Long before Bitcoin was a twinkle in Satoshi's eye, I was introduced to an organization called the Barter Exchange, Inc. which rose to some regional prominence in the US Southwest from the early to late 1990's.
I bring it up, because it was my personal introduction to "alternative financial systems" on a larger scale than just your basic neighborhood book exchange.
The idea was that there was a "hub" for businesses and business owners where you could list your excess product or service capacity and exchange it for other products/services you actually needed that other exchange members might have.
It differed from straight barter in the sense that there were so-called "B.E.Dollars" as a temporary store of value in the interim, so paint could be exchanged for secretarial services for legal consultations for office furniture, etc.
Looked really good... on paper.
Although the system continued operating for some years, it ultimately failed miserably because it became heavily leveraged by those who saw it as nothing more than an opportunity to "dump cheap crap" and exchange their accumulated B.E.Dollars for overstock gold jewelry they would then take outside the system and liquidate for US dollar cash at the melt value.
That effectively left a handful of people "profiteering," and the majority sitting with "B.E. Dollars" they basically couldn't buy anything with because a handful of greedy sharks were using the system as their personal channel to offload pennies-on-the-dollar bankruptcy liquidations.
I'm not going to editorialize on the greed/profit motive, but on the greater issue of a potentially viable system being drained rather than legitimately used. Any broad scale benefits were basically negated by exploitation.
Meanwhile, This Thing Called Bitcoin...
Somewhere around Christmas 2012 I was standing in my kitchen, listening to my not-at-all-technologically-savvy sister-in-law talking about this new kind of "electronic money" that she felt I would be interested in, called "Bitcoin."
All other history aside, her primary pitch (remember, this was late 2012!) was that Bitcoin was alternative money, like a global currency you would be able to use everywhere, getting rid of the need for exchange rates, international currency transfers and all those high cost wire transfer fees and such.
She thought of me because I was an active eBay trader and dealt with people all over the planet, some of whom (you could do that, back then) wanted to send me cash in their local currencies.
It sounded like a really awesome idea, so I did check it out. After learning that "mining" was just not my gig (too technical), I still went so far as to check out a fledgling company called "Local Bitcoins" to see about buying some, but nothing came of it.
I wasn't prepared to drive over 100 miles to meet some stranger at a Starbucks, just to hand them my hard-earned cash in exchange for something that felt highly... theoretical.
Again, it just seemed too complicated and the timeline for actually being able to buy a latte or a pair of shoes with this new currency seemed too uncertain and far off. Too bad, in retrospect, because I had enough cash to buy 10 BTC! Oh well...
Fast Forward: 2017
Even retrospectively, it can be hard to pinpoint when a "tipping point" actually happens.
Part of what sucked me in to the St€€m project in January 2017 was that they seemed to have finally made it simpler to be part of the Cryptosphere. Instead of endless chains of garbled characters, your wallet address was a name that could be remembered and made sense. There was no hours-long wait time for "confirmations."
Even "blogging to earn crypto" seemed like a huge progression in terms of coming up with a use case the greater world could easily relate to. Maybe this was finally the evolution beyond "nerd money."
Pardon my naivete, but I quite honestly thought that it was the perfect setup to develop commercial decentralized applications to finally bring ecommerce... and subsequently fill the promise of the alternative CURRENCIES I originally read into the ideals behind Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies.
Tulip Bulb Mania, 2017 style...
We all know what happened in the second half of 2017, and we all know what followed after that. I won't retell history, because it's boring by now, and it misses the point.
What I want to touch on is the underlying psychology of how the cryptosphere is now generally viewed as a result of those events. I came to the table in hopes of finding a payment system, but that's not where the tide took us all.
Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but Cryptocurrencies pretty much lost any and all image as actually being currencies (aka "a means of exchange") and instead assumed an image/reputation as exotic high-risk investments.
Now, you might look at that sentence and say "so what?"
The "so what" part has to do with this thing we've all been longingly harping on about for so long: Mass Adoption.
Reaping What You Sow...
Short version: High risk exotic investments are very much a small niche market. If not "tiny." Alternative currencies, marketplaces and commerce has a much much broader appeal.
Sure, you might point to the collective market cap of the cryptosphere — currently about US $550 billion — and declare "that's no small potatoes!" but compared to the market value of gold at US $9 trillion or the market cap of stocks on just the world's 10 largest stock exchanges at US $65 trillion, we're still a flea on a dog's back.
But let's get back to this whole appeal building... the single most common question I have gotten in response to telling people I am involved in the world of cryptos is some interest but then "But what do you DO with them?"
And it's a very valid question... just like simply having a smartphone is utterly meaningless absent what you can DO with it.
Getting extremely "local" with it, I'll use myself as an example. I have almost zero interest in throwing my hard-earned fiat money — of which I have precipitously little — at pie-in-the-sky promises of possible 1000% returns, but I'd gladly take part in something like a crypto-based marketplace like an eBay/Amazon/Craigslist clone that operated entirely in LEO. Or Hive. Or some other currency.
And yes, I recognize that the tender beginnings of this kind of activity is slowly happening. However, the crypto field — as a whole — has an "image problem" that's going to keep a lot of us on the sidelines, for a long time.
Why? Because SO much effort among crypto peeps and blockchainiacs is still being directed towards the dream of "Mooning for Lambos."
Coming Full Circle: The Fiat Issue
Going back to the Barter Exchange, and a bajillion other opportunities since then, the destructiveness of greed tends to follow the same path: Get in, exploit to make a fortune, get out.
Again, I'm not going to editorialize on "Greed vs. Business Acumen;" instead I want to finish with a few words on the "get out" end of the equation... which tends to ultimately be what breaks systems and good ideas. Impatience.
It may have been a while since the BTC Genesis Block in 2009, but we still always exit to fiat when we think of cryptos, working with them, and what we do with them.
Often, crypto projects are far more concerned with looking for INVESTORS than looking for USERS. Projects like LeoFinance and Hive are a rare exception, not the norm. I find myself here, because of that exception.
Not surprising that people resist, because we inside the cryptosphere don't have much to offer in response to the question "What do you DO with these tokens?" aside from "invest in them."
That needs to change.
The Computer and Internet Parallels
Change comes when something new effectively starts making sense to people, and and collective perception moves past the excitement of the IDEA, itself.
In their earliest days, people would invest "in computers" and they would invest in "The Internet." In 2020, I doubt you can find many people who get excited about "Computers" or "The Internet" as abstract concepts in their own right.
These days, we have near-complete market saturation with both of them, and both were disruptive technologies. But we got there because people started focusing on what you can DO with these technologies, not the technologies themselves.
In order for cryptos to attract the next level of users on the path to mass adoption, we have to get there, too. And that means everyday business use cases that don't obsess over "When Moon?" every other day.
Well, with that, I'm off to pack up my eBay sales for shipping. Because I still can't DO that on the blockchain...
Thanks for reading!
How about YOU? Do you think broader based crypto adoption is contingent on there being more FUNCTIONAL applications that make sense to the average person in the street? What do we need to deveop to make that possible? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!
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Created at 20201208 14:56 PST
Posted Using LeoFinance Beta