Ever since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, people have been trying to earn cryptocurrency to capitalize on the outlandish price rallies, or to experiment with the technology.
What started out with simple tasks like claiming 5 Bitcoin with just a click in Gavin Andresen’s Bitcoin faucet back in 2010, has now evolved into compensation for practically any job imaginable with the help of dedicated platforms.
Anyone can now write code, generate content, create and sell products, and more, in exchange for cryptocurrency.
While many people already understand how cryptocurrencies enable more convenient payments, the impact that this characteristic may have on the global online job market often remains ignored.
Many freelancers in third world countries did not have the privilege of assisting an education that would enable them to compete for well paying jobs. Therefore they have to compete for low paying gigs that often pay $3-5 per task.
At first, that’s not an issue since that can be significant amount in these countries. The average income in Nigeria is $480 per month, a target that could be easily reached by completing an average of just 4 of online micro-tasks per day.
However, there is one big factor that unfortunately makes this just a fairy tale, and that’s the payment infrastructure that connects these third world countries to the rest of the world.
Although PayPal is indeed available in Nigeria, it can only be used for making online payments, but it does not allow its users to receive or withdraw funds. An alternative would to do a direct deposit, however, fees are usually significantly higher than the value of the micro-task itself, which also makes it an unviable option.
The fact that our current monetary system always needs a rent-seeking intermediary like a bank or a payment processor to send money around the globe, is what results in the exclusion from the online job market of 1.7 Billion people living in third world countries.
This is where cryptocurrencies come into play. Cryptocurrencies can be transferred from one person to another without the need of a rent-seeking intermediary and could hence be an immediate solution to this problem.
Platforms like Bounty0x have already made a first step in this direction and have shown that it is possible to complete micro-tasks at scale in exchange for cryptocurrency.
This is a crucial development since until recently, the only way to get involved in the crypto world was risking money and investing in cryptocurrency. That has now changed.
Crypto enthusiast Vinay V, who lives and works in Bangalore, India, said he was able to make $500 instantly in his first "crypto airdrop" on Bounty0x, a popular way of attracting users to new cryptocurrencies by sending them free tokens.
The median per capita income in India currently stands at $616, which makes $500 a significant sum of money.
Vinay is one of the most active users on Bounty0x, and treats completing micro-tasks as an additional source of income. “Bounty0x as changed my life,” he said, adding the bounties provide a “secondary income” for him and his family.
The benefits of cryptocurrencies for workers don’t end at reduced fees though, they can also play a major role in helping the worker to preserve his earnings.
This preservation of wealth can come in two main forms: protection from seizure and value stability.
Seizure protection is especially valuable for individuals living in communist countries where money left on bank accounts can be made inaccessible at anytime.
It is also important for citizens of countries like North Korea where it is very hard to take money out of the country, which puts an individual in a complicated position if they ever need to leave the country.
Cryptocurrencies like Monero or Grin solve this problem by offering full anonymity and hence obfuscating the holdings of a particular individual. This not only protects individuals living in communist regimes from a snooping Government, but it also makes it significantly easier to take the money out of an authoritarian country.
On the other hand, value stability is important for individuals living in a country with hyperinflating national currencies. One example for this is Venezuela, where the latest statistics show that its local currency “Bolivar” lost about 99.9% of its value in the past 2 years.
Venezuelans don’t have a simple way of exchanging their Bolivar to US Dollar for value stability, so many have to resort to Gold and, as a recent trend is indicating, Bitcoin. The daily trading volume of LocalBitcoins in Venezuela has exploded in 2018, skyrocketing from 157 Bitcoin to over 2,482 Bitcoin.
And although Bitcoin has also lost a large portion of its value in the 2018 bear market, it was still a significantly more stable option for Venezuelans than holding their national currency.
In the near future, decentralized dollar-pegged stablecoins like DAI might also prove to be a good option for individuals that want even less volatility exposure.
The final point I will cover is how people that are willing to work for cryptocurrency enable truly open markets.
Although criticized by many, darknet markets like the Silk Road have proven that anonymous open markets don’t necessarily have to be a playground for violent criminals.
It’s undebatable that Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, clearly broke the law.
However, most orders on the Silk Road were for small doses of cannabis and there wasn’t a single confirmed casualty in the 2 years that the platform ran.
Anyone would be able to easily buy that same product on the street, but usually of a worse quality and higher risk.
The open competition on the platform enabled the free market to correct itself, which resulted in higher quality products and lower costs.
In spite of the fact that the concept of a truly open market has only been tested with narcotics so far, it is fair to assume that it would also have similar effects on other controlled products.
One powerful use case could happen in Venezuela, where its strict regime even prohibits certain medicines and medical devices that can be the difference between life or death for an individual. A cryptocurrency-enabled online market selling these products could potentially save countless lives.
Many people right now are blinded by the brutal bear market and are hoping for salvation from institutional money.
What many don’t realize is that the next adoption wave is happening right in front of our eyes, and this time not in the form of speculators, but in the form of workers.