All posts by Gagan

Bitcoin – past the toddler stage!

About a year ago I wrote my first blog about Bitcion – “Bitcoin – dead or the currency of the future!” discussing whether or nor Bitcoin is here to stay. A lot has been said and written about the same over last 12 months and a lot is happened in the life of Bitcoin as it tries to grow out of its toddler phase. Yes that is right six years since it was first introduced in January 2009, Bitcoin seems to have survived the early stages of its life cycle.

Like every growing child Bitcoin has its flaws – it’s not regulated, no governmental backing, frauds costing 100s of millions of dollars to investors, shutdown of the biggest exchange – Mt. Gox, illicit use of the currency, and the list can go on. However as with every child bitcoin also has a brighter side to it – it makes transactions simpler, eliminates transaction fees, it’s transparent, and again the list can go on.

All this toddler needs is a care-taker who is willing to keep up with it’s fallacies while building up on it’s strength. And based on developments over the last 12 months it seems like Bitcoin has found the support it is seeking to grow into adolescence. New York State’s Department of Financial Services in in the process of finalizing regulations for Bitcoins. Bitcoin is now accepted by major retailers including the likes of Dell, Target, Amazon, Overstock, and so on. On top of these indicators of strength the latest news is that a Bitcoin ETF, approved by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is almost here for anyone and everyone to buy on OTC market. These developments and many more in the recent past along with a relatively stabilized price point only suggests that Bitcoin is not a foster kid anymore. It has gained enough attention and support to announce its presence and is here to stay at least for now. The growth of Bitcoin has even inspired countries like Ecuador to instill its own digital currency to aid unbanked population.

These recent developments only suggests that people value Bitcoin and sees its ability to change how we think of and use currencies. However Bitcoin still needs to further strengthen its place before the said revolution can be seen. Only time will tell where it goes from here but for now it seems to be a revolutionary adult in the making.

This article was first published on March 3, 2015.

Bitcoin – dead or the currency of the future!

Bitcoin, the first and the most prevalent of 100s of crypto-currencies, has been in news lately for not necessarily for all the right reasons. Though this crypto-currency has survived for almost 5 years and has weathered multiple crashes in valuation over the years the future of Bitcoin is still questionable.

The concept in itself is promising especially in this age of globalization. A currency that crosses borders securely, without third party intervention, and no transaction fees can definitely boost international trades and prove to be a boon, more so for small businesses. As John Naughton of “The Guardian” said – Bitcoin serves the function of being a medium of exchange by making small online payments very cheap and easy. However as with every great thing in the making there are downsides to Bitcoin as well. The very same features that are its unique advantages can be and has been exploited, for instance Silk Road, an online market for illegal drugs, accepted only Bitcoins as the method of payment. Moreover the lack of government backing and regulations also leads to lack of consumer protection which makes it a risky currency to hold on to – as has been the case with Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, collapsed and suddenly disappeared with $350 million worth of Bitcoins. Thus it is no secret that Bitcoin has its share of disadvantages and limitations in its current state however what remains unanswered is if Bitcoin can be the currency of future and only time will answer that question. In the meanwhile what is worth noticing is that the fall of Mt. Gox is not synonymous to the fall of Bitcoin. It might rather prove to be beneficial to the future of Bitcoin. Though the value of the currency dropped to about $400 in response to the news it slowly crawled back up in the matter of a few days at over $600 per Bitcoin and in turn it has drawn attention of authorities. This along with installations of Bitcoin ATMs in multiple cities across the country only reflects the confidence that the proponents of Bitcoin have in the future of the currency. Additionally, the fall of Mt. Gox has also highlighted the need for regulating the currency and the response seems promising. Instead of an attempt to dump the currency, steps are being taken to further strengthen it. One of the major steps in the direction has been to form the Emerging Payments task force that comprise of nine state regulators to study the virtual currencies. It would be interesting to see how the advocates of Bitcoin reacts to the effort of regulating the crypto-currency as it violates the basic tenet of the currency – its decentralized nature. However for Bitcoin or for that matter for any crypto-currency to become a long-term stable currency of choice it needs to be backed and regulated which is in contrast to the basic premise of crypto-currencies. The key to its success would be to maintain the balance between regulations and innovation.

The future of Bitcoin though questionable, if recent turn of events is anything to go with is definitely far from dead yet. However at this point it would suffice to say that the currency has faced a number of tough questions and has only come out stronger and is stronger and more popular than ever before gaining a lot of traction from advocates of Bitcoin. Whether or not these efforts will fortify the future of Bitcoin is yet to be seen but at this time it would suffice to say that Bitcoin is gaining a lot of support and it might be too early to write it off.

This article was first published on March 8, 2014.

Is the eDiscovery world ready to adopt evolving technology?

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model also known as EDRM model in the world of legal eDiscovery is a SIX step process that defines the process of managing the electronically stored information for legal requirements was launched by Tom Gelbmann and George Socha in May 2005. Ever since numerous vendors have launched various products to address different steps of the EDRM model and have been successful at addressing one or more steps of the model.

However the piecemeal approach of adoption of EDRM by vendors was quickly perceived as a limitation of the EDRM model as CIOs failed to recognize which product best serves their need in the EDRM model. As quoted by CIO of a NYC based law firm regarding EDRM model – “It’s very useful, except it doesn’t name tools. For example, an archiving tool from the information management area will also perform search, making it useful for identification.” – in an article published in Storage Technology information, news and tips in April 2009.

The decision-makers for implementing one of these products overlooked the challenges posed by using disjointed products for different steps.

The increased volume of net new electronic data generated by users and their relevance in court proceedings highlighted the real essence of the EDRM model – the model that was perceived to be a six steps to eDiscovery was actually a six phase process in which all the phases has to work in tandem for a complete and reliable eDiscovery project. Thus EDRM model demanded one unified solution that can meet the needs of every phase of this model and provide an end-to-end eDiscovery solution rather than point solutions.

Though the technology has the ability to provide such solution and the industry recognizes the need for such solution the question that arises is if users of the solution are prepared to take advantage. The Senior Manager, Legal Operation of a California based leading lifesciences company that deployed an end-to-end eDiscovery solution, ZL Unified Archive®, to enhance their eDiscovery process said “I am surprised that even top notch candidates for paralegal position doesn’t know end-to-end eDiscovery process.” She added that candidates know disparate steps of the EDRM model but not the end-to-end eDiscovery model.

Thus it is important not just for the technology to evolve and create better products but for users of technology to adapt alongside. At times audience can get so used to current state of affairs that they might not even know the pain points with existing process. Thus technology leaders will be able to better serve the market if they focus not only on delivering better products but also in creating awareness of evolving requirements and trends in the industry. By doing so they can serve their target market better and in turn they could help themselves by creating awareness among its audience. However if they fail to raise the awareness no matter how much technology may advance target market might not realize its need and continue to treat EDRM as a six steps to eDiscovery instead of a six phase process.

This article was first published on February 10, 2014