Amsterdam: A money laboratory for centuries

March 29th 2014

Take a walk around Amsterdam's historic centre. What do you see? Canals, coffee shops, and stalls selling tulip bulbs are some of the typical features promoted to visitors. Beneath this veneer, however, is a rather startling history of financial innovation whose consequences are felt globally.

To get closer to this legacy, I took a walking tour of Amsterdam's financial history, along with other people who had attended the MoneyLab conference. Run by payments expert Simon Lelieveldt, this two-hour tour takes in the Goliaths and oddities of the city's past and present.

MoneyLab: Is money the issue?

March 24th 2014

The meeting of minds in viva is over. Posters removed, photos posted on Flickr, speakers returned home on multimodal transport. But MoneyLab the project has just begun.

The two-day conference was not the cumulation of years of research, but the launch of a new endeavour to network diverse minds to consider "digital experiments with revenue models, payment systems and currencies against the backdrop of ongoing global economic decline."

Where will it go to from here? What did we achieve that we can build upon, and what needs to be brought into the fold that was forgotten?

MoneyLab: Is mobile money an alternative?

March 24th 2014

The topic of mobile money is a somewhat anachronistic addition to a conference called MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives.

In some ways, its inclusion in the conference makes total sense: mobile money is an alternative way to transact, and is providing new options to millions of people around the world who previously had to depend upon informal financial services or expensive remittance agents.
Mobile money's actual and potential global impact is so large that excluding it from a money conference would be a major oversight.

MoneyLab: Questioning the monetization of everything

March 22nd 2014

The 2007-2008 financial crisis revealed serious fissures in the global financial system. Between housing foreclosures and the failure of large banks, few people seemed to escape its effects. Some people approached this crisis as an opportunity, hoping that it would trigger a serious public conversation about the shape of finance and its effects on human beings in the world today.

Indeed, the wave of occupy movements that followed the crisis appeared to herald this conversation. But despite the fact that even Alan Greenspan admitted that he got it wrong, a truly widespread public discourse never appeared.