Actual train tokens are still used in Istanbul, but most modern transit systems have moved on.

In a token economy, stability is only one benefit

Back in your grandfather’s day — or your’s, if you remember the 1990s — people who lived in big cities used subway tokens: actual coins minted by the local transit authority.

They had one function. One went in the coin slot, the rider went through the turnstile then onto the train and her slog to work began. When running low on tokens she stood on a line and bought new ones. If you happened to buy a few rolls before a fare hike, you saved a few bucks. There’s the ancestor to your modern ICO.

In other words: Better and quicker than cash.

Transactions on the Wireline platform will involve WRL tokens. The Wireline Development Fund will mint a total of 3 billion of them, priced at an American dime each. Alas they will never jingle — they’ll exist only on cloud ledgers.

But by using this token-based economy, Wireline offers direct benefits for all participants within the ecosystem.

First, tokens lower friction within the marketplace. There are lower set-up costs (for producers) and lower transactional overheads (for consumers); there are no currency conversion costs (and, therefore, greater stability across currency fluctuations); and there is the ability to create micropayment and sharing-pricing models (across multiple vendors).

For example, developers may bundle multiple services (natural language processing, translation, sentiment analysis) and split revenues; this is currently extremely impractical (the need to set-up individual payment accounts with each service supplier).

Second, the token blockchain brings transparency. All participants can view all transactions. They can see who the most successful developers are; the businesses (and industries) that have the largest demand for services — and what kinds of services are in demand (or underserved).

Third, tokens confer status. Developers who have earned large token holdings will be recognized as experienced and reliable contributors, who have a stake in the ecosystem. They can be incentivized and retained with a variety of rewards.

Better and quicker than cash, for certain.