Responses to Readings – Week 4

Doing Good is Good Business / Week 4 / Logistics for the Social Good

THE DEATH OF CHARITIES : BITCOIN AND BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY TO REPLACE THEM?

The reading was very interesting because it points to how technological intervention can work towards a social issue. More so, because it utilizes technology to do something that it wasn’t designed to do in the first place. Plus, it’s doing good instead of doing bad. Generally, new methods and technologies are susceptible to corruption and utilization for individualistic purposes. However, blockchain offers a way to change how charities operate whilst being foolproof, transparent and effective.

Some questions that I have are: How does blockchain actually work technologically? This is something that I need to find out myself. Another question is that if this technology possesses the capability to replace third party systems and middlemen, isn’t it facing threats or opposition from the said parties? And since it is operated by the users themselves, what kind of impact can it have on employment opportunities for people already working for these third parties or non-profit organizations?

M-PESA AND THE RISE OF THE GLOBAL MOBILE MONEY MARKET

The recent demonetization effort by the Indian Government was a disaster. Extreme lack of preparation by the government, shortage of currency in the market and people generally struggling to gain access to bank accounts or bank officials were some of the consequences that this ill-managed effort brought. However, mobile money intervened in this situation and helped out many people to find an easier way to transfer money. It also elevated India’s leading mobile money company PayTM into the limelight. Over time PayTM has evolved into a medium to pay telephone bills, electricity bills and even lending friends money and is not solely a transaction system anymore.

This reading helps me affirm to this idea that how technological innovation can help a developing country become independent and stand on it’s feet. Cheaper transfer charges, more widespread accessibility and dissociation from the corrupt banking systems are some of the benefits that the mobile market has introduced. It’s definitely pleasing to see the effect that this market has had on the Kenyan economy. My question is, if the market has become so accessible by every faction of the population in a developing country, can it be used for the redistribution of wealth in that economy? Can the rich be charged higher rates compared to people living below the poverty line, who should be able to use it for free? Another question is that if this system expands into a place where one can open accounts and get loans sanctioned, how can one avoid corruption, hoarding of money and reliability?

USIZO PROJECT

Continuing from my previous question around the redistribution of wealth to help places or people in actual need, this article provides a good example.

Question is, that the bitcoin payment maybe powered the school for three weeks  but how to sustain that payment system? How does one ensure that the a person/party/organization is accountable if the payment isn’t made and the power goes out again? How can the government utilize this payment system and make it more accessible to the public sector in order to supplement education, telecom and electricity?

PROVENANCE: TRACKING TUNA ON THE BLOCKCHAIN

Continuing from the earlier reading on bitcoin and the death of charities, this reading was insightful. The other reading is speculative and doesn’t dive into the specifics of the conception and implementation of blockchain technology. This experiment puts across an extensive effort towards collaborating with the first mile, producers, manufacturers and testing in the market. It’s a great example of beta testing a product, so that one can realize the challenges, loopholes and understand the associated parties better.

My questions are, how easily can this be adopted into the everyday setting? Will the people welcome such a change? Will they be willing to check the fair trade policies while making such transactions? What are some of the challenges that third party organizations such as PayPal etc cause? Will it be possible to get these organizations onboard and if so, can they reap profits out of this effort as well, can this be misused despite the transparency and trust ?

One thought on “Responses to Readings – Week 4

  1. Hopefully Prof. Yermack will be able to talk us through some of the technological side of things, but if not he should be able to provide us with some extra resources, these links might help as well:
    https://d28rh4a8wq0iu5.cloudfront.net/bitcointech/readings/princeton_bitcoin_book.pdf
    http://www.the-blockchain.com/docs/Goldman-Sachs-report-Blockchain-Putting-Theory-into-Practice.pdf
    Your questions are great, so I look forward to engaging our guests tomorrow in an interesting conversation. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *