The Irregular Newsletter of Z/Yen Group Limited
Breaking Banking Technology
Thinking on the nature of money and banking seems to be changing at a rapid rate, led not least by the Bank of England issuing ever clearer descriptions of the landscape – “Money Creation In The Modern Economy” (Quarterly Bulletin, 2014 Q1). Z/Yen and Long Finance are at the forefront of a lot of this work as recognised by two pieces this year in Banking Technology. The first, Therese Kieve’s first publication, in conjunction with Michael Mainelli, covers the surveillance of the LIBOR markets.
Therese Kieve and Michael Mainelli
Banking Technology, Informa plc (February 2014), pages 28-31.
This approach has attracted as much or more interest from litigators as it should from regulators or compliance officers. Equally, this approach, similar to one Z/Yen pioneered for equities surveillance in 2003 and published in 2006 - http://www.zyen.com/now-and-zyen/blog/363-you-cant-predict-share-prices.html - can be used in the emerging foreign exchange scandal, as well as any other traded market. Z/Yen is also researching the application of blockchain technologies to consolidated tapes in financial services.
The second publication, written with Bob McDowall, who as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the States of Alderney is effectively the Finance Minister, looks quite positively at how bitcoin and blockchain technology can help governments improve economic performance.
Michael Mainelli and Bob McDowall
Banking Technology, Informa plc (April 2014), pages 30-33.
Z/Yen is already working with one government, and in discussion with others, ranging from city councils to local government to national, as well as with larger multinationals, about how strategic economic performance can be enhanced with new monies. Much of this discussion is online at Long Finance’s Eternal Coin community – www.eternalcoin.net. So we go from “a Silk Road of Breaking Bad transactions”, or “quixotic libertarians damning profligate governments” to using new blockchain technologies for “Building Bit”.
Z/Yen Keeps Middlesex CCC Cricketer, Adam Rossington, In Z/Yen's Risk/Reward Gloves
As Z/Yen's programme slogan for Adam says, "Z/Yen Group predicts that Adam Rossington’s rewards will be high, his risks well controlled."
Z/Yen sloganeering apart, Adam is a very promising young wicket-keeper batsman, who shone at Under 19 level for England. Although just over 20 even now, he has already put in some excellent performances for the Middlesex First XI. Z/Yen believes that he is "one to watch" at both county and country level for the future.
We encourage friends of Z/Yen to take a look - especially over the summer at Lord's in the sunshine.
Z/Yen has quite a business managing a diverse set of online communities, or CommunityZ as we term them. We have the Z/Yen business community with its SpecialiZm group looking out for interim management opportunities, ExtZy community playing our country news prediction market, Long Finance community discussing “when would we know our financial system is working”, and the Insenter community for wholesale insurers. A small confession to members of these free-to-join communities, you’ve been ‘guinea pigs’ for us as we’ve tested ideas such as trivia games, avatars for navigating complex datasets, or carbon cost calculators. Over the years we’ve held monthly meetings so the community managers, community organisers, and technical support can swap metrics and ideas. From all this, we’ve developed quite a bit of thinking on the importance of building strong business-to-business communities as the core of effective marketing and sales. We were delighted to have a conscientious intern, James Franklin of Gresham College, work with us during 2013 on how would you measure the value of such communities. James brought a wealth of social media experience from his time at Gresham.
After several months of research, James Franklin, Michael Mainelli and Robert Pay published their work, "Measuring the Value of Online Communities", in the Journal of Business Strategy, Volume 35, Number 1, Emerald Group Publishing Limited (January 2014). One of the interesting points in the study was the essential nature of debit and credit inherent in a functioning community. A community can be understood as a network of indebtedness, member-to-member, member-to-owner and owner-to-member. Each member will be indebted to the owner for the space in which to connect with others, and they will enter into the community on the assumption that the other members will be worth their time and effort and that those other members also enter into the community in the same spirit. This suggests the potential relevance of online currencies; if an online community is built on trust in the same way as financial exchanges, then should it not therefore be able to support its own currency? Perhaps the possibility of floating an online currency could be the ultimate test of the vibrancy of communities of a certain size. This may help explain Z/Yen’s interest in AltCoins over the past several years. A discussion to continue online, perhaps in Long Finance’s Eternal Coin discussion group!
City Streets Are Made For Walking
Z/Yen tries to help people understand commerce and finance, arranging open days and walking tours for students of all ages. In 1997 we first led some overseas visitors on an extended tour of work in the City of London. We were surprised at the paucity of sites for visitors who wanted to understand the contemporary business of the City. It was easy to find out about the Romans, Christopher Wren, or Charles Dickens, but not what the 350,000 people in the Square Mile worked at each day. We were also surprised at the number of corporate visitor centres that had quietly stolen away, Lloyd’s, London Stock Exchange, or LIFFE for example. Yet City businesses complain that today’s children don’t understand what they do, or that adults outside the central business district feel excluded.
Z/Yen began a quest to produce some walking material on what people do now in the City and get it published. The working title was the “Walk of Commerce & Finance”. Along our 17 year path we met numerous fellow travellers and friends, banks, insurers, shippers, official guides, and the City of London Corporation. In 2013, the City of London Corporation published a pdf book as “The City of London – A Walk Through This Hub Of Global Business” and “City Walks – Finance At Your Feet” - http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/what-we-do/Documents/city-walks-v0.9.pdf - and highlighted it among its other walks - http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/what-we-do/Pages/keeping-the-city-running.aspx
In February 2014, “City Walks: Finance At Your Feet” was published on iBooks (free). To enjoy, take your browser or iPad here - http://www.zyen.com/user-menu/city-walks.htm - to download the pdf and iBook directly by logging in to the community (free). You can also download via iBooks or iTunes by searching for “books history europe city of london”. If anything, Z/Yen is now energised to do more software development in this space and have been conducting some ‘Wikiwander’ research on a new flexible approach to walks and tours for cities and regions – get in touch if it interests.
•Lloyd’s of London
•Great Tower Street
•30 St Mary Axe
•2 King Edward Street
•The Bank of England
•Gresham College and Hatton Garden
•London Stock Exchange
•The Royal Exchange
•Queenhithe to Billingsgate
•The Baltic Exchange
•Tower Bridge and the Port of London
Our Z/Yen team on this was led by Xueyi Jiang and Stephanie Rochford, but it was a much wider team effort than that and we would like to thank the numerous people who helped us, including The City of London Corporation Barbara Anderson, Gail Armstrong, William Ayliffe, Liz Bailey, Doug Barrow, John Bennett, Adrian Berendt, Jim Buckley, Linda Cook, Malcolm Cooper, Peter Davies, Mike Dudgeon, Mark Duff, Stephen Fay, Archie Galloway, Ian Harris, Neil Infield, William Joseph, Tim Kidd, Richard Leeds, Sarah Leigh, David Lewis, George Littlejohn, Michael Mainelli, Elizabeth McMahon, Andrew McMillan, Robin Michaelson, Simon Mills, Mike Prymaka, Nick Robins, Marie-Louise Rossi, John Scott, Stewart Sutherland, Jim Walker, Spencer Williams, Robert Woodthorpe-Browne, Nigel Woodward, Mark Yeandle, Gresham College, Worshipful Company of World Traders and Z/Yen Group Limited for all of their support.
Security Forward Workshop and Dinner - January 2014 – Z/Yen
Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum’s January meeting was held at Z/Yen. There was a good turnout reflecting the diversity of our connections with attendees from major corporations such as EDF and PwC, from government in the form of defence intelligence and two former GCHQ employees, and from sector experts. The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, who gave a presentation entitled “Sources of Change - Sources of Instability: the Next Decade.” Crispin argued that Europeans and Americans take basic civil order too much for granted. Civil order is a rarer and more fragile state than we realise, even in some parts of Europe. He pointed out that even countries with civil order still bear traces of previous conflict, such as the English Civil War being reflected in religious affiliation and voting even today, or that in the USA people still differentiate between the Civil War and the Confederate War.
Crispin identified a number of factors likely to contribute to civil unrest in the UK, unless rectified. It was a long list including a breakdown in trust in the judicial system and the police; the inability of the current electoral system to offer real choice on some key issues; the rise of the super rich; or the iron grip of a cross-party political elite comprised largely of men and women with little experience outside the political bubble. As always, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and much enjoyed by all present.
After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was Dominic Armstrong, President of Aegis Advisory. Dominic was one of the four founder Directors of Aegis in 2002 and has built a leading strategic advisory and business intelligence consulting firm specialising in interpreting and guiding international deal-making. He gave an outstanding presentation entitled “Geopolitics and International Relations”. As we operate under The Chatham House Rule he was able to talk openly and candidly about the shifting components of power. He masterfully surveyed and made relevant the choke points in world trade, the importance of Sunni and Shia tensions, Syria, demographics, tribalism, nuclear deterrence, corruption and terrorism. The question and answer session was considered to be of great value by those present.
Although few could stay for dinner, the conversation possibly even improved as we dined just round the corner from the Bank of England. Naturally, we had a theme drink, in this case port. Crispin’s presentation had stressed the importance of the Gordon Riots, linking civil unrest with finance. The Gordon Riots led to City militias and the Bank of England having an armed guard at its door up until the 1970s. But was the guard guarding the gold, or the Bank of England’s private label port supplies? Sadly, unable to get the private label, we settled for Cockburn’s.