There have been several interesting, somewhat loosely related items in the news recently, which we can tie together as signals of progress.
Bitcoin Block-Chain Public Record
While bitcoin has taken a bit of a hit in forex markets the past few weeks (down from 625 USD to 475 USD), there has been an interesting innovation around the blockchain. Public transactions with verified identities can mark an exchange in a way that can be verified at any point in the future. This is the novel approach of the University of Nicosia, which not only accepts bitcoin for tuition payment, but offers courses on bitcoin and even a Masters of Science in Digital Currency.
Transactions Supporting Publishing
Certifications for course completion of the free online course Introduction to Digital Currency are entered into the block-chain as hashes and publicly identifiable (without needing first-party interaction). Witness the entire process which is a novel use of an information field in the blockchain for credential recording.
This shows the potential importance of cryptographic systems for public data publishing. On this note, the economic reliance of bitcoin and Wikileaks on each other further illustrates this point.
Apple Pay and Paypal Butthurt
Apple Pay is interesting and making things more secure and convenient, though of course Paypal didn't thing so, or at least don't want people to believe that, and so they tell lies. Of course that is a sign of a significant threat, which is being taken seriously, albeit with a ridiculous, clearly panicked response.
The Gifting Economy
Meanwhile, the gifting economy, which also has elements of anonymity (and of course accepts bitcoin) is the progress of Gratipay, formerly Gittip. There is now a public call for Gratipay to meet the unique needs of organizations, and not focus only on individuals.
https://www.bountysource.com/ is also plugging away and has some great three-way integration with github (naturally) an waffle.io which is a kanban-style board for issue tracking. Of course BountySource now accepts bitcoin. It is worth noting that BountySource supports fundraising (aka crowdfunding) as well, and that it also is limited to open source projects. See the full BountySource FAQ for more detail.