Publica CEO Answers A Skeptic’s Questions
A: We like the mental image of Pebbles. They’re solid individually, and they’re fluid in movement. The smaller they get, the more fluid. So the ticker for Pebbles became Publica’s PBL.
Q: Why make any currency? And are there three of them?
A: Pebbles are a currency, but READ and RIGHTS tokens aren’t. They’re digital keys in a two-key system for reading ebooks and distributing revenues per smart contracts. Pebbles are the currency for exchange within the platform, such as buying READ and RIGHTS tokens and all the other goods and services in a publishing ecosystem.
Pebbles are a bit like Ethereum’s gas because they pay for the infrastructure, and they buy gas. Pebbles are more fluid than gas and have many other uses in the automated ecommerce of publishing. For example, Pebbles can be useful in social responsibility like adding donations to your favorite cause — in their favorite currency — with your purchases of goods and services, or adding a “tip” for Ethereum gas to speed up something you care about, and so on.
And then you convert Pebbles to some other currency when you need them — Bitcoin, Ether, Euros, dollars, kroner, Yuan etc. Platform pages can be denominated in the currency you choose, like any ecommerce site. Many people need that power of choice, and the freedom of when to exercise it.
Take your question a step further. Are Pebbles a stable currency? Yes, within the business of publishing, that’s simple macroeconomics. Will Pebbles fluctuate versus the currencies you already use? Yes, the same as Bitcoin and Ether do, but without their nationalistic pressures.
Note that USD / EUR / CNY / NOK etc. still continue to drop in price in relation to Bitcoin and Ether despite occasional news speculation of cryptocurrency’s imminent demise.
Q: Couldn’t the Publica platform work without Pebbles?
A: It’s conceivable but impractical. Publishing is a global activity. If we built a multi-currency exchange into the transaction engine, that could force you to choose a currency in every transaction, every time, and denominate in only that currency. Very small transactions, and very large transactions, are inconvenient in most currencies and impossible in many currencies.
In the USA, for example, large transactions require the government’s oversight and sometimes prior approval, and the trouble doubles if they involve any currency besides dollars. Very small recurring payments are impossible, and small recurring payments aren’t worth the costs of transmission through central clearinghouses.
And many people in publishing don’t need to, or want to, hold their “work money” in a local currency. They’re going to spend money within their own book project so there’s no advantage in forcing those transactions into a local currency or paying exchange fees for other project collaborators’ local currencies.
Some book projects are done all in a single currency, and done so quickly that currency fluctuations don’t matter much. Most books take longer, they may involve people who live in different nations, and people who live in multiple currencies at the same time, like me. I don’t want to tell my customers which currency they have to use in every transaction.
It’s a reduction of friction in ecommerce that many people will enjoy. Publica users will remain free to leave no balance in Pebbles and convert them to local currencies in every transaction if that’s better for them. It’s about choice and freedom, and we want more of it.
Q: Isn’t this project heavily dependent on development?
A: The project requires an all-devices ereader that does double-duty as a digital wallet, but that’s not difficult. And much more than that because it’s a social and ecommerce platform. A bit like a LinkedIn but with ecommerce included, because the business of making, publicizing, selling and reading books always includes a financial side.
The RIGHTS system also requires a legal framework which Publica has to help formulate, and test in software, and test on blockchains. It’s an ambitious project, we know. We think it’s worth it. And it has to be automated, like all ecommerce. That automation doesn’t need USD / EUR / BTC / ETH / CNY / NOK / etc. until someone wants to exchange to those currencies, and it’ll work better with a stable token like Pebbles.
Our developers build world-class ecommerce sites and platforms every day. It’s what they’ve always done.
Q: Who stands behind Pebbles?
A: The blockchain. Publica isn’t going to leave it alone, though.
Ethereum may go through its own growing pains and Publica has to stand behind the smart contracts that we write for book projects. Smart contracts are autonomous, but smartphone apps aren’t. If circumstances require it, Publica will have to migrate some functions to another blockchain, most likely Bitcoin’s. We don’t want to, of course, but we will if our platform users need us to.
Perhaps you meant that question another way. The central banks of Europe stand behind Euros, the central banks of Norway stand behind kroner, the central banks of USA stand behind dollars, the central banks of China stand behind Renminbi (Yuan), and so on around the world. Therefore, those currencies should always be worth something to somebody even if their relative exchange prices fluctuate, sometimes tragically.
So what stops Pebbles from becoming worthless? Only the blockchains. In our view, “investing” in Bitcoin and Ether can be an interesting speculative activity for some people, but they’re not public stocks in a stock market with market-makers. Neither are Pebbles.
PBL / EUR / NOK / USD / etc. are currencies, and their value lies in how people choose to use them. Especially without national borders.
It could be an interesting thought experiment to imagine that people might someday stop using Pebbles because they have all the ebook READ tokens they’ll ever want, and they have all the revenues that their RIGHTS tokens will ever distribute, and nobody is making new books on the Publica platform anymore because something better got invented. Maybe then there’ll be few people to “sell” your Pebbles to. If you see that imaginary day coming before anyone else, sell your Pebbles. Or buy a lot of ebooks and open a bookstore.
It’s a bit like me trying to avoid USD right now, trying to keep my personal currency holdings in NOK, EUR, BTC and ETH. Mostly in NOK because my wife is Norwegian. I’m looking forward to Norway’s future consumer-purchasing apps that will enable us to hold less NOK and more ETH and Pebbles.
A lovely image to contemplate.