Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Ben: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Enough said. That’s a deal.
Fifty years or so ago, plastics were on the road to becoming as ubiquitous as cryptocurrency will be 20 years from now.
The financial goals we have today are nearly identical to those a half century ago: a well-paying job, safe and successful investments, college for our kids, a comfortable standard of living and enough resources to see us through retirement.
However, we’re not doing a very good job of it. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
The way we attain these assets, and the numbers of us who are able to attain them, however, will look very different in the future, thanks to tokenization.
Our ability to profit from our investments relies on two things: having the resources needed to purchase the asset and then having a way to sell it — a concept known as liquidity.
Tokenizing real-world assets will allow buyers to access assets never before within their reach, and sellers to move assets that were previously difficult to unload. The secret lies in the possibility of fractionalization.
From real estate to gold bullion, diamond mines to carbon offsets, the smallest investors to the largest corporations will be able to procure fractions of tokenized assets. Investors could buy a portion of a shopping mall or invention patent, trade the token for a different investment, or sell their share.
Imagine unlocking cash from the equity in your home without having to borrow or pay interest. Tokenize your home and sell fractions to the public. Buy the tokens back, or pay the investors their value at the time the property is sold.
Tokenization will change how we think about — and extract liquidity from — our everyday, under-utilized assets too.
In the future, you’ll be able to tokenize the value of unused bedrooms and backyards in your home. You’ll be able to tokenize use of your vehicle for Uber driving while you’re away on travel. You’ll even be able to tokenize access to your phone so marketers have to pay you tokens in order to gain access to your attention. Yes, this will happen.
As the sharing and access economies take off, the need for tokenization will only increase as transactions get smaller, the blockchain expands to more people (less than 0.3% of the world’s population own crypto tokens today), and our concept of assets stretches further to the edges — through tokens.
The concept of tokens is nothing new. Remember the arcade game called Skee-ball? You’d roll a ball into one of a number of holes, each worth a certain number of points. At the end of the game, you were awarded tickets, which could be turned in for a prize. The more tickets you collected, the better the prize. Casino patrons bet with chips, which they trade for cash if they have any left at the end of the night.
Simply put, a token is a surrogate equivalent to something of value, like a poker chip or a dollar bill.
In the world of cryptocurrency, a token is a digital representation of an asset along with the rules for how that token can be used. The tokens are expressed using public and private keys — or long string of numbers and letters representing addresses (an example Bitcoin public key looks like this: 1PCwyKvjRMMBR7vkX86LtkdnGon1kzeQVr). When someone sends you crypto tokens over a public blockchain, they are actually sending you an encrypted version of their public key. To receive their tokens, your private key unlocks and reads their public key which includes the data of how many tokens they sent to your wallet
The rule is to never share your private key with outsiders. Also, to store it in a secure online wallet in a place like Coinbase or other secure online cryptocurrency platform. If someone else owns your private key, they can potentially take ownership, or steal, your crypto tokens. Some holders of crypto tokens store their private keys behind a vault or a safe written out on paper, engraved into metal coins, or stored on hard drives — a concept called cold storage.
Finally, for a new crypto token to be created, they are secured, validated, mined, and/or minted on top of public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum using highly complex algorithms. Proof of Stake is the major consensus algorithm being used today and its miners are consuming the same amount of electricity as a small country. To get an idea of how large these mining operations are, see this.
Originally, crypto tokens were created for Bitcoin, a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Bitcoin has the ability to record every transaction on all users’ records simultaneously because its database isn’t stored in a single location. Instead, the database is stored on the computers of the miners who are validating the transactions that make up the Bitcoin blockchain. This concept is called decentralization.
Bitcoin’s transaction records are 100 percent public, easy to verify, and nearly impossible to — once validated by the Bitcoin Proof of Work consensus algorithm — attack or corrupt. This concept is called Byzantine Fault Tolerant.
As developers create new decentralized blockchain protocols, the options for tokenizing assets become limitless, as does the opportunity to decentralize wealth itself.
It’s why I think Bitcoin’s decentralized consensus Proof of Work algorithm is the most important invention of the 21st century to-date.
Tokens will make it possible for people of all economic levels to buy into investments that so far have been out of their reach. Selling their interests in these investments will be as easy as making a couple of keystrokes.
Tokens will drastically expand and remix our definition of asset investing, today and in years to come.
That’s not to say all this tokenization and buying and selling will magically start happening. Challenges including integrating with established banking systems; government regulation; and public trust and confidence issues do exist.
Mr. Braddock was right about plastics. In the 60s it was a “huh” but now it’s almost impossible to find something that doesn’t contain plastic or isn’t wrapped in it.
For graduates looking to find their footing and establish themselves like young Ben Braddock. today’s plastics are crypto tokens.