The internet is at the cusp of entering a new phase, one where entrenched rulers are dethroned, more power is reclaimed by individuals and value moves as freely as cat GIFs.
To understand why we need a better internet in the first place, consider this question: Isn’t it weird the internet isn’t good at money? Think about it. The applications we use every day to search, to communicate, even to shop; the companies that dominate the web are very bad at dealing with money, even if they’re very good at making it. There’s a separate checkout process, where you repeatedly enter all your information. Cards issued in some countries don’t work on local websites in other countries. Sometimes you wait for what feels like an eternity watching that tiny wheel turn, to have the transaction fail.
Camila Russo is the founder of The Defiant, a content platform focusing on decentralized finance, and the author of “The Infinite Machine” about the history of Ethereum. Previously, she was a Bloomberg News reporter covering markets in Buenos Aires, Madrid and New York. She is a speaker at CoinDesk’s invest: ethereum economy event beginning Oct. 14.
More complex transactions are almost unthinkable. Influencers and creators should be able to monetize their likes, retweets and views, with micropayments streamed from followers, without any platform taking a cut. Less-famous mortals should get paid if they opt in to view ads or consent to sharing their information. Transferring ownership of valuable assets, from art to real estate, shouldn’t take several intermediaries and tons of paperwork.
There’s the internet’s TCP/IP protocol. There are apps built on top of it. And, separately, there’s the financial system, which relies largely on infrastructure built before the internet was invented. SWIFT, IBAN, the rails handling most international money transfers, weren’t designed to