Ethereum and Democratizing Innovation

Introduction Ethereum is a groundbreaking software innovation designed as a developer-friendly platform for the creation of DApps, aka, decentralized applications. Ethereum draws inspiration from the success and staying power of earlier decentralized Internet technologies such as BitTorrent for file sharing and Bitcoin for cryptocurrency. The ultimate vision of Ethereum is to decentralize the Internet. Why decentralization? With a decentralized architecture, DApps built on the Ethereum platform will be impervious to censorship and thereby allow developers to freely create useful applications without concern of being shut down.  Although built from scratch and unique in implementation, Ethereum uses some innovations from Bitcoin’s architecture, including a decentralized consensus mechanism to unbundle trust, a distributed blockchain ledger to record contracts, and its own crypto-token,

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Lending Models and Microfinance Institutions

by Paul Jones Introduction This paper will compare and contrast the group lending and individual lending models used by Microfinance Institutions, which first emerged in the later decades of the 20th century, and discuss the situations where one model may be preferable to the other. The academic literature on this topic is growing, and there are many subtleties to consider when comparing the pros and cons of group versus individual lending. An in-depth analysis of this complex topic is well beyond the scope of this essay. Rather, a high level synopsis will be presented that attempts to compress the salient points. The concept of crowdfunding is also discussed, and how it relates to the group and individual lending models frequently

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Financial Access and the Special Role of Internet Connectivity in the Developing World

Introduction This essay will examine the accessibility of financial and banking services in both the developed and developing world, and the enabling role played by digital technologies such as the Internet, especially in less developed countries. First, a pre-Internet, bird’s-eye view of the diffusion of banking and financial services in more developed countries is reviewed to provide background. Second, important prerequisites for improving the destiny of the unbanked and under-banked in LDCs are enumerated. Third, the modern Internet as a leapfrog technology, with an expanding role as an essential platform for financial access in emerging markets, is explored in light of these prerequisites. And lastly, a conclusion briefly summarizes the ideas advanced in this paper. Financial Services Pre-Internet in the

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Case Study: A Rural Farmer in a Less Developed Country

Background and Assumptions The premise of this paper is that I am a farmer living in a rural region of a LDC; Mexico in my case. I have an entrepreneurial streak. My farm is a modestly successful enterprise, and in order to increase my profits, I have plans to expand and purchase 10 hectares of land next to my present farm. Fortunately, I live in a region with cell phone and Internet access, and use a smartphone to help manage my business affairs. I have also had the good fortune to be educated in a MDC institution of higher learning and am fully aware of the potential digital currencies and blockchain technologies can bring to my situation. My parents made

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Case Study: Demographic Influence on Digital Currency Adoption

Introduction This essay is a mini case study that compares and contrasts the lifestyles of two men and their families, and the potential for digital currency succeeding in their respective countries. Anrom Bulla hails from a rural section of a LDC which is very low on the spectrum of development. In contrast, Rana Tilla lives an affluent life in a thriving coastal city located in a MDC. The lifestyles of Anrom and Tilla are taken as data points and assumed to be representative of their respective nations. These family circumstances will be used to infer the broader demographics of each country and the corresponding style of living implied in each case. Based on these conjectures, the likelihood for digital currency to be adopted and make positive impacts in both

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Bitcoin and blockchains are here to stay.

by Albert Szmigielski This post will argue why Bitcoin, blockchains, and blockchain-based applications are here to stay and thrive. Bitcoin The Bitcoin network and ecosystem is enormous. The computational power of the Bitcoin network is mind boggling (around 600 Petahashes per second as of Dec 2015). The amount of investment in the Bitcoin ecosystem is already in the Billions. Currently Bitcoin’s market cap is only around five billion US dollars, but this is a lot for a peer-to-peer, open source project. Bitcoin also solves a problem that has eluded people for quite some time, how to send money cheaply, efficiently, and quickly? The services that exist now do not have any of these traits. Just ask anyone who routinely sends

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Bitcoin as Platform Innovation.

Discuss the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole. Would you agree that it represents a case of platform innovation? If yes, what types of additional innovations do you foresee emerging on top on this ecosystem in the future? If no, what does it miss to be classified as a platform innovation? The release of Satoshi Nakamoto’s now famous paper [1] and later on the accompanying software brought us the first digital currency, and the first practical use of a new type of record keeping system called blockchain [2]. Now in its 7th year of existence the ecosystem surrounding that invention grew considerably [3]. In fact it didn’t take long for innovators to realize that other services can be built and delivered

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Insurance products and the Blockchain

Describe a plausible scenario of the state of the cryptocurrency ecosystem that would allow traditional insurance products to be built/delivered in a decentralized manner. For the first time in history, distributed, decentralized, and autonomous entities are capable of existing and functioning in cyberspace. Blockchain is the underlying technology that makes it possible. In this brief paper we will outline how an insurance operation can utilize blockchains to its advantage. We will also touch on some societal benefits of blockchains in the insurance industry. Furthermore, we will outline a case where an insurance company as a DAC could exist with technology that is currently available (but perhaps is not fully deployed). Blockchains are essentially databases. Insurance companies can utilize them in

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