Tokens & Decentralized Work

On May 5, 2022, we heard from Ashoka Fellow Reinaldo Pamponet, founder of Noon, about building community wealth and decentralizing work through Web3 technology. We dove into concrete use cases in Brazil & New Zealand, explored how coins and tokens can bring communities together around shared goals, what has worked, what has failed and, more importantly, learnings from the process. You can watch the full conversation here. Here are a few of the highlights:

Bringing communities together, backed by payment systems

Noon is the result of roughly 20 years of exploration around a key question: how can technology help generate more community wealth and dignified work for those who need it most? The app allows people to build communities around pressing challenges or learning outcomes. Community members in turn are remunerated for their contributions through digital coins. In so doing, Noon reimagines work environments: it connects people with each other and with work opportunities in a network, without need for employment relationships. Here’s how it works.

For those interested in the business model, Reinaldo described Noon’s Tokenomics model in some detail.

From speculation to value generation

While much of the crypto world has been focused on the future of money, with a focus on speculative transactions, Reinaldo’s interest in crypto & Web3 stems from a desire to increase the value that can be generated and captured by communities. In this sense, he is much more interested in the future of work (and workers) than the future of money.

Rewarding collective intelligence & action

Noon is being deployed by communities for so many different purposes. Banks have used it to reward peer to peer learning about financial literacy. The government of New Zealand leveraged the platform to hear young people’s solutions to addressing mental health crises. And individuals have used Noon’s alternative currency to put food on their table during the pandemic. The possibilities are endless.

Greening the blockchain

The bitcoin blockchain uses a “proof of work” consensus model. As Ashoka Fellow Lee White put it, it’s an “18 point computational puzzle” that verifies that the information being validated on the ledger is accurate. Solving this puzzle is very energy intensive and can also lead to some levels of centralization. That’s why there’s a movement towards other “consensus” mechanisms. Noon uses a “post-proof of work” model – a lighter system that needs only 2 types of authentication instead of 18. Reinaldo & Lee broke it down for us.

Storing value outside of centralized finance

If a community can store value outside of centralized banking it enables that community to transform itself – this is at the core of Reinaldo’s and so many other social entrepreneurs exploration of Web3 tools. For the past 20+ years, Reinaldo has worked with people in Brazil and across the world who have been marginalized, economically and otherwise. He sees enormous potential for decentralized work and decentralized finance to ensure they get to keep more of the value they generate. But the crypto-world is still mainly speaking with a tiny elite. The tools that are out there (not to mention the speculative nature of most cryto-currencies) make it nearly impossible for the average person to engage productively. This is the gap Noon’s team is trying to breach.

For more check out the DWeb Learning Collaborative, convened by Ashoka & Mutualist Society