THE POSSIBLE IMPACT OF DIGITAL MICROPAYMENTS
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One of the offshoots of the invention of cryptocurrencies is the enabling of instant, virtually free micropayments, which is a first for humanity. This opens up lots of very interesting and exciting possible use cases.

CHARITY

Aside from the obvious benefits of using cryptocurrencies for charities (cheap transaction fees, pseudonymity, no restrictions) micropayments could potentially transform what it means to give to charity.

At the moment, a main challenge for charities is to convince people to take the time out of their lives to physically get their wallets out, maybe pick up the phone or visit a website then go through all this long drawn out process. Up front this is a barrier to some people who might otherwise donate on a whim.

If you had micropayments, the act of giving to charity really could be baked into the background of lots of other products and services. Imagine if a charity teamed up with a game developer for example. If a particular game had its own virtual economy, set up some smart contracts so that 0.05% of all sales went instantly to the charity, so by playing the game you're actively contributing. This could be applied to lots of other products and services too. From the users perspective they are just enjoying content, or playing games or whatever, but from the charities perspective, they could be receiving a huge amount of small transactions from all over the world, in realtime. This realtime nature will also help charities in one of their main areas, budgeting.

The possibilities are wide and varied. You could have a system where you sign up and say which charities align with your particular perspectives, then this information gets put into a blockchain. You link this to your phone, load up some currency, set limits and then you go about your daily life. When you're out and about, charities could have bluetooth/NFC stations around cities, so when you automatically walk past them it recognises you are interested in their cause and sends them a tiny donation automatically.

Charity doesn't have to be about “charities” as organizations either. This kind of technology could be hooked up to give small amounts directly to affected people. If you can prove you are in a time of need, people could help you out. It'd be like a IV currency drip into your arm to get you back on your feet.

EMPLOYMENT

As we move away from a world of lifelong careers, we enter an era of more part time work and freelancing opportunities. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk, more than 53 million (or 34%) of US citizens qualify as freelancers and with decentralized sharing services such as Uber, TaskRabbit and Lyft growing ever more, the chance to go solo is more of a viable option.

One of the interesting aspects of this in regards to micropayments, is how people will receive their salaries. Instead of being paid by the hour, day, week or month, workers may be paid in ever granular measurements like minutes or ever seconds.

This has more side effects in that every worker potentially will be in posession of their hard earned income quicker, meaning that pay day loans and deferred payment services could potentially become a thing of the past.

Imagine having your phone linked to your place of work so it automatically clocks when you are at your desk and in conjunction with some other tools on your work computer will be paying you as you work, so no more paychecks at the end of the month. You could even gamify the act of being an employee by giving realtime incentives for different tasks, such as being early, or finishing work before deadlines.

CONSUMPTION

The very nature of how we buy things could change drastically too. As mentioned above, the sharing economy could be built on per minute realtime usage. So instead of buying anything outright now, you have the opporunity to use goods and services that you might not otherwise be able to afford and pay for only the time you use them. This is the true version of pay-as-you-go

Same goes for any subscription based services you currecntly use. Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Unlimited could be transformed when you only have to pay for what you use and nothing more. Start to watch a film, but find out it's pretty shitty and not worth your money, that's fine, don't pay the full price! Same goes for utilies, TV, phone, internet access etc.

It also gives people who until now wouldn't receive much in way of payment for their work, a chance to make a living. Take independent bloggers and publishers for example. Up until now, only writers for big publications were able to make any money off their content, but now with micropayments, everyone could potentially earn from their work. You could have a platform or protocol that bloggers opt in to. Users could have a browser extension that contains a wallet. Fill up your wallet with however much you want to spend and pay as you go. Instead of paying $30 a month to have access to articles, you could pay $0.05 per article you read. It'd also be possible to make “Like” buttons mean something, so ever like that is received is a tiny payment.

INCENTIVES

It doesn't have to be about buying things either. You can align incentives when there is a realtime pressure to increase efficiency.

One interesting example could be healthcare. You could change the business model around from patients kind of leeching from systems and draining them, to one were you pay your doctor to proactively keep you healthy, BUT if they fail to do so, every time that you get sick, the doctor/medical center pays you. Every second you're in the doctors office, with a provable illness or affliction (that the doctor didn't spot) you are receiving micropayments. So this could put a whole new spin on the doctor/patient relationship and it could stimulate innovation in disease detection and increasing efficiency.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully just with these few examples, you can see the potential power that can come from introducing micropayments. The age of high fees, slow transfer times and bank holidays is almost over.

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BY NODE