There is no doubt that blockchain technology is going to pay a pretty big part in our future. Blockchain has the capacity to unlock a previously untapped economy of trust and it also has the potential to completely revolutionise many sectors from finance to healthcare and everything in between. But before it can reach its full potential, there is one extremely important thing missing: an established and well thought out theory of tokenomics.
Moving forward with blockchain technology and its implementation will require a significant increase in the advancement of tokenomics analysis. We are currently in the midst of a truly unchartered territory – governments and regulatory authorities don’t have a clue what is happening and even those involved directly in the industry are lacking clarity and certainty. Whilst the concept of tokenomics has been around for centuries, there is not much knowledge on artificial economies such as the of crypto world. One way that token economies can be analysed more closely is through the use of agent-based modelling, but there is still a lot of work to do.
Why study token economics?
Firstly, because tokenomics is extremely important. With the advent of blockchain technology, we are seeing more and more startups move towards using market business models. These models facilitate the incentivisation of users to make them more proactive in their day to day life. For example, a government could incentivise users to pay their taxes over the blockchain network. A retail company could offer discounts if clients use the blockchain to make their payments. Knowing and understanding how best to create and promote rewards through a particular economy requires a proper understanding of tokenomics models.
Also, token economies can also fall foul of all the problems that traditional economies have. For example, inflation, volatility, and crashes are all issues that can affect the long-term viability of a blockchain based business. Token economies do make it possible, however, to automatically collect data on transactions which can then be used to calculate metrics such as the total traded volume or the velocity. The tokenomics research community has a lot of work to do when it comes to being able to utilize the unique opportunities that are offered by the blockchain. By doing this they will be able to better understand how to solve some of the presented challenges.
The issue of token pricing
Some of the other issues that are at the forefront of the challenges faced by the sector include understanding token pricing. There is no definitive answer on how tokens should be priced, or how many should be issued. There is also much work needed when it comes to the equation of exchange that is used to help derive valuations for cryptocurrencies, some of which can be used to provide a better understanding of token pricing for ICOs. The problem is that at the moment, there is no proper model around this topic and until there is, the sector will struggle to find its feet.
Many ICOs that have been launched made use of a model where tokens are disposed of as they are used up. This means that as the number of tokens decreases, supply becomes limited and the price goes up. Whilst this is attractive to investors and speculators, it doesn’t give much information or hope for the long-term viability of the token.
Unfounded speculation has caused untold amounts of damage to the crypto-economy, but it can also be one of the driving force behind the popularity surge of cryptocurrencies. Speculating and trading are not bad things per se, rather it is when they get out of control and result in market crashes similar to the one that we saw in January. Control needs to be exerted so that speculation is allowed, but does not wield power that can see a market decimated in days.
The economics of the future
Blockchain is not going anywhere anytime soon and it is becoming clearer that it is set to become an integral part of our lives. ICOs have raised an astonishing $6.5bn to date, but without a proper tokenomics model, many are sadly destined to fail. As ICOs mature, the same is required by tokenomics and understanding topics such as the ones mentioned above is an integral part of blockchains long-term success.
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