Decyphering Bitcoin and the Blockchain


No doubt you’ll have heard about Bitcoin by now. It’s that disruptive technology that is keeping Financial Services CEOs awake at night. JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, in his annual letter to shareholders warned investors and the banking industry that “Silicon Valley is coming” – suggesting that there are hundreds of startups focusing on the financial services technology space (“fintech”) and that traditional banking will need to double down on its innovation efforts.

[Startups] … are very good at reducing the ‘pain points’ in that they can make loans in minutes, which might take banks weeks. We are going to work hard to make our services as seamless and competitive as theirs. And we also are completely comfortable with partnering where it makes sense.

But his particular focus on next generation payments systems like PayPal and Bitcoin were called out for special attention.

Here in Australia, these new systems have been the subject of a Senate Hearing Committee investigating digital currencies.

But how does Bitcoin work? Sean Carmody, Head of Credit Risk at Westpac put together this presentation that explains the technical underpinnings of Bitcoin – the blockchain. It explains:

  • Why virtual currencies are a happening thing – the perfect match for a virtual world
  • The problem with virtual currencies – how to prevent people simply “copying” a digital currency
  • The innovation in the “blockchain”

And while the presentation does get technical, it is also eye-opening. Technology may be transforming the way that currencies can operate (now and into the future) – but TRUST remains a vital ingredient in currency transactions. And as Sean suggests, Bitcoin may not be the winner in the digital currency race – but it has fired the starter’s gun.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week


It seems that we are accelerating towards the end of the year – not winding down. And while last week I focused on posts that kept away from trends and predictions, this week it’s been hard to avoid them. Here are some top quality reads to get your brain in gear:

  1. There is a reason that Seth Godin is one of the web’s most popular and oft-quoted bloggers. This post on the industrialists vs the rest of us really helped me this week. Hopefully it will help you too
  2. Neil Perkin has pulled together a fantastic presentation on digital content trends for 2013. Worth reading, absorbing and acting on
  3. Ever wondered why disruptive technology is so disruptive? R “Ray” Wang provides a great framework for understanding the organisational personas found across the enterprise landscape
  4. We all crave “engagement” … but what does that really mean? Valeria Maltoni explains that there are certain kinds of stories that drive engagement
  5. I loved this provocative rant from Dan Lyons on startups that can’t raise money. Let’s all shed some tears