Identity is the New Money (2014)

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Cover of UK first printing.

Here’s the preface to the book in full, in case you want place any advance orders with the good people at the London Publishing Partnership. You can find some more extracts and other media over at the Identity is the New Money web site.

While the immediate genesis of this book lay in a talk I gave to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in London in 2011, the ideas it crystallizes go back much further. In 1997, along with my colleagues at Consult Hyperion, I had been involved in some projects in the secure electronic transactions field that had caused me to reflect on payments and identity management. I had come to the conclusion that there were some major changes underway and that we needed to explore the implications. The arrival of the world wide web and the mobile phone meant that the highly secure and efficient transactions systems that we had been working on for the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, high street banks and even a proposed manned space mission (!) would soon be available to the mass market. As my colleague Neil McEvoy pointed out at the time, the secure computers, costing tens of thousands of pounds, and secure data networks, costing millions of pounds, used to execute money market trades in the City of London could be replaced by free Internet Protocol (IP) connections and the €1 tamper-resistant microprocessors now seen on every credit and debit card, swapped between mobile phones and inside every “tap and go” mass transit ticket.

I began to wonder what this significant technological advance in monetary transactions would mean. With the strong and unswerving support of my colleagues, I set about creating the Digital Money Forum and, subsequently, the Digital Identity Forum, in order to bring together a wide range of experts to explore the technological, business and social changes each year in London. It became clear that the two topics were converging and in time all of the events, blogs and podcasts were gradually merged into the Tomorrow’s Transactions thought-leadership blog, podcast, annual forum and “unconference” series held in the UK and North America. The discussions, observations and reflections that stemmed from those forums (that ran for two decades!) form the core of this book and its central claim:  the future of money is linked to the future of identity.

As time has gone by, I have become ever more convinced that we need to revise our understanding of what identity is and reformulate technical, business and, above all, social strategies for dealing with identity in the “new economy”. This book is an attempt to explain why. It also suggests one or two significant implications for policy makers and others. 

My argument is, in short, that the new economy and new society that we are building on top of it demand a new way of thinking about identity, and a new way of thinking about money – and that the two converge.