How Bancor Is Challenging Andrew Yang's UBI Plan

How Bancor Is Challenging Andrew Yang's UBI Plan

If you watched the Democratic US Presidential debates in the past few weeks, you undoubtedly heard Andrew Yang calling for a Universal Basic Income in the United States. UBI is a provocative idea, a guarantee of monthly cash disbursed by the US government to every citizen, whether you are working or not. It’s literally an allowance from the government. No matter what happens in your life or in the broader economy, the fundamental premise of UBI is that the government will give you regular payments of a small sum of money to keep you afloat for the rest of your life, no questions asked.

Yang, a 40-something tech entrepreneur has totally recast himself as the great guarantor of economic stability, but voices are increasingly being raised against the idea of UBI, and not just from the right. For while UBI guarantees income, it fails to address the underlying structural problems that have led to unprecedented global inequality. The main problem? UBI income is often spent outside local economies, at large businesses and corporations, ultimately enriching those at the top. Instead of helping communities learn to fish on their own, UBI simply serves up free fish. As author Douglas Rushkopf recently said, UBI “keeps the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.”

But what if there was a better way to let communities worldwide become participants in economic systems that meet their needs, instead of the needs of centralized czars seeking economic expansion?

Bancor, a blockchain-based liquidity protocol, has introduced an alternative to UBI that bears watching. Called Liquid Community Currencies, Bancor’s solution allows new forms of money to be safely and affordably managed by local groups, especially in cash-strapped communities where national currencies are often in short supply. These groups can now issue their own “tokens” and receive aid in a currency that keeps trade flowing inside their communities, building economic resilience and capacity.

Bancor’s token-based currencies eliminate the need for centralized exchanges and intermediaries by using smart contracts called “relays” that regulate token prices. When a currency is bought (that is, someone uses it to make purchases within its corresponding community), its value rises. When a currency is sold (that is, used to purchase goods from another community in the network), its price drops. And it’s all done using a decentralized public infrastructure facilitating exchange at algorithmically calculated rates.

Register for the CC Forum

This unique methodology — pioneered in partnership with Bancor Foundation President, Bernard Lietaer, one of the chief architects of the Euro — creates breakthrough solutions to the liquidity barrier that has historically prevented community currencies from gaining adoption. 

Take the Sarafu Network, based in Mombasa, Kenya. Sarafu (or “currency” in Swahili) is intended to create closed loops of local commerce within villages connected to the network through a transparent, decentralized local currency system based on Bancor. As tokens circulate between consumers and local businesses, they create  diverse and resilient channels of monetary links between locals. Roughly one year since starting — with eleven village-level tokens launched -- there are now thousands of micro-entrepreneurs and consumers using the system. Now a farmer can now receive payment in her village’s local currency, which can then be used to pay for school fees and other necessities.

In the past, the main issue preventing the rise of similar community currency pilots was the currencies were not usable outside the communities that launched them, so usage historically tapered off. It was simply too hard to perform conversions between such currencies. Changing one type of currency into another requires a trusted intermediary who matches two parties with opposing wants. Since national currencies are highly liquid with one another, finding a party that is willing to exchange is a relatively simple process performed by for-profit matchmakers. However, this reliance on matching creates significant barriers for small-scale currencies to be valued against and thus traded for other currencies at market-determined exchange rates.   

The Bancor Protocol, which underlies the Sarafu Network, solves this problem by ensuring the convertibility and liquidity of connected tokens without needing a counterparty or an intermediary. That means commerce can be autonomously and securely processed on the blockchain without having to rely on a central authority like a bank or telecom to maintain the integrity of the network.

No banks. No transaction fees. No roadblocks like government-issued IDs needed to participate in the global economic order most of us take for granted. This is the way to make economic collaboration work for everyone, without centralized structures. Let Andrew Yang promote global allowances as UBI. But Bancor is betting that when a million tomatoes can be traded and a million token systems bloom, the effect will be far more profound for most of the world’s population.

Investment Disclaimer
Related Topics: