Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: uber

Lightning – cryptocurrency and the Internet of Things

lightning

Bitcoin is an experiment. That's granted. The fact that it's trusted and actually useful is nothing short of phenomenal. Last week for example, the trade volume amounted to US$229m.

Nevertheless, Bitcoin has some fundamental constraints that keep it from going mainstream: it has a ballpark limit of 7 transactions per second, and having confidence that a transaction has 'gone through' – non-recourse transactions – takes roughly 20 to 60 minutes depending on the level of confidence you're looking for. (The user experience sucks too, but that's not for this post.)

While 229 million dollars is no small chunk of change, Visa processes many thousands of transactions per second, peaking at tens of thousands, and will have processed around US$130 billion last week.

State channel – more exciting than it sounds

The crypto awesome sauce underpinning Bitcoin is known as the blockchain, perhaps the No.1 tech buzzword of recent times. It's at the heart of the currency's success – preventing users spending the same money twice – but is also the nub of its relatively slothful nature. It's with a fair degree of excitement then that I've been tracking the progress of Lightning, a protocol first mooted to my knowledge in 2013.

The jargon here is state channel – blockchain interactions that could occur on the blockchain but get conducted off-chain without impairing the trust parties have in the interaction. Lightning facilitates state channel to speed things up and attenuate the costs needed to prove transactions (and offers a little more spark in terms of brand appeal!) Read more

Taxi! Hailing a ride, but not too far into the future

yellow cab new yorkThe controversy Uber is causing right now prompted me to delve into the archives. Way back. Back to March 2000 when I was pitching a proposition called Peoplestaxi to the likes of 3i and Avis. It got selected for First Tuesday's "Wireless Matchmaking" events too. Here's a quick extract:

Peoplestaxi leverages the latest technologies and customer-centric e-business philosophy to deliver the ubiquitous, convenient and intelligent taxi management service for business and consumers.

... Bookings are accurate and quality is assured. Punctuality, customer relationship management, personal safety, event critical booking, full account management, multi-payment methods and community grouping are all delivered automatically, seamlessly and brilliantly.

... As Peoplestaxi restructures the taxi market, existing taxi firms will have to affiliate, find some niche or eventually die.

I'm chuffed that I managed to reference the future collaborative / sharing economy in there – "community grouping" – but perhaps that last sentence was the choicest bit of crystal ball gazing.

So how come this didn't become Uber? In short order:

  1. Smartphones hadn't been invented
  2. GPS units still cost a thousand US
  3. Oh, and the dotcom bubble burst just then, spectacularly.

I learned that the first aren't always first. The timing of disruption is a function of the disruption.