Blood diamonds are bullshit (sorry, Marilyn). And regular rings get lost. However, the enterprising team at the BTC Ring has come up with a cool new way to have your ring, but store - and increase - its value remotely. The ring itself can be printed out in silver (or even plastic!) and then its value gets added via the Blockchain.
The block chain is like a public ledger in which any transactions using the online payment system Bitcoin are recorded and verified. The beauty of this system, designed in 2008 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, is that an intermediary, like a meddlesome government, isn't needed. Rather, users transact directly peer-to-peer, with the back and forth flow of this decentralized digital currency reflected in the blockchain, which - just like any currency such as Dollars, Euro, or Rubles - has its own eponymous unit of account, also called the bitcoin. (image)
The way the Bitcoin system is designed, the maximum possible number of bitcoins is capped at 21 million, a figure which was hardwired into the protocol. Currently, according to the Bitcoin Price Index, there are around 14 million bitcoins in circulation trading at just over $236/bitcoin (or BTX). The remaining 7 million bitcoins will emerge from being mined, meaning when someone's computer undertakes the 1,789,546,951.05 attempts (or so) necessary to find the key and crack the code which opens the "padlock" protecting the blockchain. As a reward, the successful miner receives 25 newly generated bitcoins. However, starting in 2017, only 12.5 new bitcoins will issued, and four years later, the bounty will be halved yet again. If the current rate of bitcoin creation stays the same, it will take until around 2140 to mine the final bitcoin.
The BTC ring derives the majority of its value from the Blockchain, which is recorded in a 3D-printed version of a QR code: that distinctive square of machine-readable Quick Response code used for storing URLs or other information which is "read" using the camera on a smartphone. (In the case of the BTC ring, reading its QR is how to find out its value.)
As cryptocurrency already comes with a distinctive whiff of shadiness, the savvy BTC ring-giver will also be sure to inscribe the blockchain. Inscriptions, of course, make any gift more sentimental, but blockchain-inscriptions like "Bob Loves Alice" ensures that, say, Cindy isn't getting Alice's sloppy seconds.
This ring reflects two trends: an interesting update on one that's quite old and one that's new. First, the new. The way this ring has detached the physical design from its value mirrors a society-wide trend away from ownership of things in favor of using them. It has manifested in everything from Netflixing something on demand, rather than physically owning a copy of the movie, to renting a car just for when you need one a la Zipcar and Car2Go - Uber is even hatching plans to replace car ownership altogether.
And now, the old: keeping your wealth on you by wearing it. This practice of portable insurance goes way back. However, the way the BTC ring has uncoupled the value from the physical design is what I think makes it so timely. "Just because something has value doesn't mean that all should be lost when the physical ring is misplaced," notes the team at BTC Ring, adding that as you make more money, you can not only upgrade the value of the ring but even print it out in a different style - no trips to the jeweler required."Don't store your value in a rock," they add, "store it in a block!"
- Lesley Scott
Actively embracing the future - from technology to traditional gender roles - with a desire to make it fashionable and timely is a signature of the Futurenetic Fashion Tribe. For more of my posts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.