Decentralization is for Everyone

Hi there, my name is Supriya and this is my first post here at the Public Node blog. I ended up writing for Public Node with a backstory that may be familiar to some. Back in 2018, I was working my carpal tunnels into oblivion at a tech company that was happily and fervently designing its own obsoletion. I wrapped up my projects, I burnt through all my paid time off, I cashed out everything I had vested in the company, and I converted and withdrew what I had amassed in cryptocurrency at the time, largely in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Doge (I know, I know) into good old USD.  

However, I didn’t leave the tech world to buy a yacht or a vineyard. My last technical day at work I was in labor with my daughter at the hospital. I took it as a vacation day, because until the kid is actually out of your body, into the world, and confirmed to be alive, it is not a qualifying event to take maternity leave or short term disability. Bull$h*#, right? I thought so, too. And in that hospital bed I thought, why do we submit to a labor system that exploits and deprives us of our most basic human needs, when blockchain technologies offer us the resources to build the exact future we want?

Long story short, the Bitcoin bubble did eventually burst, and I felt relatively okay and self assured about my decision to unload most of it to jump start this new life. Then it turned back up and made a few circles around the moon, where it remains today. Ethereum became a standard, amassing value, but with prohibitive ETH gas fees that make it expensive and difficult to use and exchange functionally. Doge coin left a meme fueled path of destruction and regret, where many “$h*#” coins and short term coin holders seeking quick monetary gains without any real correlation to value have followed. This is where the differences between the aforementioned cryptocurrencies and Stellar blockchain/XLM tokens come in.  

The Stellar network, and its primary token, the Lumen, or XLM, are incredibly stable in the blockchain world. This is because unlike previous tokens that use proof-of-stake or proof-of-work algorithms to validate transactions stored on the blockchain, Stellar uses asset backed tokens. That means tokens associated with the Stellar network are backed with real world value. The easiest way to think about asset backed tokens is to imagine a token with a 1:1 ratio tied to a Fiat currency. In this case, the digital token is a tradeable, decentralized representation of the value of that Fiat currency. This offers an inherent limit, or buffer, to their volatility. This innate stability gave birth (see what I did there?) to the concept of the stablecoin. The terminology does much to describe the meaning of the word– more on that next blog.

The Stellar network also offers a unique, peer-to-peer, decentralized exchange that offers trading of a wide variety of cryptocurrencies without the high fees seen on other exchanges.  This is noteworthy, in that assets can be exchanged fairly effortlessly and seamlessly rather than through some process of conversion. For example, manually converting a country’s standard currency to another would require not only the availability of both physical currencies, but the assistance of a third party banking system.  The third party middle man would then take a fee, reducing the value of the money that is transferred. Through the Stellar DEX (decentralized exchange), there is a unique ability to access and exchange value without having to sacrifice its worth, leveling the playing field for regular people around the world. There isn’t really a comparable system of transferring value in this way at this time. 

Definition Decentralization

Cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and financial decentralization (and decentralization of everything!) are often pointed at as potential great social equalizers. I would argue, not often enough. These technologies truly have the potential to provide anyone with the tools to create and build their own value and acquire assets without the traditional barriers to access we see in everyday society and centralized banking. The technology is there, but what will make this technology accessible to everyone is education. When people know, they can act. When they can act, they can proactively execute change in their lives. So, that’s my motivation in writing here. I know that absolutely anyone can be successful in learning about, investing in, and taking control of their own wealth with the financial freedom provided by cryptocurrency. I also realize that most people who consider themselves blockchain enthusiasts, and most of those that have established some wealth, protection of intellectual property rights, and many of the other incredible opportunities blockchain technology provides do not necessarily look like me. They do not necessarily live a life with any parallels to mine. So, I’m here to say hello, I’m Supriya, I’m a single mom of color trying to keep a toddler alive and well through a pandemic, and I enthusiastically want to share with you my motherhood journey.  Spoiler alert: it’s all going to be about blockchain. And yours can be too!

My goal is to take every step possible to create a more inclusive, truly accessible, decentralized world for everyone.

With its accessibility and asset-backed stability, Stellar and XLM actually deliver on that distant promise of equality and true systemic equity. I personally think that it’s a very exciting time to become involved with something so innovative in the cryptocurrency world. We are at a precipice where the infrastructure is there, but the future is not yet determined. I hope you can learn from me and, moreso, learn with me by following along with this blog. Be your own proof that it is possible to take back control of your finances, and in turn, the direction of your life. My goal is to take every step possible to create a more inclusive, truly accessible, decentralized world for everyone. With blockchain, the opportunity is there for the taking. Come with me, and hopefully you can use what you learn to do the same in your own community, with your own wealth, and in your own world.

A Public Node blog by Supriya