Imagine the future when almost every cause, company, and even people have their own currency. Think of it the same way most companies and many individuals today have their own domain names, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. Billions upon billions of expressions by people creating and sharing what they love and giving it value. Finally, value becomes the means of expression.
“Currency as a means of expression, currency as a tool of language, is no longer up to the issuer. It is up to us as individuals making a choice to use that currency, and we give it value through our use.” – Andreas M Antonopoulos
The Corporate Use
The corporate idea of tokens and currency is the easiest to grasp. It can be viewed as an extension or replacement to the current loyalty points system that many businesses already utilize to help increase loyalty and customer engagement. So, instead of loyalty points, Starbucks could easily create their own token on the blockchain. Customers can use at their stores, and earn it by sharing, liking, or spending US dollars every week on coffee. So, the use case won’t change all that much, but the fact that the administration and interactions of this token are now on some smart contract will save costs across the entire system – the cut normally given to credit cards is now reinvested in their loyal customers.
The Crowdfunding Use
We are already seeing tokens being created to generate and denote value with every ICO that gets launched. But beyond the large, corporate scale, this could be explored as alternative to something like Patreon. Instead of a Patreon account, an artist creates personalized token to raise funds for their art. Their fans can buy in and support them, their music, and their art without the middle man. Maybe the largest coin holders get invited to special events or are provided limited edition merch. Now, the fan club can support the artist directly, and the artist can foster and nurture his audience and his fans.Outside of personalized coins, we are already seeing this with Ujo as a method to remove the middle man from the music industry. Some day, be it through a decentralized platform or a customized token, there will be very few boundaries between an artist and their fans, even if there are only 10 of them scattered around the globe (one of them of course being your very proud Mother).
The Local Use
Instead of a bakesale, your local school has its own value token that can lets you support their needs directly. Maybe spend it at football games and concession stands. Earn it by volunteering, getting on the honor roll, or making signs for the pep rally – anything that makes the school a better place. The conversation is now between you and your school. Need new books for the library? Why not fund the project directly through a library token that tracks that singular event? Any excess funds are rolled up into your local school token. On that note, why not have one for the football team, the track team, or any event? These local and hyper-local uses allow individuals to denote value without anyone in between.
The Individual Use
Imagine creating a currency for your child the moment they are born, similar to what some parents do with Facebook today. Perhaps you invest in that currency along with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and other family members. Perhaps you supplement it with some fiat from summer jobs. Now, I can’t gauge your likely rate of return, but once you graduate, you throw in whats left of your High_School_Token. Maybe at that point, you can use this stored value as collateral to pay for college, a car, or anything at all in the real world.
The Combined Use
Imagine creating your own ETF, or bucket of value, made up of your School_Token, City_Token, 10k_Charity_Run_Token, Favorite_Musician, Favorite_Charity, Favorite_Movie, Favorite_Quote. Hmm, perhaps this it too much of a stretch for some folks yet.Lets put it this way – imagine a MixTape of Money that is filled with the coins of all your favorite bands. Suddenly, you’ve created and curated something people can buy in and out of in order to encourage and capture the value you are aggregating. When the bands become more popular, their coins, and your ETF grows in recognizable value. Now, that obscure band that you drove hours to go see when they were playing in dive bars is on stage playing to thousands. Their token and your mixtape likely increased in value in that time. So, with your exquisite taste in music, you can help nurture and capitalize on this rise in value. In many ways, your MixTape is you becoming your own music label.
Its the exact same line of thinking that is drives SteemIt – you are your own author, artist and publisher and people can buy in or out of the value that you create and share in the rewards of that without a middle man or book deal. Curators and tastemakers become essential in helping people find the things they like. The platform helps drive the long-tail, and eventually the people themselves will maximize the final value.
Flickr CC BY 2.0
First, we had the single providers, then we had the platforms, and eventually, we will just have the people.
Liquidity & Abstraction
“We’re going to start treating currency as an application, and in order to do that we’re going to need interfaces that allow us a unified currency experience, that allow us to have a single wallet with perhaps 150 different currencies in it.” — Andreas M Antonopoulos
Now, imagine all of these tokens are also liquid among each other and other more ‘traditional’ stores of value. These tokens won’t need an exchange in the traditional sense where Buyer A needs to line up with Seller B. These tokens can be converted easily and seamlessly among each other and other digital goods. As long as the money spends, or can be converted to something that spends, then a human with their smart phone, smart wallet, or smart credit card doesn’t care. The software abstracting behind the scenes can easily compare and contrast what Store A will deal in and what Person B actually has available to them and make the exchange.
So, despite us making the world immensely more complicated between enterprise tokens, funding tokens, local, global, and individual token. The world won’t notice or care. The software will abstract all of that away and make it grandma-level simple. So, even though Grandma accidentally gave Hyper_Princess_Coins to her grandaughter, she can still seamlessly convert and spend them on Emily_The_Engineer merchandise. We won’t care about the method the value comes in, or the computations behind everything, we will simply enjoy its value as we express ourselves.
I was inspired to write this, almost spur of the moment style, after learning about Bancor. It’ll be fascinating to learn how their ICO goes, their partnerships with other ongoing ETH projects, and their general success in the marketplace.
Afterthought – Given this potential future, how do governments cope with the digital Libertarian’s pipedream? How does one tax something that doesn’t need a middle man? Uncle_Sam_Coins? US_Navy_Coins? Medicare_Coins?
Also available via SteemIt