This is an opinion post Michael RheeFounder of Wavlake and a contributor to Bitcoin Magazine.
Everyone likes to keep score. From likes and mentions on social media to airline miles and Starbucks Awards, points tell us exactly where we stand in the commercial world. It could mean more eyeballs and a sense of approval on social media platforms. In the world of airlines and cafes, it could mean more free travel and frappuccinos.
Today each of these scores lives in a walled garden. Like a gift card to your favorite store, these points can only be redeemed in one place and locked in a limited context. I can’t turn the likes on my tweets into free coffee. I can’t convert views on my YouTube videos into discounted hotel stays either.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Imagine a point system used by everyone on the Internet, freely circulating across various platforms and applications, all providing a unified definition of value.
If visions of the upcoming metaverse are correct, this kind of interoperability will be the fabric that knits them all together. I believe Bitcoin has a key role to play in building a more unified commercial world both on and off the internet, serving as a single, shared measure of value that can move between real and virtual boundaries without any friction.
As the founder of Wavlake, I try to build this world. Wavlake is a way for music listeners to directly support their favorite artists using bitcoin micropayments. It is part of a larger ecosystem of internet services operating on an open, interoperable standard for Bitcoin payments. We are already witnessing the early stages of this dramatic change. On Stacker News, users reward each other for the posts and comments they like using a small amount of bitcoin. Commenters can then withdraw that bitcoin from the site and use it to tip musicians about Wavlake. The same musicians can use their prized bitcoins to podcast on pay-per-minute players like Breez or Fountain. Podcasters can then take the same bitcoin and convert it to US dollars using the Cash App or convert it to a gift card with Bitrefill.
Creating the same unified experience as the dollar will require careful coordination and collaboration between every closed payment network in the world. This means that Venmo should work with Zelle and vice versa, along with every other dollar-based payment app in existence. In contrast, Bitcoin’s open standards and permissionless nature allow any service to integrate seamlessly with every imaginable Bitcoin service, without planning or authorization.
These combined commercial worlds are still small and experimental, but they hold great potential for our society and economy. As Bitcoin adoption continues to increase, we will gradually close the loop and create a truly global, commercial system. Naysayers will eventually be able to buy a cup of coffee or get free coffee using bitcoin, dispelling the notion that this is useless and pointless technology. This is the point where Bitcoin fades into the background and becomes invisible like the electricity powering your desk lamp.
This possible future situation makes me wonder: Maybe not everyone needs to understand the Austrian economy, or triple-entry accounting, or the Byzantine generals problem, or how central banking works, or how the WTF came to be in 1971—or any of the myriad frameworks to explain this complex system we call economics. Maybe most people don’t need any of this to “get” Bitcoin, just as I don’t need to know how to build every single component of a phone to appreciate its value.
At some point in the future, bitcoin will become the measure of our world. It will be just like airline miles, but for everything.
This is a guest post Michael Rhee. The opinions expressed are their own and are owned by BTC Inc. or may not reflect the views of Bitcoin Magazine.