What do companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook have in common?
Chris Skinner, banking futurist, blogger, and book author, calls them and other internet-based firms “infomediaries.”
That is, in his words, firms that are “taking a marketplace of people who have something and, through software and servers, connecting them with people who need something. The software and server becomes the intermediary for information which, in the world of the ValueWeb, is shortened to an infomediary.”
Skinner has written a new book, reviewed here by Banking Exchange banker-reviewer Jane Haskin, called ValueWeb: How Fintech Firms Are Using Bitcoin Blockchain And Mobile Technologies To Create the Internet Of Value. You can learn more about the book by reading the review.
But for now, understand that Skinner believes that the Uber of the ValueWeb will be the blockchain. He puts forward key elements of his argument in the following chapter-length excerpt from the forthcoming book. The chapter, and the excerpt below, is copyrighted by Skinner and his publisher Marshall-Cavendish International and reproduced with their permission. The book is currently scheduled for release in March 2016.
Chapter 6: Reinventing Value Exchange With The Blockchain
I’ve been hearing for a while bankers repeating the mantra Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good. This rallying cry is now so strong that if you challenge it—Is bitcoin really that bad?—everyone squashes the discussion. I’m now of a mind that the majority squash such discussion because they really don’t know what bitcoin is about.
Reid Hoffman—the co-founder of LinkedIn and early investor in PayPal and Facebook—talks about this, and says that he only got interested in bitcoin two years ago after meeting Wences Casares, whose interview features in the second half of this book. Reid says a few interesting things in this space.
“There are three aspects to Bitcoin that are interwoven ... One, it’s an asset, like digital gold 2.0. Two, it’s a currency in as much as currency is like the digital app that allows you to begin to transact and trade. And, three, it’s also a platform where you can build financial and other products on top of it. These attributes all bound together are what convinced me that there’s a certainty that there will be at least one global cryptocurrency and that there’s a good argument that it’s bitcoin, or that bitcoin is one of them, if not THE one.”
He goes on to talk about how other VCs and protagonists are talking about how the bitcoin currency is a good thing. It pleases him, as he’s investing for the long-term, and the long-term says that bitcoin is likely to win. So why would someone as intelligent and informed as Reid Hoffman—alongside Marc Andreessen, Richard Branson, Wences Casares and others—be so pro-bitcoin when the banks are not? My answer is that most of the people that say bitcoin is bad, haven’t looked under the hood.
And here’s why bitcoin is integral to the blockchain …
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