Masters degree in Bitcoin?

In 2008 we had the Great Banking Crisis.  Lehman Brothers went bust, as did several other banks worldwide. Trillions of dollars of confected money was spent propping up the criminal banking sector.

In 2008, was registered, a white paper on Bitcoin published, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, the first bitcoins were minted (or ‘mined’ to use the bitcoin terminology).

Bitcoin is a digital currency, a crypto-currency, accounts are kept in cryptographic form in a public ledger known as a block, to transfer amounts from Alice to Bob, have to sign with a cryptographic key. This verifies that it is from Alice. The ledger determines, does Alice have the funds to pay Bob. This is recorded, of which many have a copy, the block in the public domain, many similar entries form the block, a crypto-hash of the block, prevents any single entry being changed, the hash is stored in the next block, where it cannot be changed, the blocks linked together form the blockchain.

In the street, I can hand over a euro. I could send an image of a euro.

Alice could send her payment multiple times, the blockchain prevents this.

in 2013 a banking crisis in Cyprus. The doors of the banks were closed for several days.  Any funds over 100,000 euros stolen by the EU. A trial run for Greece. Politicians in Cyprus simply cowed to the EU, did not even put up a token fight. Capital controls introduced.  Any thought Cyprus had of becoming an international finance centre destroyed overnight.

For Cypriots this was the worst crisis since Turkey invaded in 1974. Several months later, they were still shell-shocked. Turkey is still there, illegally occupying the north of the island.

Panic, how to transfer money from euros, how to remove money from Cyprus.

Into the maelstrom, bitcoin came of age, at least for quick and dirty transfer of funds. The volatility of bitcoin, untrustworthy nature of the exchanges, meant using bitcoin was risky, but what was riskier than leaving funds in Cyprus to be stolen on a whim by the EU?

The algorithms that define the blockchain are believed to be secure. Implementation is a different matter. The add on services, conversion between bitcoin, either for goods and services, between other currencies, a different matter.

As a currency, bitcoin is too volatile and unstable to have any utility.

Cyprus, for whatever reason, attracts third rate universities, they open an office, stick Cyprus on the end of their name, and they are open for business.

University of Nicosia saw an opportunity, accept fees in bitcoins, promote a MSc program in Digital Currency. They even suggested Cyprus be an international finance centre.

It is laughable. All there is to know about bitcoin could be taught in an hour, throw in another hour for public-key encryption, if really wished to pad it out, a semester.

Few working in security understand the public key concept, or even that there is a  concept. If they do, they think it has solved the key distribution problem. It has not, it has replaced it with a different problem. If you fail to grasp that, and how to solve, no matter how good the encryption algorithms, the system will not be secure.

Their faq on bitcoin, is cut and paste from  (not even acknowledged or cited plagiarism writ large), the payment page is not even via a secure link, and the other links do not even work.

They are also offering an introductory  free course, Introduction to Digital Currencies. Maybe a few people could enrol, provide feedback.

Bitcoin is not going to replace the dollar or the euro. It is a parallel, alternative currency with some uses.

To suggest Cyprus as an international finance centre, would be hard pushed to find a country with less credibility for finance.

Cyprus needs to divest away from its failing tourist industry, but to suggest it could be a world finance centre in the light of its 2013 banking crisis is laughable.

Bitcoin attracts spivs. A get rich quick scam.  A commodity to be speculated in and against, not as originally envisaged, a convenient digital currency that does not need a banker. Spivs are also drawn as parasites, offering add on services.

In the West, most people have bank accounts. Not true outside the West, not true for women in Muslim societies. Bitcoin offers an alternative payment method. For migrant workers, a superior method of sending money home than Western Union.

I could write an article, it be published anywhere in the world, be paid in the local currency, but the cost of transferring small sums of money from one currency to another, makes it futile.

An investment in The Robin Hood Hedge Fund, 50 euros to join, 50 euros to invest, has associated costs, even if in the eurozone, unless in Finland.

Payment could be made through PayPal, that is how bandcamp functions. But where to spend, I guess I could buy some music on bandcamp.

In Kenya, they have their own mobile currency, M-Pesa, it is transferred via sms messages. More people have  a phone than a bank account.

I could accept payment in bitcoin, or better still  faircoin.

For University of Nicosia to accept payment by bitcoin, is a better option for most of its overseas students.

Stripped of the hype, bitcoin is a niche, little more. Speculation and volatility has rendered useless as a  currency. The cost of mining bitcoins, puts it in the realms of the rich, the energy required to mine, makes it environmentally unacceptable.

Faircoin, which can be seen as BitCoin 2.0, attempts to address some of the problems associated with bitcoin.

The blockchain is simply a means of securely recording the transfer of a digital asset. It does not have to be a currency.

Mycelia is a proposal for using the blockchain to monitor and pay for the distribution of music. A prototype uses Tiny Human to test the concept.

Efforts in Cyprus would be better employed in developing alternative currencies, or use faircoin, in developing local currencies, to de-couple from the euro.  To follow the example of Greece for an alternative currency.


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