Ethereum in Emerging Economies

Mass adoption will start where decentralization is necessary

Photo by Ahmed Carter on Unsplash
Blockchains are useless in a perfect world. Let’s bring dApps to the places that need them most.

My main focus at Gitcoin right now is driving mainstream adoption of Ethereum with seamless onboarding using meta transactions. To do this, we will need effective dApps that are compelling and useful.

This brings me to a specific group of talks at Devcon4 called, “Society & Systems Breakout — Ethereum’s Impact on Society”. It was led by Rhys Lindmark and included some incredible talks like “Money is the killer Dapp: crypto in Venezuela” by Alejandro Machado, Eduardo Gomez and “Self-Sovereign Sexuality” by Ameen Soleimani, Chelsea Palmer.

These emerging markets are where we should focus our onboarding efforts. This is where Ethereum has the most potential to impact the world now.


🔥👛 Burner Wallet

There are places in the world today where it’s hard to find important goods with the traditional currency or the currency may fluctuate immensely in value due to inflation. Luckily, exchange of value is one of our most powerful assets in the Ethereum space.

Unfortunately, it is especially difficult to onboard new users because our ecosystem has such a steep learning curve. Traditional wallets put a huge burden on the user to understand a new currency and deal with seed phrases.

What we need is a way to exchange an intuitive currency like DAI using a simple and ubiquitous platform like the mobile web browser.

Here are two phones exchanging value in a matter of seconds using burners:

The phone on the left scans the code of the phone on the right, enters a value in USD, and 5 seconds later the transaction is complete.

One mobile phone can send DAI to another in 5 seconds with a simple QR code scan without any wallet download, this works on web browsers. Users can even send value through messaging services like WhatsApp with a simple link!

The Burner Wallet runs on the xDai sidechain from POA. Since it is in DAI, a dApp can simply refer to amounts in USD. Plus, block times take 5 seconds and gas costs are virtually abstracted because they are so cheap and paid in DAI. Finally, the bridge between xDai and DAI/ETH is as simple as sending tokens to a specific address.

A burner wallet is automatically generated upon visiting https://xdai.io and your private key is stored in a cookie so it will be there when you come back. However, you should sweep any value you hold to a cold wallet regularly and burn your ephemeral private key. A burner wallet is analogous to cash; you won’t carry too much because it can be lost but it’s astonishingly easy to exchange.

This can also be very handy in everyday use even for the crypto-initiated. If you share a Lyft or a pizza with a friend and want to split the cost, just shoot their QR code with your camera and it will open up a new burner wallet to exchange value with them. Just don’t forget to sweep to cold storage and burn your key when you get home!

The project is 100% open source with no revenue model. If you would like to contribute, there are many open issues and bounties. If you would like to help financially, help fund a bounty or contact me directly. In an effort toward better decentralization, please fork the repo and build/support/evangelize your own version!

I’d like to extend a huge thanks to the people above that are addressing these emerging markets. This also wouldn’t be possible without DAI and the xDai chain either, so thank you to Igor and team over at POA and the MakerDao team too!

The original idea for a DAI wallet came from Alejandro Machado [read more about his Open Money Initiative]. He has a team pushing this idea forward, massive props guys, you know who you are! One team member in particular is Mikhail Dobrokhvalov who is building out a much more mature wallet solution in parallel with the Burner Wallet. Also, I didn’t even come up with the name “Burner”. That happened organically on crypto Twitter.

In some of these emerging markets the on and off ramps to fiat are still shaping up. We see sites like localbitcoin and localethereum helping users connect, but there still isn’t a great solution. This remains and another open ended problem to solve. Let’s figure it out!

Thanks for following along on this journey. Keep an eye out for updates and let’s keep #BUIDLING and #SHIPLING! Learn more about me at https://austingriffith.com and on twitter @austingriffith


Here is a follow up video to show how to go from Fiat to DAI to xDai and back:

If you are interested in building or designing the next iteration of the Burner Wallet, here is tutorial to help you get started: