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Virtual currencies

Opportunities or threats for the shopping experience?


The emergence of new technologies has enabled the arrival of new forms of money and new ways of exchange. We are only into the early stages of so-called "virtual money". Since more than 20 years, we have trust in our credit cards and, since a little less time, in the electronic financial transactions realized through our "e-banking" accesses, but are we ready for the oncoming disruption?


People use virtual money without even knowing it

Virtual currencies are frequently used by consumers as a means of exchanging value, whether they realize it or not. In fact, many of the media of exchange we use outside of traditional currencies like cash are actually virtual currencies. For instance, commonly used items such as credit card points, air miles and coupons are virtual currencies, given that they’re a proxy for value. Even time and personal data, when bartered to receive something in return, are virtual currencies.


While the virtual currencies market is clearly multifaceted, it is also lucrative. The virtual money market should grow 14 percent in the coming years to reach U.S. $55.4 billion in 2017. Undeniably, this is a sizeable and growing opportunity. Despite the misadventures of the Bitcoin and some other virtual currencies earlier this year, "the banking system has come to the realization that digital currency isn’t going away," in the words of Barry Silbert, founder and chairman of the online financial marketplace SecondMarket. The most promising areas include personal information and ad views as a currency, which are both projected to more than double in size within the next five years.


Mobile as a catalyst

According to a recent Yankee Group survey of more than 2,000 mobile device owners, there is a clear interest in and familiarity with using all types of virtual currencies. Device owners are using virtual currencies frequently, and they are quite comfortable in doing so. Of particular interest for device owners is using virtual currencies to obtain the digital content, such as apps and app-based coins and tokens, they value so dearly.


Interestingly, the proliferation of the mobile device has been instrumental in fuelling the growth of existing virtual currencies while giving life to new areas - namely the use of time and personal information exchanged for digital content. Marketers are quickly realizing that by adapting their initiatives to the mobile channel and leveraging virtual currencies, robust and meaningful engagements with device owners can be realized.


Are we prepared to take the step?

Participation in virtual currencies is already far more widespread than may be understood by the general population, and new forms are quickly gaining traction. Peer-to-peer currencies have increased in popularity as a means of exchanging value between parties without the need for a central bank. Online tokens have earned attention thanks to social network games and mobile apps. And mobile payments and location-based rewards are leveraging virtual currencies as a means of gaining adoption.


To what extent will virtual currencies change our way of consuming? What are the risks in terms of Information Security? Are technologies and men prepared, technologically or psychologically, to take the step? Do Bitcoin and Litecoin fall within a simple speculative bubble or are they really money for the future?


FinTech: disrupt or be disrupted

ICT Spring Europe 2014, taking place on 3rd & 4th July at the New Conference Center of Luxembourg Kirchberg, will showcase a range of talented startups and established global companies leading the way in the creation of innovative business models, cutting edge technology and pioneering customer channels that are transforming the FinTech technology that engages with or delivers financial services - landscape by taking financial services directly to the consumer.


Virtual currencies to be questioned at ICT Spring Europe 2014

Some of the most valued entrepreneurs in virtual currencies, digital financial services, e-payment, and m-payment, will share their experience and reveal their insights in the context of this year’s edition. The two days of conferences, master classes and round tables will be delivered by prominent lecturers:


John Clippinger is co-founder and Executive Director of ID3, a non-profit organization formed to develop and field test legal and software trust frameworks for data-driven services, infrastructures, and enterprises. He is also a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group. Previously, Dr Clippinger was founder and Co-Director of The Law Lab at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.


Dr Clippinger is the author of "A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity" and "The Biology of Business, Natural Laws of Enterprise". Previously, he was Director of Intellectual Capital, Coopers & Lybrand and the founder of four artificial intelligence software companies.


A commentator on the social impact of globalization, P2P finance and digital economies, Stan Stalnaker is the Founding Director of Hub Culture and the Ven digital currency and a Board Member and Communications Chair of the Digital Asset Transfer Authority, the premier self-regulatory organization for digital assets and currencies.


Ven is one of the world’s leading digital currencies, and is derived from a basket of commodities currencies and carbon futures, making it the world’s first green monetary system. Ven is the first digital currency to enter the global financial system, is the first and only private currency trading on regulated FX exchanges and is at the forefront of the new virtual currency funds industry, ranging from commodities to microfinance.


Hub Culture is one of the world’s most influential private networks, with regular fundraising and event based activities, a news content system geared around online micropayments, collaboration tools that merge locations with the web, and engagement with social leaders worldwide through a consulting service called knowledge brokerage.


Michael Gronager is the Chief Operating Officer of Payward Inc, the startup behind the biggest Euro to Bitcoin exchange, kraken.com. Michael is a technologist, quantum mechanics, developer, public speaker, cofounder of Payward, founder of Ceptacle and primary author of libcoin, a Bitcoin and altcoin library.


Michael has been part of the crypto currency landscape right from its beginning and is an often used counsel covering US and EU regulations, compliance, financial services as well as technological aspects of this emerging technology. He also holds a long record in managing public research infrastructures in Europe and in the Nordics and currently serves as board member at the Swedish National Supercomputer Center.


As President of CrowdStrike Services, Shawn Henry leads a world-class team of cybersecurity professionals who help organizations protect their most sensitive intellectual property and national security information from targeted attacks. Shawn retired as FBI Executive Assistant Director (EAD) in March 2012, with responsibility for all criminal and cyber programs and investigations worldwide, as well as international operations and the FBI’s critical incident response. During his career as a Special Agent, Shawn served in three FBI Field Offices and at FBI Headquarters, where he held a wide range of operational and leadership positions, including Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office.


During his tenure, Shawn oversaw many of the most significant computer crime and cyber investigations spanning the globe, from denial-of-service attacks, to major bank and corporate breaches, to nation-state sponsored intrusions.


Manu Gupta is a General Partner at Lakestar and invests in technology companies worldwide. In the last 15 years, he has worked as a Java coder, software product designer, enterprise marketer, tech banker, and venture capitalist.


Investments or board representations include Taulia, Algomi, GoEuro, Tictail, Desado, Sailogy, Global Leads Group, as well as historic investments in emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey & India. Exits include Maker Studios / Disney, BrandsExclusive / APN, Markafoni / Naspers, Casacanda / Fab.


Prior to Lakestar, Manu was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, heading the European Internet coverage effort, as well as advising on tech M&A and IPOs in San Francisco and London. He started as a Software Engineer and Product Manager at Oracle Corporation, helping design some of Oracle’s very early mobile applications, and programming in the first incarnations of Java at Sun Microsystems.


What type of regulation for virtual currencies?

Besides the conferences, a panel discussion on the regulation of virtual currencies involving most of the above-mentioned speakers will be held. The debate will be moderated by Jean-Louis Schiltz, a Luxembourg lawyer active in telecoms and internet law, including e-payment and e-commerce. Jean-Louis Schiltz is a Guest Professor at University of Luxembourg and, from 2004 to 2009, he was a cabinet minister whose responsibilities included media and telecommunications.


Additional information is available at www.ictspring.com.


Michaël Renotte