A lot of discussions has been on how to use tokens at the payment side, but the delivery side is where token needs to be in order to create new markets. I noticed that most don't understand the difference. The difference is explained in this Ray Dalio video at https://youtu.be/PHe0bXAIuk0
In fact, I've written an article to explain the concept of "deliverable side" tokens, but I hesitate to publish it (e.g. on Medium) because the article is almost calling out the whitepaper†, which I don't feel ready to share yet.
"How about a book token? The writer can get crowdfunded to start his work, and the token holders get a share of revenue. A publisher can buy these tokens too, and sign up exclusive deals."
That would be a typical blockchain story you will hear over a meet-up. It is doable. A few years ago, such a project would require a host, a website like Kickstarter. Today it probably still does, but with less reliance on the host. For one thing, the tokens will be tradable without the host running an exchange. It is meaningful too. The model is closer to a consumer co-op where the interest of the producer and the consumer is better aligned.
Inspirations like this can be found in every industry. But one has to ask: if this is all what blockchain can do, why the blockchain preachers compare it to the Internet? A glorified Kickstart.com certainly can't match the grand achievement of the Internet. The book token behave like a consumer co-op, yet co-op structures like this can be found in many Industries - here in Australia, we have HIF, an award-winning member-owned health fund, co-op.com.au a bookstore popular among students, Bank Australia a co-op modelled bank. They are doing fine and doing good, but we can hardly see why having a technological boosted version of them will grant us a fundamental change to our society and the way we live.
This article will use the way market works to reveal to what extent blockchain can change our society and our lives.
Of all the decentralisation forces, none is greater than the market. In a market, one side pays with a currency, the other side delivers something tangible. The market works to match both sides. There is no centralisation in this. The more efficient this can happen, the more everybody benefits and the less we need for a centre.
The following chart illustrates the market model - currency on the payment side, and you get Asset, Goods and Services in the deliverable side.
It's evident that the efficiency of this market depends on the issuing of stable currency and the means to move them from buyer to seller. In today's world order, the former is a privilege of central banks and the latter a service of retail banks and payment processors. Blockchain solutions are competing to replace all of them. But that is only half of the picture. The left half, to be exact.
The smart contract allows interesting assets to be invented. The utopian book token model I just mentioned is a good example. Such a book token represents the right to the book revenue. I call it Asset token since it represents a right, has a value and can be bought and sold. Such asset token is already at work. For example, I'm an investor of MCO token with a privileged VISA card which gives me 5% cashback on all expenses from that card.
Now, let's face the issue of the book market, and let's focus on e-books first. What is the problem that the ebook market has to solve? Is it the lack of funding for the writers, or lack of new books? From what I see, the problem is the monopoly.
Amazon delivers terrible eBook experience by today's standard. Flipping a page takes a second, and search for a keyword isn't faster either. You can't take a pen and start to write notes or add a page of your burning inspiration. You can highlight the text but you need to make an effort to do so. The audio is not lipsynced with ebook text --- the list goes on and on. Furthermore, you are motivated to seek the books available in Amazon since if it is not, it wouldn't be easily distributed to your device.
Is there no competition in the market? Surely there are. Some Chinese manufacturers attempted to put mobile-phone grade CPU into eReaders to boost the speed. In Japan, SONY invented "digital paper", allowing you to take a pen and start to write on any page. The pen has an eraser, and it has a screen sharing mode too.
But none of them is going to the mainstream for the simple reason: how do you get books on those devices? Amazon has both the device, the distribution channel and content.
It's easy to see that Amazon is an innovative company when it needed to innovate - back in the 20s when they desperately need to have space in the market, Kindle represented the best e-reader the technology by then can provide. But there is no more need for innovation when you have a monopoly.
So what if we disrupt that market? Think about a book ownership token which allows the reader to read. If it is a blockchain token, you should be able t get it from anyone, not just Amazon; read it on any device and use any distribution network. You can immediately free three markets.
Retail Market: Whoever can convince a reader to purchase a book is now able to do so. Imagine queuing in a supermarket and seeing, instead of candy, a best seller. You can scan the QR code and get the book token. The supermarket takes a cut, but ultimately the publisher issues the token. If you go to a flight school, the flight instructor can sell you the training book's token on their website or POS. A similar model is already possible with PC games, where you can buy from any store or website and get a code to redeem the game on Steam. Steam does it thanks to the competition enabled by the low entrance barrier in video game executable distribution method. The ebook market barrier has been quite high, leading to a market inefficiency that hurts everybody (except Amazon).
Distribution Market: Whoever has a server is now able to sell book streaming service. There will be a market rate. With this enabled, you will see a substantial improvement in books' availability.
eReader market: Shop for your favourite eReader. As long as you have the token, any reader will give you your book. A senior person can purchase a reader with a big screen and big fonts, while a busy reader can have one with multi-column layout magazine-style. Students would love Sony Digital Paper which allows hand-writing any time at any page. Wacom can produce a tablet that supports eBooks. Innovators can focus on the value they bring to the market, not on the permission to do so.
You can probably open quite a few new markets too. Book lending and sharing market, for example. You can have a crowd-funded lipsyncing service. I wouldn't mind spending 300 dollars to lipsync my favourite audible but even if I want to pay, where is the market to provide this? Amazon stands in between.
This way we get to the new chart, where blockchain can be used for the entire left side of the market and half of the right side market. Half because ebook belongs to the virtual goods family, easy to tokenise.
Currently, most of the tokens people invested in during 2017-2018 crypto frenzy are for currency, since Bitcoin's success inspires them. Most tokens invented in the era are some blend between currency and asset, while none substantial effort has been made to open up goods and services tokens. But this can change. My colleagues and I has a draft paper about.....
A medium article is suitable only for 7 minutes read, leaving me no additional time to reveal the final secret. But I'll give a hint: with proper technology stack, it's possible to free the entire delivery side of the market - breaking the monopoly in not only virtual goods but also tangible, physical goods and services. The detail is in the paper.
At the conception of the Internet, people are convinced that libraries have to change, but few would expect it to affect supermarket, local pawnbrokers and McDonald's.
All of them changed after the Internet. So is it inconceivable that blockchain can change much of that as well?