Friday, March 30, 2012

Digital Money Forum 2012... 15th anniversary and lively as ever

The Digital Money Forum is an event that this year reached it's 15th anniversary. And a special event it is. My previous visit to the Forum was probably some ten years ago, when everyone was pretty much into the e-money way of life. But technology, money and society continue to develop and that's where Dave Birch and his team of Consult Hyperion come in. In setting up the forum they provide for a lively and thought-provoking event where money is dealth with from all different angles. And as before, it was a pleasure to participate.

So this years event was special in many ways. We all got a better look at the evolving phone payment landscape, delved into possible future scenario's for the world and money, we spoke about the future and death of cash, about social inclusion and lots, lots more. And, quite fascinating, I got to issue my own currency, PunkMoney, via Twitter, by promising the developer, Eli Gothill, two beers and a financial history tour in Amsterdam.

A bit more on the principles of Punkmoney (as I understand them). If we look at money it is an invention to facilitate transactions in society. But before the official money we had mutual obligations and trust relations in society. I would help my neighbours out with building their house, assuming they would do the same for me, in time. And so on. So there was this web of mutual obligations and promises that cemented the relations in society.

Now what Punkmoney does is to leave all the monetary issues and digital money aside and elegantly replicate this web of promises. With some rules as how to form proper messages, Twitter as the carrier and a software enige that scans twitter for any promises of Punkmoney. And when it finds one, it registers it and there you have it. Not the real money, but something even better: real promises. Just as trustworthy as... yourself.

After Punkmoney, we moved on to another kind of money. Monopoly money, sitting on a Samsung phone (with an application neatly developed by Easan).

Six teams on six tables started playing and as for me personally, I was literally quite lucky. I landed on 3 airports in the beginning of the game, won some lotteries and eventually turned into a big shot property owner. I turned out to be the winner of the competition, with an awesome price: this incredibly beautiful banknote (an official German forgery of a UK 20 pound note; part of the Bernhard operation):

Some more on that will follow on my financial history blog later.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fed-study about mobile payments.... mobile phone heralds the return of the cashiers...

The federal reserve has yesterday issued this study on Consumers and Mobile Financial Services. And it shows that mobiles are a game-changer, due to their ubiquity. The people that have bank account don't use the mobile that much, but those without a bank account (the unbanked) make quite some use of it. So it turns out that in the US you can see a double usage pattern: on the one hand the signs of a developed market, moving slowly. And on the other hand the pattern that we know from countries in Africa, with heavier usage of mobile phones as the main banking/payment infrastructure.

Of course there's much to read in the study but it's interesting to note the banking paradigm that the Fed uses in the study. It sees the mobile phones for unbanked as a possible first step towards a sort of  'true banking', for those customers. That could be a possibility of course. But I think we may wan't to revisit this approach: couldn't we also see the mobile phones as the new digital shape of the former cashiers? And couldn't the cashiers just be the cashiers of any shop as well?

Well, that's my penny's worth of thought this morning and I'll be happy to elaborate a bit more on it at the 15th (!) Digital Money Forum in two weeks time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New card design by Rabobank marks migration to international POS-scheme

As many of you may know, the Netherlands are now in a final stage of migrating from the Dutch POS-system PIN to the international card scheme Maestro. And as a part of this migration, Rabobank has changed the looks of the card. Given the fact that chip-terminals require a dip of the card, Rabo has moved its cardholder from a landscape to portrait design. In addition it has put the IBAN number on the card, so that customers always have their SEPA-oriented account number nearby.