It could collapse governments, too
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” — Victor Hugo
Amazon’s business plan was simple:
Create a website where people can buy books as cheaply as possible, shipped as quickly as possible.
Use predatory financialization — vast amounts of Silicon Valley investor capital and multinational bank debt — to undercut competitor pricing until thousands of culture-creating local bookshops were forced to shut their doors forever.
Use monopoly profits and proceeds from an artificially swollen stock price to bully vendors, surveil customers, crush worker rights, engineer offshore tax schemes, swallow other businesses whole, buy up legacy media, and undermine democracy.
Thankfully, we’re heading into the world of Web 3.0 and there’s a future platform that will destroy companies like Amazon once and for all.
Imagine an online bookshop platform where publishers, self-published authors, and book owners can sell new and used books directly to buyers without the need for an extractive middleman like Amazon.
100% of the profits will go to publishers instead of 50% to Amazon.
100% of the profits will go to authors instead of 30+% to Amazon.
100% of the profits will go to booksellers instead of Amazon raking off “selling plans, referral fees, fulfillment fees, and other costs.”
The platform will scale by charging a tiny transaction fee that’s a fraction of Amazon’s fees. Unlike Amazon, they’ll also promise never to become a retailer on the platform and therefore avoid the conflict of interest that arises from competing with their own vendors while being able to spy on them.
(Clearly, this platform will be a not-for-profit/for-benefit run by people of goodwill and fellow-feeling. They’ll still get paid great money, but there won’t be massive corporate overhead and shareholders to please every quarter.)
Now imagine that online bookshop is an everything marketplace. Not just books and the measly 12 million other items that Amazon stocks. We’re talking eBay meets Craigslist meets Amazon marketplace meets Facebook marketplace… tens of billions of items from billions of sellers, each setting their own price.
Now imagine when buyers can pay in any fiat currency or cryptocurrency of their choosing, and the sellers can receive payment in any value-representation of their choosing.
Now imagine when that everything platform is white-label-embeddable on every single website on earth.
Local artisans will sell directly to any buyer globally.
Artists will market/sell/rent/license their music and films in real-time.
Companies will re-take control of their direct customer relationships.
Influencers will leverage follower trust to create curated e-shops.
Writers will copy-and-paste their store at the bottom of every article.
Imagine buying scotch directly from your favorite family-run distillery.
Imagine buying a new pair of jeans from your cousin’s fashion startup.
Imagine ordering sourdough pizza from the new cloud kitchen in town.
But it’s all one-click from a single back-end platform. With a globally decentralized distribution system to minimize environmental impact.
This is the point where Amazon collapses, because what is corporate profit but the ultimate inefficiency?
Even rigged multinationals can’t compete with the peer-to-peer economy.
Prices go down.
Quality goes up.
Monopolies shrivel and die.
Global retail democratizes.
And a new era arrives with a slogan: All the wages to all the workers.
This is where our corporate-captured governments will absolutely freak out.
Imagine when the everything-everywhere store creates a Tinder-type matching function where buyers and sellers can wishlist all the items they want.
A baker wants a book that’s listed for $10.
A bookseller wants two loaves of sourdough listed for $10.
Congrats, you’ve matched! The purchases execute.
Now imagine when that platform uses machine learning algorithms to execute multi-way trades.
A baker wants books.
A winemaker wants a table.
A bookseller wants wine.
A cheesemaker wants bread.
A carpenter wants jeans.
A tailor wants cheese.
Congrats, you all matched! The purchases execute.
Nevermind Amazon, this will be the end of money.
Because what is currency, anyway? Just a worthless, temporary transaction chip that notionally represents real underlying value.
When a platform eventually gains the ability to facilitate direct multi-trade transactions of real value in real-time, the need for Mr. Middleman Money will simply disappear. (No, this isn’t a regression to bartering — it’s a giant leap toward frictionless direct trade.)
No more money.
Just pure value exchange.
Most people are so trapped inside the matrix that they can’t even fathom a world without the need for money. This isn’t bartering. Money is an intermediary technology, but now it’s now an old technology. But we don’t need a medium of exchange if we have a mechanism of exchange.
To be sure, there are lots of things to figure out, but I have no doubt that our best minds will do so.
Perhaps the system could even have a way to store excess value, where creators can sell their goods and services, accruing credit to their account for later purchases on the platform (and remember, the platform is now the entire global economy.)
Distributed logistics enterprises will compete and coordinate to handle efficient global fulfillment.
Eco-ratings and feedback mechanisms will de-rank inferior products and boost great ones.
Refunds and returns could be automatically executed via smart contracts.
Human society will never be without governance — I’d just like us to put it back in the hands of the real wealth-creators instead of the money-spinners.
Some may argue that such a platform will only work for little purchases, and not for things like tractors and houses. But it’s not true — France built nuclear power plants in exchange for oil. Indonesia and Thailand swapped aircraft for rice. Pepsi swapped soda for $3 billion in vodka and ships. Thousands of companies do tens of billions in business each year using private trade and credit networks. If there is a buyer and a seller, the platform will figure out a way to make the exchange.
Pure value exchange also means no more bank control of credit — the real value creators are the only ones who’ll be rich. Pure value exchange means no more government manipulation, endless money-printing, hyperinflation, and currency debasement. It’s only a matter of time before someone inevitably builds this platform and takes off because the current corruption+extraction economy is impoverishing people and killing the planet.
It also means no more taxation on trade. When I give my neighbor some kombucha and she gives me eggs, neither of us needs to pay sales tax, VAT tax, payroll tax, income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, nor waste any time or money on taxation paperwork. When a platform can execute direct multi-way trading, this means transactions will become 15–50% cheaper, depending on the seller’s former tax bracket. Governments used to tax pure value by taking people’s sheep, grain, and wool, but in the digital economy, they simply won’t know what to do.
Welcome to the moneyless, taxless, decentralized peer-to-peer economy.
At this point, expect the elites to overthrow the platform.
And then expect the masses to overthrow the elites.