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Bitcoin: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 23
 

Bitcoin: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 23

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This week, we distill insights around Bitcoin - a digital crypto-currency that enables people to make near-instant peer-to-peer transactions and purchases via the web and mobile. ...

This week, we distill insights around Bitcoin - a digital crypto-currency that enables people to make near-instant peer-to-peer transactions and purchases via the web and mobile.

100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.

Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it -- on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web -- to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

We have further synthesized the insights to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights annual report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, now available as a Kindle eBook.

For more, see: http://peopleslab.mslgroup.com/future-of-engagement

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    Bitcoin: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 23 Bitcoin: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 23 Document Transcript

    • crowdsourcing | storytelling | citizenship | social data Bitcoin People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 23
    • Volume 2, Issue 23, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Bitcoin 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and curate the conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — into a weekly insights report. Every quarter, we compile these insights, along with original research and insights from the MSLGROUP global network, into the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine. We have synthesized the insights from our year-long endeavor throughout 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement. People’s Insights In 2013, we continue to track inspiring projects at the intersection of social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship. Do subscribe to receive our weekly insights reports, quarterly magazines, and annual reports, and do share your tips and comments with us at @PeoplesLab on Twitter. People’s Insights weekly report People’s Insights quarterly magazines People’s Insights Annual Report
    • 3 What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency that enables people to make near-instant peer- to-peer transactions and purchases via the web and mobile. Bitcoin is maintained and regulated by a global network of enthusiasts and is being used by people, businesses and even investors. DKSDan commented on the appeal of the new currency: “Bitcoin is not only a unit of account, it is an entire exchange protocol designed to allow the secure, simple, inexpensive, and irreversible transfer of value between potentially anonymous parties without the restriction of borders, interference from governments, or exposure to counter party risk. This is where Bitcoin’s intrinsic value lies.” Source: bitcoin.org Source: mtgox.com Source: bitcoin.meetup.com This map of Bitcoin Meetup Groups provides a glimpse at the global nature of the network: Introduced four years ago, Bitcoin now sees $45 million of activity per day. There are currently 11 million Bitcoins in circulation, i.e., $1 billion worth of Bitcoin. At time of writing, one Bitcoin is currently worth an average of $96. How do people use Bitcoin? People purchase Bitcoins using their local currency at exchanges like Mt. Gox. In essence, each Bitcoin is made of a string of codes. With each transaction, a new code is attached. This makes it possible to trace all the exchanges of each Bitcoin in circulation and prevents the same Bitcoin from double- use. People store their Bitcoins in wallets on their computer or mobile or on the web. Or, they store their private key on paper. People make payments by entering the peer or vendors’ public key, similar to how we send emails by entering an email address. Blogger Ashutosh wrote: “Bitcoins are kept in a digital wallet which you can keep in your computer, or on a website online,which will manage and secure your wallet for you. You can have as many wallets and bitcoin addresses (where you receive money from others) as you like.”
    • Volume 2, Issue 23, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Bitcoin Source: play.google.com Since data about every Bitcoin transaction is freely available online, experts encourage people to create and use new Bitcoin addresses for each transaction. This also prevents hackers from seeing how many Bitcoins are stored in each wallet. This infographic explains how people buy, store and spend Bitcoins. View the full infographic at: visual.ly Below is a screenshot of what someone’s mobile wallet could look like.
    • 5 Source: itworld.com Source: money.cnn.com Where do Bitcoins come from? There are currently 11 million Bitcoins in circulations, and more Bitcoins are “mined” every 10 minutes to ensure a steady stream of fresh circulation. TechHive’s Leah Yamshon explains: “In order to buy, trade, or use Bitcoins, the units of currency have to first be introduced to the market... Bitcoin mining software runs the Nakamoto algorithm, searching for a specific chain of code. When that code is found, a block of Bitcoins is rewarded to whoever found it. Current blocks contain 25 Bitcoins, but the block size goes down by half every four years, making mining harder and less profitable as time goes on.” “Currently, there are roughly 11.4 million Bitcoins in circulation--that number will cap at 21 million in 2140, according to the algorithm’s limitations.” Because of the rewards involved - 25 Bitcoins equals $2,400 - there is an active community of programmers who work part-time and full-time to mine new Bitcoins. There is also a universe of vendors that caters to these programmers with more efficient computer hardware. Maintaining and regulating Bitcoins The process of mining new Bitcoins is actually what keeps the network running. In the hunt for rewards, miners compute all the Bitcoin transactions and create up-to-date logs that trace each Bitcoin’s activity. The Economist explains: “The entire network is used to monitor and verify both the creation of new Bitcoins through mining, and the transfer of Bitcoins between users. A log is collectively maintained of all transactions, with every new transaction broadcast across the Bitcoin network. Participating machines communicate to create and agree on updates to the official log.” “This process, which is computationally intensive, is in fact the process used to mine Bitcoins: roughly every 10 minutes, a user whose updates to the log have been approved by the network is awarded a fixed number (currently 25) of new Bitcoins” CNN’s Stacy Cowley draws an interesting comparison to highlight the current scale of the Bitcoin mining network: “The power of all the computers networked together to maintain the digital currency’s system far exceeds the combined processing strength of the top 500 most powerful supercomputers.” The Verge’s Adrianne Jeffries explains the crux of this open source P2P network and how they regulate the currency: “The fundamentals were strong: transparency created trust; a network of users substituted for a central authority; and built-in deflation canceled out any circumstantial inflation that might devalue the currency. Whenever a problem arose, members of the community worked together to fix it.”
    • Volume 2, Issue 23, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Bitcoin Source: motherboard.vice.com Source: networkworld.com For instance, there was a recent fork in the system and two different logs were created which allowed for double spends. The network immediately spotted the bug and within a few hours agreed on a solution and resumed operations. Why do people use Bitcoin? Some people are excited about Bitcoin because it is a decentralized currency that cannot be affected by any one government’s actions. Some use it because it is a more effective form of exchange in a global and digital era. The Economist pointed out one of the top reasons: “Bitcoins (or fractions of Bitcoins known as satoshis) can be bought and sold in return for traditional currency on several exchanges, and can also be directly transferred across the internet from one user to another using appropriate software. This makes Bitcoin a potentially attractive currency in which to settle international transactions, without messing around with bank charges or exchange rates.” Writer and Bitcoin enthusiast Kashmir Hill listed four reasons why people and merchants would opt to use Bitcoin “(1) It lets you make digital purchases in stores without revealing your identity (by using a credit card with your name and number on it). It would let you do the same thing online.” “(2 )Merchants can avoid paying high transaction fees and don’t have to worry about fraudulent purchases that result in charge- backs. “When a transaction is done, it’s done.” If merchants were to offer discounts to Bitcoin shoppers, that would make the currency more appealing.” “(3) For spending internationally or while abroad, you don’t have to worry about converting your money to the local currency, and the conversion fees that go along with that.” “(4) It allows people to make purchases when they are banned by other traditional payment providers.” Several people are also showing interest in investing in Bitcoin, much like they would in say, gold. This interest is part responsible for the fluctuations of Bitcoin, which at its highest traded at $230 per Bitcoin. Many people believe that Bitcoin allows ‘anonymous’ transactions, but this isn’t necessarily true. Blogger Colin Neagle pointed out: “Some simple research on Bitcoin shows that although transactions are conducted anonymously, they can be traced. The Block Chain logs and displays all Bitcoin transactions. Starting there, anyone interested enough to see where the Bitcoins used to make one transaction could follow its trajectory from its origins.” Many people also believe that Bitcoin allows people to engage in criminal activities like purchase of illegal items (e.g. drugs) or tax evasion. Governments are now beginning to introduce legislature that applies to Bitcoin exchanges and vendors that use Bitcoin. The U.S. government has also used Bitcoin to trace illegal activity and conduct a raid on the online drug haven Silk Route.
    • 7 Source: motherjones.com Source: ricochet.com Source: The Pros & Cons of Bitcoin - LeWeb London 2013 Why do businesses use Bitcoin? Thousands of merchants, including OkCupid, Foodler and even Wikileaks, now accept Bitcoin. Bitcoin business solutions provider BitPay itself reports a clientele of 7,500 merchants. Merchants are accepting Bitcoin for a first mover advantage, to cater to tech savvy people or to capitalize on the opportunity to create new services. Several entrepreneurs have created services that enable Bitcoin enthusiasts to spend their Bitcoins to buy things like Zara clothing. Source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/06/bitcoin-fashion-online-store.html Here are some reasons why merchants should accept Bitcoin, according to Bitcoin. org: “Bitcoin is an emerging market of new customers who are searching for ways to spend their coins. Accepting them is a good way to get new customers and give your business some new visibility. Accepting a new payment method has always shown to be a clever practice for online businesses.” What people are saying about Bitcoin Thinkers, bloggers, the media and Bitcoin enthusiasts all have a point of view on the new currency, which range from the extreme ‘Bitcoin is a scam’ to ‘Bitcoin is the future of money.’ Several of these points of view are discussed in this LeWeb panel of Bitcoin. Some thinkers question the ‘true value’ of Bitcoin and speculate that it may be the next Ponzi Scheme, or the newest bubble. Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald wrote: “In essence, the market is a fantasy. Once the hoarders stop buying, what buyers will step up to the plate to take their place? My bet? No one. There will be, at some point, a time when some hoarder decides to unload. Prices will drop. Other hoarders will get scared and start to sell. Prices will drop further. Before long, there will be a mass rush to the exits. And at that point, the illiquidity of the Bitcoin market will be apparent.” Several thinkers believe that Bitcoin is a natural evolution of money, in keeping with the digital and global world of today. Salon’s Kyle Chayka pointed out the need for this evolution: “Cold, hard cash has inherent inefficiencies. It’s bulky and difficult to transfer between owners (wheelbarrows notwithstanding). These days, money is barely even paper bills—it’s just a number stored on a computer signifying credit or debit. Digital currencies take that idea one step further, creating self-regulating mediums of exchange through peer-to-peer networks.”
    • Volume 2, Issue 23, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Bitcoin Tom Simonite, IT editor of MIT Technology Review, speculated: “Bitcoin could hit the big time as less an idealistic reinvention of currency and more a technology to move payments more efficiently than today’s systems.” Source: radar.oreilly.com Source: bbc.co.uk Meanwhile, Gavin Andresen, a lead developer on the Bitcoin project, cautions: “Bitcoin is an experiment. Treat it like you would a promising Internet start up company: Maybe it will change the world, but recognize that investing your money or time in new ideas is always risky.” Impact on brands and organizations? It’s still too early to speculate on how Bitcoin could impact brands and organizations. The currency may have more of an impact on financial institutions as early adopters use Bitcoin as a way to avoid transaction fees, to make quicker international payments to cut costs associated with currency exchange. Financial institutions should also note investor interest in the currency – especially as entrepreneurs propose the creation of a Bitcoin fund.
    • People’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform and approach that helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform helps organizations build and nurture public or private, web or mobile, hosted or white label communities around four pre-configured application areas: Expertise Request Network, Innovation Challenge Network, Research & Insights Network and Contest & Activation Network. Our community and gaming features encourage people to share rich content, vote/ comment on other people’s content and collaborate to find innovative solutions. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach forms the core of our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client- specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities. The People’s Insights Quarterly Magazines showcase our capability in crowdsourcing and analyzing insights from conversations and communities. People’s Lab: Crowdsourcing Innovation & Insights Learn more about us at: peopleslab.mslgroup.com | twitter.com/peopleslab
    • For People’s Lab solutions, contact pascal.beucler@mslgroup.com