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Former Valve Virtual Economist is New Syriza Finance Minister of Greece

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SyrizaInternational Business Times reports that Greece’s new finance minister is Valve’s former virtual economist. Professor of Economic Theory and former Valve consultant Yanis Varoufakis was appointed Finance Minister of Greece on January 27, 2015. Previously, he was elected to the Greek Parliament, representing Syriza.

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The fate of the Eurozone economy could well be in the hands of a man who once monitored the sales of virtual goods via micro-transactions in video games.

Anti-Establishment Ideology

From January 2004 to December 2006, Varoufakis served as economic adviser to George Papandreou, whose government he was to become an ardent critic of a few years later. Author of several books on game theory, Varoufakis often appears as guest analyst for news media including the BBC, CNN, Sky News, Russia Today and Bloomberg TV.

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In 2012, Varoufakis became Economist-in-Residence at leading video-game developer and distributor Valve, where he researched in-game digital economies and maintained the Valve Economics blog. He wrote:

My academic curiosity blended nicely into Valve’s burning desire to serve its gaming community better, through the development of services that are in tune with the community’s needs as gamers but also as traders, developers, participants in something much bigger than just video games.”

Varoufakis says he was hired by Valve to forge narratives and empirical knowledge that (a) transcend the border separating the ‘real’ from the digital economies, and (b) bring together lessons from the political economy of our gamers’ economies and from studying Valve’s very special (and fascinating) internal management structure.

Valve’s management structure is very informal. Varoufakis’ political economy analysis of Valve’s management model is:

One in which there are no bosses, no delegation, no commands, no attempt by anyone to tell someone what to do. Can useful lessons be drawn about not only Valve’s inner workings but, importantly, regarding the future of the corporate world?

That goes hand-in-hand with the ideology of Varoufakis’ political party, Syriza. Formally known as “Coalition of the Radical Left,” Syriza has been characterized as an anti-establishment party, difficult to categorize as Left or Right. After Syriza won the January 25 elections, Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras and right-wing Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos formed an anti-austerity coalition.

The EU economy is so large, any changes to it will impact the global market as well, and so Varoufakis’ policies will affect the rest of the world, virtual worlds magazine New World Notes reports. Before the elections, there have been speculations that a Syriza-led government would abandon the Eurozone.

Contrary to previous anti-Euro statements, Tsipras said that his government will not abandon the Eurozone immediately. Varoufakis said they would come to Frankfurt and Berlin and Brussels with a plan to minimise the cost of that Greek debacle to the average German, and will be very careful not to toy with fast or loose talk of Grexit (Greek exit from the Eurozone).

Also read: Greece May Soon Exit The Eurozone – A Role for Bitcoin?

However, Varoufakis expertise in virtual economies indicates that he may take into consideration new trends in fintech, including crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.

Images from Wikimedia Commons and Valve.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. andrea

    January 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    we , that like and support BTC,and any subcategories in “coinage” out there, must watch this development closely. This may indeed be a major turn around in Virtual “coinage” , where ALL Greeks are counted as true citizen voting with their business and online private yet virtually open “coinage”. this could be a true de-regulated economy in the making, EXCITING! , exciting indeed.

  2. Asher Sutton

    January 28, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I would say this is good news and an interesting one. However I’m not sure everyone would share this opinion. The beginning of your article is not entirely reassuring. I prefer to interpret Mr. Varofakis’ interest in the Valve video game as the sign of an open mind with an eye on economic democracy.

  3. Infinite Wealth

    January 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Well I hope that the “Virtual” economist acnowledges there is a way in which to conduit brand new wealth and create a completely digital monetary economy parallel to our own completely open and on the blockchain. Although, it’s great news for the digital currency industry, looking on with great anticipation. Very exciting.

  4. RJF

    January 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Finally, someone who can transition from real to virtual and understands the coming sea change in economics. This is an experiment to watch closely. If he is successful, it could change the way governments think (react?) but, if he fails, I don’t even want to think about it right now…

  5. sjs

    January 28, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    2500 years ago Greece became the cradle of western civilisation, could history be repeating itself where Greece becomes the cradle of financial and structural reform and metamorphosys built on blockchain technology? It is the home of Pythagoras, Archimedes, King Leonidis, the Oracle of Delphi
    and Apollo. The list is long, the Greeks have been down for 6 years, their time has come. Exciting indeed.

  6. sugamari

    February 5, 2015 at 1:25 am

    All he needs now is some Bitcoin afficionados like Andreas Antonopolous and boom the secret is out 🙂

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Business

R3’s Blockchain Corda Used By HSBC and ING For The First Time

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HSBC

UK-based HSBC Holdings Plc. along with Dutch ING Bank NV, completed the first transaction based on the blockchain.

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The transaction was credited to Cargill Inc. and was performed during last Monday. It was based on a shipment containing soybeans and transported from Argentina to Malaysia. The transaction relied on a distributed ledger technology or commonly known as blockchain platform named Corda, developed by the R3 consortium.

R3 Blockchain Network

R3’s own blockchain network is currently supported by 12 banks, including Bangkok Bank, ING, SEB & U.S. Bank, and of course HSBC among other international banking institutions, which could help the DLT technology broaden its borders and make it accessible to the mainstream public.

The use of blockchain technology eliminated the need for paper and/or other physical documents, while it drastically fastened the transaction process.

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Under traditional circumstances, the same transaction would require from five up to ten days to be filled, exchanged and verified by the respective parties involved in the transaction. Using next generation DLT technology, the process was smooth and instant without the need for mortal interference.

Vivek Ramachandran, HSBC’s global head of innovation and growth for commercial banking, issued the following statement when asked about the transaction:

“This is an inflection point for how trade is conducted. With blockchain, the need for paper reconciliation is removed because all parties are linked on the platform and updates are instantaneous.”

“The reason why letters of credit have persisted is because of two real challenges — the absence of digital infrastructure and the challenge of coordinating multiple parties. This platform helps us overcome the first and I think the technology and everyone focussed on it gives us the impetus to go after the second now with hopefully much better results than we have seen in the past”

The use of blockchain technology in the IT sector seeks to make transactions of crucial data more reliable, secure and faster. With DLT technologies, companies are able to reduce the risk of fraud in letters of credit and other types of transaction with the use of smart contracts, as well as severely reduce the number of steps required for the transaction to happen.

Major Partnerships

Letters of Credit (LoCs) are the main way for vendors (importers and exporters) to trade with each other, as it eliminates problems such as the great distance between them, the different language and the different laws.

LoCs guarantee more than $2 trillion worth of transactions annually, but the process creates a great deal of paperwork and it is extremely time-consuming.

R3, while a silent player in this disrupting scene, has managed to establish some astonishing partnerships with major international central banks, including the Bank Of America.

The company uses a slightly different approach when it comes to blockchain technology, which is relatively close to IBM’s approach with Hyperledger. Corda is not a token, and you won’t find it or its mixed market cap used by projects using R3’s network in CoinMarketCap or similar cryptocurrency trackers.

While many banks attempted to join the blockchain train with Ripple and other similar transfer unions using blockchain technology as their basis, HSBC and ING are not your average banks, and they’re definitely on the verge of something that might revolutionize the scene and bring banking institutions closer to the future.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Business

Goldman Sachs Plans On Joining The Blockchain Revolution

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While blockchain-powered monetary systems are considered extremely volatile by the majority of traditional investing firms and banking professionals, some of them might have found their way onto the scene. Take Goldman Sachs for an example.

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Goldman Sachs carries an interesting log of achievements throughout its history in the banking and venture capital fields respectively.

Being an American “Bulge Bracket” investment bank and financial services company, GS managed to get involved with major Wall Street banks, governmental agencies and Academic Institutions, as well as large industrial corporations, establishing a series of long-term relationships with their partners, clients and associates.

Goldman Sachs is considered a primary dealer in the United States Treasury market, and it is one of the few banks that suffered but endured the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, receiving a $10 billion investment from the United States Department of the Treasury as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

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Ten years later, Goldman Sachs is again on the main scene of the global economy, this time taking its chances by investing in the disrupting high-tech sector and specifically in distributed ledger technologies, commonly known as blockchain.

Goldman reported last week that they would soon open a trading desk for bitcoin (BTC) futures contracts after a series of requests generated by the bank’s clients and partners.

At the same time, the Goldman-backed Circle company recently purchased cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex and it is planning to transform it into a leading exchange.

Most of these banks have heard about the numbers or seen the numbers that companies like Coinbase and Binance are putting up. There’s a real risk that some of those companies could overtake some of Wall Street’s biggest banks if they don’t get in the market.

…says Spencer Bogard, a Goldman Sachs partner at Blockchain Capital, who thinks that although it is an important step towards the legislation of cryptocurrencies and/or other token-based systems, it might cause further confusion as we still can’t say with absolute accuracy which token is actually legit and which is not.

Rana Yared, an executive officer responsible for creating the “silk road” between the GS customers and cryptocurrencies as an investable asset class, quotes that “Bitcoin is not a fraud” as previously described by various other Wall Street major bankers, including Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan, as well as important figures in the scene such as Waren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Whether Goldman’s adoption is a move towards mass adoption of this innovative technology or just a short-term opportunity to make fast profit for the major banking institution, we can say with greater certainty that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are here to stay.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Revolut: Apps For Cryptocurrencies

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For the last few months, it seems like we have been transfixed in the collapse of crypto prices, trying to figure out what is going to cause the next move up.  The answer is not easy to find. So I thought it might be an interesting change of pace to look at a fintech company that is participating in the crypto movement but has a few other cool things going as well.

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This may not fatten your investment account immediately but it should take your mind off bitcoin for a few minutes.  After that, who knows.

Big Valuation

Revolut is a UK based payments company in business since July 2015.  Last summer Revolut founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko raised over $66 million in VC funding and another $23 million from crowdfunding.  Yes, the Crypto buzz had something to do with their success. But there is quite a bit more.

Storonsky must be pretty good with a pitch deck considering the implied $200-$400 million valuation of the company.  He and his partner have deep experience in the global payments business. Nikolay spent years as a currency trader with Credit Suisse so he understands the absurd level of fees charged by the current system.

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The technical wizardry, however, rests with his partner Yatsenko. Vlad spent over ten years building financial systems for major Wall Street investment banks.  He serves as the company’s CTO.

Crypto Link: An Interesting Approach

According to company literature, the Revolut app allows customers to open a current account in under a minute, and includes a prepaid contactless MasterCard debit card.  So far there is nothing unusual about Revolut. But wait, there’s more.

The firm launched personal international bank account numbers (IBANs) across Europe just recently, and plans to integrate virtual currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin in the future.  This includes plans to add a wealth of new services in the coming months from the integration of cryptocurrency to pay-as-you-go travel insurance at the tap of a button.

Even before this gets accomplished, Revolut offers a currency exchange with 25 different currencies and a peer-to-peer payments service.  As Storonsky tells his story, “ . . . what we are demonstrating goes beyond banking.”

The one question investors are raising is how all these wonderful free services will be monetized.  An announcement this week should provide at least some answers.

CNP Fraud Prevention

Revolut has a new product aimed at tackling online card fraud. The mobile-only bank unveiled a virtual card that wipes a user’s card details and introduces new details each time they make a payment.

When people make an online payment, they enter card details and most often online retailers hold onto the data. This is where fraudsters have a field day.

In the trade it is known as Card Not Present (CNP) fraud.  As online shopping has increased steadily, CNP fraud has risen exponentially – something like 50% annually.

What happens is, every time you make a transaction, Revolut software deletes the card details so it’s impossible to make any transaction after that.  Just in case you were wondering, all the data remains in the browser of the customer. So the quality of customer service is not sacrificed.

Full Disclosure  

Revolut is not your typical ICO (i.e., all whitepaper and no product).  It is not fueled by any cryptocurrency or token. I first came across Revolut following their VC round last year and was impressed with the valuation, background of the founders and the business model.  I have no vested interest in the company. Someday the VC will want to cash out most likely through an IPO. So Revolut is a name you will want to keep track of.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 76 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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