I think if we want to move to a world where open-source development and platforms are accessible and used by anyone then we have to think about the right incentive structures that would be needed to achieve this goal. Incentives should be built around marketplace, initial adoption and cadenced reviews of the protocol:
- Marketplace: How can we incentivize market vendors to accept new currency and for users to use it regularly? To create an ecosystem, you might make it easier for vendors to accept and transact in a certain currency that allows them to avoid unnecessary fees that they have to pay with credit card companies today. On the user side, they just want to be able to convert between currencies and fiat easily, while have their currency hold value in their every day. User incentives can be driven by rewards for having them get friends to sign-up – this achieves broader network effects.
- Initial Adoption: Users must understand why they should put their money into a certain coin, given that the industry is absolutely saturated and each coin sometimes have large differences or use cases. This comes down to consumer education and comprehension of the product. It would also be strongly tied to the marketplace incentives.
- Cadenced Reviews of the Protocol: Given that most of these protocols start out with a smaller community with the goal of becoming its own self-governing, larger community, there needs to be accountability standards set to review these platforms on a cadenced basis so that founders aren’t running into the issue of launching a successful project, and then no one steps up to grow the platform. We almost see a tragedy of the commons effect here, so it might be helpful to incentivize people outside the founder community early on so that you can think ahead about how you want the protocol to grow overtime.
In regards to wealth inequality, I believe that most of it exists because there is an educational knowledge gap that exists in the industry, I think it is almost hypocritical that the blockchain/crypto community preaches open access to these systems and no governance, when most of the wealth is concentrated in than 30 people as we saw in the Forbes article. Moreover, most of the mining power of these protocols can be found in 20-30 people worldwide. If we really want these open systems to take shape and evolve the world, we can’t just keep teaching the existing community new tricks/up-keep. Right now, as people expand their projects they are so focused on the developer community that there is little regard for the rest of the stakeholders in the ecosystem. Even within the developer community I feel like there is a bias towards only having certain people in the “know”. I will say that this industry is moving incredibly fast, and there are hundreds of new projects being developed almost every week, so it becomes very hard to track. Does this mean we should have more focus on a few big open developer projects, so that the community can easily focus on a few AND there can be better accountability in advertising new projects/platform needs? This also gets back to my first point on education. Besides developers, there exist many more stakeholders in the ecosystem including business service providers, miners, end users. There is very little standardization in how people are educated on what platforms exist, how to engage with them effectively, which ones to choose for what use case etc. When accessible education for new systems is missing, then you see inequality start to grow, because only a subset of people have the correct contacts to understand what they are investing time and money in. I think some sort of broader community governance or policy model around education of this new industry would be very helpful.