The kids of tomorrow will have 10 different currencies in their wallets just like today we have 10 different bank cards. The bling factor of what currency they use will be an indication of status far more expressive than physical adornment or what car they drive.
A decade ago, I was an educated but geographically isolated new mum struggling with the burdens of low time and low income. I knew there had to be a better way that didn’t disenfranchise parents and families exactly when they needed resources most. I had a startup dream –Affinity Families – that didn’t need to rely on the global market economy to define work, and that could operate through a private currency.
In recent years, we’ve seen disruptors like Airbnb take over the hotel market, and Uber take over the transport industry. Sony was best placed to implement digital music yet Apple beat them to it with iPods and iTunes. Likewise, GoPro took over the live-cam market when any of the existing camera manufacturers could have done it.
These usual suspects on the share-economy block won out because they’ve taken one human micro-moment at a time and asked – how can we give people more choice, freedom, and self-expression? In other words, how can we help our customers be more themselves?
The financial industry, and the work industry, are prime targets for this form of micro-moment disruption. They are both sectors that leave everyday people feeling disempowered, disenfranchised, and frustrated on a regular, hour-by-hour basis. They are due for some human-centred innovation and it’s coming in the form of the blockchain based labour apps Colony, and Chronobank.
Altcoins right now are like computers just before the 1980s when people realised how to make them more human centred and the age of personal computing arose. The true potential of blockchains and altcoins hasn’t been realised by the average Joe Bloggs yet, because the technological thresholds to entry for ownership and trade have been anything but user friendly.
Chronobank and Colony are about to change all this. Chronobank takes the idea of the timedollar, and has released it as an altcoin, called the national Labour-Hour (LH) available for purchase via their Chronomint website now. It’s an Australian initiative of Sydney entrepreneur Sergei Sergienko, the man behind Edway Group, a labour workforce educator and app development house. He seems perfectly placed to bring the LH as the preferred method of payment for the Australian workforce of the future within the next decade.
Chronobank is a juggernaut of traditional hiring, and it focuses on one to one transactions between employment companies and employee contractors like a conventional workforce would. Colony takes a more organic approach, answering the question of what the economy would look if it operated like an ecosystem of mutually beneficial interests and groups?
Colony is more like the Affinity Family commerce groups I imagined in 2010. Each colony has its own token. The more tokens you hold, the more of the colony you own. You compete for tokens by doing work. And tokens can be traded on the open market for cash.
Once Colony and Chronobank pass the investment phase and open as Apps on the Apps stores, they are going to be bigger than the Airbnbs and Ubers. Because consumer-focused disruptors to date have operated on what we do with our money – these meta disruptors will change forever how we earn it.
So the question is, do we, as investors, businesses, and workers, stay with the old monoliths of fiat currency and modes of work, or do we join the ride to envisage a fairer, more diverse, more caring world along with the visionary creators of altcoins? The question may be simply answered for us. Just like the teenagers of today can’t imagine life without Spotify, if we insist in being paid in the equivalent of a dusty mix-tape we’re going to miss out on attracting customers of the next generation. They are going to choose the currency that reflects their values in the same way they’ll choose any other brand.
We are entering an age of voluntarily decentralised currency. The possibilities of what enterprises can be used to back blockchain currency are simply endless – think, for example, reforesting the Amazon or saving the orang-utans. This is the aim of Stellar.org and its currency Lumens.
Customers are simply everyday people who want to be seen for who they are. If a currency can recognise a person for who they are, as well as support what they value while ensuring efficiency, value and reliability, expect labour-based altcoins to be the next great success of the share economy. If they can also give everyday people ownership over the coins they’re paid in as well as the means of production, then that’s a benefit that’s priceless.
Akasha Konkoly is the CEO of Indream, a consultancy for tech startups.