No McMortgage for you

The limits of our IT systems today are tested by people with names disliked by computers.

The kind of McMansions we imagine are being financed by the Bank of the Internet, which is being sued for being a bunch of loose cannons. Image courtesy Flickr.

Each morning, this series shares excerpts from the day’s Wall Street Journal, with added context for blockchain investors and enthusiasts. Subscribe here.

You’re not here: Today the Journal interviews some guys named Tom Test, Christopher Null, and Avery Blank — all of whom say their names are routinely rejected by web forms for triggering some kind of debugging feature hard-coded by lazy programmers. Presumably, when lazy programmers build web forms, they put rules in the code to disregard fictitious entries made for testing out the page during development. There are right ways to do this, and wrong ways to do this, and the prevalence of these lazily-built pages and apps is what makes the web the creaky, unreliable thing we know and sort-of hate. These pages and apps constitute the “application layer.” In decentralized systems, this layer is a lot thinner, and this reduces the opportunities for laziness which frustrate web users like Tom Test today.

Candidate for replacement: Did you know there’s a publicly-traded Bank of the Internet? There is: it has no branches, and it specializes in high interest deposits, niche loans to wealthy international borrowers, and mortgages for self-employed entrepreneurs. What could be fishy about that? The “B of I” is being sued for “lax controls and other wrongdoing” according to WSJ, but on its way down, it may be demonstrating a prototype for the lines of business that would be possible for a branchless, decentralized, pure-software bank. After all, it grew earnings an average of 42 percent a year for the last four years, and not all of that can be misbegotten. Reproduced on a trustless, transparent ledger, some of this niche lending activity could find its way to a nascent crypto-financial services market in a few years.