Here’s the draft of an article I was writing on the state of Digital Currency Payment Systems in 2000, some 5 years before Ripple was conceived, and 8 years before Bitcoin was released.
Since around 1995 I had been working on a few Mutual Credit type electronic accounting systems and we were paying close attention to emerging technologies like Mondex’ Smart Card and others.
Here you can see that I have also stated that these systems will be purely Peer-to-Peer, and not mediated by any Third Party.
Internal Currency Networks and the New Electronic Economy
by Stephen DeMeulenaere, 2000
The world’s monetary and financial services industries are today undergoing a revolution unlike any before seen. Rapid technological advances combined with new economic models are presenting new challenges and opening new possibilities for improving the redistribution of goods and services to those who need them. As economic institutions become more global in scope, space is increasing for regional and municipal governments to begin taking a role determining regional and local economic policies.
The internet, ubiquitous as it is, is really a network of communities. From this perspective, it is possible to build an international economic system from the community up, and that includes issuing currencies that are valuable only within particular communities.
-How recent developments in the design and application of local currency systems and alternative methods of financing reveal the breadth of economic possibilities.
-How recent technological developments with the internet will allow accounting between people to be conducted between each other on-line, and not mediated by a financial institution.
-How citizens are becoming more than producers, and more than consumers—becoming both the producers and consumers (“prosumers”) of the goods and services they use, exchanged within closed networks of family, friends, community and locality.
-How a wide-range of monetary and financing options will be provided to enhance reciprocation, redistribution and the meeting of basic needs.
-How these emerging mechanisms will reduce market instability, reduce boom/bust economic cycles and ‘unrealistic’ fluctuations in the value of currencies as they relate to each other and to markets local to those using the currency.
Local, municipal and regional governments as well as businesses will see the advantages of issuing their own bounded currencies for use on the internet. Internet websites will offer ‘internal currencies’ to facilitate exchange between the members of each community of users. Citizen ‘prosumers’ will join their local governments in supporting regional currencies as they directly correspond to participatory democratic control over their economies, and what happens in their local areas.
Conventional economists see the economy as an unbounded system, where money and goods flow between points without concerning themselves with whether these points are located within a local area, or at opposite ends of the globe. They see the economy as pre-eminent—and within a narrow scope of vision this is true. They fail to see the economy as subsystem of a much larger system, that of our natural world. Thus economic decisions are made without regard for the natural world, seeing the environment as a source for raw materials and as a sink for waste outputs.
To see the economy as a subsystem of the natural environment is to see many economic subsystems, each bounded by local, regional, bio-regional and trans-bioregional geographic areas. Economies are needed which respect these geographical boundaries, so that the exchange that takes place between them respects the greater ecological systems.
To bound an economy to its locality is to give democratic control to those who live, work and produce in that area. At a time when conventional economies are becoming supra-national, local economies are needed to insulate and protect environments and societies from the instability that supra-national economic activities cause. Economies are best managed by those who live in that area, and certainly not by those who do not live there.
Thus we are seeing the development of local, municipal, regional and bio-regional economic networks that are bounded by geographic areas and social communities which give the greatest control over economic activities to those who participate in these economies and live in the particular area.
In Europe and in Argentina, these local networks are the most advanced.
Parallel Currency Systems
Parallel currencies are a form of money that operates in parallel to the conventional national currency of a country. Aside from a few experiences of three Argentine states that issued regional government bonds in the form of currency, parallel currency systems are limited by a geographic locality of circulate within a particular social community.
In the conventional economy, currencies are valued relative to their scarcity, the more scarce they are, the more needed they are for making payments, and thus the more valuable they become. The less scarce, the less valuable they become, causing deflation in their value.
In the emerging network economy, currencies are valued relative to the willingness of an individual to use them to mediate transactions. Their value is social, and not mathematical.
In the conventional economy, the money supply is always increasing. This is because money comes into existence as interest-bearing debt. When someone or some government borrows money from a bank, a larger amount of money is created and issued into the economy to allow others to repay loans. If the money supply did not constantly expand, in mean average terms over time, it would not be possible to repay all the loans made in full. We already know this to be a true and completely contradictory fact of the conventional economy. Yet few people see this as the root of a perpetual growth economy.
Money is not the root of all evil. It is the way money is used, as part of a greater monetary system that determines its social and ecological impact. To change the way that money is valued and used is to change the way it affects society and the environment.
Currency systems in which the currency is issued by a central authority to an individual upon joining the system or borrowing from it does not accurately reflect social, ecological nor economic reality. Instead, it reflects mathematical reality, and it can only be controlled mathematically, by experts who know how to do the math.
Mutual credit parallel currency systems are the most common form of parallel currency system in use in the world. This is the model of currency issuance used by the Local Exchange Trading System, a bounded community currency system designed by Michael Linton of Canada. LETS is a system of accounts that in which members of the network issue themselves their own currency for trading within the network. Although LETS does not use a printed currency, it is possible to issue printed currencies using this model. The Tianguis Tlaloc local currency system in Mexico issues its currency in this way.
Fiat parallel currency systems, such as the HOURS system in use in America and the RGT system in Argentina issue an amount currency to their members when they join. It is a simple form of parallel currency, however the method of issuance can cause the same money management problems found in the conventional economy.
A third model is to issue the currency relative to the conventional currency by means of exchange rates. As the value of conventional money is constantly decreasing in mean average terms (occasionally fluctuating up or down but always decreasing over a longer period of time), it is possible to issue a currency that can be purchased at an exchange rate relative to the mean depreciation of the conventional currency. Let us look at the following example, from the ‘Hintertupfing Tauschring’ (Hintertupfing Local Currency System in Germany), which is modeled on the economic theories of Silvio Gesell.
The value of this currency is stable at one 1980 Deutschmark, relative to the current Deutschmark which is valued at only 61.5% of its value in 1980 terms. Thus it costs about 1.68 Deutschmarks in 1999 to purchase one Deutschmark valued at its previous 1980 level.
The use of a parallel currency whether to enhance redistribution (mutual credit model) or to control deflation in value of the official conventional currency is very effective in controlling deflation and exchange-rate fluctuations in value of official currencies on world money markets (exchange-rate valued parallel currency).
The Redistribution of Goods and Services
Since the dawn of human history, communities have redistributed goods and services so that the immediate needs of people living in that area can be met. Through family and kinship ties, resources were shared and managed within the household. Today, we see in modern society a breakdown in the redistribution of goods and services, such that to study redistribution is to do an anthropological study of societies in which redistribution is still a natural occurence. We have become very tolerant of the suffering of others that goes on around us.
Whereas the goal of conventional economic activity is to distribute goods or services to those with the money to pay for them, redistribution involves the sharing of resources without expectation of immediate financial return. Recent research (Stodder, 1998) suggests that by implementing redistribution networks can greater economic efficiency in times of downturn in the conventional economy. Barter systems which do not operate with a monetary medium of exchange have the effect of redistributing goods that are being unused—the material already exists—instead it is human energy that directs them towards further use.
Just as political boundaries establish areas of political responsibility for a particular area, bounded economies, economies which are localized relative to the local, regional and bio-regional geography provide defined frameworks for managing economic activity within a certain part of the environment. It is within these ecologically-defined areas that redistribution can best take place.
The Emerging Network Economy
Rapid technological developments in electronic communication have opened a new era in economics and finance. Markets have become volatile as stocks can now be traded on-line 24 hours a day, from the previous stock exchange office hours. Large volumes of money can be moved electronically, in and out of countries within minutes rather than hours, days or weeks. The 1997 crisis in Asia is being blamed squarely on the ability to move money without concern for its effects on local and national economies. Many are now calling for mechanisms to ensure stability by requiring a penalty fee be paid before moving funds out of a market within a specific period of time (the Tobin Tax).
Rather than seeing the emerging network economy as a distributed network of bounded economies, economists, bankers and financiers continue to view the economy as a top-down centralized mechanism. However, in an enlightening white paper published by IBM, Robert M. Howe, General Manager of IBM’s Banking, Finance and Securities Industry (Howe, 1999) sees the emerging network economy, and the banking and finance industry’s role in it as one in which:
-network technology will democratize financial markets by localizing them.
-consumers will have increased choice provided by internet-based financial service providers.
-intellectual capital will be the primary source of wealth.
-value will be created by the application of knowledge and information to work.
-the rapid adoption of the internet by individuals and companies will cause a polarizing effect, creating micro-markets out of communities of people within specific geographic areas.
-power will change hands from nations and governments to individuals and consumers.
Complementing rapid developments in electronic communications technology and the economic globalization that this emerging form of communication entails, local and regional areas are forming micro-networks for enhancing redistribution, ensuring stabilization, providing a stable form of valuation, and ensuring participatory democratic local control over social, ecological and economic issues. In these networks, individuals are transcending their traditional roles as producers and consumers to be ‘prosumers’, both producers and consumers of the goods and services they consume. By redistributing and reciprocating, the meeting of immediate needs can be achieved in a way that does not increase material throughput. By implementing parallel currency systems, many of the goals that progressive people are working towards: social stability, ecological restoration and preservation, participatory democracy can be achieved.
Daly, Herman. Steady-State Economics. San Francisco: WH Freeman. 1977.
Howe, Robert M. Banking in the Network Economy. IBM White Paper on Living in the Information Society. 1999. http://www.ibm.com/ibm/publicaffairs/ecommerce/bank_abstract.html
Stodder, James. Corporate Barter and Economic Stabilisation. International Journal of Community Currency Research. 1998. http://www.bendigo.latrobe.edu.au/arts/ijccr/volume2/2toc.htm
A few days ago on January 15, 2016, Mike Hearn, a contributor to the Bitcoin project publicly announced his departure from as well as the total failure of the Bitcoin project.
Just six weeks earlier, he joined the R3 Consortium, comprised of 43 major banks that have been trying to handicap Bitcoin development through bank account closures, regulatory changes and lobbying the government to crack down on Bitcoin.
Unlike most blog posts which go relatively unnoticed by the mainstream media, this particular blog post has been written into dozens of articles on the clear and absolute failure of the Bitcoin experiment.
Interestingly, the timing of the first article to come out in the NY Times was predicted at nearly the exact moment it was released by a spokesperson for R3 during a talk at the Brookings Institution. Well, how did they know about that, and how did they get it into the mainstream media so quickly?
(You only need to watch the first 10 seconds of this clip for the proof.)
In his open letter announcing his reasoning for changing sides, Hearn writes,
“But despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long term trend should probably be downwards. I will no longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and have sold all my coins.
Why has Bitcoin failed? It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked “systemically important institutions” and “too big to fail” has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there’s no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system.”
Even just 5 months ago, Lead Developer of Bitcoin, Gavin Andresen, said that Mike Hearn would be the “Benevolent Dictator of Bitcoin XT“. Well, it didn’t take long for the true colors to appear. Apparently, he thinks that the existing financial system is better than Bitcoin!
How could this have happened just seven months after proposing the Bitcoin XT platform which would increase the block size (and space required to store the blockchain by 8 times), and also put him as #1 Core Developer of the new platform?
Simple, because he was opposed by many in the community.
His attempt to take the Lead Developer role in Bitcoin being shunned, his ego would not allow him to step back into a “one of many” position and instead he chose to jump ship and join the mortal enemies of Bitcoin. Time for a meme to celebrate:
Even his coding partner on Bitcoin XT, Gavin Andresen who considered taking over the Lead Developer position on Bitcoin XT when Mike Hearn left Bitcoin for R3, is now taking a step back from the situation, at least suggesting so on Twitter:
[@OctSkyward is Mike Hearn’s Twitter address]
So three questions remain:
- What next for Bitcoin?
- What next for R3?
- What next for Mike Hearn?
1. Bitcoin is working collectively on a scaling solution that meets Consensus. Most old-school types are unfamiliar with this methodology, but it has worked in millions of cases. It’s very simple, and works like this: Everyone Agrees, and if everyone doesn’t agree, the Vast Majority do and that’s the way it goes.
Bitcoin keeps on doing what it does, which is developing and supporting a 6 Billion Dollar financial ecosystem without any one in clear control.
If a Block Size Increase does not happen in the short term, transactions without fees attached may get stuck in the memory pool of transactions waiting to be processed, and will be processed in due course once transactions that do have fees attached have been processed.
Mike Hearn is gone, and as long as he stays that way, most everyone is content to let bygones by bygones and wave bye-bye, then continuing on with their work, like in this kind interview with Austin Hill from Blockstream.
2. R3 will continue to support the publishing of negative media on Bitcoin, and will encourage more anti-Bitcoin trolls to become involved in disrupting the discussion. But it won’t affect the Bitcoin system, and the Banksters (or Bankstards) will have to accept the competition on Wall Street.
R3 will continue their efforts at Regulatory Protectionism, marshalling their lobbying power (that kept them from Prison for what they did in 2008) to use against Bitcoin.
In the end, bad publicity or good publicity is good for Bitcoin.
3. What’s next for Mike Hearn is yet to be seen. Will he accept a quiet programmer’s job at R3 and focus on that. Will he just accept the nice bye-bye waves and leave the issue alone now that he’s gone?
Or, will he divide his time between more attacks on Bitcoin, identifying and trying to open up criticism on perceived weaknesses in the system, speaking publicly at every opportunity about the evils of Bitcoin and trying to steer young followers away from Bitcoin, while joining the ranks of paid consultants for a variety of anti-Bitcoin interests?
Have we heard the last of Mike Hearn’s proclamations about the failure and death of Bitcoin? Or not?
– – –
This is an archetypal story of the overlooked person with the large ego who becomes disgruntled at being overlooked and eventually trades their loyalty to the oppostion, becoming a traitor to the cause they had become well-known for supporting.
It seems that there’s a history of this kind of behaviour in certain types of individuals. Here are three examples:
‘Twas the year 1780, when a young general distinguished himself through acts of intelligence and bravery on the battlefield. Having felt overlooked, and having to share the glory with others fighting the war, passed over for promotion, he becomes disgruntled and opens up communication with his enemy, offering the opportunity to fix battles in his enemy’s favour, and provide intelligence useful to their advantage in exchange for cash & prizes. Once the plot is discovered, he makes a hasty escape to an enemy ship, and becomes a commanding general for the opposing side.
Not long after defecting to the British side, he writes an open letter to his former compatriots to explain and justify his actions. In it, he outlines everything that is wrong with his former side: the corruption, the tyranny and the failure of their effort, exhorting people to give up the struggle and go back to the old system, which is better.
– – –
In 1971, a young environmental activist joined a small activist group in Vancouver, and due to the groups small size and recent establishment, quickly joined the inner circle to become one of the group’s leaders. Over time, he become’s one of the organizations leaders, a position he holds for many years.
Following an incident which could have cost him his life, and seeing the organization as a whole move in ways he disagrees with, he leaves and returns to his family business in natural resource extraction.
Claiming to be a co-founder of Greenpeace (although he is not) and making himself available for hire to government and corporate efforts to cover up their destruction through a new methodology now known as “Corporate Greenwashing”, he quickly makes a name for himself with his former opponents, carrying with him the credibility of an environmental movement leader disillusioned with its perceived failures. He now works for whichever corporation offers him a position, whether in clearcut forestry, oil extraction, climate change denial, nuclear energy, genetic modification, etc.
He spends his time spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) which are the tools of the trade in fighting the genuine efforts of others, and the truth.
– – –
Raised as a slave, this young boy’s talents become noticed and he is taken into a brotherhood and given training and special responsibilities. Despite his talent and effort at being noticed, he is overlooked and instead asked to spy on the person he has been assigned to protect. His respect for his brotherhood declines to the point where it intersects with his opponents search for a suitable leader that will do their bidding without question.
Fearing his wife will die in childbirth, his new masters promise to do their best to prevent this from happening, in exchange for his loyalty. He switches sides and massacres the young students in their school. Despite fulfilling his end of the agreement to the fullest, they betray him by allowing his wife to die, but having already chosen the other side, there is no turning back.
He tries in vain to convert his family members but is opposed and defeated at every turn, and labeled as disloyal and weak by his masters.
– – –
Cointelegraph interview with Stephen DeMeulenaere on December 11, 2015
It should go without saying: it’s unlikely that the credit for the invention of Bitcoin goes to a single person. Craig Wright may be Satoshi Nakamoto, but how much of the BlockChain technology is owed to him?
We already know, if the investigation brought over by Wired and Gizmodo is based on valid proof, that Craig worked with a team (“some good coders on this”). But was he the one who conceived the blockchain idea?
Alternative forms of currency are not a new idea.
Precursors Of Blockchain?
As Stephen DeMeulenaere, working in the field of Complementary Currency Systems since 1991 and founder of the website ComplementaryCurrency.org explains, Mutual Credit is an old methodology still, that can date at least as back as 1934, when the Swiss bank WIR was founded, and is still in use by issuing currency in Mutual Credit between businesses.
Stephen is not a programmer but worked as a Complementary Currency Designer, researcher and promoter and is involved in several projects like Social Trade and the Cyclos payment platform, which pre-dates BitcoinCT r: 10 and won the grand prize at Transact 14.
“Mutual Credit is an old methodology that allows people to give each other credit within a closed network. All transactions are made public, and are potentially reversible.”
While in the bitcoin system transactions are not reversible, by design, they are traceable, and implementing a possibility of reversal would be trivial.
“In Mutual Credit Systems, because members are giving themselves the right to issue personal currency within a network Economy, and in return willing to accept the personal currency created by others, a basic rule is that all members have the right to know the balance and turnover of another member. There was no identity secrecy. Therefore, the transaction Ledger is always open and available for anyone to see. Before computers, transactions were handwritten in a ledger book, and anyone could come to the office to see the transactions if they wanted to. This is the same concept as the Blockchain.
In a manual accounting system, a company would require bookshelves of binders holding transactions. An economy run this way, with all transactions between everyone having to be recorde, would be impractical, and large Mutual Credit systems ran into this problem. Blockchain technology solves this problem.”
Twenty Years Of Conceptualization
Stephen recalls the effort in developing a P2P exchange system and asserts these projects were the basis of the Blockchain technology:
“While the reality was that the technology was not capable of delivering a true Peer-to-Peer currency exchange platform, we were working with that goal in mind from the beginning. We had the concept, but the solution seemed far away. The financial cryptographers, however, were starting to succeed, and they soon had the basic elements together, and this is what was put together to create Bitcoin.”
There are different ways that can be taken to create IT solutions. For small projects, you usually have a coder (or a team) that wraps his mind around a problem and codes the solution, but for some situations and complex, unusual tasks, transferring the needs for the solution to the coder is difficult. Here is where Stephen came in:
“I was one of those CC (Complementary Currency) experts out there designing and implementing systems but we could not program. So we shared our economic and monetary vision with the programmers.”
Development Was Kept Secret In The Internet Underground
At one point in time, Stephen was almost entering the underground movement at the very base of the development.
“We had a public discussion group on complementary currencies, digital currencies and elementary financial cryptography through 2003, which died off by 2004 and went to a private secure discussion. As I was not a programmer and busy with my complementary currency organization and projects in Southeast Asia, I declined to participate in that group.”
Stephen assumes that, from the recent available data, Craig Wright can very well be the one who brought the Blockchain technology to completion:
“Craig, from what we’re reading, held strong Libertarian ideas and wanted to develop a monetary Software platform that could achieve those goals.
I also see him as a business man that managed to take the parts and put them together in working order. He is clearly a genius, and usually being a genius and good in business don’t mix, but he has also achieved that.
I think that he does acknowledge others for the realization of Bitcoin. He appears to have had a great deal of foresight and made detailed efforts to obscure his identity, and in doing so, he helped protect others who were also involved. What is very important to be clear about here is that it really was not about the money, in Fiat Money terms. It was about introducing a new, decentralized and competitive method of currency issuance.
However, I also think that if he patented the system, it would have failed. At the time of the genesis block I don’t think he was 100% sure that it would succeed as immensely as it has.
I would agree with the idea that concepts that were already under development for many years prior to Bitcoin, were assembled and developed into a finished but still proof-of-concept product. As we know, the Bitcoin protocol has been nearly completely rewritten.”
Not A Single Hero, But A Company Of Heroes
The global picture is showing us a group of people that worked for at least two decades in an effort to create a new universal form of currency that would disrupt the existing millenary one, and only with the advent of internet they begun to see a solution to the problem.
In conclusion, Stephen DeMeulenaere thinks that the merit of Satoshi Nakamoto (whoever he is, Craig Wright or anyone else) in the creation of Bitcoin should be resized, and a team of “modern Robin Hoods” is probably a more fitting subject for the trophy:
“If Craig Wright is Satoshi, he was likely involved in one of the groups of financial cryptographers who were working to take these monetary concepts and turn them into software that couldn’t be challenged by Banks or governments. So like the designer of an engine, he would have many people to credit with helping to design the various parts.”
However, we are surely not stopping to praise Satoshi Nakamoto right out of the blue, we are rather adding another bunch more of valiant people to our room of holy figures.
Introduction To Just Trade
Dear Just Trade Discussion Members:
The purpose of this group is collaborate in the creation of a complementary currency network project done entirely as Open Source Software (OSS). The project goal is to create a completely free-of-charge, truly global eCommerce class ecosystem of different complementary currencies. I have called it Just Trade.
The key differences between Just Trade and other projects I’ve looked at are:
* It is designed from the beginning to :
+ Fulfill the objectives of a medium of exchange that has no intrinsic value but still serves as a :
– memory of transaction,
– memory of decision,
– memory of reputation.
+ Resolve the problems of massive scaleability of trade between diverse complementary currencies.
+ Remain entirely agnostic on questions of debit floors, demurrage, units of currency, medium of exchange, etc.
+ Permit easy and consistent implementation and measurable experimentation of the various concepts espoused by designers of complementary currencies.
+ Facilitate reduction of responsibility of group adminstrators.
+ Facilitate reduction of power of group adminstrators.
+ Facilitate adoption by mainstream businesses.
+ Facilitate adoption by the illiterate.
+ Provide a reasonable degree of anonymity for users on the Internet.
+ Provide a high degree of traceability in cases of abuse.
* All project details and activities will be enacted in continuous full public view on the Internet.
* It conforms completely to the criteria seasoned OSS developers expect to see;
+ “Deliver Early. Deliver Often”.
+ Automatic nightly build/test/publish cycle.
+ Full continual disclosure.
+ UML modelling and architectural patterns.
+ Concurrent Versioning System.
+ Continual unit, black box and white box testing.
* It is developed with state-of-the-art distributed systems technologies, including :
+ Digital Signatures.
+ Web Services and “SOAP”.
+ LDAP directory services.
+ Message queuing protocols.
+ Java 2 Enterprise Edition
I have reserved the domain name www.justtrade.net
Quite soon there will be a project on www.sourceforge.net or some other OSS project hosting server, but I’m not quite ready for that. Recent conversations have opened up a number of new perceptions about the architecture of, and directions for, Just Trade, so for a short while at least these will be explored. You have received an invitation to join the Just Trade discussion group, because another collaborator or I perceive you to be appropriately qualified to refine the ideas the Just Trade project embodies. We are open to sound reasons not to do it, to postpone it or change it significantly.
I have been studying all I can about the main themes of complementary currencies and frequently encounter, in the IJCCR especially, remarks in the tone of “… the enormous benefits complementary currencies will bring when they really catch on …”. “The ‘correct’ complementary currency should be based on time dollars”, “No. It should be based on a basket of commodities”, “No, on a unit of energy”, “It should have demurrage”, “No it must not have demurrage”, and so on and so on and round and round and round. There is also plenty of discussion that bats back and forth between “act globally” and “act locally”, “impose it from the top”, “grow it from the bottom”. Meanwhile, community currency groups only appear to have a satisfactory volume of activity, when in too many cases the reality is a large percentage of that activity comes from enthusiastic newcomers who sooner or later drop out disappointed. The attraction of LETS to mainstream small-business is negligible. Argentina, presumably the ideal test bed for complementary currencies is floundering in a morass of inconsistent alternatives, the most widespread being 8000 or more trueque groups, followed closely by new forms of fiat money pushed by power seekers.
It may be that complementary currencies can only begin to gather force when the ‘usury-based’ system collapses massively. I am a highly technological person, highly skeptical of technological solutions to human problems. However, I have seen 1st generation LETS software in action and believe a technological solution is worth a try. Also, I’m a practical, rather than theoretical, sort of person and after enough talk, I want to get something real going. It may seem impertinent of me to talk of LETS as 1st generation, but I believe that once you assess my experience and my plans you will accept my evaluation. I am inviting you to contribute to your concept of a 2nd generation.
I have 25 years as a software developer, ten of those in object-oriented technologies, eight working with relational databases, and six developing interactive web applications. I have also developed software for embedded processors in things as diverse as railway maintenance machines and satellite mounted scientific instruments. I have been using server-side Java for my projects since1996. I have been fascinated by what can be done with digital signatures since 1993 when I began a port of Pretty Good Privacy to the “PenPoint” operating system of Go Corp. When that product was destroyed by Apple and Microsoft vapourware, taking my porting project down with it, I was converted into an OSS enthusiast.
I have been a member of a LETS community since 1995, and close friends with the community’s founders. I have watched their process of discovery of what works and what does not work, both in the middle-class neighbourhood where they began their first group, and in the agonizingly poor indigenous villages where they sowed the seeds
for over 100 more.
I believe my situation to be unique. There may be a very large number of people who can develop interactive web projects. The number of those who have architected a J2EE eGovernment project from requirements to roll-out, is a lot smaller. Of that group, the number who have in-depth understanding of complementary currencies and LETS is small indeed. And the number of those with direct experience of other relevant technologies such as asymetric encryption, bar-coding techniques and other technologies, that are vital to the success of the project are, well, a handful at best. In that little group, I’m fairly certain I’m the only one who does his work while a field outside his window is plowed by oxen. I also write tolerably well and speak French and Spanish more or less fluently.
In the files section of ‘just_trade_discussion’ you will find a detailed white paper about Just Trade. There is a prototype kit with the Java code, UML diagrams and a ‘readme’ that explains the contents.
For the time being this will a closed group with monitored discussion. The key rule will be “participate only if your comments directly contribute to the advance of the Just Trade project”. We won’t tolerate broadcast messages and we will split up discussions into various issue groups; design, theory, development, application, promotion, funding, etc.
I began the project because I came to the conclusion that there is a need for a highly adaptable networked complementary currency system that permits all the various CC philosophies to be experimented with, and can bring on board both prosperous small businesses and the very poor and illiterate. While there are a considerable number of systems currently “out there”, I saw that these are typically CC experts trying to come to grips with software development; a much harder task than a software expert trying to come to grips with complementary currencies. Even when software professionals get involved, they typically have what I call an ‘application view’ of the task at hand. With Just Trade I hope to create a framework upon which others can easily build the applications they want.
I ask your forgiveness in advance if anything I say above appears to be criticism of work you have done, of ideas you have espoused, or ignorance of initiatives I should have known about. Please shrug it off as the faux-pas of a newcomer.
Looking forward to a long and hugely fruitful collaboration,
Read just about any blog about Bitcoin, or listen to any expert, or even just read the Wikipedia entry and they will list the digital currencies that came before and led to Bitcoin:
The reasons these systems failed, almost invariably point solely to centralization in the system, as though decentralization of currency would be the necessary key to success that was missing until Bitcoin came along.
Well, obviously I need to shed some more light on the history, because there are thousands of complementary currency systems, centralized at the local level but with an open public transaction ledger that have been in use since the 1930s.
One of the early models from the early 1930s which is still thriving today is the WIR in Switzerland. Wir’s Cooperative Currency / Mutual Credit model is at the foundation of many complementary currency systems in the world today. There is an estimated 4,500 mutual credit systems worldwide.
Since the 1980s, the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) has been using software to record transactions since the IBM XT and dBase were made available to the public.
In my Pictorial History of Complementary Currency Systems, which I wrote in 2000, I list many more complementary currency systems that have been implemented throughout history as a response to social and economic crises.
In 2004, I was contacted by a young programmer from a neighbouring city in Canada who wanted to take the mutual credit concept and modify it into a purely digital currency platform. His name was Ryan Fugger, and his platform was called Ripple, now known as Ripple Classic which is still live. The Ripple which is now owned by Ripple Labs names Ryan as the person who conceived Ripple.
In fact, here’s an email from 2006 where he discusses his concept with me and the Cyclos payments platform users group:
A few weeks ago, I was going through my folders and came across several others, most of which were abandoned, but which I have uploaded to my Github Repository. These are all precursors to Bitcoin as well, and their theories have been studied by at least one Bitcoin core developer, Jorge Timon who is now a developer with Blockstream who co-created Freicoin which implemented the concept of Demurrage within a digital currency, and contributed to the early theory of sidechains.
The other currencies I uploaded to Github are:
UNILETIM – written in php
Qlets – written in C++
LETS Webtool – written in perl/cgi
Mutual Credit LETS – written in cgi
WebLETS – written in php
In addition to these, we can add:
Geek Credit, 2004, also a P2P Digital Currency
GVB – Global Village Bank – Snapshot from the Internet Archive
Mlets – written for DOS in dBaseIII. Under Copyright.
Cyclos – Initiated in 2005, Currently the most widely-used Complementary Currency Software.
Ven – launched around 2007 (I’m one of the early members)
Webfunds – by Ian Grigg
Global Exchange Trading System (GETS) – by Richard Logie
The real revolution with Digital Currencies is not necessarily that they are decentralized, but that they are competitive with and complementary to existing monetary systems. By offering features of money that do not exist or do not function properly with national currencies, complementary currencies can create niches of monetary and thus economic, efficiency.
And why didn’t you hear of any of these systems before Bitcoin? I think of two main reasons, 1) Because Bitcoin is purchased with Fiat Currency and not issued as Mutual Credit and therefore more immediately valuable to people in fiat monetary terms rather than in “alternative” currency terms and secondly because before Bitcoin there were really not many people actively involved in the effort. Bitcoin, with deep appreciation, changed all that.
I’m doing a live webinar with The Optimist magazine this Friday afternoon. Click here for more information:
The Money Mosaic
Although many of us have not been making use of the possibilities yet, we’re already living in a multi-currency world. National currencies are facing stiff competition from currencies that are better designed and intended to achieve more important goals. Currencies based on technology and the Internet, and designed by better hearts and minds are leading us to a new form of secularism: the separation of money from state.
These currencies also leading us toward sustainability, as only a stable currency will ultimately be able to achieve, and they are showing how the current design of national currency money has led us down the path of unlimited growth toward ecological catastrophe.
Some of these currencies reside in the digital world, on your phone or computer. Others look and feel much the same as the kinds of money we’re more used to: plastic cards and paper notes. But they’re backed not by debt, but interesting new ideas about what money should really be like, and in this way they offer hope for the overworked and indebted to join those who are already able to live freely and choose how they exchange with others.
What You Will Learn:
We’ll learn about the rise of the Sharing Economy that powers exchanges in everything from unused bedrooms and car seats to dinner-table chairs, and also about Bitcoin, a digital asset currency whose worldwide valuation is now over 4 billion dollars but is the only major currency that isn’t represented by a corporation, government or bank. We’ll see how money is being dismantled into it’s components and changing the meaning of value.
You’ll also come out of this event with a few tools you can implement right away to begin planting the seeds of a better economy right in your own neighborhood and beyond.
Stephen DeMeulenaere founded the Complementary Currency Resource Center in 2002, bringing together resources from appropriate economics and rural self-development finance he and colleagues collected from their field work in Africa, Asia and Latin America from the early 1990s. Involved in the early development of electronic currencies and exchange platforms, he got onboard with Bitcoin in 2013, becoming a certified Digital Currency professional and co-founder of Coin Academy, a digital currency education and tutorial platform.
– See more at: http://www.theoptimist.com/events/free-money/#sthash.uIls0Ve4.dpuf
In the “old” days, people would stick the first dollar they ever earned on their till. In the digital era, all I can do is copy and paste a transaction. In this case, my first payment ever received for my work with Bitcoin, reviewing Princeton University’s textbook on Digital Cryptographic Currencies for Programmers:
Apr 08, 2015 FUNDS TRANSFER CR -TT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY 181.83
Unfortunately they couldn’t pay me directly with Bitcoin yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long.
I’m tipping myself as a reminder that what I do is important, for nothing other than my own sake, if not for everyone else’s.
For more information, visit Changetip.