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The End of Money as We Know It: Bitcoin, Alternative Currency, and the Rise of a Cultural Movement
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The End of Money as We Know It: Bitcoin, Alternative Currency, and the Rise of a Cultural Movement


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Cryptocurrency could very well be a bubble or a blip, but it is a manifestation of an enormous and important cultural shift. Our culture is reconsidering consumption, reconsidering ownership, and most …

Cryptocurrency could very well be a bubble or a blip, but it is a manifestation of an enormous and important cultural shift. Our culture is reconsidering consumption, reconsidering ownership, and most importantly, reconsidering value.

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  • 1. @sparksandhoney Bitcoin, Alternative Currency, and the Rise of a Cultural Movement THE END OF MONEY AS WE KNOW IT
  • 2. Cryptocurrency could very well be a bubble or a blip, but it is a manifestation of an enormous and important cultural shift. Our culture is reconsidering consumption, reconsidering ownership, and most importantly, reconsidering value.
  • 3. Today, existing systems are being critically evaluated, old ideas are being reexamined, and dreamers are imagining new alternative currencies to solve our current financial issues via low and high tech experimentation.
  • 5. “Too often we tend to think of change in a very singular mindset, technology. But technology is not the real issue, not the root cause. It’s an effect, for sure… [but] the real driver of societal change is society itself, not your smartphone.” - American Express CMO, John Hynes
  • 6. WHY NOW?
  • 7. The Silicon Valley ecosystem, improved supercomputing, and the rise of hacker culture have changed how individuals approach traditional monetary systems. Meanwhile, lower barriers to entry for entrepreneurship and ubiquitous broadband have created an approachable foundation for experimentation. CULTURAL DRIVERS: TECHNOLOGY & PROGRESS
  • 8. Increasingly networked companies, infrastructure, and products have created value globally, but are also allowing for new forms of arbitrage, criminal activity, and surveillance. These developments have pushed many to circumvent traditional institutions – even if that means delving into black markets and/or the darknet. CULTURAL DRIVERS: CONNECTION & DECAY
  • 10. BITCOIN is the original cryptocurrency and the most well known. Since Bitcoin was created, the cryptocurrency market has exploded, with 163 (known) cryptocurrencies in circulation. In spite of market concern about a crypto bubble, Bitcoin’s market cap (as of March 31st 2014) sits at approximately $5.75 billion USD.
  • 11. SPECIALIZED CRYPTOCURRENCY PotCoin is a niche crypto- currency that was created to enable those who are legally permitted to buy and sell marijuana, but don’t want to deal with the headaches (and rampant security issues) of all-cash transactions. This is largely due to American banking firms’ hesitance to work with the fledgling industry.
  • 12. PERSONAL DATA Datacoup has democratized personal data by establishing an open, fair marketplace where individuals can sell their personal information. This service gives individuals the ability to benefit from and control the distribution of an asset they (knowingly and unknowingly) create each and every day.
  • 13. ORGANS The illegal organ trade has risen to such a level that an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually – more than one every hour – according to WHO. It is estimated that organ trafficking accounts for five to ten percent of all kidney transplants worldwide.
  • 14. TIDE DETERGENT This household staple, found frequently in supply closets across the socioeconomic spectrum, is an ideal currency for drugs. There are no serial numbers and it’s impossible to track, making it the item to steal. On certain corners, the detergent has even earned a new nickname: “liquid gold.”
  • 15. ART ArtRank identifies prime emerging artists based on qualitatively- weighted metrics including web presence (verified social media counts, inbound links), studio capacity and output, market maker contracts and acquisitions, major collector and museum support, gallery representation and auction results.
  • 16. LOCAL GLOBAL INTANGIBLE Cryptocurrencies Facebook Credits (RIP) Airline Miles Gift Cards Rewards Cards Gaming Credits Payment with Social GoodAttention Local Dollars Stamps Food Stamps Coupons Personal Data Social Currency Art Watches Gambling Chips Tide Gold Diamonds & Jewelry Auroracoin ALTERNATIVE CURRENCY LANDSCAPE Credit Scores Real Estate TANGIBLE Sweat Equity Organs PotCoin
  • 18. OVERSTOCK & BITCOIN was one of the first major retailers to accept Bitcoin as a payment method. Since partnering with Coinbase to accept the digital currency, Overstock has seen over $1 million dollars spent with Bitcoin and expects to reach $10-15 million by the end of the year.
  • 19. AMERICAN EXPRESS & POINTS As part of a push to make its rewards points more flexible, tangible, and useful, American Express has partnered with VeriFone, an electronic payment solution. Now, New Yorkers who are riding in VeriFone enabled taxicabs can choose to pay with their rewards points rather than standard credit cards.
  • 20. FACEBOOK & CREDITS This is an example of an alternative currency gone awry. Introduced to the public in 2011, ten Facebook credits were worth one U.S. dollar and could be exchanged for virtual or physical goods. For a number of reasons, Facebook Credits never gained mass acceptance and were discontinued by June 2012.
  • 21. DISNEY & DISNEY DOLLARS The Disney Dollar is a corporate scrip that’s redeemable for goods or services at Disney facilities, including the company’s theme parks, cruise ships, stores, and at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean. Customers can exchange Disney Dollars one-to-one with U.S. currency.
  • 22. GAMESTOP & PREORDERS While not officially sanctioned by GameStop, one enterprising individual has reimagined the video game retailer as a bank – essentially using “pre-orders” as micro savings accounts. In order to do this, he pre-orders games (deposit) and later cancels the preorder to receive a refund (withdrawal).
  • 23. MATKAHUOLTO BUS COMPANY & COOKIES This Finnish bus company held a promotion over the holidays that allowed passengers to pay for bus fare with home-baked cookies. Unsurprisingly, the response was overwhelming and tickets sold out within a few hours, much to the dismay of many a baker/traveler.
  • 24. TIPPING POINTS ↑ ACCELERATORS: Alternative currency will gain momentum with the stretching of financial, political, and social institutions, as well as the rise of inequality. Potentially meaningful cultural shifts could include large spikes in unemployment or the rise of war. Additionally, if an institution like WalMart were to accept diverse payment options (especially mobile), mainstream use could snowball.
  • 25. TIPPING POINTS ↓ DECELERATORS: Alternative currency will lose momentum with the stabilization of financial, political, and social institutions, as well as the arrival of peaceful times. Concurrently, if black markets become regulated (a la legal marijuana) or if personal online security is compromised (such as Mt. Gox), individuals may choose to stick with traditional monetary systems.
  • 26. 1 Sa Space in the Air 2 St Shock & Transgress 3 Pl Play 4 Mm Memory Management 5 Ab Absurdism 6 En Enchanted 7 Rc Refreshed Classics 8 Cx Codex 9 Sm Snack Media 10 Ax Armchair Explorer 11 Nh New New Hollywood 12 Bi Binge 13 Rt Radical Transparency 14 Ob Open Brand 15 Pr Premiumization 16 Le Life as Entertainment 7 Cc Convergence Culture 1 Uf Unfat Generation 2 Nm New Masculinity 3 Pw Power Woman 4 Tg Third Genger 5 Rr Redefined Retirement 6 Hy Hyper Culture 8 Ss Second Skin 9 Si Singletons 10 Mf Modern Family 11 Sq Squealing 12 Ex Exponentials 13 Ft Flattening 1 Rt Real Thing 1 Dd Data Divinity 2 Sc Screen Culture 2 H Hack Design 3 Gc Geek Chic 4 Te Ephemeral 5 Ki Kidult 6 Sm Small-scaling Sm 7 Sp Slow Perception 8 Ti Tangible Intangible 15 Dc Decay 9 De De/re-materialization D 10 Fh First Hand Look 11 Ra Raw 12 Lm Living Matter 13 Wt Warm Technology 14 Gl Glitch 22 72 1972 16 Ne Neo-psychedelic 17 Na Nano World 18 Ma Mashup 19 Hd Hand Drawn 20 Ie Immersive 360° 21 Fl Flat Design 1 Ic Icognito 2 In Inwards 3 Ru Rurban 3 Ru 4 Us Made in the USA 5 Ec Ecoboostering 6 On Oneness 7 Lw Living Without Rs Restoration 8 9 Ss Startup Society 10 Mi Moral Imperative 11 Rb Rise of the Believer R 12 Ll Life Logic 13 Cq Crowd IQ 14 Provenance 15 Se Sharing Economy 16 St Strangify 17 Io Insumer/Outsumer 13 Mg Mood Geisting 14 Fq Focus Quotient 3 Sh Super Human 4 Qs Quantified Self 5 Sn Sensor Network 6 Qe Quantified Everywhere 7 Fl Frictionless Life 8 Mg Mind Gaming 9 Sf Social Flares 10 We Wearables 11 Mi Micro Manufacturing 12 Cs Cyborg Singularity S&H CORE OFFERINGS 26 INNOVATIONCULTURAL INTELLIGENCE CONTENT & AMPLIFICATION • Macro Trend Identification & Quantification • Projecting Segments into the Future (Consumers of the Future) • Product, Service & Packaging Development • Business Model Design & Reimagination • Business Context Analysis • Futurism • Whitespace Identification • Brand/Partner & Acquisition Recommendations • Social & Cultural Listening • Competitive Intelligence & War Gaming • Segment Analysis & Tracking • Topic Deep Dives • Event Tracking • Issue Monitoring • Real-time Burst Identification • Channel Analysis • Content & Influencer Strategy • Editorial & Cultural Calendars • Pre-Planned (70/30) Content Production - Online and Offline • Real-time Content Production • Real-time Commerce • Social Media Content (short and long form) - posts, tweets, vines, videos, blog, etc. • Community Management • Influencer Outreach • Channel Optimization & Fan Base Development • Analytics & Measurement • Real-time Media Amplification CULTURAL STRATEGY
  • 27. “This Omnicom-backed "newsroom"-oriented agency starts each morning with a cultural briefing for clients such as Hyatt, Jarden and Life is Good, for whom it developed six "culture-to-commerce" T-shirts. In 2013 it grew from two to 17 clients and quadrupled its staff to 20.” SPARKS & HONEY NAMED AS 1 OF 10 TOP AGENCIES TO WATCH IN 2014 BY ADAGE
  • 28. Sign up on our website to receive updates and future reports: For more information: 212.894.5100 @sparksandhoney