How do you describe the Ven?

Ven is a global digital currency that’s easy to use and great for the environment. It can be traded instantly to anyone with no transaction cost inside HubCulture.com and on authorized financial exchanges. Since Ven issuance is backed, the underlying components that make up the value of Ven are important. By including carbon, (along with other commodities and currencies) we are able to create a stable currency that supports the environment. So every time you use it, you’re helping the planet.

How did Hub Culture develop the idea?

We needed a single price for goods and services traded among the members of Hub Culture, the global collaboration network that grew out of the book of the same name, published in 2002. In 2007 we launched the Ven to help the community exchange value efficiently. From there, it evolved to have an exchange rate, an asset basket, and other features.

Which institution controls the Ven?

Ven is issued by an algorithmic issuance engine ruled by live market data. Asset reserves, wallets, security and policy are managed by Hub Culture, advised by the Ven Central Reserve Board – a group of financial market experts.

What’s the size of the Ven economy?

As of April 2015, we have exchanged over 500 million Ven, currently averaging about 4 million a month across the major exchanges and central issuance point at HubCulture.com. This is equivalent to about 50M USD, and US$2M a month. We are growing, and expect to pass 2 billion Ven exchanged by the end of 2015. Currently redemption happens only on regulated partner exchanges to other digital currencies (Kraken Exchange) or to sovereign currencies (LMAX Exchange), or via the goods and services merchant system with Hub Culture.

How is inflation controlled?

We minimize inflation risk by maintaining a reserve backing for Ven in issuance – which means that for any Ven out in the world, there are reserve funds equal to the component value of the underlying basket. Inflation is lower than in normal fiat currency because the basket includes commodities, but can not be totally eliminated because much of the underlying reserves include fiat currencies, which are indeed subject to inflation.

What safeguards are in place to protect the currency?

In addition to online security, cryptography and ID factors, one of the biggest advantages of Ven is the social, transparent nature that comes with operating Ven linked to a social network. The socially open component of Ven makes transparency a major security feature.

Can you bank in Ven?

Ven accounts function similarly to an online wallet, enabling store of value, exchange and the ability to invest Ven into a number of virtual currency related products and servcies. Major financial groups like Citibank and MasterCard have been at the forefront of Ven growth by purchasing Ven for their own use, and banks are trading Ven in institutional markets.

Can you print Ven when you need to? What safeguards are in place to stop that?

Since Ven is digital, the release of currency is linked to purchase with fiat currency or by algorithmic rules enabling people to earn Ven – by inviting friends to use it, for instance.

Oversight of reserves is managed in conjunction with our reserve banking partners, including HSBC and Morgan Stanley, and via the Ven Central Reserve Board who approve any changes to the structure of the currency. We’re also working on an outside insurance policy review to provide additional assurances around Ven for our community.

How can people trust that?

Trust comes with time, usage and reliability. We’ve worked hard over the last seven years to build trust with Ven and to provide a service and unit of account that adds value to the finance ecosystem. 

When you first announced it, how did people react?

In the beginning, people were skeptical that the world needed virtual currency – especially in the financial industry. We spent a lot of time, effort and money developing the Ven ecosystem so the currency had an environment in which to trade. As Ven has grown, and the carbon advantages for the planet became apparent as we developed, people have become more enthusiastic about the potential for Ven, and can see how it fits in.

How many organizations accept Ven? Who are they and why do they use it?

We have thousands of people and organizations using Ven through the HubCulture.com stores, through supplier relationships and other activities and over 30 Fortune 500 companies have used Ven. Ven is being extended to regulated third parties via plugins to ecommerce and the like, but there are some regulatory limitations to what we can do on exchange out of Ven, and we need to make sure we follow a conservative approach with regard to these extensions.

What’s the best story you’ve heard where Ven was used?

There are some great examples of uses. We discovered Ven is powering data transmission between ocean buoys collecting wave data at sea with artificial intelligence agents in the cloud – which is wild because it heralds an era of autonomous machine to machine payments. We have also enabled commodity trades using Ven, which provide a derivative carbon offset to the trade. This model sets a framework in place that could have a huge impact on commodity trading at scale, by embedding carbon offsets to trades and helping make the world a greener place. Finally we are working on SMS capabilities for wide financial inclusion.

To what extent is Ven a novelty currency?

Ven started out as a community currency for Hub Culture and has evolved into a viable solution for the financial world at large – especially around Internet linked transactions.

How have you seen Ven used in a criminal sense?

No. All Ven is transacting out through the Stores or regulated exchanges, and large transactions are guided by our Knowledge Brokerage team, where KYC and other research on the transaction is conducted with HubID. Since Ven is transparent, stable and resource backed, it doesn’t have the same traits that make other virtual currencies attractive in these ways.

What do you want to see happen with the Ven?

Ven operates at three levels – P2P, corporate and institutional. We would like to see members have the ability to trade Ven easily in mobile environments and to use it for a wide variety of activities. At the institutional level our ambition is to have 0.5% of global commodity trades priced in Ven. This would create enormous momentum for investment into carbon related assets, which could change the balance of power for clean energy and preservation of carbon rich areas (forests, oceans etc).

Various websites say you can buy carbon credits with Ven. How and why?

You can – we offer a range of options related to carbon credits on our platform at HubCulture.com, from individual offset tonnage (where you can calculate your individual total footprint) to specific VER assets from partner projects, to funds that pool funding for placement with specific projects. The Why is simple – upward demand and financial support for environmental assets is one of the best ways to ensure they are protected. We curate relevant projects to make it easy for our community to access them. Click here to see the range.

Microfinance – what’s the story?

Ven is a tremendous tool for microfinance because it divides easily and exchanges without friction, making it a perfect means of exchange at the microfinance level. We’ve been working to develop 3rd party partnerships in the microfinance sector to extend this to mobile transactions and to make sure that Hub Culture is supporting the right type of partners with Ven related services. Our Africa Impala project is designed to bring local language, light mobile-oriented Ven interfaces to Africa – and we are targeting central and eastern Africa with that project for trials beginning summer 2015.

What is a “singular value”?

Singular value is a concept first described by Stan Stalnaker in a TechCrunch article that examines the eventual relationship between the social graph, big data and monetary exchange. As data becomes pervasive and absolutely comparable, we will assign value to points on the graph, and they will eventually become exchangeable. Whether a proxy for a real world asset or a digital point, once this exchange becomes available, it tends to negate the need for “currency”, because everything becomes effectively comparable and exchangeable in real time. Of course currencies will still exist for ease of labelling, but in a way, many things will function as currency in this constantly comparing world of ‘singular value’.

Hub Culture was a first mover in digital currency. How do you think virtual currency will develop over the next decade?

Hub Culture was one of the earliest players in the social network space and we all saw how large the category has become. I think the virtual currency sector will be as large and maybe even more impactful than the social network sector, and in many ways they will intersect and be related.   We’re in the center of these developments and happy to be innovating for our community in these areas.

How do you feel about the Bitcoin and Ripple now getting so much coverage even though the Ven has been around a long time?

Ven is very different from both Bitcoin and Ripple, and the systems all have great potential to function together to serve different needs. With the arrival of other units of exchange, innovation in the space is set to accelerate, and it will be great to see how these elements work together. For instance, it won’t be long before virtual currency exchanges operate like current fiat currency exchanges, and we expect someday you’ll be seeing IPOs on virtual exchanges just like you see them today on the NYSE.

Are there connections with Bitcoin?

Hub Culture holds and manages Bitcoin assets for customers and uses Ven purchase options to hold Bitcoin without all the hassle. In fact, we launched a Ven Fund that allows users to hold both Ven and Bitcoin together.

What’s the future of the Ven given Bitcoin is getting all the headlines?

Ven is inherently stable, transparent and less liquid than Bitcoin, so it feels very conservative in comparison. For almost seven years we’ve been developing and innovating with Ven in a careful way, and we’d rather take that approach. Building a currency that has a positive social impact is key to our approach, even if it means sacrificing catchy headlines.

Will Hub Culture accept Bitcoin or Ripple in its network?

We’re working on some developments in that area, but have concerns about the KYC aspects of Bitcoin related to full monetary exchange. We would prefer to keep Ven as squeaky clean as possible, and so full exchange from us is not likely to happen right away.

How much do you make through the Ven? Is the pricing transparent?

Hub Culture  does not actually make anything on Ven – and there is no pricing cost to us when acquiring or trading it. We make a margin on sale for goods and services through our stores, and it is through this that we are able to manage and maintain the currency for the benefit of others.

How long does it take to transact – and do you make a profit on the transaction time?

The average transaction takes less than a second, and about 30 seconds to complete from login to finish. We do not take a cut on transactions.

What are Ven Authorities?

Hub Culture has appointed a number of partners as Authorities, which federate Ven functions into other networks. These Authorities generally provide regulated services, such as new business models and cash-out for Ven to sovereign currencies. Companies can apply to become a Ven Authority, and pass a selection process with business reviews.  Authority status is granted in two year, renewable increments. Current Ven Authorities include LMAX, Kraken, UC Group, Validsoft, Alternet Systems and Pyxpay.

To learn more about Ven: VenCurrency.com and HubCulture.com