At TEDx in Tel Aviv, talk of advancing crypto currencies like Bitcoin

Israeli-American entrepreneur Galia Benartzi was speaking at TEDxWhiteCity about the potential of the first-ever "people’s money."

January 25, 2017 16:50
3 minute read.
TED talk Israel

Galia Benartzi speaking at TEDxWhiteCity in Tel Aviv on Jan. 25, 2017. (photo credit: MICHELLE MALKA GROSSMAN)


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As Internet users increasingly employ crypto currencies to do business, the global economy will become a more equal opportunity environment, according to Israeli- American entrepreneur Galia Ben-Artzi.

“We can create a much smarter money supply, money that’s custom made to meet our diverse and changing needs,” she told some 1,500 audience members at a Tel Aviv event on Wednesday.

Ben-Artzi spoke at TEDx- WhiteCity, a symposium that focused on the spirit of innovation in Israel with the theme “Destination: Unknown.” Delivering a talk entitled “The Value Revolution: How Blockchain Will Change Money and the World,” Ben-Artzi discussed how a technology called Blockchain, used in Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, can cause a true revolution in the way people use money and do business.

The conference, the second of its kind, was organized by serial Israeli entrepreneur and hi-tech pioneer Yossi Vardi. The first TEDxWhiteCity event took place in October 2015. Around the world, TEDx events are arranged as local, independently organized gatherings with talks delivered in 18 minutes or less – as per the TED global foundation’s style.

“The value stored in money is very different than the kinds of information we’re used to sharing online,” said Ben-Artzi.

On the Internet, in places such as PayPal, money does not actually move but remains in the closed networks of banks, she explained. The promise of Bitcoin and the technology behind it, Blockchain, was to chain this reality by allowing people to safely send money to each other, knowing that the currency would not be duplicated, according to Ben-Artzi.

“When you give money to someone, you no longer have it,” she said. “With money, it’s essential to know that you’re not getting a copy.”

An entrepreneur and community builder born to Israeli parents in California, Ben-Artzi moved to Tel Aviv from Silicon Valley in 2013.

The cofounder of Mytopia, the first social-gaming company for smartphones in 2005, Ben-Artzi most recently co-launched numerous local currency pilots to model, build and test software for community marketplace networks.

Describing the power of Blockchain to the TEDx- WhiteCity audience, Ben-Artzi explained how this new technology enables a global network for the free exchange of money among people.

“Imagine a magical book.

Anyone who wants can get a copy of this book for free,” she said. “Anyone can add lines of text to the book and those lines will appear in everyone’s copy. Now imagine that those lines are not just text but transaction records.”

Blockchain, she said, allows a network to operate reliably, by stringing computers into a network without a central point of control. Instead, users place their trust in a transparent algorithm that logs and transfers values, Ben-Artzi said.

“It’s kind of like a Google Doc, but with no Google,” she added.

Today, about $15 billion is stored in Bitcoin, which was the first to use Blockchain, Ben-Artzi said. Yet, now there are more than 700 crypto currencies, and people can customize money in much more sophisticated ways, she explained.

“This is the first-ever ‘people’s money,’ online,” she said. “And it’s just the beginning.”

As an example, Ben-Artzi told the audience about a venture she and her partners created a few years ago, called Lev Market, which allowed mothers to purchase goods from one and other in a trusted market place, through “heart” currency. Within a year, she said, there was more than $10 million in this community, as moms traded services such as baking cakes, taking lessons, buying goods and volunteering in schools – “all in hearts.”

“Blockchain decentralizes control, which helps us shift society from a pyramid with limited room at the top, to a web, with more access to opportunity and more consensus on what is valuable,” Ben-Artzi said. “Economic freedom is the next great challenge of our time, and we’ll call it the value revolution.”

Among the other speakers at TEDxWhiteCity on Wednesday were Rio Olympics judo medalist Ori Sasson; synthetic biologist Dr. Tom Ren; robotics expert Yaron Schwartz; Guinness world-record holder in memory Eran Katz; new media expert Roei Deutsch; and venture capitalist Zaki Djemal, who also established Jerusalem’s first backgammon league for Jews and Arabs.

Several other entrepreneurs, activists, researchers and performers also appeared at the event.

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