Monday 2 May, 2022 – by John Naughton – Memex 1.1


He’s a tireless campaigner for the open Web — which is why every word he’s ever written is available, for free, on his blog — even if has also been published inside some paywalled or corporate silo. I’ve followed his example: I’ve written a lot of stuff that has appeared behind paywalls and other enclosed spaces (like Substack), but it’s always also been available on Memex, hosted on my own server.

From Monday 2 May, 2022 – by John Naughton – Memex 1.1:


P2P Payment Scams Posing New Brand & Reputational Risks for Banks


The popularity of the person-to-person (P2P) payment apps Zelle, Venmo and CashApp was bound to have a downside, and it has now surfaced for all to see. The scam artists and fraudsters have discovered that the convenience of these apps and widespread use even among older adults is a ripe opportunity.

From P2P Payment Scams Posing New Brand & Reputational Risks for Banks:


This is how Elon Musk can securely achieve his mission of authenticating Twitter users


Although several attempts have been made to solve this issue on social media platforms, it’s clear that some kind of globally acceptable approach is required to get a grip on these important issues around account fraud and spam bots. Whether it’s Elon Musk’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, social media sites need smart ways to check who we are that don’t violate a person’s individual right to privacy and security.

From This is how Elon Musk can securely achieve his mission of authenticating Twitter users:


Breaking Banks eCNY special

A really interesting episode of Brett King’s “Breaking Banks” podcast: a very comprehensive report on China’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) trial. With global experts including Richard Turrin, Henri Arslanian, Ruth Wandhöfer (as well as me, of course), vox populi on the ground in China and informed discussion about the lessons that might be learned.

BB China

Put your feet up, get a cup of tea and enjoy an hour of informed discussion on this important topic.

Future Identity’s Top Five

Future Identity have very kindly 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.


I was in an interesting discussion about digital currency today and was asked for a reading list, so here is the bibliography from The Currency Cold War

Birch, D. Identity is the New Money. London Publishing Partnership (London: 2014).

Birch, D. Before Baylon, Beyond Bitcoin. London Publishing Partnership (London: 2017).

Brunton, F. Digital Cash—The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians and Technologists Who Created
Cryptocurrency. Princeton (Princeton, NJ: 2019).

Casey, M. and P. Vigna. The Age of Cryptocurrency—How Bitcoin and the Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order. St. Martin’s (2015).

Cooley, J. Currency Wars—Forging Money to Break Economies. Constable (London: 2008).

Davies, R. Extreme Economies: Survival, Failure, Future Lessons from the World’s Limits. Bantam (London: 2019).

Ferguson, N. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. Penguin (London: 2012).

Frankopan, P. The New Silk Roads. Bloomsbury (London: 2018).

Guttman, R. Cybercash—The Coming Era of Electronic Money. Palgrave Macmillian (New York: 2003).

Lynch, D. and Lundquist, L. Digital Money—The New Era of Internet Commerce. John Wiley (New York, NY: 1996).

Rickards, J. Currency Wars—The Making of the Next Global Crisis. Portfolio (New York, NY: 2012).

Rogoff, K. The Curse of Cash. Princeton University Press (Princeton, 2016).

Townsend, E. Beyond Blockchain: The Death of the Dollar and the Rise of Digital Currency. Independent (2018).

Wilson, P. Hostile Money—Currencies in Conflict. The History Press (Stroud, 2019).


A Clubhouse chat with Europe, Asia and Pacific friends

A date for your diary if you are interested in digital currency.

Monday, 29th March at 7am UK time (8am Amsterdam, 3pm Hong Kong and 5pm in Sydney).

A Clubhouse hour with my friends from Europe, Asia and the Pacific Region.

I’ll be reading extracts from “The Currency Cold War” and discussing digital currency and its implications with guests including James Lloyd from E&Y, Victoria Richardson from the Australian Payment Network, lawyer Joni Pirovich, John Ryan from the Emerging Payments Association Asia-Pacific, Robert Allen from eftpos, Robert Bell from 86400 and many more.

For this discussion, I’m going to focus on these extracts from the draft of the revised paperback edition that I am planning for next year:

  • The E-Cash Genes: what are the technological pressures and how do they shape the “evolutionary tree”.
  • Light and Dark: the implications of non-fungibility for money.
  • Swerving around Swift: the impact on America’s ability to exert soft power.

With thanks to London Publishing Partnership and Provoke Management.

Remember, you can buy The Currency Cold War as an audiobook too now, so you can listen to it while jogging or whatever it is people do nowadays instead of sitting down and reading books properly.

Implementation options

The wonderful people at the Journal of Payment Strategy and Systems, which is my favourite journal in the entire world, have kindly allowed me to post a PDF of my newest paper. It is called “Clouds, Chips and Chains” and it discusses in some detail the evolution of digital cash and the options for implementing digital cash as a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Please do download it, subscribe to this wonderful journal and send me your feedback CBDC good or bad: it’s an area I want to learn more about.

Digital euro differentiation

The Economist covered Bitcoin reaching $50,000 with a story that touched on the digital euro. They noted that such a Euro-CBDC might bolster the international role of the euro (only a third as much is held in international reserves as the dollar, which dominates) and that such a system would be faster, cheaper and safer than sending euro payments through the current network of  “correspondent” banks. They were kind enough to quote me on one interesting area of potential differentiation:

Its main draw may be to offer a level of privacy that neither America nor China can promise, says Dave Birch, a fintech expert. 

From Token effort – Bitcoin crosses $50,000 | Finance & economics | The Economist:

America uses its financial system to enforce sanctions, China seeks control: but a European alternative that balanced the legitimate requirements of law enforcement and European principles of privacy (think GDPR for money) might be a globally desirable option. As I explained to the journalist, one way forward might be to use digital identity and pseudonymous wallets, with regulated financial institutions providing the links.

Practical implementation of a CBDC

The Futurism Forum kindly invited me along to talk about the practical implementation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) so I used my “evolutionary tree” to explain the development of electronic cash technologies and to suggest ways to use these technologies to build a CBDC. This presentation is now on YouTube so please do have a coffee, follow the link below and then give me your feedback good or bad.


As I mention in this presentation, I am very much in favour of implementing CBDC as a special case of a more generalised digital asset trading infrastructure and I am naturally curious to hear other informed perspectives.