Future Human: Cash Free, October 16 at the Book Club
On October 16 at the Book Club, Shoreditch, we’ll raise the curtain on another of our salon events: Cash Free. Tickets are available from our store – for more information, read on…
Are we really moving towards a Cash Free world? In 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, a mysterious hacker group operating under the personal identity of ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ launched a currency called ‘Bitcoin’. Bitcoin is a decentralised and unregulated digital currency, in which transactions are public and transparent while the identities of individuals conducting the exchange are withheld. Many financial experts predicted the imminent demise of Bitcoin, but when the Cyprus bailout cast doubt on Eurozone guarantees of the European currency in early 2013, its exchange-value soared from US $15 to over US $200 as panicked investors ran for shelter. It was at this moment that digital peer-to-peer currency truly entered the global consciousness.
Though it’s hardly the first time in history that a currency has been invented by a non-state actor, Bitcoin’s market capitalisation is now estimated at $1.2 billion and it has become the poster child for a new, deregulated and entirely digital economic culture that threatens the primacy of fiat currency. Yet while many corners of the global financial system are racing towards what many have described as ‘the future of money’, others are retreating to past comforts, with gold, silver, commodities and land growing in popularity as a means of storing wealth.
Meanwhile, the emergence of global digital payment systems, from Paypal to mobile payment products like Square, is making the transaction of digital money increasingly frictionless.
But what are the stakes involved and what does the rise of digital money mean for the rest of us? How will governments respond to the spread of these markets, and a world where anyone can create a bank or their own currency within a short space of time? And how will all of our fortunes rise and fall in a economically volatile world that is cash free?
Joining us to answer these questions are three expert guests who have the inside track on the development of digital and alternative currencies.
Tom Robinson is one of the two founders of Bitprice, the UK’s first fully regulated virtual currency exchange, leading their business development. He earned a master’s in Physics as well as a PhD in Atomic and Laser Physics from Oxford University, before working in IT consultancy and financial services. He is also the co-founder of a nanotechnology startup.
Cecilia Wee is a writer and curator whose work has recently focused on the intersection between design and financial services, aiming to make economies, currencies and investments more socially responsible. She has lectured at the Royal College of Art, worked in advisory roles for PRS for Music Foundation, Artquest and the Arts Council, been a producer for Sound and Music, and presented shows on Resonance FM.
Garrick Hileman is an economic historian at the London School of Economics (LSE), where his research focuses on alternative and black market currencies. He is also an entrepreneur, having founded the Zero.Net tech incubator in San Francisco, and also MacroDigest, an algorithm powered economic content aggregator, for which he won LSE’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ for 2013.
Will digital money change you? To find out, buy a ticket and join us in the Book Club at 7pm on Wednesday October 16 for another speculative accumulative Future Human salon.