Nowhere is the promise and peculiarity of the blockchain economy spelled out as clearly as in the white paper, the prominently posted document that often mixes economic theory and technological jargon to explain how a new venture will disrupt or transform a particular market. Like jumping from start-up to start-up in Silicon Valley, white papers have become de rigueur for blockchain projects to be considered seriously.

The mainstream media has made considerable coin of its own mocking Cryptokitties and other blockchain-powered proposals that, on the surface, may seem less than paradigm shifting. “Blockchain is a solution looking for a problem” is a phrase that’s been uttered so many times by CEOs, researchers and pundits that it’s become fodder for countless memes.

White papers take a stab at describing the solution and the problem their companies are trying to address. Yet, there’s often more than a kernel of truth about what makes the blockchain economy tick in even the most relentlessly optimistic, offbeat proposal. As we’ll see by wading into the jargon-heavy language in the examples below, one person’s celebrity collectible is another’s crack-proof crypto asset. Requiring tokens to swipe right for the perfect love match can leverage behavioral economics as much as the blockchain. A chili-powered coin may help democratize investing for small investors. Blockchain raises fundamental economic issues.

CEEK’s Celebrity Coin Cast 

What it is: A developer of virtual reality experiences is offering celebrities who may be considering the tempting but risky option of creating their own ICOs the option of creating specially branded tokens for virtual collectibles as part of a larger virtual reality-based ecosystem for creators and artists.

Blockchain-friendly quote: “Celebrity-minted coins and virtual merchandise items take on the traits of cryptocurrency as each are assigned their own Ethereum (ETH) address, therefore offering fans the ability to cash in by owning rare items that can gain in value very quickly in virtual reality.”

What might work: The ongoing Cryptokitties phenomenon has shown that rare digital items can be stored and traded on the blockchain, so the idea has precedent. CEEK’s existing VR business is a working technology that has partnerships with music industry heavy hitters and major retailers, and the space is only expected to grow. CEEK’s forthcoming blockchain-based token represents a much larger ecosystem geared at helping artists and labels find additional revenue streams for live events.

What might not: Will an artist’s “autograph” on “virtual album covers that apply special crypotgraphic token signatures that are unique and cannot be duplicated” hold value in the same way that, say, a signed guitar pick might?

Jargon overload: If Lady Gaga issues a custom VIP virtual ticket for private-party access to an exclusive event, the market demand for this event according to the total supply will dictate the ticket price and inherent value inside of CEEK VR.”

Truth in advertising: “Lady Gaga is used for illustration purposes only. No endorsement of the Celeb Coin Cast has been made or implied.”

Superdatecoin 

What it is: An online dating site in which users can require potential suitors to stake tokens in order to reach out to them.

Blockchain-friendly quote: Emotional investment is an investment.”

What might work: In an era with unlimited opportunities to swipe right or left on dating apps, a financial requirement could be the ultimate proof of stake in matters of the heart.

What might not: Flowers remain a credible real-world proof of stake. And even in a far-away future where fiat currency is obsolete, it still might be embarrassing to tell your grandchildren you met your significant other on a site called Superdatecoin.

Jargon overload: “By allowing users to differentiate between ‘costless’ engagement attempts and ‘cost assigned’ engagement attempts, users will be able to differentiate between a fully vested user versus one that could potentially be spamming for engagement.”

Truth in Advertising: As befits a dating site, Superdatecoin calls its white paper a “teaser.”

Agrocoin 

What it is: A cryptocurrency backed by habanero chilis — literally. Each coin represents the production output of one square meter of a Mexican company’s hydroponic farming operations in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Blockchain-friendly quote: Agrocoin was born with the idea of offering the small investor a viable vehicle to participate in a proven productive model with excellent results…backed by productive and tangible assets which guarantee a base price value.”

What might work: At 500 Mexican pesos (about $27) a coin, the currency is targeted at small investors and can be bought directly from Agrocoin’s website. Parent company Amar Hidroponia’s site and Agrocoin’s marketing efforts are primarily in Spanish, targeting a domestic market, not miners.

What might not: April 17 was “Agrocoin Day” but it’s still too early to see if the model will ultimately bear fruit.

Jargon overload: “The growing demand of habanero chiles in the United States, the contraction of the production of chiles in Caribbean countries and the exchange rate were key factors for the better behavior of habanero prices at the international level.”

Truth in advertising: “Agrocoin is an innovative investment model and doubts are common.”

Mark Toner
Mark Toner is a Washington, D.C., writer and editor. He has covered business, technology, media, education, and healthcare for a wide range of trade and industry publications.