Here’s a bold prediction: a consumer-to-blockchain revenue model will be emerging.
We know that the current publisher-driven content pay model sucks. Fred Wilson chimed on it again here, The Free and Open Internet. Paywalls are not a panacea.
We know that most ISPs are highway robbers. I don’t know any user that would admit they aren’t overpaying for Internet access services. Telcos profits and ISP monopolies are there to prove that point.
We know that public blockchains need a “continuously viable” economic model to ensure their ongoing decentralized independence. Today, the economic equation is driven by a mix of mining revenues, gas related tolls, transaction fees, and rising token prices,- all summing up to actual monetary value changing hands.
Today, miners are paid to validate transactions. Developers pay to run blockchain programs (smart contracts). Most processors (or central exchanges) charge additional fees (off-chain) to ensure the finality of transactions. Some blockchains have built-in on-chain fees as part of the transaction’s journey.
Sound economics of public blockchains depend on a delicate balance that needs to always be in place. That balance depends on actual stakeholders, sponsors, activity, validators, stakers, etc. all humming together.
What if there was a consumer model where a user would pay something nominal, say $10/month to start with, in order to have access to a given public blockchain and all the goodies that are running on it?
Imagine if that type of revenue would then be divided-up programmatically (according to a known protocol) among the various stakeholders, including the node operators, core developers, storage resources, and related supporting peer to peer networks.
Incentive-driven blockchain payouts are emerging. We already have models that have provided those beachheads: Steemit pays users for publishing content, Blockstack’s App Mining distributes payouts to populars apps, and the Kin’s Reward Engine incentivizes successful developers according to their contributions.
Of course, not all blockchains will be able to practice a paid model. Only the truly open, decentralized, universal, scaleable ones that have a large enough ecosystem of applications and developers will be able to contemplate that model in their future. And I would envision this possibility only when a blockchain is stable, and not still in development. Ethereum is a good contender for that model. Perhaps Blockstack as well.
Imagine a new paradigm where mobile Dapps are not subservient to the Google or Apple stores, and rather retain a lot more of the value they earn, while still being rewarded for their overall contributions on a more fairly and equitable basis.
Imagine a new marketplace where we will find the next generation of decentralized apps there, the ones where privacy and data are in the hands of owners and not monopolies. I don’t believe Google or Apple will be the gateways to such a future because they are currently its gatekeepers.
If you think of the blockchain as a universal utility, just like the Internet or the telephone or water, then the idea of paying for it may not be a crazy one.