Episode 8 – CRYPTOPIA

Fanatical belief in cryptocurrencies lead to the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. Michel Bauwens takes us on a tour of what’s good.

Rob Tercek sat through a day of rally-style promotion of cryptocurrencies in Puerto Rico in February 2018 – and came away with a few questions.  Here’s Max Keyser’s talk at that event, which Rob found particularly disturbing:

Michel Bauwens’ P2P Foundation has been working to promote social uses of blockchain technologies.

Here’s a P2P Foundation post about “10 blockchain projects to keep an eye on“, including: The Possible Project and ShareRing. (ShareRing is Australian, so we do our best to have them on CRYPTONOMICS in our next series!)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Level One Project promises to bring cryptocurrency and smartphone-based trading to the developing world.

Finally, the Regen Network, which sees in itself a complete rewriting of how we account for value in civilisation.

Episode 7 – GOOD BUYS

ICOs are risky investments – CRYPTONOMICS looks at how their pitches play on our wishes for a better world, to get us to part with our cash.

We heard about the Great Keppel Island ICO, and here’s the original press release I received on the 4th of September, 2018:


The Crypto Challenge Forum promises:

Blockchain and the Future of Humanity:
Economy. Environment. Ethics

Then we took a look at the white paper’s for two ICO’s we discussed back in Episode 4:

PowerLedger’s POWR token white paper: Power-Ledger-Whitepaper-v3

The Guardian Circle GUARDIUM token white paper: guardium_whitepaper_en-1.0.3

And if you want to have a peek at the Mark Pesce Token, go here


Businesses risk big losses accepting cryptocurrency payments. Do we need a ‘stablecoin’ that holds its value – or government ‘fedcoins’?


Havven is an Australian startup creating a ‘stablecoin’ on the back of a very well-subscribed ICO, raising USD $30,000,000 (closer to AUD $40M). Those funds serve as the surety so that their currency can be exchanged dollar-for-dollar with USD.


We spoke to Havven founder Kain Warwick about what it takes to create a stablecoin – and why people might want to use one.

Tether is the most well-known stablecoin. But it’s been devilishly hard to find an auditor willing to say Tether has an adequate store of USD:


Ecuador had a wild ride into and then out of a ‘fedcoin’:



But will stablecoins really work?  MIT Tech Review says ‘um…’


Episode 5 – SMART MONEY

Imagine a company with no employees, no managers, no board of directors. Imagine a company that ran as a piece of software guaranteeing a democracy of shareholders.

Distributed Autonomous Organsation, or DAO, promised this to its investors:


It didn’t quite go as planned.

We’ve learned a lot about securing computer programs in the nearly 25 years since Brendan Eich invented Javascript – a language now powering nearly every site on the Web.

We’ve invented ‘sandboxing‘ – your smartphone apps can’t steal data from one another, nor can the websites you visit.

Vitalik Buterin created a cryptocurrency with coding features built into the currency. Ethereum runs millions of programs, each in its own sandbox.

Enabling ‘smart money’ – money that can think for itself – Ethereum has proven among the most useful of all coins – and as a result is now worth more than any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.

EtherScripter is an amazing tool that lets you drag-and-drop the design of smart contracts. It draws heavily from the SCRATCH programming language used to teach children as young as 6 years old the essential skills of programming. So EtherScripter is easy to understand – and fun.

Here’s a simple EtherScripter smart contract that performs a coin flip:

Etherscript coin flip

Get your hands dirty with EtherScripter here!

As we learned in our interview with CryptoFlip‘s Max Kenny, there’s a lot more to doing a coin flip well – that is, with truly random results.

The DAO failed because of bugs – and hubris. Smart contract pioneers wanted to run before they’d learned to walk.

This WIRED article explores the failure of the DAO in detail.

Episode 4 – TOKENOMICS

What gives a coin its value? Gold is rare (as is Bitcoin), but most coins are plentiful. So we need to ask another question – is a coin useful?

The utility of a coin can be determined by observing how it’s been designed to be used – and comparing that against how people actually use it.

Bitcoin was originally meant to facilitate peer-to-peer cash transactions on the Internet, but because of its long settlement times (in the tens of minutes) and high fees, it’s rarely appropriate. Instead, Bitcoin’s utility comes from its store of value.

But there are other coins:

litecoin 768px-Namecoin

Litecoin and Namecoin are both similar to Bitcoin – ‘cloned’ from the Bitcoin source code. But each of them are just different enough to attract their own traders.

In 2015, Ethereum came along – more about that in episode 5 – and the number of ‘initial coin offerings’ exploded, generating well over twenty billion dollars (USD) in sales:


PowerLedger provides a blockchain-based accounting mechanism allowing individuals generating energy at home – via renewables such as solar and wind – to sell that energy to their neighbors, with real-time payments.

Dr. Jemma Green joined us to discuss the utility of the POWR token – created to act as a ‘bond’ against settlement of electricity bills – but with much broader applications.

Dr. Jemma Green (and 6 week-old Castiel) joined us for an interview about PowerLedger

Dr. Green described a system of POWR tokens and another token – SPARKS – used together to facilitate payments:


The POWR token sale raised $34,000,000 in investment for PowerLedger.

According to Mark Jeffrey, the real value of any coin can be surmised by its usefulness – and he suggests we head over to Block’tivity to see the real-time chart of the most useful coins.

Here’s a snapshot from 25 August 2018:

Usefulness is not correlated to value. Bitcoin is useful. EOS, STEEM and Ethereum more so.


Mark Jeffrey also took us through the tokenomics of Guardian Circle, his ‘decentralised 9-1-1’ application that aims to bring emergency services to billions in the developing world. It uses a ‘Guardium‘ token to incentivise first responders. (Disclaimer: I am both an adviser to Guardian Circle and am a Guardium token holder in recognition of my services as an adviser. This is not investment advice.)



Agricultural settlements are a long-term problem for agribusiness.


The farmer is always taking on all of the ‘counterparty risk‘ – the chance that the buyer won’t or can’t pay.

AgriDigital created a blockchain for agricultural settlements – ensuring farmers get paid for their crop as soon as it get sold – and not six months later.

Emma Weston of AgriDigital joins us in studio

Land title registries will be using blockchain – once the various bureaucratic difficulties get sorted out. It might work something like this:

land title.png

Arianee is creating an asset registry for luxury items – very similar to the blockchain application described in the middle of the episode. Here’s a short video about what they’re up to:

In 2015, IBM and Samsung jointly announced their ADEPT initiative – to bring blockchain security to all of the connected devices in our world.

Here’s IBM’s whitepaper describing their goals for ADEPT – which could bring blockchain to almost all connected devices, numbering in the tens of billions:

IBM ADEPT Practictioner Perspective – Pre Publication Draft – 7 Jan 2015

The University of Melbourne has tested a blockchain-based solution to provide access to verifiable academic credentials.  Graduates can expect a system like this to be in common use within the next few years.


The opening story for episode two features the Global Digital Currency Conversation, and event held during the 2014 G20 summit in Brisbane, bringing together together policymakers and digital currency pioneers. I gave the opening keynote:

The first coin comes from before 600 BC in Lydia:

lydian coin
This Lydian coin from approximately 660 BC is the size of a lentil.

Paper money is a Chinese invention.

Song Dynasty Jiao zi — the first paper money, approximately 1100 years old.

Bitcoin’s value – relative to the US Dollar – from its launch in 2009 through the present:

Bitcoin price 2010 - 2018

Back in 2013, Ron Tucker launched BitTrade – one of the first Bitcoin exchanges in Australia.

Later that same year Ron co-founded the Australian Digital Currency Association (ADCA), so that governments – who have a lot of questions and concerns about cryptocurrencies – have a peak body liaise with.


Ron Tucker mentioned the importance of cryptocurrencies in the developing world – here’s VICE reporting on the launch of ACOIN, which is meant to become the functioning currency for a whole Senegalese city.


Money is changing – evaporating into digital banknotes known as cryptocurrencies.

CRYPTONOMICS explores and explains how cryptocurrencies – like Bitcoin – and the technology underneath them – known as the blockchain – are transforming finance, business and everything else touched by money.

CYRPTONOMICS shows you what makes it all tick – starting with an explainer of the blockchain so easy anyone can understand it.

In every episode of CRYPTONOMICS we hear from experts using this tech to do amazing things – reinventing agribusiness, energy, even gambling – and we’ll learn what it all means for the future of investing and the economy.

We start at the very beginning – all the way back to the first writing.

The origins of writing are the origins of accounting. Here’s a 5500 ledger tracking ownership of that most important of commodities – beer!

Sumerian cuneiform writing, an early ledger. Image credit: BabelStone

Baked clay tablets are a reliable form of record keeping – you can’t change them without breaking the tablet – but as we moved to papyrus and paper, records grew more complex and errors crept in.

In the 14th century, the Genoese invented double-entry bookkeeping, which used the balance of assets and liabilities to keep the books in order – leading to the world of banking and finance as we know it today.

All of this was ‘good enough’ – but far from perfect. Those flaws became apparent in the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, triggering the Global Financial Crisis, and nearly bringing the entire global banking system down with it.

Six weeks later, Satoshi Nakamoto posted his white paper to the Internet:

Bitcoin – A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System

It’s both surprisingly easy to read – given the subtlety of the ideas – and unleashed a financial revolution whose impacts are only now becoming apparent.

Introducing the ‘blockchain’ as the foundation for a new form of nearly foolproof accounting, Nakamoto inspired individuals around the world, including our first guest, Mark Jeffrey:

Mark Jeffrey joined us in the Los Angeles studio!

Mark Jeffrey had his inspirations confirmed by this article written by legendary Web pioneer and venture capitalist Mark Andreesen “Why Bitcoin Matters”

But it’s not all smooth sailing: The New York Times recently weighed in with “After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency Investors

Tokyo Drifter

Flew to Tokyo on 28 July with a head full of ideas.

Nine days and twenty thousand words later, I flew back to Sydney.

Forty-eight hours after I returned, Alex and I went into the studio, to begin recording.

It’s going well. Still more to come, but so far, so good.

That’s all anyone can ask.