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It´s like banking

posted Mar 31, 2014, 11:38 PM by Ignacio Mas
 [From Savings Revolution blog, April Fool´s Day 2014] 

What is a person’s worth? It used to be about reputation in the community, the loyalty exhibited to friends and employer, the people you could count on in case of need. With increasing development and the broader reach of markets came the need to impersonalize economic transactions, and with that the increasing monetization of most aspects of our lives. Money has become the measure of all things.

With mobile money systems like M-PESA, people now have a tool for measuring up their worth and brandishing their monetary value. Mobile money is helping individuals and societies in developing countries to be more in touch with their economic power, constituting a sort of digital power grid. But the reality is that there isn’t that much juice going over mobile money grids, they are not tapping into enough sources of power. How could that be otherwise, when we are talking about intensely social but cash-poor people?

Teleboomboom, a new mobile money operator in the small tourist-destination island of Phaic Tan, has found a new type of social power that can ride on mobile money grids. It’s very new, very digital and very hip: social media likes. What is the point of accumulating all those Facebook and YouTube likes if you cannot wield them around to get your way and meet your needs? Through Teleboomboom’s Likeabil service, you can convert your digital likeability into hard cash or use it to pay bills, you can share your likes with other less-liked people, and you can store your likes in the same wallet as your hard-earned digital cash.

In a further twist, Teleboomboom has partnered with two banks, Bank Guimmey and Tay-Key Bank, to create an open market for social media likes. People will be able to pawn or sell their likes to these banks, which will then repackage and securitize them into a tradable instrument tentatively code-named Bitlikes. These will function as a more likeable sort of Bitcoins.

The Likeabil concept was developed using a new network-centered design methodology which puts a collectivity rather than individual humans at the center. Its design principles are supported by as many as six empirical studies. R C Tee (243 BC) showed that people treated with dental whitening which made their smiles shine brighter liked to be liked more than people with no smiling aid, and moreover, they went on to earn higher salaries, which in turn made them smile even more, which creates a positive feedback loop. Ana L Isis uncovered six youths in Dodgey, Tasmania, who appear to have given away their lunch boxes to friends who had liked them on Facebook, thereby validating the value of social media status as a global medium of commerce.

With this innovation, relationships will matter again. Friends and neighbors will have reason to meet in groups and help each other, like they have always done, and for the same reason: to gain advantage. The Dale and Dorothy Carnegie Foundation is smiling on the idea: ¨It is so retro, it´s good,¨ said DDCF´s Chief Self Improvement Officer, amiably and confidently, ¨what a nice way of winning friends and influencing people.¨ But he denied that the foundation´s support is designed to drive book sales.

But the concept first needs to meet the approval of regulators. Many frown on the inflationary impact of making friendliness so profitable. ¨You can´t just have anyone liking whoever they like and profiting from that, it´s not like we need to make money any sweeter,¨ said Platt E Toode, of Tough Money, a regulator self-help support group. Some economists ironize that after quantitative easing will come social easing. But a handwave of economists sees the opposite effect: by making it possible to tax monetized likes, the proposal reduces the pressure on central banks to print fiscal deficits away.

This is an issue sure to arouse much interest in the blogosphere. Here´s how the punditry is cutting it up: should you sweat or sweeten your way into money? Which side are you on?

Note: Any fees and likes collected by this post will be donated to the Getagrip Foundation, which distributes desktop calendars with which you can quickly remind yourself of today´s date. 

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