February 21, 2019

Innovative! Transformational! Revolutionary!

2018-2019 NSF Undergraduate Research Experience (REU) presentation for project "Private Digital Currencies and Closed Payment Communities: Law, Regulation and Financial Exclusion After Bitcoin"

2:30-3:30pm. Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG), Room 3323

Following three months of research by NSF REU undergraduates, under the direction of PI Bill Maurer and supervision of graduate student researcher Farah Qureshi, this presentation explains diverse forms present in digital blockchain-based platforms dominant across the world today. Building on research collected over the summer, this NSF funded project has examined 180 different cryptocurrency projects, following their successes and failures during rapid technological, regulatory, and legislative changes. With inspiration from these projects, we similarly believe our presentation to be a “groundbreaking foray” into the world of emerging cryptocurrencies, but questioning the revolutionary impact of decentralization on the market. Delving into this “cutting-edge” industry, our researchers unearthed the next generation of transactional systems. Join us for this transformational experience, revealing the wonders of an innovative, high-performance technology. We believe we have uncovered the secrets to raking in the dough in this emerging market…and it’s blockchain!

Common Word Notes: Transformational, Revolutionary, The First, High-Performance, New Generation, Open Source, Autonomous, Decentralized, Cutting-Edge, Most Effective, Get Ahead, Unique, MostSuccessful

Presented by: Ryan Jaimes, Aditesh Kumar, Zoe Nie; Introduction by Farah Qureshi


November 30, 2018

Fintech and Payments Debrief 2018: Reading the Tea Leaves and Setting New Research Agendas for Money and Technology

Are things still heating up in the battle between banks and fintechs in the payments and credit space - or are we reaching a détente? Will artificial intelligence be truly transformational, and is blockchain finally becoming more adult? Join researchers Bill Maurer and Melissa Wrapp from the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion at UC Irvine as they provide a summary and debrief of Money2020, the annual payments and fintech industry conference, which took place in October in Las Vegas. They will also be looking ahead: as the fintech bubble begins to deflate, we move beyond the rotary-phone stage of blockchain, the whiff of a recession is in the air, the industry as a whole starts reevaluating the place of regulation, and everyone grapples with the technological, policy, and ethical consequences of AI in financial services.

They will provide a taste of the portfolio of research projects currently underway and on the horizon at IMTFI, as well as the Filene Center of Excellence in Emerging Technology, which is co-housed with IMTFI in the School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine. These projects run the gamut from AI and machine learning for financial literacy and financial justice, to blockchain and the promise - and limits - of automated legal decision making, to product testing of fintech apps, and how and what students learn from products like LearnVest and Mint.

There will also be an opportunity for attendees to participate in collective, speculative mapping of what might lie ahead for money, payments and fintech, as well as to network with colleagues from across campus and the local business community. Come brainstorm!


November 15, 2018 

No Small Change: Doing Anthropology in a Bitcoin Bubble 

Change in the Anthropological Imagination, the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Jose, CA

Bill Maurer, Gretchen A. Bakke, Taylor C. Nelms, Peter Graif, Filipe Calvao, Elizabeth E. Ferry, Farah Qureshi, Susan Falls, Joseph R. Quick

Cosponsored by the Society for Economic Anthropology and the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology

Since 2011, anthropologists have been researching cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the blockchain technologies on which they are based. As its dollar value skyrocketed (and plummeted) and mainstream companies proposed new applications for blockchain systems in payments, finance, law, and logistics, Bitcoin has survived multiple bubbles of attention. Today, myriad enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and investors argue that blockchain technology can “disrupt” industry and government, decentralize decision-making, and make possible radically new social, economic, and political infrastructures. Critics, meanwhile, identify contradictions between how Bitcoin and blockchain are promoted and their evolution in practice. Championed as liberating and decentralizing, their distribution is perversely concentrated. Promoted as democratizing money and finance, cryptocurrencies are too volatile to serve as a stable media of exchange. Popularized as obviating the corruption of traditional intermediaries, the Bitcoin community has been recentralized and professionalized as it has been adopted for use as a speculative asset. Finally, while blockchains are said to automate trust in law and politics, applications often ignore the social context of contracts and governance. Despite their revolutionary reputation, the cultures of Bitcoin and blockchain echo patterns of socioeconomic contest and cooperation that have long been the focus of anthropological investigation. As technologies that facilitate distributed record-keeping, blockchain systems represent the leading edge of much longer, global histories of accounting—the way humans keep track of reciprocal obligations, coordinate distribution and redistribution of resources, preserve collective memory, and negotiate authority. The cultural implications of blockchain technology touch on reckoning in all of its senses, from mathematical to moral. Anthropologists have argued that received stories and histories of money naturalize currency as a manifestation of value and erase the social entanglements that constitute its transactional regimes. Distributed ledger technologies like the Bitcoin blockchain, however, foreground these regimes by replicating the transaction record across the full network and thereby making every transaction is (hypothetically) visible to all users at all times. As Deborah Thomas suggests in her recent American Anthropologist editorial (“Money and Its Effects”), while the social and political implications of this technical design remain unexplored, we argue that cryptocurrencies and blockchains are already generating anthropological insight. This roundtable brings together a group of anthropologists currently engaged in ethnographic fieldwork across multiple sites in the transnational cryptocurrency community and blockchain industry. Topics considered include money, payment, financial markets, and cultures of speculation (Ferry, Graif, Nelms); supply chain security and energy logistics (Maurer, Bakke); development and human rights monitoring (Quick, Qureshi); law and contracts (Maurer); and labor, data, and identity management (Calvão, Falls). In keeping with the theme of the 2018 AAA meetings, we ask: If Bitcoin and blockchain technologies promise new forms of decentralized cooperation, coordination, and automation, what new forms of risk, adaptation, or resilience might they also herald? We propose that the conference in San José—the epicenter of contemporary disintermediation ideologies, start-up culture, and venture capitalism—offers an ideal venue to showcase ongoing ethnographic research and explore new trajectories for research on the interplay of cultural and technological change and exchange. 


July 18-20, 2018

Business Information Systems 2018: 1st Workshop on Blockchain and Smart Contract Technologies

Bill Maurer is on the program committee of the first International workshop on Blockchain and Smart Contract Technologies (BSCT), co-located with 21st International Conference on Business Information Systems (BIS 2018) being held in Berlin, Germany. It will be the platform bringing together practitioners and researchers to create an open space for introducing insights and exchanging new ideas. The workshop aims at investigating challenges and opportunities in the field of blockchain technologies and its future developments. Additionally, it will pay a special attention to issues related to blockchain architectures and applications as well as innovative business models and use-cases based on distributed ledger environments.

The workshop is open to any research or position papers describing current work relating to blockchain and smart contracts technologies with respect to applications, analysis, simulation results, proof-of-concept or innovative solution approaches.

 July 21, 2018

Division of Continuing Education: Blockchain Bootcamp

UCI’s Division of Continuing Education is pleased to launch an intensive one day Blockchain Bootcamp hosted on campus at UC Irvine. Our curriculum has been developed in partnership with blockchain industry experts, entrepreneurs, fintech specialists, and technology consultants to ensure our program is comprehensive. This bootcamp has been developed especially for professionals from accounting, technology, business, legal, and fintech industries. 8:30am - 6pm | UCI Division of Continuing Education, 510 E. Peltason Drive, Irvine, CA 92697 

 April 26, 2018

Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble

Hosted by the the School of Social Sciences Dean's Leadership Society, this exclusion panel discussion assembles experts in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space to consider the past and the future: What explains the run up of the price of cryptocurrencies, not limited to Bitcoin? What developments in blockchain technology might really be game changers in fields as diverse as energy and logistics, digital rights management and art? How can we understand and assess the new role initial currency offerings (ICOs) have in raising capital? What are the trends to watch, and the faultlines and failures to watch out for? Moderated by Bill Maurer, Dean, School of Social Sciences, with featured panelists Marc Boiron (Rutan & Tucker, LLP), Mic Bowman (Intel Labs), Rohan Hall (Capital Group), Stephanie Mountain (Bixly), Taylor C. Nelms (UCI Anthropology), and Farah Qureshi (UCI Anthropology).

 April 8, 2018

Blockchain at UCI: Women in Blockchain Summit 2018

Organized by the Blockchain at UCI student group, the Women in Blockchain (WIB) Summit  is first conference on the West Coast to promote inclusion and diversity in the blockchain space. The summit was created to address and share the potential that blockchain presents for social and economic reform. The blockchain industry is ripe for change, open source, and growing, making it perfect for setting standards in diversity and inclusion. We are honored to have the support of the University of California and blockchain communities in inaugurating this exciting new conference. Through a series of panels, workshops, and keynote speeches, this forum will provide a platform for discussion in diversity and inclusion and how blockchain can help promote it. In other words, rather than an event focused on "women in the industry," WIB will insist on having an ongoing conversation about diversity in blockchain, both in terms of inclusivity and in terms of what blockchain as a technology can actually do for diversity.

 November 14, 2017

Using Blockchain to Secure the Supply Chain: Distributed Ledgers and Logistics for Critical Goods

Conference of industry, academic, and government leaders on blockchain-based supply chain security and management. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion and the Cybersecurity Policy & Research Institute. Read the write-up in the Orange County Business Journal. Conference agenda available here (pdf). Conference website available here. Videos of presentations available here.

Digital economies for soft goods (software, intellectual property, digital creative content) and a globalized economy for vital hard goods (medical devices, food, critical infrastructure, precious goods) rely on the coordination of complex supply chains involving multiple producers, manufacturers, resellers, and service providers. Secure and reliable supply chains depend on systems of sourcing and procurement, inventory tracking and management, logistics and finance, and, especially for software, version control, updating and patching, and access limitation. Meanwhile, distributed ledger technologies show particular promise for reliably tracking titles to property, the provenance of precious goods, and the ownership of art and intellectual property and for securing the supply chains for software and other critical technologies. Indeed, a rapidly-growing area of blockchain investment is logistics, not just the movement of physical goods but also the replication and distribution of digital ones, too. This conference, the first of its kind, will hone in on the promise (and perils!) of blockchain technology for logistics and critical goods in digital and physical hardware. Bringing together an expert group of scholars, technologists, industry practitioners, and government actors, we will take up real-world case studies to explore these technologies’ disruptive and innovative potential. How might blockchain technologies help make  supply chains more secure and reliable—and reshape the future of the global economy?


 October 27, 2016

Innovations in Payments Afterparty II

Convening of payment industry professionals to debrief on the latest innovations in payments and fintech. Led by Bill Maurer and Taylor Nelms. 

Every year since 2012, payments industry and fintech professionals have assembled in Las Vegas at Money2020, a trade show and conference that its organizers now bill as "the world's biggest, boldest and best event covering payments and financial services innovation for connected commerce at the intersection of mobile, retail, marketing services, data and technology." Join us and a carefully curated group of academic and industry researchers, colleagues and friends gather to debrief on what we learned or we wish we had learned, what was prominently on display and what should have been but was not. Here's what we will do: We will summarize the program, talk about the things that caught our attention, share ideas, issues and conundrums. Here's what we ask you to do: You will bring your professional expertise and insight to bear on the material we present; help us answer questions we can't answer on our own; and pose new questions we should be asking. We will present some of the collateral from last year's Afterparty (post-its, money maps, lists of unanswered questions) and ask: What's changed? What fell off the radar, and what's on it now? How did last year's debates get transformed by new entrants, technologies, regulations, consumer behaviors? How and why did things not change, and what might it mean for the future of money and payments?


 October 30, 2015

Innovations in Payments Afterparty

Convening of payment industry professionals to debrief on the latest trends, conversations, and controversies in the payments space. Led by Bill Maurer and Taylor Nelms

Since the launch of Apple Pay nearly a year before ... EMV-enabled chip-and-PIN (er, signature) cards and devices began to appear across the U.S. ... venture capital investments in fintech reached all-time highs ... New York State's BitLicense regulations were released ... same-day ACH payments moved ever closer to reality ... and the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl came ... and went! So, on the heels of Money 20/20 and other major industry conferences, let's get together to discuss new and continuing developments about: the social and the local in mobile; what's happening to legacy players; data and analytics for loyalty (and beyond); crypto- and the emerging distributed ledger space; regulating privacy, identity, and consumer protections; financial inclusion and financial wellbeing for the un- and under-banked.


 April 2, 2015

Bitcoin and the Blockchain II: Conversations between Academia and Industry

Brainstorming workshop with Donncha Kavangh and payment industry professionals, led by Bill Maurer and Taylor Nelms. See a brief write-up on the blog of the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion. 

 October 8, 2014

Imagining (the Future of) Money

Roundtable with Max Haiven and Eduard de Jong, moderated by Bill Maurer. 

In the wake of the recent global finance crisis and in the midst of profound innovation in the ways people can move and store value—from Apple Pay to Bitcoin—what does the future of money hold? Rapid changes in mobile and digital technology, shifts in the regulatory landscape, and the articulation of diverse critiques of the financial system promise to transform the relationship between people and finance. These transformations also provoke questions about how we represent money and imagine alternatives; the importance of trust in the circulation financial flows; the role of government, corporations, and other institutions in mediating and authorizing financial transactions; and the impact of emerging payment and accounting technologies, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

 April 30, 2014

Bitcoin and the Blockchain: Conversations between Academia and Industry

Brainstorming workshop with Intel researchers and payment industry professionals, led by Bill Maurer and Taylor Nelms.


 February 25-26, 2013

Payment Technologies: Past, Present, and Future

Interdisciplinary convening of scholars of money and payment industry professionals to discuss the material cultures of payment and deliberate claims about the end of cash. Led by Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz. Read the write-up by Irving Wladawsky-Berger in the Wall Street Journal (pdf). Resulted in the publication of Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff (2017, The MIT Press).



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