The blockchain community is going through interesting times. As existing projects mature, bringing the technology closer to the mainstream, new players are also jumping in.
This means the community is facing both a huge boon and several potentially disrupting events. So far, the community has been made up by independent developers. Smaller groups of coders, generally members of the open source community are also active. There has been a shared goal and ideals all along.
The newcomers might not care about that. And they hold enough power to completely change the blockchain community.
Unwelcome, unwanted, but jumping in anyway
The community’s reaction to these two looming projects has been as expected. Here, “as expected” means full of criticism, if not outright hostility. Still, it’s just another day on the open source community when private efforts are attacked, so it might not seem a special case.
The community, in general, is rarely welcoming to no entrants anyway, so this reception is as expected. Seeing how large and diverse the open source community is, the leading lights generally hate the idea of private software.
The thing to point out here, however, is that not all criticism is wrong. The blockchain community isn’t just defending its turf for selfish reasons. In truth, the likes of JPM and Facebook jumping in could well transform the community. And this transformation could be for the better… or worse.
Not all changes are good
Blockchain has had a hard time getting mainstream adoption. In fact, it hasn’t attained it, full stop. There’s no way to twist facts to make it look like it has. The rise of cryptocurrencies so far has been one of the leading blockchain technology benefits that are so glaring.
Facebook, JPM, IOTA, Apple… all these players could well drive mainstream adoption. No serious developer is ever going to deny that. Stating that their efforts will categorically fail would be shortsighted at best.
However, the fear isn’t that they might succeed. The fear is that they might succeed too much.
To put it bluntly, largely capitalistic companies like those listed above are rarely happy with a slice of the pie. Why instead they tend to do all they can to get the whole pie. And the pie factory. And sign exclusive contracts with content providers.
In other words, they tend to go for monopolies. Or oligopolies that may not be closely wielded that the former becomes the rule. The prospect of cryptocurrency investment seeing a boom is heightened by these big players.
The fear, then, isn’t that Facebook and JPM might be printing monopoly money. The fear is that they might be going for a proper monopoly instead. They have the power, user base, and standing to drive mass adoption, but they also have the power to try and corner the market.
Yes, monopolies are illegal. But corporations hold enough power over governments to get them to accept flimsy excuses and let them be. Just look at Disney’s stranglehold on media if you want examples. The success of Facebook and JPM in their respective fields so far is also a plus that could boost crypto adoption.
There’s another fear here: What if they fail?
In a perfect world, any failure by them would go the same way as Kodak’s cryptocurrency: Unused, unnoticed, and simply irrelevant. But that’s not going to be the case. Both of these companies will stage massive launch events and go all out with publicity. No Facebook or JPM user will ever “not know” about these projects.
So if they fail, there’s a chance they might take the market down with them. A catastrophic failure could look bad enough to the public eye as to destroy any public trust in the blockchain. The success of big names also could lead to better crypto assets management practices, and a better societal outlook for the sector.
Great success could help the whole community
Now, let’s look at the other possibility: These newcomers might actually help the community.
This outlook is actually shared by several members of the community itself. Binance’s CEO, for example, has expressed curiosity for these coins and the adoption is what matters.
He might be onto something, too.
Now, Binance probably has a lot to win from this. If these coins, particularly the FB one, want some degree of success, being listed on Binance is basically a requirement. So if these coins succeed, Binance’s earnings go up.
But the thing is if they succeed, and Binance’s earnings go up, so will other cryptocurrencies. Both Facebook and JPM’s offerings are stable coins. They are, by design, less risky than other cryptos since their volatility is null.
The lack of volatility in stable coins has been praised before. After all, a good chunk of the world’s population could stand to gain a lot from a blockchain… if only they weren’t risking their savings. Stablecoins allow these users to get all the benefits from blockchain-based currency without the downsides.
Allowing people to have cryptocurrency without risking their savings is huge. Moreover, several incoming technologies that might make crypto trading instant could further help with this.
Allowing instant trades, without the wait times and volatility would bring two things to the community. First, it will likely help crypto prices settle, as investors can jump in or out at will. Second, it will allow people on the fence about investing to give it a go, knowing they can jump out at a moment’s notice if needed.
Trying to get the pros without any of the cons
These coin offerings are coming, no matter how much we complain. Both companies are set on getting their crypto out, and there will be no stopping them.
As for the blockchain community, we should try to use this to our advantage. Completely shutting FB and JPM out of the current market is tempting but could backfire. It could end up with a huge crypto side-market featuring a large user base and private control.
We’re still on time to prevent that. Making plans so that if people jump in on FB or JPM coin they can easily switch to open cryptocurrencies is important.
There are many reasons to distrust Facebook and JPM. Many reasons to wish they wouldn’t jump in. But they will. And the best the community can do is brace up and plan for a win-win.