Tokenizing Everything, even People. Are you ready?

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We are at the dawn of a new age, with tokens. From art to buildings, to the way we invest in assets, tokenization is changing everything. The new “token economy” promises to change how we create and distribute value. Asset tokenization is disrupting finance and several other industries, breaking up ownership into fractional stakes that can be owned by multiple parties. This new ecosystem is already taking us in directions we can’t even imagine. Over the past few months, an area that’s been emerging, is the “personal token’. A personal token is a way to tokenize yourself, by creating a token on a blockchain that assigns a value to your personal reputation. A personal token is a digital currency that is issued by an individual to effectively borrow against his/her own future. While still a fairly niche sector within crypto, platforms are emerging that allow individuals to create their own tokens and leverage smart contracts to provide token holders with an array of value propositions.

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com.

In recent months, we’ve seen a growing trend around personal tokens, that are also known as social currencies. With smart contracts and platforms like Roll, people can tokenize themselves and offer investors a piece of their future upside.

In April, Alex Masmej conducted a personal token sale of 1 million $ALEX tokens, raising a total of $20,000. In a Medium post announcing the sale, Alex wrote that $ALEX token holders will receive pro-rata distributions of 15% of his income over the next 3 years, paid quarterly. They will also receive some other benefits: an hour of his time, an introduction to someone within his network, a shout-out on social media, and the ability to vote on certain personal or professional decisions in Alex’s life. The $ALEX token is an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, that is tradable on Uniswap.

The $20,000 raised from Alex’s personal token sale will be used for his move to San Francisco, where he plans to launch a startup in the fintech and decentralized finance (DeFi) space. He’s already released his first shareholder report, giving participants access to a shareholder-only retrospective of his progress since the offering was conducted.

Below you can watch an interview Alex gave to Layer1, discussing more about the $ALEX token sale.

But the $ALEX token is in good company.

In January, Spencer Dinwiddie, a Brooklyn Nets player, tokenized his NBA contract. He’s agreed to sell digital tokens representing income rights to a portion of his $35.4 million NBA contract. Investors will receive a 4.95% monthly return, with the full principal paid off at maturity, while Dinwiddie receives $13.5M of his 3-year contract up-front. Dinwiddie is also planning to tie other benefits for token holders, like bringing them to the All-Star Weekend.

Matthew Vernon, also known as dApp Boi, is a talented designer that created 100 $BOI tokens representing 100 hours of his time. These tokens could be redeemed on anything from UI/UX design to prototyping to brand design.

Pet3r Pan, the cofounder of MetaCartel and MetaCartel Ventures launched the $MAGIC token, representing 120 hours of his time.

Pet3r took a more grassroots approach, creating $MAGIC with the ERC20 Token Generator and starting his own Uniswap pool independently.

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Rapper Akon is launching the cryptocurrency, Akoin, that will power “Akon City” in West Africa. Also rapper RedFoo is working with TokenStars on his personal token. He wants fans to be able to help him in different ways, but also to become a more transparent for advertisers and companies interested in working with him.

To help people easily create their tokens, several platforms have come to the forefront. TokenStars is a platform that tokenizes athletes and other stars, basing the value of the token on the victories of tennis players registered on the site. Personal Tokens is another innovative platform where you can easily verify and tokenize yourself.

Roll raised a $1.7 million to help content creators monetize relationships with their fans. The seed round was led by Arthur Hayes, the CEO of BitMEX. Other investors include Gary Vaynerchuk, Techstars Ventures, Hustle Fund and Techstars NYC.

The revenue that social networks make from our content is testament that our interactions have extraordinary value. Branded social currencies created and owned by an individual, offer a way to monetize these social interactions.

Roll gives each issuer their own unique token and the ability to form their own unique crypto-economy. For people that hold and use these tokens there is a direct incentive to support the issuer, either by engaging in market opportunities offered by the issuer or by hodling the asset as a long-term, investment and “betting” that the services offered by the issuer will increase in demand, thus the token will become more valuable over time.

But personal tokens, also raise a lot of questions when it comes to practicality, scalability, and legality. Personal tokens come with an extremely high degree of risk.

Income Share Agreements (ISAs) are a very new and controversial. They have become more known with the growth of Lambda School’s ISA-based tuition model and others. An Income Share Agreement is an agreement between a student and their school. The student agrees to borrow money from the university to fund their education. In exchange, students agree to pay the university a percentage of their salary after graduation for years to come. On one hand, ISAs allow for new possibilities in personal finance, education, and personal fundraising, yet on the other hand, some argue that such arrangements are controversial because the student is betting against himself or herself.

There’s no denying that many of these tokens are securities, that need to follow strict guidelines before they can go live. A personal token gives people a new way to support an issuer. Instead of just sending a donation to existing crowdfunding platforms like kickstarter, they can invest in their work by buying their token.

At the end of the day, a token holder is relying on the issuer’s promise to provide services when they redeem the token. While there’s no easy way to enforce this promise, its far more unlikely that most issuers will sacrifice their reputation and future career for such a small amount sum of money.

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