Bitcoin, the undisputed king of cryptocurrencies, has not yet succeeded in becoming a medium of exchange, and some predict its fate is becoming a means for storing value and “digital gold.” People need, however, an everyday cryptocurrency. Or a couple of them? Or maybe millions? DeCenter figured out what would happen if everyone could release their own cryptocurrency and how it would change business relationships, the entertainment industry, and the world of social media users.
Precedents with “shares of themselves” happened before the era of tokenization.
In 1997, David Bowie sold $55 million in bonds tied to future royalties for using his hits, including “Ziggy Stardust,” “Space Oddity,” and “Changes.” Such a binding allows the author to make money fast without selling the rights to their works. “The Bowie bonds were as groundbreaking as his music. Not only were they followed by a number of other artists, but they set the template for deals backed by a whole range of assets,” notes Rob Ford, a partner at investment company TwentyFour Asset Management.
Perhaps, entrepreneur Mike Merrill went the furthest of all. In 2008, during the IPO, he sold 100,000 shares of himself at the initial price of $1, allowing investors to make decisions about his life not only professionally but also personally. For example, one of the issues put forward among shareholders for discussion is whether it is worth it to do a vasectomy.
In 2017, Evan Prodromou, founder of Wikitravel and AI startup fuzzy.ai, tokenized his time. Unlike Merrill, Prodromou sold only his working hours, as one token was equal to one hour. “I’m not charging my family to sit down and have dinner with them,” says Prodromou.
He says that he had a similar idea a few years ago when the first wave of popularity came to Bitcoin. “My friend and colleague Kevin Fox, who designed the original Gmail interface at Google, said, ‘Everyone should have their own personal currency.’ Of course, I immediately went out and registered Evancoin.com.”
The project was postponed, and the ICO of Evancoin was launched on Ethereum only in October 2017 at an initial price of $15. Shortly after launch, the price of Evancoin rose to $45, which was still below the usual fare that Prodromou took for his work.
For a while, the token experienced good times and was sold first on Decentrex, then on EtherDelta paired with Ether. On August 1, 2018, Prodromou announced that he had agreed on payment in Evancoin with two clients, for whom he would provide consulting services starting August. “It’s going to be fun to work it out. Neither client is particularly crypto-savvy, but I think we’ll make it work,” Prodromou wrote. Most of the supply, 96.9%, currently sits on Prodromou’s address, and there are only 47 alternative address holders according to EtherScan data.
Prodromou treated this as an experiment, somewhat philosophically. “I’m really serious about exploring how cryptocurrency is changing what we can do with money and how we think about it. Money is this sort of consensual hallucination, and I wanted to experiment around that,” says Prodromou. In a conversation with Wired, he also noted that he was inspired by “time-based currencies” (such as the Ithaca Hours) more than ideas like “everything’s a market.” “That came out of the ’60s, but the idea goes back to the 19th century,” Prodromou says, and the origins of this idea lie in the progressive labor movement.
During the experiment, Prodromou noticed changes in his own attitude to time: “That moment when I hand someone 10 Evancoins, I’m also thinking, ‘Hmm, how much do I really want to spend 10 hours on this project?’”
Prodromou also talked about trying to introduce Evancoin to communicate with journalists. The publication, which Prodromou offered to pay for the interview with himself in Evancoin, said that their policy forbade paying for interviews. Journalists also refused when Evan offered to simply give them a token which they could “use to pay him with.” The policy also prohibited accepting any kind of gifts. Prodromou noted that, perhaps, “it’s good that we move really slowly when it comes to changing how we think about ethics.”
In a comment for DeCenter, Prodromou said that he continued to use EvanCoin to manage his time, but, obviously, not all of it: “I’ve found that the effort of getting people to do KYC requirements to buy ETH and then use EtherDelta to buy EvanCoin is a lot of hassle. So I’m using it primarily for either hours I give away, or for experienced Ethereum users who already own some.”
Prodromou said that he did not stop his experiments with tokenization. In particular, he noted that since the launch of EvanCoin, the ERC-721 standard appeared, which provides “some really interesting options for selling unique, non-fungible objects on the blockchain.” Prodromou noted other tokens of interest to him: “I also like the idea of using sponsorships that can be bought or sold. I’m really interested in using tokens for ticketing at events; having principled aftermarket sales of tickets could benefit everyone.”
And in February 2018, Boris Akimov, the founder of LavkaLavka and Biocoin, tokenized his time.
“I had a simple idea. I have certain skills, knowledge, experience, and time during which I can implement them. Owners of tokens can use them depending on how many they have. The better I do the work, the higher the demand for my skills and knowledge, which means the higher the rate of tokens issued on Waves. Conversely, the lower the quality of my work, the cheaper the token will cost. This ‘free market’ approach to my own abilities is very attractive, and for me, it represents one of the strengths of blockchain and cryptocurrency,” Akimov said.
In total, he released 12,000,000 BorisAkimov tokens assuming that two days a week will be tokenized—that is, 16 working hours, or 768 hours a year—and the token will be backed by four years, which is 3,328 hours, or 12 million seconds. Thus, 1 token is 1 second.
The tokens were released on the Waves platform; they could be purchased on the Waves DEX. Most transactions for the purchase of tokens were concluded in February 2018, and the latest operation took place on April 18.
The TokenStars project tokenizes the time of celebrities from the world of sports and the entertainment industry. TokenStars introduces the blockchain to the talent management industry, connecting stars directly with fans and advertisers and eliminating the mediation of agents and directors. “Young and promising stars need funding and, in return, will pay part of their own revenues. Already established professionals are looking for new contracts in exchange for an agent commission,” as the project website explains. Different areas of sport and showbusiness correspond to different “verticals” in the framework of the project, each of which will have its own token. The ACE token will be used to work with tennis stars; the TEAM token for soccer and poker; eSports, basketball and hockey. The STAR index token acts as a link between different verticals, as through it, the ACE token sold during the ICO can be exchanged for a token of any new vertical. The ACE token is already being traded on OKEx and the TEAM token on IDEX and Bit-Z.
Tennis players Marius Copil, Veronika Kudermetova, Ekaterina Makarova, and Elitsa Kostova, and rapper Redfoo are already taking part in the project.
The Minter project provides a platform that allows any user to tokenize their time. On the Minter blockchain, users can create their own cryptocurrency, determine its price, and start distributing the tokens or accepting payment in them.
Minter founder Evgeny Gordeev believes that, first of all, it is not large corporations that will create their own cryptocurrencies, but ordinary people. Such services have the potential to significantly speed up the arrival of a much-anticipated cryptocurrency of everyday use and everyday payments, which will be created by people and for people.
A huge niche that such individual cryptocurrencies can enter is modern social media, in which the main influencer is not big companies, but individual people from YouTube and Instagram and authors of blogs and channels. And if today every person has their “digital identity” on Instagram, Facebook, etc., and seeks to maintain their reputation there, then the next step is the “crypto identity,” when each influencer will have their own token. Creators will be able to distribute the tokens to subscribers so that the latter could exchange them for some bonuses. It could be early access to the content, a discount on the product, or even the product itself (for example, an artist can post their works on Instagram or any other platform and sell them for their own coin).
With Minter, it will also be possible to exchange some blogger’s tokens for coins of any project in a couple of seconds, as the project’s blockchain acts as an exchange and can process over a thousand transactions per second at a transaction fee less than $.01. And then, through the stablecoin, users can even swap the accumulated tokens for fiat money.