Beyond Transactions: The Vision for Cryptocurrencies as a Tool for Social Cohesion
Up to this point, cryptocurrency mining has been exclusively a reward for facilitating transactions and mathematical functions. The process of mining is ethically neutral. Could a new generation of ‘social cryptos’ change that?
Blockchain as an Equalizer
Amos Meiri is a blockchain entrepreneur who thinks that cryptocurrencies can be used to encourage beneficial actions and behaviors offline. His company Colu, which he co-founded operates with the objective of using cryptocurrency to build the future of local finance, with the community at its center.
One of the most deeply-rooted ideas about money can be summarised in this famous saying, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” A fundamental notion about money is that it is a necessary evil to be controlled, as against a positive force for good. Blockchain technology potentially offers the capacity to change this forever by proving that doing good is a productive activity.
Aside from the breathless excitement over the blockchain’s potential to revolutionize the world of finance and investment by exponentially speeding up cross-border transactions and beefing up transaction security, it also offers the vision of being rewarded in the manner of a typical bitcoin miner who hashes transactions, but for patronizing a local butcher or sorting out your refuse correctly into recyclables and non-recyclables for example.
Key to this vision is the fundamental difference between virtual money and conventional money that we have grown accustomed to over centuries of use. Entering information on a blockchain requires flat consensus, rather than top-down approval, which is a departure from the old paradigm. What this means is that an open-ledger system can be used for any reason under the sun, as against a short list of government-approved activities.
A blockchain can become the financial nerve center of a system that is set up to allow users to ‘mine’ coins by carrying out specific acts of goodness and socially beneficial behavior. A localized network of community-oriented tokens can create a better world depending on their adoption, by providing linear rewards for acts of goodness.
Social Coins in Practise
The most notable examples of these so-called social coins in current existence as the Brixton Pound and the Bristol Pound, both launched by Colu, which serve the same purpose of boosting the local economy by enabling money to circulate within it in support of lo
At their most basic level, such “community currencies” are already being used as a token to be traded locally, allowing residents to support local merchants.
Large-scale adoption is necessary to scale up the impact of community coins and social tokens beyond these regional experiments. It may be required to include every party that is consequential to local economies as a stakeholder in the coins’ operation. Integrations with municipalities and large-scale service providers provide an opportunity to promote a wide range of socially desirable actions and interactions among users.
Using IoT and Smart City solutions, blockchains could become the engine by which rules and goals regarding everything from quality standards to road use behavior are enforced and achieved. One such pilot project in this mold is currently underway in the City of Berkeley, California, where a crypto project is being considered to help provide less privileged residents with affordable accommodation.