Op. Ed.: Blockchain and the Battle for ‘Blood Antiquities’: Could Digital Currency Platforms Help to End the World’s Deadliest Trade?
Antiquities are not something many in the digital currency community consider; similarly, technology is not a priority for archaeologists and historians. But could Blockchain technology solve the most dangerous problem posed by the trade in antiquities? Terror groups in Iraq and Syria – the richest archaeological region in the world – have been profiting from an illicit trade in antiquities which destroys our shared cultural heritage and which funds the terrorist war-machine which has committed the worst atrocities experienced in the 21st Century so far. Economic historian Chris Cooper explains how Blockchain title deeds – a new type of smart contract – could help law enforcement agencies trace antiquities and stamp out the world’s deadliest trade.
Op-Ed: Bregret and Breconciliation, but No Breverse: Brexit, Uncertainty and the Future of Digital Currencies in Europe
“At 20 minutes to five, we can now say the decision taken in 1975 […] has been reversed by this referendum to Leave the EU: it is absolutely clear now that there is no way that the Remain side can win.” With these words, veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby – a mainstay of BBC Election Broadcasts for forty years – announced that Britain had voted to leave the EU, by a slim 4% lead, despite the predictions of Pollsters. Brexit is no longer a theoretical possibility: Britain enters a volatile time, Pound Sterling is in freefall. So what does this mean for the short and medium term future of digital currencies in the UK and the rest of Europe?
The Isle of Man can often seem an anachronism, sidelined in international thinking. But its highly-publicized embracing of digital currencies may change this. By jumping ahead of the curve on prudent digital currency regulation, a tiny island in the Irish Sea may have become an example for the world – and all indications suggest that this tiny island is already reaping the rewards.
The UK retains its position as the top destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Europe, thanks to a regulatory set up designed to assist FDI investors to access the market. This, along with the good cryptocurrency news coming out of Britain in recent years, means the time is ripe for external investors to start thinking about the UK as a destination for digital currency investment. But while the UK itself presents numerous attractive opportunities across the digital currency industry, it may be Britain’s closest neighbors, the Crown Dependencies, which provide the best opportunities for rapid growth and big returns.
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced ‘MintChip’, a blockchain-backed payment system designed to enable the rapid, peer-to-peer, low-value exchange of Canadian Dollars without the need for physical cash or third-party transaction fees. While MintChip represented a laudable development of fiat currency payment systems, it – and other proposed government-backed cryptocurrencies, such as in Scotland – miss the point entirely. To be successful, a digital currency needs to complement existing fiat currencies, providing a genuine alternative free of the heavy regulation, transaction fees, and exchange rate issues that characterize sovereign currencies. Government-created digital currencies therefore represent a threat to the integrity of the global digital currency ecosystem.