Modern money talks*

Thanks to Facebook that keeps me informed on the most interesting professional events, I recently spent one evening surrounded by money — attended “Bitcoin and Blockchain” workshop held by the Business School of the National Bank of Ukraine’s University.

Don’t know whether each classroom in this so-called Temple of financial sciences resembles a true museum of money. If not, then my unconditional praise goes to the event’s organizers for the choice of location. While the speakers were a bit late struggling with traffic jams somewhere downtown, I profited from a slight delay by investigating with great curiosity both the classroom’s walls and the audience gathered inside it.

As for the audience, it consisted mainly of representatives of three generations: Y, X and baby boomers. Z-generation guys were not seen, or at least, I did not spot them. Among those who came there were acting and former bankers, financiers from non-financial companies, IT guys (two sat right in front of me) and some NBU University students. There was almost no one from the govermental agencies & ministries. Or at least, they preferred to maintain a low profile when being asked what indusry & walks of life they represent:). (People who keep following our cryptocurrency and IT news will understand my sarcasm without any further explanations).

Almost 85% of workshop’s participants had smartphones on their desks, which was wise, as free wi-fi could hardly be expected on the premises belonging to the NBU. Still smartphone penetration was not the most interesting detail I paid attention to. Workshop’s participants struck me, in a positive sense, by their knowledge of the subject matter. They could easily explain specifics of the commissions for bitcoin transactions, knew the difference between ICO (Initial Coin Offering) and IPO (Initial Public Offering) as well as heard about the DAO.

And then the actual event began. During its first part, technical experts covered technology specifics. After a coffee break, there came a turn for lawyers. All the four speakers were highly competent and at the same time easy to talk with. They did not bore us by old-school style speeches with meaningless slides-subtitles or did not avoid provocative questions. No way. Rather than trying to PR themselves / their companies they delivered high quality educational presentations, from which I learned tons of interesting facts about blockchain projects & cryptocurrencies:

- It is highly problematic to manipulate Bitcoin players, because to influence current bitcoin prices one would need to bribe owners of at least 50% + 1 bitcoin servers around the world. (Currently there exist about 7 thousand of them). It is also quite unlikely that someone would succeed in turning off bitcoin networks, as in order to do so it would be necessary to switch off the entire Internet, and in this case all the non-military data processing centers worldwide will cease to operate.

Due to the technical features blockchain, “… serious terrorism won’t be financed. Of course, this is possible in theory, but in practice it is insanely expensive. And why bother, if there are banks that will “launder” much bigger amounts, i.e. of $ 50 billion etc. “(Mike Chobanyan).

- While If in year 2009 (year when bitcoin was launched) people could set up only bitcoin purse for dollar, today there exist multi-currency purses to support approximately 50 most popular foreign currencies.

- Contradictory views on nature of cryptocurrencies are especially felt in two US states — New York and Florida. Judges from the state of New York consider bitcoin a financial instrument and insist on compulsory licensing of bitcoin-exchanges and other intermediaries (with all the due consequences, of course). Their colleagues from Florida tend to be more flexible, so the bitcoin-intermediaries in this state could operate much more freely.

- Some funds in support to our Maidan during 2013–2014 were transferred in bitcoins. (I recall reading news about crowdfunding including donations from abroad, but never heard about transfers in bitcoins).

- To date Ukrainian tax authorities did not decide how to treat bitcoin & cryptocurrency, and thus did not issue any regulatory documents. There was only one court case, in which the judges recognized bitcoin as having no value. It’s funny because the court issued this ruling at a time when the bitcoin was traded at $ 600. USA. (A rare case when I’d love to hug and kiss all these people for their ignorance).

- In 2013, the law firm Juscutum became the first company in Ukraine, (and who knows, maybe even in Eastern Europe) which allowed its clients to pay fees for legal services by bitcoins.

- This year, one day prior to nationalization of PrivatBank, there was a surge in bitcoin transactions origanating from Ukraine on major world bitcoin exchanges. And since this bank had been always been favoured by our politicians and tycoons (there must be convincing infographics on the categories of PrivatBank clients somewhere online), it looks like a number of deputies in Verkhovna Rada increased since then, and now includes not only those two guys who showed bitcoins on their e-declarations last time.

- The most loyal jurisdictions for crypto-currencies now are the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Singapore.

- Altogether there exist about 700 crypto-currencies, key cryptocurrency players prefer to convert them at some stage into bitcoin, which is more reliable and predictable than any “young” coins.

- Blockchain-platforms and smart contracts can be used not only in the financial sector. The range of their application is huge: from registers proving that an art object belongs to this or that person, aircraft leasing projects, booking apartments and / or cars for travelers to public health data management projects and registers that simplify the process of identifying livestock products (so-called “virtual quality mark” for meat or milk packaging sold by the specific supermarket chains).


* Of course, I know what the phrase “money talks” means. Still, could not resist wondering when new idioms describing innovations in payments start to penetrate modern English and other languages. So, in case you already noticed examples of these new linguistic constructions, please share them with me.

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