Can mobile money challenge the current economic order? Or are phones better suited to slicing virtual fruit?
Is the end of capitalism a big enough subject to start 2013 with? Well, it was either that or find a new angle on iOS7.
So, Keynesian meltdown it is.
Feels weird to be even addressing the subject. When I first started writing about mobile in 2004, EA was seriously considering making a text version of FIFA, but inexplicably decided against it.
Nine years later, I'm still writing about mobile, but the debate has moved on from SMS sports sims to the potential of mobile to change the world's fundamental economic models.
And it's all because of mobile money.
It's easy to forget in our little tech bubble (with Apple selling 50m iPhone 5s in three months) that there is still an almighty economic crisis going on out there. Many experts believe that there's something different about this one, and that we won't recover in a few years as we have from previous shocks.
Instead, the world is ready for new economic models. And I wonder how significant a role the phone may have in this shift.
Recently, I listened to a fascinating BBC Radio 4 podcast, in which Professor Manuel Castells (author of Aftermath: The Cultures of the Economic Crisis) explained why he believes these new ideas are about to emerge.
He said: "People don't trust where they put their money and they don't trust those who they delegate in terms of their vote...The notion is the banks are going to be alright, we are not going to be alright. So there is a cultural change. A big one. Total distrust in the institutions of finance and politics.
"Some people start already living differently as they can - some because they want alternative ways of life, others because they don't have any other choice… (they) have decided not to wait for the revolution - but to start living differently - meaning the expansion of 'non-capitalist practices'.
"They are economic practices but they don't have a for-profit motivation - such as barter networks; such as social currencies; co-operatives; self-management; agricultural networks; helping each other simply in terms of wanting to be together; networks of providing services for free to others in the expectation that someone will also provide to you. All this exists and it's expanding throughout the world."
Castells was also one of the first academics to identify the rise of the 'networked society' and he believes these new economic practices will be closely linked to this phenomenon.
Naturally, given the ubiquity and connectedness of the phone (as opposed to the PC), it's logical that mobile could become part of this change. Especially now that phones can move money instantly.
One can imagine a scenario in which excluded groups of people choose to transfer money to each other through some kind of mobile-only currency.
There are certainly plenty of firms out here looking to shake things up.
Recently I spoke to a UK firm called Droplet, which offers a wallet you can use to transfer money for free to merchants or other users instantly. Yes, you need a traditional bank account to fund the wallet, but Droplet's mission is to destroy the model that charges for transfers and takes three days to clear funds.
Droplet's contention is that many of the new mobile money services are not really that disruptive. Rather, they bolster the existing finance system. But it believes that, just as Skype disrupted the long distance calling market, mobile money start-ups should be using the power of the web to re-think the way we move money.
There are many more disruptive firms like Droplet – Venmo, Dwolla etc – and I doubt any of them were set up to bring about societal change. But it's not hard to imagine that the Occupy movement, for example, could seize on one of these tools to accelerate the growth of alternative economic models.
The attraction for those at the bottom of society would be obvious, but for others the appeal could be around community or even some kind of gamification.
In the UK a company called Zopa (not strictly mobile) is pioneering P2P lending. It sounds unlikely – lending money to individuals and businesses you don't know – but it's growing fast as people start to trust the model and warm to the sense of community it brings. The gamification bit comes from seeing how well those small businesses you've funded are doing.
Zopa brokered almost £200m the last three years and has 700,000 members. There's more about it in an interesting Prospect article here.
In a few weeks, many of us will be jetting off to Barcelona where, no doubt, we will see lots of news announcements around mobile money. But it may be away from the conference centre that the big ideas are percolating.
Prof Castells has studied the protest movement in Catalonia and reckons up to 40,000 people are engaged in alternative forms of life. And he says that during the crisis, one third of Barcelona families lent money, without interest, to people who are not in their family.
So, remember, when someone tries to nick your phone on the Ramblas, they may not be a thieving scumbag but may be an activist trying to forge a new distributive system.
Most likely, though, thieving scumbag.