Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin – Dave Birch and Paul Buitink

Dave Birch is author of Identity is the New Money and Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin and is one of the founders of Consult Hyperion, a leading consultancy in the field of electronic transactions. You can find him at and

Birch starts with explaining the importance of open banking and the new Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) in Europe, which will completely change banking. New threats will come more from big tech companies like Facebook, Alibaba than from other banks.

Money has evolved over time says Birch and each era needs its own money. We went from money that we understood to money that understands us. Money is a mere social construct or a temporary institutional arrangement. Birch ties the growth in global trade and rise in standards of living with the invention of central banking. In England Isaac Newton played an important role setting up the central bank.

Birch demystifies the buzz around blockchain. Most concepts don't make sense since they're just aimed at rebuilding existing solutions. He explains what an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is and how those coins, or tokens, can make trade much better worldwide. The financial industry is waiting for proper regulation before tokenizing everything eventually. The token market will be layered with cryptocurrency at the bottom, then representations of real world assets and then a identity layer above that compliant with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulation.

So who will be the money creators of the future? Birch mentions the 5 Cs. The first is central banks, who will at some point start issuing their own digital currency to citizens, called Central Bank Digital Currencies. The second are the commercial banks. The third refers to companies e.g. the IBM dollar that Edward de Bono already dreamed up in the nineties. The fourth is cryptography (he expects the bitcoin family tree to evolve) and the final is communities. Virtual communities will demand their own currency. The future economy furthermore will be more oriented around cities, a type of community. Water and energy could also well become money. Modern technology and artificial intelligence will ensure a smooth and seamless interoperability between a diversity of monies.

Will we see a world of more or less monies? Birch definitely supports the former.

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