NFTs and DAOs — Hype or Next Evolution in Voting?
Bankless Times writer, Khashayar Abbasi, sat down with Finance.vote Founder Dr. Nick Almond to discuss the future of crypto, NFT scams, and the challenges faced by decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Founder and Protocol Leader Dr. Nick Almond
Can you please tell us what Finance.vote aims to achieve?
Dr. Nick: We are a decentralized organization that makes decentralized organizations. One of the things we’re trying to build is called the DAO suite, which is like the Google apps suite but for DAOs.
It has different tools for launching different assets, distributing them from a treasury, treasury management tools and we specifically focus on voting technology. Our belief is that the root of DAOs is democracy. Our tools are heavily focused on voting, governance, and decision-making architecture.
We’ve been around for 14 months now as our token launched in November 2020. We had two tools then and we now have six with more in the pipeline. Our goal for this year is to start using them to launch DAOs.
How did you get into crypto?
Dr. Nick: I was an academic for nearly 20 years. I did three degrees in physics and after completing my Ph.D., I started working as an experimental physicist. I did about 10 years of physics then drifted into education. I was teaching mathematics, and over 10 years, I ended up climbing up the senior ladder in large institutions in the UK. But throughout that period, I had become completely obsessed with DAOs — I realized that blockchains and DAOs were a way of taking huge collaborations online. I’ve been working with dozens of crypto startups for about seven years now. I found a group of people who’ve been on the same path as me and that’s how we are where we are now.
The metaverse is on everyone’s lips at the moment. What is your take?
Dr. Nick: We have just incubated our first DAO, which is called Tribes DAO. The goal of this is to release a Meta DAO, which is a DAO with many DAOs within it. We’re creating an NFT series for tribes within crypto― one for the Bitcoiners, one for DeFi people, and more.
The first one we created is for dog-coiners. We’ve built them a metaverse with a 3D team who are part of our DAO that offers a Play 2 Earn mechanism for the NFTs.
Indeed, we are active in this space and we’ll be creating an open-source digital world, which is controlled by a DAO.
You see, Mark Zuckerberg gets how big this is. This is the opening up of a new digital world that is decentralized. In many ways, it’ll be a new gold rush and it’s my preference that this is done in a Web3 environment where you don’t get your data stolen.
NFTs seem to be a polarising subject. Do you think there are legitimate concerns or are they simply a result of misconceptions?
Dr. Nick: Yes, they are misconceptions that have been weaponized by a small group of people on the internet that have taken a particular dislike to crypto. It’s become this almost propaganda war, where online subcultures have just decided to hate NFTs. There are a number of misconceptions out there, but there is an element of truth to some of their claims.
You can manipulate NFT markets to spoof the prices but there are some markets that are just too big to fake. There is a genuine market there. The people who say it’s all a Ponzi simply don’t get it. There have always been scammers on the internet and so it’s a human problem, not an NFT problem. Perhaps, the best way to solve it is to address those misunderstandings through discussions like this.
What are some hindrances to the mainstream use of DAOs?
Dr. Nick: Technology adoption is a difficult problem that affects all technologies. I’ve seen so many technologies flop because no one uses them. It comes down to whether it’s easy to use and whether you see value in it.
At the moment, crypto is not easy to use and it is confusing. A lot of people think, “I can’t understand that” and they will stay out of it for that reason. But the perceived value is so obvious that it will persuade people to learn about it over time. I believe that we’ll get to this exponential growth phase where everyone starts learning about crypto because they know someone who’s made money from it or they’ve made money from it themselves after someone gifted them an NFT that’s gone up in value.
Many have argued that decentralization is merely a gimmick as a select number of people ultimately control the vision and development of a project. What are your thoughts on this?
Dr. Nick: There’s no such thing as trustless systems as there’s always trust involved somewhere. It’s almost a utopian idea. There are situations where you need to trust a small set of people with ownership of a treasury. The goal is to build systems that will enable that to be anyone. Ultimately, it’s a risk-based problem. Sometimes it’s less risky to have a trusted set of people than to put all our faith in untested code. Indeed, what you can do is diffuse the trust around that by having community members in that group of people.
Ultimately, there’s no such thing as truly end-game decentralization, it’s a continuum.
In DAOs, do those with larger token holdings get more voting power? If so, how is that fair? Does that not skew power and influence towards wealthier members?
Dr. Nick: At the moment, most DAOs are complete plutocracies. We’re in a state where financial decisions rule the decision-making completely. Sometimes it makes sense for it to be that way, but when it comes to more creative decision-making, it doesn’t make sense for someone who simply bought a bunch of the tokens, to suddenly start ruling the roost. That would be a catastrophic problem for DAOs.
That’s why in our system, we have a token weighted layer and an NFT governance layer. And there are also reputation systems where you can change the amount of voting power each NFT has. It’s very early but we are on the road to being able to influence that problem a lot. We may not ever get away from money being a factor, but you can get away from it being the only factor.
We are now seeing plenty of big brands entering the NFT space including Pepsi, McDonalds, Adidas, McLaren, Redbull and perhaps Facebook (Meta). How do you feel about these centralized companies jumping on the decentralization bandwagon?
Dr. Nick: I’m torn on it. I’m a bit too much of a crypto-anarchist to be happy about Pepsi coming along and using crypto-space language. Without a doubt, Facebook will have its own blockchain and NFT marketplace coming out this year. But people in the space don’t want a world run by Facebook—that’s why we’re building this stuff in the first place.
Can these big corporations co-opt this technology to decentralize themselves? Yes, probably. But ultimately I don’t like it.
What are your future plans and products in development for Finance.vote and do you have any exclusive announcements to make here for the first time?
Dr. Nick: Exclusives, yes. As I said, we have six dApps now. We’re two away from what I would consider a full DAO suite.
We have Bank, which is a vesting system that stops people from dumping their tokens into the market but it also allows you to pay up to a million people at once out of a DAO.
We have Auction, a system for launching new tokens. A liquidity mining system called Yield. A prediction market called Markets, a minting suite called Mint and our voting system called Influence.
Proposal and Decision are our next two. Proposal is where we gather all of the proposal formation documents or all the things that come before you get to a vote. These are related to how you make decisions and how you form ideas. As for Decisions, this is the capstone one, which will allow us to do trustless execution related to this.
Of course, we’re also going to launch a cohort of DAOs. We’ll likely start launching these weekly by the end of Q1. We want to work with musicians and artists as well as DeFi projects as we want to build our technology with many groups. We’re ready to start rapidly expanding this year.