One of the trends I’m watching is what I call “crypto in a box.” This is the creation of relatively low-cost, pre-packaged, plug-and-play blockchain node devices that consumers can buy and use at home, adding strength and resiliency to crypto networks. Let’s call these manufacturers “crypto OEMs.”
Crypto networks gain their value, in part, from the number of nodes in the network. So anything that cost-effectively increases the number of nodes in a network is a long-term value driver.
I think we’ll see these devices come in three types.
Type 1: For the passionate believers
The first type of “crypto in a box” is already here.
The best example is probably Casa Node. It’s relatively cheap ($300) and with a bit of effort, you can support the growth of the Lightning Network and the future of Bitcoin.
There’s not a ton of ROI in running a node like this. In fact, there’s basically none.
It’s a passion project and an emotional connection, but it’s important for getting the next wave of believers into the network.
Type 2: Faster developer on-ramping
It will be immensely valuable for developers who are intrigued by a project but don’t want to spend hours configuring their own node before they start building and testing apps.
I could see a scenario where projects partner with Avado to create co-branded devices. Developers can either buy them outright or possibly get a rebate (in network tokens) after having met some milestone.
I’ve already suggested that to the Avado team, so we’ll see what happens!
Currently you can only buy an Avado device with the DAI stablecoin.
Type 3: ROI for home consumers
A third type of preconfigured device will target mainstream consumers, and it will promise ROI. One early example of this is Coinmine.
The Coinmine device gives people a plug-and-play way to participate in proof-of-work mining protocols like Ethereum, Monero, and Zcash. You pick the one you want to mine and can move between them with an app on your phone. I’ve pre-ordered one but haven’t received it yet, so I can’t speak to how well it works yet or any type of ROI, but conceptually it is there.
As prices for these devices come down, I expect we’ll see more of them in the future. Obvious candidates include Gladius, which seeks to leverage unused home bandwidth to prevent DDoS attacks and build out CDNs, OpenGarden (mesh WiFi), or Althea (decentralized community-based ISP). Storage networks like Storj, Sia, and FileCoin could also make sense.
Crypto OEMs will drive network growth
There are not enough qualified software engineers and technical enthusiasts out there necessary to build the decentralized infrastructure that Web 3.0 is going to require. While many project teams are making things easier by moving away from relying solely on Python libraries and creating installers for Mac and Windows, those teams need to focus on functionality, protocol security, and governance in addition to node growth.
The emergence of “crypto OEMs” could fill an important part of the value chain in the bootstrap phase of these early networks. When consumers have an easy-to-install — and profitable — way to monetize, the value of the networks will grow, as will the number of evangelists and token holders. Ultimately, this will be a good thing for the underlying solution.
Jeremy Epstein is CEO of Never Stop Marketing and author of The CMO Primer for the Blockchain World. He currently works with startups in the blockchain and decentralization space, including OpenBazaar, Zcash, ARK, Gladius, Peer Mountain and DAOstack.