Tokenization is the key driver behind many successful blockchain startups, making it possible to digitize virtually any asset. It’s now possible to trade tokenized bananas, in-game items, or even spare processing power. A Russian crypto entrepreneur, however, is pushing the envelope of digitization by tokenizing himself with a personalized cryptocurrency.
Boris Akimov is the mind behind the LavkaLavka platform, a farming cooperative that functions as a loyalty program that rewards users for supporting local farmers with a native cryptocurrency. LavkaLavka’s network now encompasses more than 200 family farms across Russia, as well as an online store and brick-and-mortar stores.
Akimov’s latest endeavour uses the Waves Platform, which allows users to quickly and easily create personalized cryptocurrency tokens. Unlike the LavkaLavka platform, however, Akimov’s new token doesn’t offer loyalty discounts— it functions as a direct tokenization of Akimov’s time and expertise.
Speaking with the Waves development team, Akimov outlined the purpose of his newly-minted personal token:
“In fact this is a simple idea in principle. I have certain skills, knowledge and experience, as well as my time in which I apply them, which is what will be tokenized. Token owners can receive the benefits of this experience for a period of time, depending on how many tokens they have. The more competent my work, the higher the demand for my skills and knowledge, and the higher the value of the tokens on Waves’ built-in decentralised exchange.”
A Personalized Cryptocurrency – Trending In 2018?
While Akimov hasn’t provided a clear outline of the services he offers in return for his tokens, the proof of concept displayed in his use of the Waves platform is certainly interesting. There is no functional difference between Akimov’s use of Waves tokens to bill for his time and using fiat currency— Akimov is just going to be paid for his labor and knowledge, just in a bespoke digital currency.
“Let’s take a conservative estimate in which I tokenize two days a week of my time. That’s 16 hours per week, or 832 hours a year. Let’s say that the token will expire after 4 years, just to reduce risk all round! So that’s 3,328 hours, or 12 million seconds. So the plan is to create 12 million tokens, each of which can be redeemed for a second of my time and skills!”
Akimov would arguably be able to bill clients in his personal cryptocurrency and then trade it for others on the Waves DEX, or HODL himself until he moons. It’s unlikely, however, that such self-tokenization would catch on at a larger scale— in order to purchase Akimov’s time, potential customers would either need to possess cryptocurrency to trade for Akimov tokens already, or perform an extra step in converting fiat.
Sasha Ivanov, the founder of Waves, commented on Akimov’s token via Medium:
“This is a really interesting and innovative application of Waves and blockchain technology… In the future, no doubt we’ll see a lot more of this kind of thing, and some even more imaginative use cases for blockchain.”
Could a personalized cryptocurrency take off? Widespread self-tokenization is currently improbable, but there could be a use-case in which it makes sense – a case which harkens back to the earliest forms of trade in human civilization, and which could perhaps make sense if the human race ever makes it beyond Earth.
The Blockchain Barter Economy Of The Future On Mars
While Akimov’s self-tokenization may simply be an effort to attract attention to his other blockchain ventures, the key concept that has emerged from the move raises some interesting questions regarding the possibility of an economy driven by bespoke cryptocurrencies.
Self-tokenization may be a gimmick – but a personalized cryptocurrency would allow individuals to create fungible tokens that allow for barter to occur in the truest sense. If a platform emerges that allows users to tokenize their time and trade said tokens in a streamlined, user-friendly manner, the blockchain could potentially see a resurgence of an entirely barter-driven economy.
The chances of this happening here on Earth may seem negligible – but what of future colonists on other planets, around other stars? If “money” has no meaning, and skills and time are the only tradeable items and national borders don’t exist, then could a barter economy based on blockchain technology work?
Imagine this scenario: Farmer Jones, having tokenized his time, is in need of his yearly medical checkup. Using a (futuristic, Tricorder-style) smartphone-based blockchain platform that stores individualized tokens in a repository of barter, Farmer Jones is able to browse for a medical practitioner — say, Doctor Smith — who has also tokenized his time.
Out there on Mars, one of Farmer Jones’ “hourly” tokens may be worth 1/10th of Doctor Smith’s “consultation” tokens. Through this method, the core axioms of the blockchain revolution are captured in a system adapted to the needs of individuals that wouldn’t necessarily use blockchain technology anywhere else in their lives.
Instead of calculating fiat balances, Farmer Jones would be able to quickly determine that he needs to go de-ice Doctor Smith’s frostbitten veggie patch two more times to afford his next medical checkup.
Given the opportunity to participate in a system that facilitates the direct banking of person-to-person relationships, would individuals want to return to a government-backed currency?
The direct tokenization of the time of an individual would allow users to gain a clear insight into exactly where they stand in the market.
It’s tempting to think that in an insular country in which smartphones have achieved some level of market penetration that might sustain such a system, it could work – but where “money” exists elsewhere, the likelihood of this system re-evolving in human society is remote.
If not Mars, then where and when? Perhaps in some Mad Max post-apocalyptic movie scenario in which all central governments and their currencies have failed… but somehow, our robot overlords survive and preserve the blockchain for their own nefarious uses.
Wait, did we say Akimov or Asimov?
(Co-written with Adam Selene.)