The decentralizied ecosystem needs a decentralizied currency

While building the new decentralized we will have to have billions if not trillions in value on the (Ethereum?) blockchain. There are only two ways they will get there: a) they are transferred onto the system and b) they are created within the system (blockchain) For some values (like houses) it will be necessary to transfer them from outside. The concept is basically: a real world good/commodity/real estate/… has a second representation on the blockchain and ownership of the blockchain token means at the same time ownership of the real world thing. This however requires some (centralized?) real world entity that enforces (in a conflict) the real world ownership change that results from blockchain interactions.

The same mechanics could work for money. In principal you could have entities that takes one $ and issue one $token on the ethereum network. Different of this entities could be interconnected and have exchangeable tokens in a ripple like system. However - this approach comes with at least two bis downsides:

  1. You still use centralized money systems like the $ where control over it lies in the hand of a few people. The second centralized component would be this entities sitting on billions of $ that are used within the blockchain. They would somehow be like the banks in a gold standard time.
  2. Adoption is much harder - basically people need an additional step to get into a new world.

The second option is that the value is created inside the blockchain system. This is what Bitcoin (or Ethereum?) maximalists hope for. People will buy into Bitcoin/Ethereum and therefor the hole amount of Bitcoin/Ether will gain the value of billions/trillions. This is not going to happen. The incentives for Millions/Billions of people that do not own Ether/Bitcoin today are just too bad to join a system and reward the early adopters astronomically.

Therefore a requirement for the success of the new decentralized ecosystem economy is a decentralized currency where the issues process is decentralized and where early adopters are favored a little bit but not by a lot of orders of magnitude (like Bitcoin and Ethereum). This is what Circles tries to solve. (besides establishing an global UBI)

Not necessarily. For instance, Maker issues dai, which is a form of collateralized debt. Maker can issue currencies that are pegged to any price. Dai is pegged to the SDR, a basket of fiat currencies. It could just as easily be pegged to a global price index, and they plan on doing this at some point in the future.

More generally, any entity can issue debt denominated in any value. They just have to convince customers that they’re good for their debt. Maker convinces people by collateralizing the debt. An ETF convinces customers by holding the underlying shares and redeeming ETF shares for the underlying shares. A bank convinces customers by holding on to a fraction of their debts in reserves and redeeming funds on demand.

Agreed. As a result, those tokens will never have a stable enough value for normal people to transact in. If we build products that require payment in bitcoins or ether, they will not be widely adopted.

I think Circles are a good workaround for the problem. I haven’t been able to think through a path for the currencies to establish a value though. I think a similar mechanism could work with personal debt denominated in the price level. You identify your circle of people who you’re willing to let owe you $50 of 2015 dollars. Then, issue $50 of your own debt, and either spend it or hold it. Anyone who can establish a chain of trusted debt can buy goods or services. Your circle pays you back with other people’s debt, or by giving you actual stuff. This way, the money has a stable value from day one. The currency is controlled by no one: it’s based on the price level. Even if the dollar becomes worthless, this debt still has the same value. A basic income can be added to this system by using the original Circles mechanism.

The chains of trusted debt let people transact in the currency they want, including arbitrary debt-free tokens. That is, you can build a contract that issues a fixed money supply and allow people to trade with it. Not everyone will accept the token to begin with, but the ability to create transaction chains gives the token much more liquidity than if only true believers could transact with it.

I’m going to stop referring to it as debt, which throws people off. The core functionality is the chained instant exchanges that are performed at transaction time. If we build a system that allows transaction chains, any new token will have a much easier time being used as currency. Transaction chains are the base functionality we need to build to make our products easier to use, and to make new social initiatives like a basic income easier to bootstrap.

The decentralized ecosystem needs transaction chains.