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  • Writer's pictureNoel Williams

Time Bank Blockchain: Why Time-Based Currency is the Next Bitcoin?

As time banking continues to trend with mass adoption globally, especially in places such as the USA and New Zealand, its decentralised concept of time-based currencies and the non-physical form of using time credits as a medium of exchange has led to numerous publications looking into whether time-based currencies are the next bitcoin and also suggesting timebanks could work using blockchain tech.

It must be said, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are remarkably similar to time credits, or time-based currencies. That said, there are also some stark contrasts between the two which we will compare in this blog.

By weighing up time-based currencies with cryptocurrencies, we can logically go through a step-by-step process to determine ‘if’ and ‘how’ time-based currency is the next bitcoin as well as look at ways we can tie in time banks with blockchain technology.

Here is what we found during our research:

Similarities of Bitcoin and Time-Based Currencies

It is impressive to see just how similar Bitcoin and time credits are. Below we look at these similarities in an attempt to break down why time-based currencies are comparable to cryptos such as Bitcoin. Plus, if you are new to time banking and time credit or cryptos, the points made below are also a pretty good crash course to help build your understanding of how each concept works.

Alternatives to Fiat Currency: For those of you new to the term ‘fiat currency’, this phrase describes ‘physical’ everyday currencies we use such as US Dollars, UK Sterling, Japanese Yen, and so. Fiats are the long-running standard of exchange that we are all accustomed to. However, tome-based currencies and Bitcoin are alternative ways to ‘pay’ or ‘remunerate’ people or businesses for services.

Intangible Currencies: Both are intangible, or let’s say ‘non-physical’ currencies because neither has a mint that creates them into a physical coin or banknote. They are also an agreeable medium of exchange within their own spheres, and as such cryptos and time credits have value.

Both Use Technology: Now time-based currencies do not necessarily need technology to keep track of time, but it helps. For example, the Nomos app helps to create communities and keep track of the time credit balance for each member within its own community. Bitcoin also uses tech, and would not exist without it as the entire concept of blockchain technology is tied to computer code.

Decentralised: In a way, time-based currencies found on time bank systems are decentralised. Each person within a time banking community owns their time credits. There is no tax and no one central place that governs how many time credits can be issued. Bitcoin is also decentralised so far as there is also no one central authority that controls people’s Bitcoin – once you buy Bitcoins and the BTC is in your crypto wallet, then you own it and no one else can dispute that fact!

Social Element: Timebanks bring communities together and Bitcoin brings investment groups together. Now, this is a very loose similarity because time banks bring communities together face-to-face via apps or social media. Bitcoin also brings groups together via social platforms, but the relationship between individuals is generally a virtual one. Fiats also bring people together in similar groups such as FX trading, investment groups, and charity fund-raising events.

Key Differences Between Bitcoin and Time-Based Currencies

Of course, there are plenty of differences between time-based currencies and Bitcoin. Although both concepts look incredibly similar, there are some glaring dissimilarities that separate the two.

History: The concept of time banking dates back to the 19th Century. Yet, Bitcoin is a brand new concept that barely has a decade in making under its belt.

Valuation: Time-based currencies do not fluctuate in value because the idea is to create social equilibrium. Bitcoin on the other hand is a highly volatile currency that can fluctuate in value. It can drop as much as 50% or gain as much as 100% in value ay any given time.

Investment: Bitcoin is on the world global financial platform, as is a tradable asset for investors. As it has a monetary value, this is a key factor why time-based currencies and Bitcoin are very different. Time-based currencies are not on the global stage and managed within time banking communities.

Supply: Bitcoin, although not fully mined, has a cap on how many will eventually come into circulation. On the other hand, time-based currencies have no limit. A time banking community can generate as many time credits as needed, give them away free using rewards systems that encourage people to use time banking, and because of this, there is no cap.

Ethics: Although using BTC is not unethical, investment is purely for financial gain and personal wealth. On the other hand, time credits within a time banking community are awarded for community spirit and is not about financial gain.

Local Economy: Bitcoin is so widespread that it does not benefit a single community as the Bitcoin community if we count someone holding Bitcoin as a community member, is global. On the other hand, time banks are localised groups.

Community members use time credits to exchange time for hours spent on a job. This creates tight communities that bring people together. What’s more is a stronger community created via a time bank improves the local economy, while it does not matter how strong Bitcoin becomes, it will only benefit a select few.

“Keynote: Just to be clear. We are explaining the difference using time-based currency used within the concept of time banking. There are plenty of other examples of how time as a currency works, such as an hour for an hour swapped with a work colleague to cover a shift. However, swapping hours at work or shifts is not something that is specifically tracked as a currency as such while time credits are specifically tracked and each ‘credit’ we are assuming is a currency in our comparison.

Time Bank Blockchain

The idea of a time bank blockchain is not one that is as far fetched as many would think. Those that understand how blockchain technology works will already know that there is every possibility that a blockchain start up could create a time bank solution. For those of you new to the concept of blockchain tech, to understand why a time bank blockchain solution is possible, you will need a very quick crash course.

Blockchain Ecosystems Using Cryptos as a Solution Based Technology

Now the first thing to understand is that blockchain tech is not tied to cryptocurrencies, and in fact, it is quite the reverse because cryptos rely on the blockchain technology they reside. This is because blockchain ecosystems are solution-based by nature, and any cryptos as a result of the creation of a blockchain ecosystem are simply a by-product of the solution.

A blockchain start-up that has a cryptocurrency tied to it is much like a publicly floated company on the Tokyo, New York, or London stock exchanges. Now the short version is that the PLC company has a funding round and sells shares to public investors which are investment firms and people like you or me. The company now has an injection of capital and the idea is to turn the business's idea into profit by making its ‘solution’ or ‘idea’ a profitable one. For example, Apple, Netflix, Intel, and AMD are all examples of PLCs with successful solutions.

In the crypto theatre, ICOs (Initial Cash Offerings) are effectively the same as a PLC. They sell cryptocurrencies as their form of shares, and so the value of crypto is weighed against the value of the blockchain start-up firm and the success of its solution.

Although this is oversimplified, this is how cryptos are born.

Blockchain Ecosystems That Do Not Use Cryptos as a Solution Based Technology

Now not every company behind a blockchain solution uses a cryptocurrency. Large firms such as Microsoft, Mastercard, and IBM are already creating blockchain solutions without the need for a cryptocurrency. These firms are already big enough that they do not need crypto attached to the success of their blockchain ecosystem.

Let’s take IBM’s ‘Food Trust’ solution, for example. It is a blockchain solution tracking food from the source all the way to the shelves in your local supermarket. It means you can know instantly where it came from down to the exact farm, whether it is organic, and that it used ethical trade deals and supply chain routes to get from the source to your cupboards or refrigerator!

It is a solution that is evolving to create a more sustainable food ecosystem as well as stamp out corruption and unethical practises within the world food ecosystem. Companies such as Walmart are already using this tech! Check it out here because it is an amazing concept and fully falls in line with the ethical concept tied to time banking–more information about IBM Food Trust!

Timebank Blockchain Ecosystem

By now you understand the concept of blockchain tech. It is a new technology that offers solutions and is popular because it is an alternative way to share data across multiple nodes. Some of its advantages include the fact that it is fault resilient, and data/actions recorded on the system are immutable i.e. there is no way to delete them and so accountability or the ability to track back is a key feature.

It is also fast, reliable, and fully encrypted. These are just a few reasons blockchain tech is replacing traditional IT systems and solutions. One of the primary reasons it is popular is because blockchain tech is so flexible. Companies can use it to create almost any solution and there is no reason there will not be a time bank blockchain ecosystem in the future.

Mobile TimeBank Dapps: Not only can a web-based time bank ecosystem come into play, the use of Dapps (decentralised apps) is also popular. These apps are mobile applications that connect to blockchain ecosystems over the internet. Again, a trait of time banks and bringing communities together is the use of time bank apps. Bringing the apps into a decentralized solution-based technology is more than easily possible.

On top of this, instead of designing an app for iOS, Android, Windows, the Dapps being designed are now mobile browser compatible. The browser connects users to the World Wide Web’s traditional DNS system to bring up the app log in. Once logged in, the front end will pull/push data by connecting to the blockchain ecosystem using the browser as an app to access to the blockchain architecture.

Types of Time Bank Dapps Possible:

  • Mobile blockchain TimeBank Dapps

  • Browser-based TimeBank Dapps

Timebank features: Tracking time, communities, jobs, statistics for each time bank community, and time bank communities as a whole would be easy. Everything would be recorded to a public ledger, and each record is immutable. People could use wallets similar to crypto wallets used now to store BTC.

Features of a Timebank Recorded on a Blockchain Ecosystem Ledger:

  • Time tracking

  • Time credit ownership

  • Completed jobs

  • Timebank community stats

Possible issues: Timebanks on a blockchain ecosystem means that the traditional 2-key encryption will be in place. The public key will be the one people can transfer credits to while the private key is one that will need keeping safe. Like cryptos, if the private is lost for a time bank community, this could be hugely disruptive while individuals losing their private keys would mean losing their entire ‘time credit’ balance.

Any time bank blockchain ecosystem would need to use a system that would allow community members to easily recover their accounts. For example, Coinbase uses a 12-word phrase, which is a little over the top, so something shorter and memorable would be the solution here.

Solutions needed for a TimeBank Blockchain Solution:

· A straightforward way to recover private keys

· Solutions that do not require a complex private key

How Can Time-Based Currencies Become the Next Bitcoin?

When we look at just how blockchain architectures work, what they can do, and how they are flexible enough to create any solution, then it seems possible that ‘Time-Based’ currencies could become the next Bitcoin if we manipulated a few scenarios that could realistically happen.

Below we look at a few of these possibilities:

Global Crypto: Imagine if there was crypto for time. Let’s call TBC (Time Based Currency). TBC would not have a monetary value attached to it in the same way as BTC (Bitcoin). People could earn TBC via their local timebank but also transfer these credits to other timebank communities.

The value of TBC would be 1 hour and like BTC, the blockchain ecosystem should be able to break it down into smaller segments, like 30 mins, 15 mins and so on. Now, this crypto would be similar to a stable coin in many respects but even better. It's better because its value never fluctuates staying in line with the timebanking concept of social equilibrium, which is effectively an hour for an hour.

Globally Connected Time Banks: Time banks across the globe can connect on a single blockchain ecosystem. The same TBC crypto could become the common currency for all time banks regardless of their location. Members from different time banks and time banks themselves could swap TBC crypto.

Who would this benefit?

  • Digital Nomads—for example, a copywriter in San Francisco may need a designer. TBC crypto could be used to pay a designer in Auckland to provide the copywriter with a graphic. An hour’s design work for 1 TBC. The writer uses TBC he earned helping someone in his local time bank community paint their house.

  • Companies—even companies could get in the act. They could use TBC to pay people to help with sustainability projects to fulfil corporate social responsibility goals. Also, they could use their employees to perform what is like pro-bono work to help with large charity events organized by time bank communities.

  • Globe Trotters—one example of time swapping on the Nomos app is ‘experiences’ time swaps. For example, advertising a tour of a local area using one’s local knowledge to become a tour guide of sorts. If there was a globally connected blockchain time bank using a time bank cryptocurrency, people could pay other members on the same time bank blockchain network for tours when they visit the person offering experience overseas.

Time-based Wallets: Of course, if there is a global time bank currency, then there would need to be a global time bank wallet. This would mean the time banking blockchain ecosystem would effectively be one large global community, all using a dedicated time banking wallet to uphold the principles of time banking by trading an hour of time for an hour of work or servitude.

With this kind of system in place, people could work locally to earn time-based crypto (TBC) and then go online or even overseas and spend their TBC in other communities. This would then create tradable crypto, but as mentioned above, there is no fluctuation!

Is The Link Between Time Banking & Blockchain Tech a Realistic One?

To sum up, we have looked at how time-based currency could well become the next Bitcoin and we also answered whether a time bank blockchain could exist. And the one conclusion we came to was that anything is possible with blockchain technology. We also put forward some ideas on how a time banking based blockchain would work and how it would use a time-based cryptocurrency that could become as big as BTC if people across the globe adopt the concept of time banking.

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