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I read David because I can never accurately predict his opinion, which means either it's all signal, or he is in fact a natural source of randomness, both of which are highly valuable.

Danny O'Brien (July 2009).

Currency Cold War Recommended

The lovely people at Future Identity have listed “The Currency Cold War” as one of their top five books for digital identity enthusiasts. They said...

"The latest book from renowned digital identity expert David Birch is an exploration of the future of money. Birch is always ahead of the game when it comes to industry trends, so despite being published a few years ago ‘The Currency Cold War’ hits right at the heart of the current buzz around cryptocurrencies, CBDCs and digital money.

Birch argues that an overhaul of our current monetary system is inevitable, so we need to be prepared. Developing a global digital identity infrastructure is crucial to enable due diligence for e-money payment systems.

But Birch goes way beyond the technical and places digital currency into a much wider political and geographical content. He explores the political power conflicts and private company interests that have, or will, drive the development of new currencies and change money as we know it today".

The intimate connection between digital currency and digital identity is at the heart of the strategic decisions that have to made by central banks and all other stakeholders, so I really appreciate Future Identity’s recognition of this vital aspect of the thinking around central bank digital currencies and digital money more generally.

Back on the Road Again

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I’ve just been planning a few flights around Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Fintech Week Tel Aviv, Money 20/20 Europe in Amsterdam, Digital Currencies 360Merchant Payments Ecosystem in Berlin, Optical and DIgital Document Security in Vienna, Identiverse in Denver and one or two other excursions. It looks at if people are really looking forward to getting out and about and meeting up again! I’m really looking forward to meeting you all at these great events, see you soon!

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!

Season’s Greetings and here’s wish you all the best for the coming year. Stay safe, enjoy a break with your friends and family, and let’s hope we can all spend a little more face-to-face (or mask-to-mask, at least) time in 2022. It’s such an exciting time in financial services, as we really are on the cusp of something genuinely new as the vision of a new infrastructure comes closer to reality. Here’s to a year of experiment, invention and sustainable innovation in digital identity and defi, the metaverse and digital currency, IoT and smart supply chains and, of course, another few steps towards cardmageddon!!

Thanks to everyone who has been following me here, on Twitter, on Substack and here, I genuinely do love the interaction and debate that means I learn more about this fascinating industry every day.

And a big end of year thank you to the amazing Helen Holmes who draws the fantastic “Slugsy” cartoons for me! If you want to take your first baby steps into the metaverse, some of these are now available as NFTs!

House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee

I was invited to Parliament to give evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee on the subject of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), along with Stephen Bonner, Executive Director, Regulatory Futures and Innovation at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Andrew Cregan, Head of Finance Policy, British Retail Consortium (BRC). What an interesting afternoon out!

The session was recorded and if you are curious about the subject of CBDCs — and in particular the issue of privacy — you can see it here. The Lords present were:

Chair:  [Michael Bruce Forsyth, Baron Forsyth of DrumleanPC  (born 16 October 1954) is a British financier and Conservative politician, who was MP for Stirling from 1983 to 1997 and served in the cabinet of John Major as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1995 to 1997.

He is Chairman of  Secure Trust Bank, and a Director of J&J Denholm and of Denholm Logistics Ltd. He was a director and Chairman of Hyperion Insurance Group until its merger with RKH Group in 2015. A former Deputy Chairman of JPMorgan UK and Evercore Partners  International, he was knighted  in 1997 and appointed to the House of Lords  in 1999. He is President of the Steamboat Association of Great Britain .

John Stephen Monks, Baron Monks (born 5 August 1945) is a  Labour Co-operative   member  of the House of Lords  and former trade unionist leader, who served as the  General Secretary  of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the UK from 1993 until 2003. He also served as the General Secretary of the  European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) from 2007 until 2011, having been made a Life peer in 2010.

James George Robert Bridges, Baron Bridges of HeadleyMBE  (born 15 July 1970) is a politician. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

Christopher Francis Fox (Chris Fox) (born 27 September 1957) is a British Liberal Democrat politician. He was made life peer as Baron Fox, of Leominster in the County of  Herefordshire , on 11 September 2014. As of June 2017 he was appointed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the House of Lords

Nicholas Herbert Stern, Baron Stern of BrentfordCH   Kt   FRS   FBA   FAcSS  (born 22 April 1946) is a British economist and academic. He is IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics  (LSE), and 2010 Professor of  Collège de France . From 2013–2017, he was President of the British Academy .


Fintech Power 50

Well, many thanks to the folks over at the Power 50 for making one of their ten influencers for 2021. I’ve missed getting out and meeting people during these difficult times but now there is light at the end of the tunnel it feels good to be recognised as one of the people worth listening to. Genuinely flattered.


Mr. Ambassador

Back in 2016, Digital Jersey kindly invited me to become an Special Advisor to their board to add a wider perspective around fintech and to provide some specific support for development of their longer term strategy for the digital sector. Digital Jersey is both an economic development agency and industry association, funded by government and its members, to promote the digital sector on the Island. It supports  inward investment, relocations and develop on-island talent acting as a central contact for anyone connected with the digital sector.

This gave me the opportunity to meet many people and organisations doing great work on the island and to learn about the activities of Digital Jersey,  Locate Jersey, which is the dedicated government team responsible for attracting and retaining inward investment for Jersey and Jersey Finance, which  champions the competitive position of Jersey as an International Financial Centre (IFC), supporting the highest regulatory standards and the most attractive digital solutions, products and services.

To say I was impressed would be an understatement: I saw at first hand the incredible work going on and was excited to see that  Digital Jersey, Locate Jersey and Jersey Finance have now come together to create Jersey for Fintech, a collaboration to promote Jersey as the ideal location for fintech firms to establish, grow and flourish. So as you can imagine, I was both surprised and delighted to be approached to become the Ambassador for Jersey for Fintech.

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In this part time role, I will work to educate and excite businesses and entrepreneurs about Jersey and the opportunities that it affords to fintech businesses. I plan to take part in an extensive programme of communications and events working with colleagues across the agencies to make sure that the benefits of Jersey as a place for fintech enterprise of all kinds are recognised and understood. To begin with, I will focus on three key areas of advantage:

Regulation. Jersey is a self-governing Crown Dependency with a stable government and its own independent legal and tax systems. Jersey is neither part of the UK, nor the EU, although it’s proud to say that it works closely with both, through longstanding business and trade agreements with the UK and EU Member States. It has control over its financial services regulation and it is widely recognised for the quality of regulation and the clarity ;

Infrastructure. Jersey has first-class infrastructure with high speed fibre to all homes and businesses, 4G mobile coverage throughout and 5G coverage rolling out this year. This makes it a great testbed for digital financial services of all kinds and the Digital Jersey sandbox makes it a great place for business experiments;

Lifestyle. the quality of the lifestyle that Jersey offers has been magnified throughout the pandemic. Remote working and working from home have made the island an even more attractive place for both established financial services business and, more importantly to me, startups and new ventures.

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I am honoured, and flattered, to be given the opportunity to present these advantages to the global financial services community. If you want to learn more about what Jersey can offer your business, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Top 100 of Anything is Cool

It's bordering on insanity to put me on a list of anything alongside geniuses of the magnitude of Patrick Collison or Vitalik Buterin, or business people I admire beyond measure like Tim Cook and Ann Boden but... oh come on, why shouldn't I repost this…

I’m one of the 100 most influential people in fintech https://buff.ly/3iJbPc5.

Thanks guys.

A Pleasant Read

Another kind review of The Currency Cold War, this time in Central Banking. Daniel Heller, adviser on regulatory affairs at Fnality International and visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. writes that

I suspected that this may be yet another book about the future of money and payments that is based on erroneous assumptions about the basic properties of money. Luckily, my expectation proved to be wrong. The book turned out to be a pleasant and interesting read.


Accolade for The Currency Cold War

I was very flattered and, frankly, honoured to see The Currency Cold War selected in the top 10 of the best cryptography of all time. The selection was made by a panel comprising the noted venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, Professor of Applied Cryptography Nadim Kobeissi, Associate Professor of Economics Stephen Kinsella and Researcher Jerry Gamblin so (as you might expect) I was bowled over to recieve this accolade.

The 100 Best Cryptography Books Of All Time.

To be listed at no.7 amongst these brilliant books is more than I could have hoped for a year ago when I sat down to start work on what turned out to be the most timely of my books so far! A big thank you to everyone at the London Publishing Partnership for making this happen.

Audio!

I am beyond excited to announce that the audiobook version of The Currency Cold War is now available on Audible and other platforms. It is expertly narrated by James Barlow, who is a professional voice artist and made a great job of interpreting my words for a general audience.