Notes of Note from John F. Ince

This video concisely explains why we need to redesign our monetary system.

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A social enterprise that taps into the hidden world of online sales referrals allows us to give to charity without opening our wallets  Through TheGivingMachine, charities that might otherwise directly ask for money are asking people for a small change in their online behaviour. Photograph: Alamy

Would you donate more to charity if it wasn’t coming out of your pocket? Thanks to the combination of several technologies and services, this is now possible through the social enterprise TheGivingMachine.

Every year, online shops pay hundreds of millions of pounds to other websites for sales referrals. This is a hidden pool of money to which we have all added by clicking on a link, buying a product and as a result unknowingly created a sales commission for someone else. TheGivingMachine taps into this established technique called affiliate marketing and enables you to generate a sales commission from buying what you were already going to buy from hundreds of the best known online shops. 75% of these commissions are then converted into free donations to the charities and schools you choose, with the remainder providing the income needed to operate the website and distribute the many donation payments every month.

via TheGivingMachine: how technology is making donating free | Social Enterprise Network | Guardian Professional.

“So, is Bitcoin actually money?”It’s a fair question and, with the intense scrutiny directed at the “crypto-currency” of late, an increasingly common one. But the real question is not whether Bitcoin functions as money today, nor whether Bitcoins themselves are a good speculative investment. The real question – and the only important question when considering whether Bitcoin could be a viable alternative currency – is, “can Bitcoin ever function well enough as money to matter?”And that answer, I fear, is no.Whether something is “money” has nothing to do with the source of production, whether it’s issued by a government or a private company or spontaneously generated by a community, whether it’s minted or mined or printed or issued electronically.Money is … well, money … to the degree to which it enables transactions, to the degree that you can use it to purchase things. No matter how efficient or liquid a market is, unless it can be used to purchase things, it’s not money; it’s a commodity.By that measure, Bitcoin is unquestionably money.It just happens to be terrible at it.Wheres the marketplace?Even the most vocal supporter of the system acknowledges that the number of merchants accepting Bitcoins is miniscule and the number of large merchants embracing it is almost nil.But is that unfair, or at least premature?Perhaps it’s just a question of time, business development, marketing … of scale. One hears the term “critical mass” a great deal when this question is posed, the implication being that the ecosystem just needs enough merchants to buy in for Bitcoin to become useful as money and to become self-sustaining.But it is not quite so simple.

via Bitcoin Is Money … It’s Just Terrible At It | The Exchange – Yahoo! Finance.

Currency — the bills and coins you carry in your wallet and in your bank account — is founded on marketing, on the belief that banks and governments are trustworthy. Now, Paul Kemp-Robertson walks us through a new generation of currency, supported by that same marketing … but on behalf of a private brand. From Nike Sweat Points to bottles of Tide (which are finding an unexpected use in illegal markets), meet the non-bank future of currencies.

Starbucks is seeing impressive adoption of mobile payments in its U.S.-based store locations, the company revealed during its quarterly earnings conference call last night (via WSJ). Mobile payments crossed the 10 percent mark in the U.S. as a percentage of in-store purchases, indicating efforts like the Starbucks mobile app, Apple’s Passbook and Square Wallet are popular among users.

The coffee franchise is pushing forward with more mobile-focused initiatives, including the installation of wireless charging mats in select locations. The Powermat-supplied wireless charging initiative follows a trial of 17 locations in Boston, and will roll-out in Silicon Valley throughout August. The standard it uses is the Power Matters Alliance variety, which unfortunately doesn’t work with phones that use the Qi standard like the Google Nexus 4. Still, a growing number of companies are joining up with PMA’s standard, and Starbucks’s continued support should help it appear in more devices.

The lesson here is that Starbucks is putting a lot of weight behind its mobile digital initiatives, and those efforts are bearing fruit. Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said on the call that its “various digital initiatives have added demonstrable impact to our U.S. business in the third quarter” and promises to do even more for the company with continued investment.

via Mobile Payment At U.S. Starbucks Locations Crosses 10% As More Stores Get Wireless Charging | TechCrunch.

In what was likely an accident, Best Buy revealed the specs and images of the new Nexus 7 tablet early Wednesday morning, only hours before Google’s own announcement about the device. The tablet was made available for pre-order but was later not available for purchase and instead labeled “Coming Soon.” By then, tech sites all over the Web were saturated with details about the new tablet: It would have a 7-inch screen with the capacity for input from 10 fingers at a time and a crystal clear resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels; a 5-megapixel camera; a long-lasting (9-hour) battery; an incredibly thin 8.65 mm body, and a starting price of $229 for the 16 GB model. That’s $30 more than the price of the last Nexus tablet, but still a whole $100 less than Apple’s comparable iPad Mini. In fact, the new Nexus 7 will have a higher screen resolution and weigh less than the iPad Mini.

Adding to the fervor about Google’s new hardware, the company also unveiled a new device called Chromecast, a $35 HDMI stick that will allow computers or tablets to stream TV, videos, photos, or really any content to a monitor. At the San Francisco unveiling event for the new device, titled “Breakfast With Sundar Pichai” (Pichai is the head of Android and Chrome at Google), the executives said that only 15% of people know how to send content from the Internet, tablets, or computers to a TV screen. The Chromecast is designed to address that need at a reasonable price.

via Google floods market with hardware.

By DAVID VERRILL

Following through on a key provision of last year’s JOBS Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission has ended the ban on the general solicitation of capital for privately offered securities. The agency’s action is being hailed as a boon that will open the door for vast stores of money that entrepreneurs can use to start up new businesses and hire workers. More likely, the SEC’s move could slam the door shut.

That is because the agency’s new rules end the decades-old practice of letting individuals self-certify that they meet the legal rules that allow them to risk their money in a new venture that was not a “public offering.” The SEC has replaced self-certification with a verification scheme that would require most individuals who want to be considered as “accredited investors” to provide detailed personal financial information to entrepreneurs.

This is a huge step backward. Today, more than 200,000 accredited “angel” investors currently put up more than $23 billion per year to fund startups—a sum that amounts to 90% of the equity these startups get from sources other than the entrepreneurs themselves. If these investors are required to give tax documents to entrepreneurs or third parties who act as a “verifying agent,” they will flee rather than agree to this invasion of their privacy.

Under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, the SEC was tasked with allowing general solicitation of capital for non-publicly traded corporations, provided that the issuer takes “reasonable steps to verify” that the investors are “accredited.” Under current rules, an accredited investor is someone with an annual income exceeding $200,000 or a net worth (excluding a primary residence) above $1 million. About 8.7 million U.S. households would qualify.

via David Verrill: SEC Rules Will Clip the Wings of Angel Investors – WSJ.com.