing agency for the exclusive four and five star boutique hotel and tourism market in the UK and abroad. His company already lists prestigious hotels such as Mar Hall and Sherbrooke Castle as clients and undertook a large branding and web design project for St Andrews last year.

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zen strategy - the new direction for LANZen! You know, looking back I guess we’ve all come a long way over the last decade. Few could have imagined the rise of the Internet-driven business.

The dot-com bubble didn’t slow the launch of new devices and faster connectivity. Most of my work was in infrastructure design – data centres and desktops. Corporates saw the Internet as something to be tightly controlled and restricted – filtered out of existence. Barclays had 256Mb in 2003. In total.

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How dare I question. What right do I have. If I know so much, I should start a bank! What had I done – collapsed the economy, started a bank run or something?

No. This stream of vitriol was for suggesting, “maybe people like bank branches.”

Earlier that day, MovenBank’s Brett King gave me his view about bank branches, having read my piece about the psychology of financial services buying.

We hadn’t agreed, but valuing his view, I printed it. People should have both sides. But by arguing, I’d upset someone. And the smelly stuff hit the proverbial…

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The inner groans from social psychologists must have been deafening recently. Politicians calling for a messaging platform ban during unrest – really? The politicians don't like people talking when it can't be controlled, do they? A typical reaction, of course. Look for something to blame. A technical scapegoat. But wait, there’s another network that gets people together. Public Transport. Maybe we should we ban that too?

No, of course not. transport is a central part of our social infrastructure, neutral. But no question. Social media was at the heart of the riots. So, is it really evil?

How come most companies think having PowerPoint more important than CRM? CRM comes last, after email, office productivity and accounting. Salesforce is great, but here's something that will get you similar beneifits right away, too... Everybody knows, we’re told often enough, that looking after customers is vital. But as a process, many companies don’t see it as that important.

In fact, most companies don’t think about managing the relationship with their customers until something goes wrong and they find they can’t.

Ironic, really. When you consider that CRM will start to deliver benefits instantly, the moment you roll it out to your users. Let’s take a look…

OK, regular readers will know I’m not buying the hype around SmartPhone NFC. This is for a number of reasons and none of which are about it being new. for NFC mobile payments to work, it must reach all it market... and it won't. I’ve talked about security, why quick isn’t a good reason, but that’s not everything. The real show-stopper to me is market reach. NFC just won’t fit the market.

Every other payment system before NFC reached its market cheaply and quickly. Now I’m going to show just how far NFC will fall short. Time to wake up…

Hands up all of you who’re thinking about buying a tablet in the coming months? Must admit, an iPad or new Honeycomb tablet are tempting. But… Chromebook-  the 8 second booting notebook. an alternative to an iPad?

How about Chrome OS – Much talked about 12 months ago but a bit quiet of late. With Apple and Ubuntu releasing key products, Google’s OS needs to be good.

Won’t have long to wait, its out next month – but just what is Google delivering?

I’ve just read a Management Today supplement about West Yorks Fire Service. Remember how Public Service budgets are meant to be getting cut back?

The Public Sector should think about value - not building empires! Well, it sure doesn’t seem like that’s the case, if this is a typical Public IT project. Based on what they’ve chosen, I reckon half a million’s gone up in smoke.

It should have cost a tenth of that – and it’ll only reach 60% of their users…

A couple of people recently have asked me if I’m ready yet to give up Windows. With virtual players being offered, it was time to try virtualisation. If you really want Windows on Ubuntu - VMWare lets you have it! I’ve just upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04 and with VMWare’s Virtual Player available, now was the time to see what the world of desktop virtualisation was really like. Would virtualisation be the answer to a techy’s dreams?

The banks are making money again. They’ve all got innovation teams in place. Change is desperately needed, so why aren’t we seeing it? why the banks don't want to innovate...

Its too easy to point to our banks and say that they don’t understand innovation. But you’d be wrong, very wrong. They understand it all too well.

They know what change will mean. That’s why they won’t let it happen…

Easter of 2011 will probably be remembered as the time the Cloud went down. Bad as it was for Amazon’s EC2, the sky didn’t actually fall on anybody. Bad for some - but not that many. how Amazon's EC2 Easter failure actually makes the Cloud safer...

Maybe the great bank holiday weather took many writers away for the weekend. But the number of “its all over for Cloud” rants were mercifully few.

So, what should be taken away from Amazon’s failure. What have we learnt? Well, its shown intelligent system design is as vital for Cloud as anywhere else. Along with how many “experts” can still talk through their back-ends…

I’m writing this just seven days before the production Ubuntu 11.04 is released. Now, if you’re on Windows 7, there’s never been a better time to change. Windows 7 provides a great reason to move over to Ubuntu 11.04! So why am I suggesting you change now – what’s so different about this version? Surprisingly, its not so much Ubuntu as Windows…

It was hailed as the new dawn. Microsoft was squaring up to Google for search. Google looked to have a fight on their hands with Bing. But look at this… why can't Bing find stuff on Microsoft's own site - yet Google can?

This is the bing result for Vista Service Pack 2 on Microsoft’s own download site. Bing can’t find it. No results. Zilch. Nothing. What about a Google search?

Well. Let’s take a look. The result may surprise you…

So, petulant HSBC picked up their ball and set their sights on Hong Kong. Again. And then to no one’s surprise, they decided to stay in London. Again.

Maybe being handed the tickets and having the door held open wasn’t expected. Looks like we’re stuck with them. What if they had decided to go? HSBC threatens to go. Would we get by without them?

What if they had gone. What if all the banks decided to go. What would happen?

Would the economy fall apart, or would we actually be better off?

No, it’s not the latest story about National Australia Bank’s recent system woes. This is something just as radical, but far more positive.

NAB has split from the other main street banks to embrace the social web in style. They’ve suddenly discovered Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and viral marketing. It had to come, but who'd have thought NAB?

Maybe it was a realisation that NAB’s professional reputation was in tatters, maybe just a change of marketing agency. Either way, NAB’s changed course. And its a course that could change the face of Australian banking.

The Internet and freedom. Two words we always believed couldn’t be separated. Recent events have shown otherwise. How The Internet has replaced the pen as tyranny's great adversary

Now this isn’t a commentary about the rights and wrongs of the Egyptian unrest. This is about freedom and our right to unhindered expression.

Egypt’s demonstrated that regimes can just turn off dissent at the flick of a switch. Could we suffer the same fate in our increasingly Orwellian society?

I feel I may soon know how the guy felt when he suggested the world wasn’t flat. I’m no where near as visionary – but I may get vilified all the same… When technology doesn't mirror life - why Internet security is wrong. Imagine this scene… You walk into a retailer – any retailer – with a stolen wallet. You pick a range of expensive goods. As long as you have the PIN or the cash, you can take away whatever you want, unchallenged.

No checks, no ID, no second glance. Now, let’s go online…

Funny how a thought can randomly pop into your head for no apparent reason. Office networks. Why should I be worrying about that? Could the Cloud slow us down? The thing that was nagging me was this. As we begin to take up Cloud services, could we be slowing down others working locally?

I mean by that local network users – anyone using printers, collaborating together or sharing networked data.

OK – if you aren’t into network optimization, stop reading now. But if you are…

Asus puzzled me. Great tech, but somehow it misread current consumer trends. Finally here’s something that may hit the mark.

Wait – put that credit card away. Don’t get too excited just yet. Both the Asus ePad Transformer and Slider are still at the mock-up stage.

But as Android devices, they’ve had the courage to break ranks with the rest of Microsoft’s serfdom and could have a hit on their hands.

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