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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How Digital Currencies May Change Everyday Life

Try to imagine how many ways you and I lose money doing "life" events.  I'm going to focus on one example:  An older couple who sells their 4-bedroom house to buy a 2 bedroom condo so they can lower their monthly housing costs and maintenance.

Here are just a few of the costs:

1.  Repairs on the old home and customization on the new
2.  Closing costs on both homes
3.  Moving costs
4.  Interest, fees, taxes, and time
5.  Loss of closeness to neighborhood friends
6.  Loss of personal features in current home

Now imagine a world running on digital currencies for a moment.  I'll do my best to describe it for you.  Here is a story about what Vern and Marge, retired seniors just trying to get by, might do in the future.

After a lot of research, Vern bolted into the kitchen and exclaimed, "Marge, I've got it; I've figured out how we can make ends meet and not have to move!"

Marge looked up with hopeful interest.  "Did you invent something again, dear?"

"No, no, this is for real.  We can become HomeHotelCoin miners."

"HomeHotelCoin mining?"  Marge's eyes glazed over as her hopes were dashed that Vern was really on to something this time.

But Vern never lost one bit of his enthusiasm.  He continued, "You won't believe how easy this is.  It sounds absolutely too good to be true, but an old friend of mine and his wife have been doing it for a year now and it works great.  They didn't have to front any cash, they don't have to do any work, they just signed up and collect the checks."

Vern and Marge had lived in their neighborhood for most of their adult lives.  All their friends lived close, their church was close, her favorite stores were close, and Marge especially did not want to move.  So, hearing that it worked for someone else got her attention.

Vern went on to explain how it works.  "This is a commitment, it involves renovations, losing access to part of our house, and a lien against our equity for the renovations.  Are you still interested?"

Marge looked skeptical, but the thought of moving makes her heart sink and so she gave a hesitant affirmative nod.

"OK, like I say, renovations are required, and to pay for that we do have to sign a 5 year contract.  If we break the contract or sell our home before then, we'll be responsible for the balance left to pay off the renovation costs.   If we sign up, a contractor will isolate part of our house into a hotel-like room with its own bathroom and private entrance.  When the work is done, the room gets listed on the HomeHotelCoin phone app.  When anyone is traveling through town, they can book our room right on their phone.  We don't have to interact with customers at all.  They pay with HomeHotelCoin which they can buy at any digital currency exchange, like that Digital Currency Exchange of Texas I was telling you about.  Once a customer books the room and pays, they get a code to get in the door, and we just get an email that someone is coming.  We don't even have to be there to check them in."

Marge looked even more skeptical.  "Who cleans the room?"

"Ohhhh, that's where this gets so amazing.  First off, the contractor gets a cut of the coins for his work; that's his incentive.  Second, housekeeping agents do their part for a portion of the coins as well.  In fact, most anything needed to make this service work is built into the system.  We don't have to do anything.  If we wanted, we could include our pool as part of the amenities for the room, and then there are built in features to include pool maintenance as well."

Marge's mind immediately went on with all the things that could go wrong, obnoxious guests, damage to the room, psychopathic murderers trying to stay there, and on and on.

Vern continued, "They've already thought of everything, private security, built in deposits, and biding systems to allocate the right amount of coin for each job.  Everyone involved gets rated:  our room, the customers, the contractor, housekeeping, maintenance, and security.   If we say we don't want to deal with any customer who has less than 5 stars, the app doesn't even allow our room to show up for anyone with less than 5 stars.   It is the same for the housekeeping; there are default settings, but we can adjust what rating we demand from the cleaners, as well as how much coin to allocate for them.   Hah, but obviously if we demand 5 stars and only pay 1 percent, we might not get any takers on the cleaning.  Everything is on a bidding system."

Marge was getting a little hopeful again, but this did sound like just another one of Vern's crazy ideas.  She decided to play devil's advocate for a bit.  "So, what about security?  What if some crazy person is in there bothering our neighbors or playing loud music at 3am?"

"There is a handbook the explains the recommended way to handle almost any type of situation.  Obviously for some kind of emergency we might have to call 911.  For loud music, we might simply put a ding on our customer's reputation rating so that future HomeHotelCoin miners will know that person likes to play loud music at 3am.  The security team does monitor cameras outside our home for suspicious activity, and electronic security for our side of the house is included.  If a security guard does have to come out to deal with a customer, the cost for that gets charged against their deposit just the same as if they damage something in the room or steal anything.  Bob and Melony said they've never had anything like that happen though, just towels go missing once in a while.  It's funny, Bob said there is a rating spot that says something like, 'we're not saying you stole the towels, we're just saying some towels were missing after you left.' I guess the theory is that if a trend shows up, people will know."

Marge thought of some more practical reasons why Vern's idea won't work.  "What about taxes, regulations?  Do we know what we are getting ourselves into?"

"Yes, yes, I checked into that too.  The system integrates with our tax software and it is customized for our zip code.  It files the right forms for us automatically, all we have to do is sign the forms it prints out.  Bob said that they had all the needed licenses and approvals before the renovation even started.  That app even sets us up with an exchange account integration so it can automatically convert the needed amount of HomeHotelCoin into dollars to pay the taxes and fees.  Fortunately we don't have a crazy Nazi homeowners association here, that could be a problem for some, but we're lucky on that."

"Do you really think we can do this, my power-puff man?

"I do."


The above story is completely hypothetical.  I don't know if this particular example would work in the real world.  The point is to illustrate how digital currencies might be used to help people allocate resources they already have in order for them to make extra money.  The object is to standardize and automate the business processes so that we the people can concentrate on the task at hand, whether our task be sleeping, cleaning, or gun slinging.  Digital currencies can help organize human activities in new ways to help customers get what they want, and service providers to get what they need.


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