Whenever I hear people try to explain the use case for crypto, they usually bring up the same old topics. Like how it can increase the amount of economic freedom in the world, how it can bank the unbanked, or protect against hyperinflation, and enable cross-border remittances. And while I wholeheartedly agree and want crypto to achieve all of that and more, I’ve come to the conclusion that most people just aren’t interested. They’ve got enough of their own problems to worry about, let alone the problems of the world.
This is why I think there has to be a better approach. Rather than thinking big, cryptocurrencies need to think small. If crypto can demonstrate its value in a real way but on a smaller scale, I believe it will have a much better chance to one day demonstrate its value proposition on a larger scale.
As someone who is old enough to remember life before and after the internet, I’m guessing just about everyone who started using the web in those days didn’t do so because they were sold on some grand vision of how this new technology was going to bring humanity closer together, or give us greater access to information, or anything like that. If they were like me, they started using the internet because of email.
Whether it was an email address through your school, or Hotmail, or Yahoo!, what mattered was you needed one to communicate with your teachers, your friends, or maybe to contact the web developer of that site you just discovered.
Just as email onboarded so many users like myself to the early internet, I believe crypto needs something just as useful and easy to understand to onboard the masses. I don’t think the internet would have caught on as quickly without email, and I don’t think email would have caught on so quickly if not for the fact that it allowed people to do things they simply couldn’t with traditional mail. And isn’t that the whole point of creating new technologies? To create new opportunities, and solve people’s problems, and make things more efficient?
As nice as it may be to get your local merchants to accept crypto payments, I don’t see that leading to mass adoption. No one’s going to run out and buy some crypto to try using it at their favorite restaurant when they could just as easily pay for their meal using Visa, or ApplePay, or a fifty dollar bill. But what if there was something you couldn’t pay for using any of those other methods?
In the early days of Bitcoin, the Silk Road was that something. You couldn’t pay for your weed, or your ecstasy using your American Express card, but you could with Bitcoin. Now I’m not saying what we need is another illegal marketplace to gain mass adoption, but I do think crypto needs its version of email. Something simple, that anyone can use and understand, while also being impossible to do except with crypto.
So what might that be? First, let’s think about what advantages a proper cryptocurrency has compared to all other forms of money. For example, cash can’t be sent across the internet. Credit cards charge high transaction fees, not to mention chargebacks. Other online payment services might limit where your customers can come from, or force them to give up identifying information when they’d rather not.
None of these issues would apply to a properly functioning cryptocurrency. Because a good cryptocurrency can reliably be sent instantly across the internet, will always offer low fees, with transactions that can’t be reversed, while being borderless, censorship resistant, and pseudonymous.
The truth is, a form of money that offers all of these features can be used for just about anything, but the key is finding the right use case to attract new people into the ecosystem.
Which leaves us with NFTs. 😅 I’m joking, but not completely.
It’s no wonder why NFTs were so popular. The NFT craze might have been the closest thing we’ve ever had to the email of crypto, but I think we can do better. Much better.
What I’m thinking of is this: give people the ability to easily sell any digital good online. Something they can charge as little or as much as they want. Something that seeks a global customer base, and would benefit from a checkout process that is as frictionless as possible.
What I want to see is an easy way for any content creator like myself to charge a small fee for our digital content. I’m talking as small as a few cents, or even less. In today’s world, writers, artists, and musicians can only hope to get paid for their content if a large enough number of people notice their work, or the exact right person does. But what if you could get paid to create content for just a handful of people, no matter who those people were, or where they lived.
This might sound ridiculous to some of you, but believe me when I say there’s a difference between writing something that gets read by 10 people for free, versus writing something that gets read by 10 people who each paid even a tiny amount to access your work. When you can charge for something versus having to give it out for free, it’s market feedback. You’re gaining information that what you’re creating has some amount of value in the world. It’s a scorecard, a motor that can keep you going, it’s a way to measure your art, your music, you writing…..your work, while seeking the truth.
I can imagine the countless creators out there who toil away at their art hoping to one day be rewarded for their effort, only to garner a few hundred views on YouTube, and maybe a few nice comments, or a thumbs up, all of which happen to pay them nothing. But what if instead it was a hundred views with each view costing ten cents? Might that motivate a person further?
I’m not saying micropayments like these will fuel the next generation of Salingers or Scorseses. For those people, success might just be inevitable. But what I am saying is that micropayments using cryptocurrencies might lead to a world where more people are using their brains to create, rather than only to consume. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see what that world might look like.
Imagine if I’d put up a paywall where that line break is, and if you wanted to continue reading, you’d have to pay 1000 XEC to unlock the rest of the content. Because I created ProofofWriting.com not only to have a place where I can share my work, but to also one day be a place where people can come experience the power of ecash like people first experienced the power of email.
I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe no one will want to pay 1000 XEC to read my work, but even then, I will at least have learned that what I’m doing isn’t creating any value in the world, and it’s time to move onto something else, which just might be the greatest reward of all.
This is why I’m patiently standing by for PayButton to launch and eventually add the ability to put up paywalls. It’s time for me to find out the truth in a way that only crypto can show me.
And while I may have said it’s time to think small, don’t be fooled. Leveraging the power of ecash wouldn’t just be limited to anonymous blogs. Micropayments can create new business models. Imagine having the option to always pay for a single article rather than an annual subscription. What if ChatGPT could charge you a penny for each interaction? What if instead of just liking a tweet, you could tip someone 1000 XEC to get their attention?
I know it seems like everything is on fire, but I’m still bullish crypto, because as far as I’m concerned, real crypto has still never been tried.