What makes blockchain uniquely different than other conventional companies is not the fact the most blockchain platforms have limited supply of their tokens. Gold has a similarly limited supply today and yet capitalism persists, while communist regimes have reverted to fiat currencies and that did not make them capitalist. Instead, what makes blockchain companies unique is the fact that most crypto assets that dominate the blockchain exchanges (with minor exceptions) do not know conventional profit from the labor of others as a category. Therefore, it is my assumption that Karl Marx and many of his peers would have loved the blockchain!
Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are usually done by an emission of digital tokens via coded and uploaded to be seen, smart contracts. Like bonds without interest or shares without profit yield, these tokens usually appreciate in value as the adopters of the specific token raise in number. Thus, the networking effect is the principal reason for growing the value of most digital crypto assets. For instance, the more people buy Bitcoins, the greater their value would be — and so is the case with most other crypto assets.
Tokens can be best understood as small economies connected on blockchain exchanges. To illustrate this, we can take a small example. For instance, someone can make a token for storing car data in a distributed blockchain database, like CarData (www.cardata.am) tries to do, token economy for identity verification, like Civic (www.civic.com), or for access to a lottery platform that draws the winning numbers from NASDAQ like MOS (www.moscoin.io) or as a transaction tool and keeper of value Bitcoin itself. Many things can be organized in decentralized economies based on tokens.
People holding different tokens from different token economies can trade them on exchanges. For instance, if someone needs to use medical data from a medical blockchain, she or he can use Bitcoins to buy MedicalChain tokens and access the service. If a bank or a university needs to verify an identity online, they might use Tezos tokens (called Tezzies) to buy Civic tokens and do the identity validation, etc. As you can see, there is no conventional profit made in the economy but the networking effect or how many people use it, which is connected to the utility and code of each token, determines its price. Everyone earns from their labor!
When someone launches an initial coin offering, he or she usually divides the tokens to team members, advisers, investors, and supporters. The appreciation of the value of tokens is something that leads to “capital gains” for everyone who contributed towards the project. Once the entire world accepts the blockchain economy and no more network effects exist because no new people enter the token economy, the price of these digital assets should stabilize. Then, everyone would be rewarded the proportional value that they have created for others, not necessarily with profits from ownership of assets (given there will be no more excessive “capital gains”).
Profit seems like a dirty word in crypto-land today. From 100 random ICOs, we analyzed, only 13 had some form of profit sharing function. But, even when they share profits, these start-ups seem more generous than their counterparts from the conventional, old economy. For instance, start-ups like MagnumLink (www.magnumlink.com) that is issuing tokens backed by precious minerals such as diamonds and gold, want to share at least 50% of profits with its investors while giving away 100% of tokens away during the ICO.
So, if the new blockchain companies in most of the cases become foundations (Ethereum, Tezos, etc.) that create no profits, and people earn as much value as they create for others, does that look like Socialism? Perhaps it looks like a libertarian type of socialism created by the private sector, but it is socialism, nevertheless.
Alek V. Ribak
CEO @ TSM & The Omega Project (TOP)