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    商業 - 金融

    銀行業:比特幣猛于虎

    Trond Undheim 2014年11月26日

    麻省理工斯隆管理學院高級講師特隆德?阿恩?溫海姆認為,這種虛擬貨幣可能分散銀行業務。

    ????比特幣(Bitcoin)預示了一個新時代的到來,這個新時代比如今的互聯網更有顛覆性。顛覆可以是件好事,特別是當顛覆對象是銀行的時候。作為一種處于衰退狀態的商業模式,雖然銀行業進行了各種各樣的微調,但幾百年來基本上毫無變化?;闹嚨氖?,有些銀行害怕比特幣的原因在于,后者將迫使它們進行創新。

    ????比特幣是新興技術網絡的最著名代表,而這個網絡有可能讓銀行業得到改善。比特幣屬于加密貨幣這個新型金融物種,是一種基于互聯網、分散、安全的資金存儲和轉移方式。比特幣,甚至是更有前途的瑞波幣(Ripple)網絡的作用不是在銀行的基本商業模式,也就是貸款、存款、交易和貨幣兌換方面打開缺口,而是播撒催生全新市場的種子,通常人們把這些市場稱為價值互聯網(Internet of Value)。它是一種途徑,可以讓普通人和專業人士一樣將一切事物貨幣化,且不受地域、傳統市場準入以及司法權限的限制。

    ????加密貨幣面世已超過5年,用互聯網標準衡量,這已算是極長的歷史了。優雅的數學讓加密貨幣幾乎可以瞬間完成價值轉移,而且基本上不會給參與雙方帶來成本,也無需尋找二者都信任的第三方。這實際上已經是一種顛覆,只是顛覆的對象是中介機構。

    ????人們談論共享經濟已經有幾個年頭了。租房網站AirBnb和租車服務商Uber等公司啟用了那些曾經無人問津的閑置資產,比如一間空著的臥室或者人們的第二輛私家車,并讓它們產生經濟效益。借助閑置資產的盤活,人們在租房和出行服務這些毫無效率可言的市場中獲得了更多的便利。

    ????價值互聯網還有可能在此基礎上更進一步。想象一下這樣的世界,人們可以完全成為自己的做市商,可以為自己的任何財產創造一個市場。這些財產可以是人們所擁有的、想到的和做出的任何事,或者是可以影響他人去做的事。

    ????然而,美國財政部反洗錢機構金融犯罪執法局(FinCEN)上個月頒布的虛擬貨幣交易和支付處理新指導意見規定,按照美國法律,上述公司可能被視為從事資金服務業務,因而可能受到新法規的約束,這讓許多初創型金融科技公司大失所望。這樣的規定本意雖好,但頗有自相矛盾的意味;更重要的是,此舉方向有誤。除了削弱美國的創新優勢,過早地施加此類限制幾乎不會帶來什么長期影響。

    ????2001年,我在加州大學伯克利分校(UC Berkeley)時的同事尼爾?弗雷格斯坦出版了一本書,名叫《市場的結構》(The Architecture of Market)。他在書中一針見血地指出,不要以為市場本身會自動或者神奇地出現,也不要以為市場的出現源于個人行為或者源于結構因素和現有機制的共同作用。確切地說,市場是一種精致而復雜的產物,由一些群體出于共同的目的而創造,而且必須由那些靠市場生存的參與者予以維持。

    ????就比特幣而言,它帶來的不僅僅是一個新市場,而是“市場中的市場”;它是承載各種新市場的平臺。比特幣蘊含的是一個轉型承諾,盡管聽上去很奇怪,但這個承諾比互聯網還要偉大。否認這種潛力就相當于否認全球化這個現實。

    ????這就是為什么銀行業最好還是接受加密技術以及相關商業模式等一系列嘗試的原因,而且最好是全行業的接受,不是各自為營。這樣做的目的是降低風險,并孕育和塑造出一整套合適的平臺創新。無論如何,這些創新都將在今后十年內出現。

    ????Bitcoin heralds a new age more disruptive than that of today’s Internet. Disruption can be a good thing, especially when it affects banking, a failing set of business models which, for all the tweaks, have been virtually unchanged for millennia. Paradoxically, some banks are afraid of Bitcoin because it would force them to innovate.

    ????Bitcoin is but the most famous example of an emerging technology network with the potential to improve banking. It belongs to the new type of financial animal called crypto currencies, i.e. decentralized, secure money storage and money transfer enabled by the Internet. What Bitcoin, and the even more promising Ripple network do, is not to poke a hole in banking’s basic business models—lending, deposits, trading, and money exchange—but to create the embryos for entirely new markets typically referred to as the Internet of Value. That is, a way for regular folks, as well as specialists, to potentially monetize everything, regardless of location, traditional market access and jurisdiction.

    ????Cryptocurrencies have been with us for over five years, an eternity by Internet time. Using the elegance of mathematics they enable almost instant transfer of value at almost no cost between two parties without the need for a trusted third party. The disruption lies exactly there: in disrupting the intermediaries.

    ????For a few years already, we have been talking about the sharing economy. Companies like AirBnb and Uber have enabled previously untapped, idle assets such as your empty bedroom or your second car to be mobilized for financial gain. Liquidizing such stale assets has added convenience in the utterly inefficient markets of room rentals and transportation services.

    ????The Internet of Value would go a few steps further. Imagine a world where you can literally become your own market maker; you can create markets for any of your own assets—which could be thought of as anything you own, think or do, or can influence others to do.

    ????In contrast, and to the great disappointment of many financial tech (‘fintech’) startups, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) last month released new guidance for virtual currency exchanges and payment processors, ruling that such companies may be considered money services businesses under US law and would be subject to new regulations. The ruling is well meaning, but quite contradictory, and, more importantly, wrongheaded. Prematurely imposing such limitations will have little long term impact beyond dulling the US’s innovative edge.

    ????In the 2001 book, The Architecture of Market, my former UC Berkeley colleague Neil Fligstein makes the excellent point that markets cannot be thought of as automatically or magically appearing on their own, neither by individuals acting alone nor by structures and established institutions acting in concert. Rather, markets are elaborate and complex creations by communities with a joint purpose, and they must be sustained by those who use them in order to survive.

    ????In the case of Bitcoin, what is being enabled here is not merely a new market, but a market of markets; a platform for all kinds of new markets to emerge. In it, lies the promise of a transformation, as strange as it sounds, greater than the Internet. Denying such a potential is equal to denying the reality of globalization.

    ????This is why banks had better embrace the experimentation around crypto technologies and business models—in consortia rather than alone, in order to reduce risks and in order to foster and shape the set of appropriate platform innovations that will come over the next decade, one way or another.

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