We are Talkin’ About a Revolution — The impact of mobile mesh networks and crypto-currencies for emerging markets.
We had a great question on our Telegram channel the other day, asking about how we at RightMesh will allow people to “move in and out of crypto-currencies.” That is, how will a user earn a RightMesh token then redeem it for a fiat currency? It was such a good question, that I thought it deserved its own blog post.
The simple answer is: we don’t have to.
The questioner was well intended as I had struggled with this very same question for a large part of last year. In fact, it was the big question that really made me question things about our “Why?” and “Is this crazy-ass idea we have even possible?” That is, this question persisted until I had a chance to have a conversation with Andreas Antonopolous. For those who have not read his books, seen his talks, watched any of his videos, or simply had the privilege of a conversation with him [he is so giving of his time, he is willing and open to talk for hours with anyone], I would highly encourage you to do so.
At a conference last September, I managed to have a brief talk with him as part of a scrum of others who peppered him with questions. It was in this scrum where I explained the basic concept of RightMesh [a mobile mesh networking platform and protocol given away for free that allowed any smart phone or IoT device to participate as a node in the mesh without using data, the Internet, or any infrastructure]. He asked me what I foresaw as our biggest challenge in deploying our technology. And just as the Telegram inquisitor asked above, I stated the same challenge: I was struggling with how we could move a user from our soon-to-be launched token back into fiat.
After all, our initial target user will be those in emerging markets with low connectivity. Our initial user base will be the 3.9 billion people who lack connectivity or use connectivity in a manner that is different to how we do here in North America. That is, they may connect sporadically, turning their data on and off, or only use it if they have a free (albeit slow) WiFi connectivity at a home or in an office. Our users will be the 2 billion people — that is ~25% of the planet — who are unbanked or underbanked.
And as common-sense dictates, because it is difficult for a highly-technical person with good banking experience here in the west to get set up on a CoinBase or similar account to get that off-boarding platform, one would assume that it would be near impossible for someone who does not have a bank account or reliable connectivity, to do the same.
But Andreas asked me a simple, direct question — which now looking back with the power of hindsight, is so obvious now — “Why do you want to bring them back into fiat?”
When you talk to the emerging consuming class in pretty much any geographic region about what they would spend their new disposable income on should they no longer worry about the necessities of life, the answer is almost uniformly the same: connectivity, apps, games, music, education, travel and things of that ilk. And in today’s modern age, these are all things that are now digital. And what Andreas was asking is why would we want to provide a digital token to someone, encourage an off ramp into fiat, when the very first thing that your user would be doing is converting that fiat back into digital? It just doesn’t make sense.
Why RightMesh is Starting a Revolution
At the heart of our platform, every node in the mesh gets an Ethereum ID and wallet. We use the wallet ID in lieu of an IP address. We started down the path prior to us knowing that Ethereum would become the platform and ecosystem that it has become today, but we chose it because it gave us a unique identity layer we could initiate on a device without connecting up to a central authority to establish trust.
Through our distribution method of providing a free software development kit to any developer who wants to ‘mesh-ify’ an existing mobile application, or build a brand new RightMesh-powered application, we can obtain scale and density of users. Upon first running a RightMesh-powered app, the very first thing that needs to occur is that the system needs to create a Mesh ID… and just like that (“It’s magic!), that node has an Ethereum wallet. And funds are not transferred into the wallet (though not for technical reasons), they are earned by producing value within the network. This includes doing things like forwarding data packets, provide mesh storage, sharing device processing power, etc.
What this means from a macro level is that we will create an entirely new generation of crypto-currency users as well as a community of digital entrepreneurs, without this group of users ever realizing it.
Yesterday, I put out a blog post talking about how to explain an ICO to an 11-year old. Within this article, I tried to make the argument that the youth of today will not know what crypto-currency is: it will just be money and have all the properties that money bestows (store of value, medium of exchange, unit of account). I believe that our first users in emerging markets will not know what crypto-currency is, they will simply start using it. It will just be.
Note: at the same event in which I saw Andreas speak, he also made the case that money has a fourth property: money is a system of control. And this, out of all the transformative properties that RightMesh has, is perhaps its most powerful potential.
Revolutions Start with A Whisper
In my answer on Telegram, I inserted one of my favourite lyrics from the singer/songwriter, Tracy Chapman, and her powerful song: Talkin’ Bout a Revolution. The lyrics go:
Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ ‘bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper.
These are extremely powerful words sung in a powerful and melancholy voice. I wrote in response, that I believe, “Revolutions start with a whisper and not with a bang.”
What I meant by that is that the revolution starts with a slow murmur, quietly, in the shadows and in the parts of the world that those currently enforcing that system of control are not paying close attention to. It is not going to happen in a single moment, triggered the like crack of a starter’s pistol. It is not going to happen with violence. It is just going to happen. And it is unstoppable.
Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ ‘bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs.
However, there remains several points left unsaid that need further discussion, else it be misconstrued about what I am implying. In Chapman’s lyrics, she writes “that people are going to get their share… and take what’s theirs”. This implies wealth redistribution, which is not what I am making the case for here. This has never worked at any time in history, for the simple reason that those who ‘have’ do not want to let go. This is not about turning the tables as she sings in her song. And then those who ‘have not’, when they get into the position of power or control, will not want to let go either. This is human nature and has proven out for millennium.
So what is the solution? What is the revolution?
I believe that this is a revolution in the way things are being done today. It is not about a redistribution of wealth and knowledge, it is about empowering those that have not (or less) presently to create wealth and knowledge by being included.
However, this revolution is not about being included in the current system, but it is a revolution to build a new system — a better system. The system we an build is one in which everyone can produce value and knowledge and is rewarded equitably regardless as to where the value is being created.
This revolution is not a system being set up by a middleman, a corporate conglomerate, an imperial force, or a structured regime. This is not a system set up to control and enforce the status quo. It is a system in which anyone with connectivity (and access to a basic $30 smart phone) can participate and create value simply by being.
This new system is one that does not judge or prescribe worth based on the colour of your skin, your gender, your sexual orientation, your religion (or lack thereof), your economic status, and most assuredly — NOT on where you were born or the passport that you carry.
In this new system, access to connectivity means you now have access to the world’s information and knowledge base. And with knowledge — not controlled knowledge — but all knowledge free from censorship and oppression, you can learn and create anything.
As we say in our vision video, quoting George Bernard Shaw: “If you have an apple, and I have an apple, and we each exchange apples, we still only have one apple each. But if you have an idea, and I have an idea, and we each exchange ideas, now we both have two ideas.”
This is our revolution.
’Cause finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution
Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution, oh no
Talkin’ bout a revolution oh
While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying in the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion