Crypto off the Chain
It has been a bumpy path over the last few years but cryptocurrency is finally starting to hit the mainstream. Crypto began as a bunch of nerdy looking people spending their time and energy “mining” something called “bitcoin”. People laughed at it. Now, it is able to be traded for tokenized stock fractions on major stock exchanges. This is a massive development and has implications far beyond the size of your digital wallet.
Before we get too much into crypto itself, let’s take a moment to understand the tokenized stock concept. When the stock market got started way back in the late 17th century there was the idea that nearly anyone would be able to participate in the ownership of a company. Over time, some of the biggest companies grew so valuable that they were priced well beyond the capability of most people to ever own more than a couple shares, if any at all. Tokenized stock ownership allows a person to buy a fraction of a stock (much how one can buy a portion of bitcoin), returning the stock market to its original, decentralized intent.
So, how does the concept of partial ownership relate to cryptocurrency? They both contribute to a decentralized economy. How? First, the simple act of allowing more people to own more things puts more money and more freedom into the hands of more people. Secondly, cryptocurrency operates without a central bank. That means that it is much harder if not impossible for anyone to control or manipulate. The only fluctuations in the worth of the currency are based on the market, just as it should be. And with cryptocurrency becoming more mainstream, it will be able to be used for more and more purchases. Imagine a world where you don’t need a bank to make major purchases like a car or a house? The payments and the records of ownership are all kept in the blockchain, cutting out middle men like banks and title companies, even the filing system at city hall.
Of course, some will raise security concerns. That’s understandable. However, the nature of blockchain is such that you have to fool every node at once in order to steal or manipulate someone’s crypto. This is something that is only possible in theory as the computer power necessary is more than anything out there. Of course technology will continue to develop but that means the blockchain and its security will also.
Ah, but what about things like a solar flare or emp that could destroy enough of the nodes to make a difference? Honestly, what do you think is more likely, that city hall with all of its records burns down or a massive solar flare wipes out half the computers on the planet?
The real question is why has it taken so long to gain traction? Why has it taken this long to move out of its mom’s basement and into the real world? For that answer, you really only need to look at who is opposing it. That would be the Warren Buffets, and the big banks, the major governments and organizations that thrive on regulation, on control. These entities are too used to the way things have been done since the early 20th century. And hey, who can blame them? They’ve made a ton of money in that older system. That success does two things. One, you can easily dismiss crypto advocates as people jumping onto a fad, as people just looking to make a quick dollar, or as people who have been duped. Second, success can easily block a person’s ability to see another way of doing things. Pride gets in the way and makes people blind to what should be obvious.
What should be obvious is that people are wanting to decentralize, to break away from the major systems that need us to interact in a certain way, and keep us tied to one place. TARTLE is a major part of that, and not just because we use bitcoin. TARTLE is the first company to seriously take on the task of returning control over data to the individuals generating it. That power is placed not in the hands of world-spanning companies but in you. If your data is shared or traded, it’s because that’s what you want and it’s you that gets rewarded in the process.
What’s your data worth?
You’ve probably seen those payday loan businesses in strip malls across the United States. They’re small one or two room places with a desk and some crappy chairs and ridiculously gaudy signs. If you haven’t seen them, you have probably heard of their reputation as predatory lenders. They’ll give people a loan at an insanely high interest rate against the person’s next paycheck, and tend to lock people in a cycle of debt that is very hard to get out of. While these places are bad, they have nothing on what goes on in India on a regular basis.
Over in the Asian subcontinent, they handle this sort of thing digitally and there are too many different lending apps to keep track of. In essence, they operate on a similar model to the American payday loan companies. They offer small, short-term loans at a high interest rate against the next paycheck. The similarities end there though. While American companies charge an average of 20% interest, their Indian counterparts often charge an interest rate of 80% or more. They also charge their victims in another way – the lender demands access to all their data. So to get $40 at an 80% interest, you have to grant the lender’s app access to all the data on your phone.
So what happens if you can’t pay? Does the company cut their loss and consider the data as payment? No. Not even close. They actually start harassing their victims. Calling and texting over 1000 times a day in some cases. Some people make use of multiple lending apps, making the problem even worse.
I’ve used the term ‘victim’ twice now. That’s a pretty strong word and not to be thrown around lightly. Yet, it is perfectly appropriate here. With that kind of harassment, it is driving many to suicide, and straining every relationship the victim has as he struggles to figure out how to get out of this debt. They are also victims because often the terms of the app are in English which not everyone can read fluently, and even if they can, just like lenders here, the loan agent will do whatever he can to convince the victim that they can handle the loan without any problem, they have full confidence it will get paid back on time.
There have even been some companies that would hire professional harassers to stand outside of a victim’s home or business and scream at and berate them for hours on end. Small wonder that some would be driven to suicide and no doubt to crime in a desperate effort to make the yelling and the phone calls stop.
To add insult to injury, even after the loan is paid off, the lender still has access to the victim’s data, allowing them to increase their profits by collecting and selling it to third parties until the phone gets replaced.
All of this has been made worse over the last year as many people throughout India have lost their jobs thanks to the response to COVID. Millions have found themselves going from working hard to get a little ahead to desperately scrambling to scrape by. Its left these people open and vulnerable to predators who have no regard for the people they are hurting while they are getting rich.
One way the Indian people can work towards ending this ridiculous cycle is to sign up with TARTLE. You can protect your data with us without giving us access to it. In fact, we never see our users’ data. We just give them the means to protect it. Once signed up, you can share your data on your own terms and make a little money in the process. Control over your data, financial compensation, and no harassment. That’s what TARTLE offers.
What’s your data worth?