Charles Silver has seen the current wave of disruption before and believes the one we’re in the middle of now will dwarf the lasting influence of the dotcom era.
Mr. Silver is the CEO of Algebraix, a permission-based, token-fueled mobile platform. Based on the fundamentals of permission-based marketing, Algebraix believes two things: that people should be paid when their personal data is used while companies need better-targeted marketing.
“This is the dot-com era on steroids,” Mr. Silver began.
And he should know. During that period Mr. Silver built a business that connected people with data based on their permission, growing it to 60 million users.
Every two decades business sees a major wave of disruption, with the current one characterized by the Amazons disrupting the brick and mortar retail concept that has long endured. Alongside this comes cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology that are upending every aspect of commerce from governments down to how individual payments are made.
Mr. Silver’s involvement with Algebraix began as an investor, as he was intrigued by big data’s visual representation possibilities. Much of the analytics industry at the time was based on decades-old legacy technology, so there was an opportunity to develop new ways to use data to show important relationships that stakeholders would find valuable.
While promising, early on Algebraix was a technology in search of a business, Mr. Silver admitted.
Then the blockchain came along and Mr. Silver said he immediately saw an opportunity.
“It worked on so many levels. Technically peer-to-peer decentralization made sense. Cloud computing is just a data centre somewhere else. Big players, bigger data centres elsewhere is not really that disruptive.”
After seeing many central banks go on a money printing tear with no guidelines, the option of a finite amount of currency that is trackable and facilitates detailed record keeping had strong appeal.
While this was developing Google and Facebook continued to make billions off of people’s data. They know our names and email addresses but also our shopping habits, hobbies and political thoughts – in short, the key elements every target marketer wants to know.
But something was still missing, the ability to know when an individual is willing to accept appeals and want to learn more about what advertisers are pitching. Get it wrong and you’re an intruder who just turned off a potential customer.
Blockchain provides the way to always get it right. Algebraix built a platform that allows individuals to conceal their identities and employ smart contracts to control who gets to access their data and why. In exchange for that access they are paid in Algebraix Tokens (ALX), which they can use to pay for services available on the network.
Users interact with network services via their Personal Secure Vault, which contains four key parts. A personal secure data storehouses their private data, which is accessible only through a private key. The owner is the only one that can manage permission for accessing that data.
A mobile and PC device application allows the user to load and manage data from their preferred devices. It also serves as a digital wallet for storing ALX and cryptocurrencies and for sending secure messages and payments to other users.
An anonymized database allows organizations to market products and services to individuals without knowing precisely who they are. Those individuals can accept or decline all requests. The user can also access other blockchain programs and services on the network.
Job one is to scale the audience, Mr. Silver said. People can earn ALX for downloading the Algebraix app, and the more they participate the more they earn.
In order for Algebraix to reach its potential, Mr. Silver knows they will have to educate people about cryptocurrencies, their advantages and their uses. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are in the news more often, companies can help their case by producing explainer videos to guide the curious.
Algebraix doesn’t have to reach everybody either, Mr. Silver said. Much like the stock market, where thousands of companies are listed, most people will only know about a small fraction of them.
Building on this, Mr. Silver sees a future where different ecosystems evolve for coins related to insurance, real estate and different commercial activities. If salespeople want to pitch you they can offer tokens. Entertainment producers give you tokens to watch trailers.
“I’ve been in permission-based marketing for 25 years, and cryptocurrencies make it possible for people to earn rewards for trying different services,” Mr. Silver said. “The bigger the audience, the more advertisers are attracted and the more cryptocurrency is circulated. That draws more advertisers and a larger audience. It feeds itself.”
Cryptocurrencies are also a more responsible method than many government-backed currencies that have seen their value eroded through inflation.
“With a well-managed cryptocurrency you can control how many are created and can keep records with a managed inflation rate,” Mr. Silver said. “Every transaction has a digital record.
“What do you trust more?”