Cash is King . . . .

Pauline HunterUncategorized

Working for a quasi-Bitcoin-ish tech start-up, I’ve blogged a couple of times on cash & currency but I experienced a full-on-penny-dropping moment t’other day when discussing who’s interest is it in exactly to continue our headlong rush towards the cashless society.

As we all know, various tokens of commercial exchange and stored of value have been around forever, with the East leading the paper money way in the seventh century and Europe eventually following suit about a thousand years later. Different communities, countries and economies obviously adopt different tokens & trends at different times and so it is with the cashless society. Many shops and businesses (including several banks!) within Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Belgium no longer accept cash and cash payments (in value terms) account for as little as 5%. On the other hand, however, 83% of monetary transactions take place with cash in Italy. And let’s not even mention India, where the government’s attempt to scrap high-value banknotes has led to widespread chaos & confusion.

Within developed economies then, hard cash is on the wane (scuse a qualsiasi lettura italiana!), and as a proportion of overall money accounts for only 2-3%, with the rest being held as entries on bank ledgers. It’s clearly still viewed as a store of value but is losing its appeal as a means of exchange. Cards, crypto currencies and, increasingly, smartphones are doing-it for cash. In Africa, where the vast majority of the populace have no access to traditional banking facilities, mobile payment apps such as M-Pesa are now  enabling the by-passing of bank accounts, cash and cards.

As in India, governments and banks are quick to claim the scrapping of cash is essential for the prevention of crime and tax fraud. They argue a cash-free world would put an end to armed robbery, to street mugging and cash-machine con-men; that the black economy, organised crime, corrupt officialdom and drug underworld would all find it increasingly difficult to evade the long-arm of the tax-law. There’s no denying it probably would but last year’s ‘national risk assessment’ concluded that the biggest culprits of the illicit storage & movement of funds were the banks themselves, with accounting and law services a close second! Ban cash by all means but get rid of banks, accountants and lawyers first if you actually want to crack down on crime.

So, the crime argument is spurious at best and a complete red-herring at worst. The real reason governments want to get rid of cash is to more fully control their economy.

Governments the world over are trying to prevent their economies from entering recession, and they’re doing this, via their central banks, by cutting interest rates. And they’ve done so, so aggressively that they’re all pretty much at zero, and there’s nowhere for them to go but below zero. If they did so, why would we bother to keep to keep our money in the bank? We wouldn’t and we’d most-likely take it out and keep it in physical form in a shoe-box under the bed. However, if cash wasn’t allowed we’d be stumped: we’d be inclined to spend it rather than see it visibly shrink month by month, statement by statement. Expect cash to be squeezed out, and expect negative interest rates coming to a bank account near you soon…

Carl

Another year older . . .

Pauline HunterUncategorized

And undeniably another year wiser. Probably.

For me, new years are like birthdays in that they present an opportunity to feel one year closer to the impending hip-replacement, one year closer to enjoying elastic-waisted trousers and one year closer to eventually making the acquaintance of our maker. However, without getting too maudlin, whilst I do concede my marathon times are not going to be improved upon and I don’t feel like undertaking a second Ironman anytime soon, I do sincerely believe my best squash remains ahead of me, my swimming can only be improved upon and I do consider I’ll be a dab hand at the ol’ crown green bowls when the time comes.

Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, studies have continually highlighted that in terms of world-recognised successes neither age, nor experience actually wins out. Both appear to play their part and both contribute in equal measure for success. Age, on its own, is just not necessarily that important. Similarly, experience, on its own ain’t that important either. Great novelists can be any age. Top athletes are invariably going to be young. World-leading scientists can be any age but are more likely to have a few grey hears. Go figure and don’t overly focus on the apparently irrelevant variables of age, experience, size, colour & sex. Personality and mental fortitude, together with an unhealthy dose of self-belief and competitive zeal, go a long way towards success.

So, far from being over-the-hill, I still feel I’m moving up the slope as opposed to careering down the other side and there are considerable successes to plan for, to work towards and to enjoy. I fully appreciate many of these may be relative as opposed to absolute but I’m not intending, for one second, to let age play too great a part in this process. Yes, the older I get the more I appreciate the fact that extreme physical activity doesn’t particularly welcome the bad-of-back, weak of limb & creaky of bone but I can make-up the quantity deficit with quality and I can be far more canny in my approach to the competitive aspects of my escapades. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet (parp, par-par-par-parp!), earlier this week I nicked it 9-7 in the fifth, against a twenty-year old ex-county junior, just by getting inside his head a little. I don’t think I need to tell you how much I enjoyed this tussle and there’s life in this old dog yet. Join me in a headlong gallop to the future. HNY.

To see more musings from the inimitable Carl, check out http://www.carlbeetham.com/

Ah, that’s what it means . . . .

Pauline HunterUncategorized

I’m not a betting man but I am tempted to put a few quid on Boris Johnson being the most high-profile casualty when Theresa calls her first cabinet re-shuffle sometime next year. Having somehow managed to avoid causing a serious international incident in his first couple of month’s employ as the UK’s Foreign Minister, it’s as if Bumble (as I’m going to call him from hereon in) now feels he has to make up for lost time, with a litany of misplaced, ill-timed and downright ignorant outbursts. This week’s Saudi-aimed ‘puppeteering & proxy-warmongering’ proclamations are only the icing-on-the-gaff-cake and anyway, I’m still more than a little concerned about the impact his appointment is going to have on shores closer to home.  To see more, look here http://carlbeetham.com/ah-thats-what-it-means/

Perhaps a PA wasn’t a good idea!

Pauline HunterBlog, Investment, Update

We’ve been really busy over the last couple of months preparing for our next funding round.
There’s been a lot of networking and preparation of our Investment Manifesto, and Justin’s been practising his pitch with help form our mentor @Stuart Hillston.

We’ve had a number of really positive meetings with publishers and attended #Web Summit in Lisbon, meeting some great people. Check it out https://websummit.net/

Early in the new year, we should have some pilots taking place with a couple of major publishers. Watch this space . .

As a result of the extra flurry of activity, I needed to take on a PA, who to be fair, is not exactly inspiring confidence; he’s a little too laid back for my liking and we’re going to have to have ‘a talk’.

img_20161125_141705120

See, he’s not even checking emails!!! and his attention to detail leaves a lot to be desired.

Splash the cash . . .

Pauline HunterUncategorized

I don’t often read fiction. Fact is my bag and the more black & white the better. Consequently, it was a bit of a departure that on my recent jaunt to the US, I slipped a pulpy ‘dick-lit’ paperback into my hand-luggage, and a right rollickingly good read it proved to be. For the record, it was the first of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels and without giving the game away too much, it’s about counterfeiting. And, surprise-surprise, the first thing I get handed upon my return, is one of the new ‘Lady-Godiva’s’, that I knew nothing about, and menacingly interrogated the offending barista.

So, how much cash do you have? No, not how much money do you have, how much actual hard cash? I suspect, like me, you’ve perhaps got a hundred quid, maybe fifty in your wallet and the same in the bedside table in case of an emergency. When you tot-up what you’re ‘worth’ it’s obviously a lot more – a mortgage and a bit of equity, a car, a pension plan or two, life assurance, a couple of credit cards – and you sound almost wealthy. But you’ve only a few folded bills in your grubby mitt.

The story went on to explain that, irrespective of an individual’s worth, which is represented on paper & ledger, the actual cash-in-hand was tiny ($750 per head in the US), and if everyone drew out their allotted $750, the economy would run out of cash in the blink of an eye. More rapidly than you’d ever think as most of it isn’t even in the banks but ‘cash intensive’ areas such as the racetrack, casinos and the bookies.

Here in the UK we’re far more cautious than our cousins over the pond and there’s £1200 per person, but the current debate is that cash has had its day and should be phased out without further ado. It argues that those ‘loadsamonies’ with actual spondoolies are invariably involved in nefarious tax-dodging & illegal activities and should be mitigated. Furthermore, in today’s increasingly cashless society taking coins & folding as change is actually a bit of a pain and does no more than weigh you down when running for the bus. Cash, at a national level, is certainly tied-up with potentially ingrained feelings of sovereignty and identity, and it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the writing’s on the wall. And I’d put money on that!

Carl

Boundary Estates Fun Palace – Bethnal Green

Pauline HunterBlog, Uncategorized

We at Tibit, love a bit of community spirit, so we were delighted to be asked to run some coding workshops at the boundary estates funpalace event on 1st October. We were approached by the inspirational Philip Green, a champion in the communities space.

Due to the weather forecast (which was true to form when it mentioned heavy rain!!!), Philip was required to find a venue and move everything indoors with only a few days notice. He achieved this with great aplomb (and stress!!): many thanks to St Hilda’s East Community Centre for rising to the challenge.

I went along to support our develper, Nadil Bourkadi who had volunteered to give up his Saturday to run the workshops.

We met some great people and the music, talks, food and stands were exceptional.

The coding workshops were a hit, and especially for enthusiasts Cameron, Orlando and Lucien; it was a pleasure meeting you guys.

There are some photos of Nadil and the boys during the workshops, attached below.

codingworkshops

A great time was had by all.

Go west, young man . . .

Pauline HunterUncategorized

Many of you will already know that I’m the least-travelled of individuals and the daily commute to Peckham still fills me with an equal combination of trepidation and excitement. So you can only wonder at my feelings when faced with the joyous prospect of a business trip to the US – imagine a midget ginga Mickey Rooney-esque individual playing the Eddie Murphy character in ‘Coming to America’ and you won’t be a million miles away.

In the event, I can report that the escapade passed without drama though I can’t really claim to have experienced much of Denver, Colorado, as the only places I saw were the insides of a conference hall, a motel and a cab between the two. However, as jet-lag kicked in straight-away I did manage to catch more than my fair share of early-morning American TV, specifically CNN & Fox News. And if you thought the panic about Brexit was nerve-jangling, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In an election that polarises opinion like none before, extreme reporting & journalistic battle-lines have well & truly been drawn, but ultimately beg the question of what is true and what isn’t?

In the space of just three days here’s what I saw being earnestly debated: President Obama was born in Kenya (the ‘Birther’ issue); Hilary Clinton is dying and wouldn’t see out her first year in office (the cough that turned into pneumonia); Trump orders Hilary’s assassination (his idiotic analysis of her ‘second amendment stance’ and musings that guns should be taken off her security detail); Obama is going to make a last minute decision to change the constitution and re-stand (he didn’t mention Hilary by name in his final speech to the Congressional Black Caucus); Clinton is pathologically unable to take action, any action (she wanted to get the full facts before declaring the NY bomb a terrorist act); If Trump loses, the election was rigged and, if it looks like he’s going to win, the state will rig some catastrophe which triggers Marshall Law and no election can take place if the state of Marshall Law exists (WTF). Phew.

Yep, nonsense the lot of it but what is apparent is that liberals and conservatives, left & right, are no longer able to communicate across the ideological divide. And needless to say, they have little or no chance of cooperating on any subsequent policy and actually getting anything done as they no longer agree on any objective set of facts. A mainstream media based upon objective analysis and debate, with a little subjective spice thrown in for good measure, would help facilitate this but I can’t see that happening anytime soon.

Furthermore, with the result now being too close to call, expect the financial jitters to start pretty sharpish. Protectionism & isolation is Donald’s trump card so, with even the merest whiff of his victory, there’ll be a modern day gold-rush as it’s seen a safe-haven, the dollar will take a big hit and China, with $500bn of annual exports riding on the outcome, will panic like never before. Armageddon? Probably not but bet your bottom dollar on another major worldwide recession.

Carl

This year’s snake oil

Pauline HunterUncategorized

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of catching a radio interview with a highly sceptical, surprisingly witty Glasgow café owner, who, whilst going about his daily ‘full English’ business had been asked whether his pancakes were gluten-free? Now, just before you steam head-long into anticipated stereotypes, said owner firstly enquired whether if the customer was coeliac, which she’d never heard of, and secondly, how her gluten-intolerance personally manifested itself, whereby she was unable to give even one example of her supposed symptoms. In the spirit of agreement & conciliation that then ensued she thoroughly enjoyed a huge plate of his lovely fresh gluten-laden pancakes, with lemon and a bit of sugar, and left his establishment a happy and satisfied young lady. And not in an ambulance.

I concede that I’m lucky in that milk, nuts, sugar, dust, pollen et al all pass me by with n’er a sniffle nor snuffle, f*rt nor rumble, but I do think gluten gets a bit of a hard time these days, as tens of millions appear to blame it for everything from asthma to dementia and everything in between. A mind-boggling 60% of adults have bought gluten-free products in the last year and a third of Americans (uh oh) are currently trying to cut it completely out of their diets. Gluten-dissers Posh Spice, Gwyneth Paltrow, Novak Djokovic & Lady Gugu, have been quick to condemn the complex protein and expel it from their bodies but what exactly is it?

Gluten is a spongy compound of proteins, found in wheat, barley & rye, that gives elasticity to dough and enables it to rise. It then hardens when baked and gives structure to the loaf, doughnut & Victoria sponge. The Great British Bake-Off first introduced gluten into the human diet only 12,000 years ago so in evolutionary terms, both gluten and Mary Berry, are in their infancy and for the previous 250,000 years man did not have this protein in his gut. And for the vast majority of us this is where it begins & ends as our bodies merely eliminate it, with a flush, so to speak. But for a tiny minority (1%), it creates a serious autoimmune condition that triggers white blood cells to go on the attack, damaging the intestinal wall: coeliac disease.

In the recent past bloating, fatigue, aching-joints, the inability to concentrate, sh*ts and fatigue have all been blamed on fat, yeast, sugar and monosodium glutamate, and now it’s simply the turn of gluten. The question it raises is why are people taken in by it? There’s no denying that cutting back a little on bread, cakes, pies & puddings will probably have a positive effect on our health & wellbeing but fads & phobias have been around for ever, and the recent combination of social media & celebratory worship, coupled with our need to ‘belong’, have created an immediate and easily accessible bandwagon. Furthermore, the opposite of the placebo effect is now known to be true: nocebo is where an inert substance has a perceived damaging effect on a patient’s health. In short, if the patient is convinced something is having a bad effect of them, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, the real reason for the massive rise in self-diagnosed gluten intolerance is far more blindingly obvious: US sales of gluten-free products now stand at £25bn, twenty five billion dollars. And where the US leads, the rest of the western world invariably follows. Our rage against gluten is nothing more than a targeted, pre-determined and extremely well executed marketing strategy of the food & beverage industry. We’re buying as they’re selling.

Carl

Calm down and carry on

Pauline HunterUncategorized

Do you know what I really like about Theresa May? I really like the fact that she appears to go about her business without much fuss and the bare minimum of passion. If anything, she approaches her tasks, of which there must be many at this point in time, as though it were her job. I could envisage her sitting down at her desk, first thing in the morning, cup of Earl Grey to hand and compiling her to-do list: sack dissenters, check; promote pals, check; try a new softer hairstyle at salon, check; annoy Europe via crazy fall-guy-Boris appointment, check; take Mark Carney down a peg, check; bid on ebay kitten-heels, check; meet the Queen, check. All efficiently completed without an ounce of passion. Lovely.

I’ve had quite enough of ‘passionate’ people thank-you very much, especially our dear public servants who are forever carping on about their passion for the worthy-causes they represent, the boards & bodies they sit on, and their relentlessly passionate approach to public service. Pah, it’s a job! Get over yourselves.

A great example of how this emotion is appearing to cloud society’s judgement was seen last week when the Education Select Committee rejected the application of the government’s preferred candidate (Amanda Spielman for the record) to be appointed head of Ofsted as she failed to show the necessary pre-requisite level of ‘passion’. Why, pray, does an inspector of schools need to be passionate? The lunatics truly are running the asylum. To my mind, the role sounds a pretty bog-standard management role, a senior civil service job, albeit a well-paid one, but essentially a bit dull and procedure driven. I concede it necessitates attention to detail, diligence, a critical eye, the need to understand facts & figures, perhaps direct a team around you, but passion?

And on the basis that where they lead we invariably follow, we’re all now expected to be passionate about something. Passionate about clearing your check-out lane with the minimum of fuss and maximum of friendly banter? No, the till lane supervisor is watching you like a hawk and you’re dying to get out and have a fag with the guys from warehousing. Passionate about doing your twenty zillion steps on your Fitbit? Just take up a sport instead and stop dancing to the tune of the capitalist on your wrist. Passionate about your next meeting to discuss the latest Google Analytic trend on the customer experience? No, just counting out your day in coffee-spoons and ensuring you look ever so busy and important. And passionate!

Carl

Out and about

Pauline HunterBlog, Bulletins, Update

Over the last couple of months, we’ve developed and rolled-out a revamped website with links to our tibbees and other charities. We have also made improvements to the app. and resolved some snagging issues.
We’ve been focussing on marketing & sales and so far had articles printed in #DisruptsMagazine and #TheIBSIntelligenceJournal.
A couple of pictures below showing:-

@Eclectic_Prof representing Tibit as a sponsor and presenting an award at the #UKBlogAwards.  The gallery can be found here

@JustinMaxwell exhibiting at #TheEuropas last week (and trying to steal the award!!!).

How you can help us?

Start/keep tibbing and suggest Tibit to any content creators you appreciate and would like to tib, or set up a button on your own site to receive tibs or donate to charity.

www.tibit.com

                UKBA16