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by: Bernard Teo

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List of Categories : Database * Technology * Commentary * Singapore * Travel *

Sun 05 Feb 2006

A New World Currency

Category : Commentary/FaCai.txt

You know, the Chinese greet each other during the New Year with a hearty "Greetings! wish you'll erupt all over with wealth and prosperity!", or something to that effect, and it's all done with somewhat more vigour than the average Westerner's genteel "Merry Christmas".

Gong Xi! It looks like we're finally going to turn a corner and Fa Cai this year. The prognostications look good because, for one thing, office rentals have gone up significantly towards the end of last year, and that's a sure sign of business expansion. Although it's not quite the seller's market yet, it's steadily getting there.

And the Singapore dollar's on the up and up. It's sliced 5% off the value of my software sales in just the last two weeks.

So my mind's thinking of schemes, like where and how do I stash the money to keep its value?

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be rooting for the Singapore dollar to go down and down. The cheaper it was, the more Singapore dollars I had to spend when I moved it down from PayPal, where the money's kept in US dollars.

The point is not that I'm thinking like a big-time businessman. It's more like I'm amazed at the experience, and luxuriating at the opportunities, that the Internet economy has brought within reach of the average man.

A few years ago, a person can never hope to do this - get in touch with and sell your wares to thousands of people all around the world - without needing to leave your house and, better still, without even needing to play golf to "establish contacts and touch base".

There's this Brazilian businessman I like to read, Ricardo Semler - Maverick and The Seven Day Weekend - and he was reflecting about the business adage that one should go out to socialise to smooth the business relationships, and he's wondering why he should do that when he could use the same amount of time to make his products work better, and surely that would be what the customers want.

Contrast this with the way business is done in China, as recounted by James McGregor in One Bilion Customers - "Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China", and since it's clear which way I'm more at home with, it's no wonder, at least to my wife, that I'm going through an identity crisis.

But, anyway, back to the theme of this message. It's about two things - that the world is going through some really profound change, and the best thing to do is to jump right in and take part, to see where it's going. Like the old Reebok advert says, "because life is not a spectator sport".

For example, if I can make this software business work, then theoretically I can live anywhere in the world where I can get an Internet connection and, of course, if I may dream, it'll preferably be where the air is cooler and fresher and life is great. If money will flow to where we are, won't it make sense, then, to find a place where the money can be made to last a little longer?

What does this mean for nation states and citizenship, and loyalty and fealty and sovereignty? Nobody knows. Whatever it is, it won't be business as usual.

And one more thing - at the core of a lot of these changes is ... PayPal. PayPal has a lot of bad press. Some people hate it and refuse to use it. But it's reached 85 million users now, and that's going to be some network effect.

Read the PayPal Wars by Eric Jackson, about the ideas the original PayPal founders had and that gave birth to it. Some of these ideas are just emerging into fruition. Some day, we'll read about the creation of The New World Currency. And then we, who're using payPal right now, and its future progenies, will remember that we were there, present at the Creation. May we continue to live in interesting times.

Posted at 2:40PM UTC | permalink

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