Could London beat 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 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’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.”

UK 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.”

Are the Banks ready`/

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

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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?

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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…

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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…

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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?

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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…

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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?

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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…

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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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Another snowy morning. Another day’s news of travel woes and broken services. Wasn’t this supposed to be the age of technology?

technology seems forgotten as snow falls...

Looking around my neighbourhood, middle-management cars struggle past on route to some distant office to connect to some services located somewhere else. They’ll sit at their desk to phone customers who again, will be somewhere else. Noticed the common thread here?

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Finally, its here. What we’ve all been waiting for since Sun shone into our lives. Oracle’s launched a Cloud version of Open Office. Finally, here's Open Office for the Cloud!

There’s not much details about it as yet – like how much it will cost, for example – The Oracle site just provides a PDF about it. What I can say at this point is it remains 100% compatible with Desktop Open Office, retaining Open Document formats as well as PDF. It’s MS Office compatible, too.

But the site mentions a £33.00 charge for Desktop Open Office…

When talk turns to the Cloud, the hot ticket currently is the location of information. Security’s no longer the biggest concern, its where data is stored which is key.

Maybe the future lies in clouds for the cloud itself – local skyline storage clouds… could this be the future of the compliant cloud? Local Skyline Storage

Cloud players like SalesForce and IBM are looking to their own national storage, but its expensive and inefficient. So why not use a storage Cloud for it?

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This question never seems to go away. When is a freedom fighter not a terrorist? Well, the answer of course depends on your perspective. Do they have a right to tell us and who has the right to stop them?

And nothing is crystallising global social opinion more than the WikiLeaks battle. But its only when we look beyond this that we see the real battle lines.

Think hard before deciding. Because what is being done is done in your name.

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Have you noticed how TV media is featuring a lot of web-style graphics recently?

I guess with the closely-tied relationship between web and TV content designers, we shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, the web is becoming …beautiful. Noticed how beautiful the web is getting?

No, our web designers haven’t suddenly become more artistic or talented, they’ve just found new tools. But corporate designers are way, way behind…

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In fact, not a good weekend and probably this week won’t be a whole lot better. Australia’s biggest bank is still off-line after a routine upgrade went wrong.

NAB bank's technology woes continue...

While the other banks may laugh behind closed doors about NAB’s misfortunes, truth is, its a case of There but for the Grace of God goes I.

Our eyesight. Its the most developed, critical and relied on of all human senses. And probably why we make such beautiful things.

Basically, we like what we see. Or rather we tend to buy what we like the look of. How about web browsers?

experienec how the web can look, with Google's Chrome...

Given a choice, few would go for a conventional TV over a flat screen HD beauty. The quality, colour depth and sheer pleasure it is to watch is amazing.

Contrast this to web browsers, which don’t cost thousands, they’re actually free. So why don’t we go for the best there is?

Some time ago, I did a round-up of Cloud-based project management software.Projects have been a big part of my life, so I knew what I was looking for.

Application value changes over time. Better, worse, cheaper or more expensive.One now stands out. Wrike. So I’d like to update my review.

LANZen Strategy's review of Cloud-based project management applications found Wrike to be a great option!

Wrike brings social networks to project management – let’s see how it works…

I guess most people today now realise how important it is to have a good web presence. That’s fine, but what if you don’t have any web design skills, don’t want to spend a couple of grand and find Twitter, well a bit limiting?

This could be for you. It’s called posterous and it’s the answer to your prayers.

when you havn't got a blog - you've got posterous!

There’s no need to write a lot more about this. Its pretty much self-explanatory. The site’s designed well and easy to use. Go for it!

Sometimes I despair at the appalling state of the UK’s broadband services. It’s truly horrific.

Here is an ex-state monopoly supposedly “competing” with a number of other providers, but what the public is actually getting is simply a re-badged service provided by BT.

The BT infrastructure is antiquated and decaying, virtually on its knees from years of under investment, yet being milked dry by greedy BT accountants.

UK customers in the meantime are being sold services by unscrupulous suppliers who’ve probably never been near a phone exchange, let alone have any network of their own.

But let’s just put the subject of BT’s steam-powered infrastructure to one side for a moment, I’m worried that BT may well be tilting the tables even more in their favour.

Imagine this. You own the exchange where all your competitor’s connections are housed. Who would know if you simply unplugged them for say, two minutes every now and then?

BT’s service wouldn’t have to be that good if the competition’s kept going off line, would it?

Have you ever had to take a drive through the ruins of the UK’s great shipbuilding areas? Those once proud, thriving centres of excellence where skills were developed and honed. These ships set the standards of a great trading nation.

These places saw skills pass from fathers to sons, each generation contributing their own evolutionary change to age-old methods. Places where quality created value.

Those skills are gone forever. Lost in the vortex of a lowest common denominator market. These places should teach us a lesson about off-shoring.

Once the eco-system supporting a skills base is lost, its gone for ever, never to be re-built. Something we should think about when we use words like “sustainable”.

But there are more lessons to be learnt from all this…

Sad to see Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie leave the company this month. Ozzie created Lotus Notes, then Groove, which Microsoft bought out.

Ozzie was one of the good guys. Highly talented, well respected and Cloud orientated. Uniquely capable of filling the vacuum left by Bill Gates’ departure.

I doubt there is anyone following trends today who doesn’t accept the Cloud as our future. Nor who doesn’t realise that the restrictive and expensive desktop’s days are numbered. Anyone but Microsoft, that is.

I can imagine the frustration he felt as he battled against the cash-cow culture prevailing in Microsoft and its obsession with extracting every last penny from its customer base.

Ozzie was a Cloud visionary and tried to steer the desktop-obsessed Microsoft that way. Does this mean that Microsoft’s recent “we love the Cloud” stance is discredited?

Well, here’s my two-cent’s worth…

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