Exchanges are the link between the old world of banking and the new world of crypto-currencies; they play a vital role in supporting the growing Bitcoin economy. If Bitcoin hopes to continue rapidly gaining new users it needs this bridge between the old and new systems to be up and functioning. While Bitcoin is in no way dependant on a link to the traditional banking system, its smooth transition into mainstream use certainly is.
Unfortunately these bridges which make up the exchange market are concentrated and often broken. This leads to concerns over reliability and security, which can cause market panic and extreme volatility. As Bitcoin enters the mainstream a wave of new businesses, services and software developers have recently dedicated their efforts to solving this problem. Their task will not be easy, and the while the exchange rate has seen some recent stability, there is a long way to go before obtaining bitcoins can be called user friendly and reliable.
One of the biggest problems currently facing the Bitcoin economy is the exchange market. The market suffers from continued concentration and price volatility. In order to maintain their links to the traditional banking world, these businesses have the unenviable task of attempting to shove Bitcoin into the world of bank accounts and anti-money laundering policies. New exchanges are joining the Bitcoin economy but regulatory compliance is no small barrier to entry. The few existing online exchange services continue to be significant points of failure for the Bitcoin economy.
A network of small, peer-to-peer transactions would likely bypass many of these issues and would be a fitting solution for the brilliantly decentralized Bitcoin network. But is such a thing possible? The guys behind MetaLair, a UK based start-up, think so and are working hard to develop the software and find the investors to make it a reality.
After the success of services such as M-Pesa, Kenya’s mobile-phone based money transfer service, it is clear that there is a large under banked population in the non-western world. A population that is quick to adopt low cost mobile based solutions.
A new mobile payment system, Dinero MPS, aims to offer a wide variety of mobile payment services starting with the unserved markets in Africa, South America and Asia. Founded by financial cryptographer Ian Grigg and entrepreneur Ken Griffith, Dinero’s Ricardian-Contract based system is set to launch later this year with the release of an Android phone app.
Dinero’s co-founder Ken Griffith shared with DGC insight on the businesses’ plans and motivations.
Monetas is building software for a decentralized financial and legal system that is less dependent on traditional bankers and lawyers.
The business’ founders, Chris Odom (Fellow Traveler) and Johann Gevers aim to make this ‘financial system 2.0’ possible by developing commercial versions of the Open Transactions digital finance library. This software will allow digital finance entrepreneurs to startup micropayment services, financial markets, community currencies, escrow services, and many others all without depending on the traditional banking or legal system.
Johann, Monetas’ CEO, recently shared with me his thoughts on finance, his belief in decentralized systems and his plans for Monetas.
Digital Gold Currency is a fantastic idea. Gold enjoys thousands of years of history as an excellent currency and store of value. It is a form of money that is constantly chosen by the market and that needs no legislation to support its value. Gold is stable, solid and cannot be pulled out of thin air. With modern technology gold can be used as a currency online without any more effort than it takes to check your email. Brilliant!
But as DGC’s were starting to take off and be recognized for their many benefits, the rug was pulled out from under the industry with the prosecution of e-gold. The old DGC business model is centralized and vulnerable to seizure, censorship and prohibitive regulation.
The Voucher-Safe system allows for a more decentralized, Anti-Money Laundering compliant way to anonymously exchange value. It’s DGC 2.0, a more flexible and resilient system where anything can be money. “The idea behind voucher-safe is that it isn’t about making just one thing money. Money can be gold, it can be existing national fiat currencies, it can be bitcoins, it can be silver, it can be anything of value that people want to exchange.”