How Crypto is going mainstream in Miami and the role Facebook will play.

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In this first episode of Bridging Crypto — an experiment in infotainment, Alejo Pinto, our Chief Growth Officer explores how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are going mainstream in Miami as well as how NFTs have the potential to gain mainstream adoption through Facebook. 👇👇👇

Alejandro Pinto — Pontem Network Chief Growth Officer

I’m in Miami today seeing friends and family and I’ve been thinking a lot about my own upbringing as an immigrant from Colombia to this country, and the wealth disparity I’ve had the opportunity to experience first hand. I am lucky to have both friends and family along the full socioeconomic spectrum. This has led me to truly believe that crypto will be the bridge to democratizing finance and finally achieving financial inclusion and socioeconomic parity globally.

A little example, example… Even though I came down to visit friends in South Beach, I am a frugal traveler, so I stayed at a small motel on the north side of the bridge. Those that have ever driven north from Miami can attest to the economic disparity that one bridge can create between a city. And I see this replicated across Florida in my hometown and neighboring towns. I often do this to humble myself of the privilege that I am often blind to.

What truly gave me hope was a conversation I had with the owner of a small food mart across the street from where I was staying. I noticed a Bitcoin ATM at the store… so I asked the attendant how popular it was. He mentioned that it was now way more popular than the gold jewelry prominently displayed next to the ATM. If we view gold in these lower socioeconomic neighborhoods as a store of value and hedge against inflationary cash (this is attested to by anecdote), then it is promising to hear anecdotally that digital gold is now winning in this North Miami bodega.

The scalability of this tech means that all crypto, including NFTs, will soon be available at a convenience store near you…

But how do we get there?

Even though non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs, are now gaining popularity and selling for millions of dollars a piece, there are still high barriers of adoption for mainstream communities like those in north Miami.

So how can massive and micro influencers and creators benefit from NFTs? There are still massive barriers to entry from high fee costs on ethereum (at one point last week it cost over $60 just to mint an NFT on ether) to low transaction throughput (leading to slow txs). In my opinion, the highest barrier to entry is the paradigm shift of crypto itself and the UX for managing it. Loss of funds is a very tangible reality for most new entrants not fully understanding how it works. And the plethora of steps needed to actually buy an NFT confidently without being scammed or losing your money will not go away soon unless we bridge this gap between web 2 and web 3.

We believe that Facebook’s Diem project (previously Libra), alongside Pontem, will be this bridge for mainstream communities to easily benefit from crypto.

Facebook and its ecosystem of apps, including IG and WhatsApp, will allow users to adopt crypto without intermediaries like payment processors and web hosting services. Small creators making a living from art currently have to pay high costs to centralized platforms like Etsy for hosting and Stripe for payment processing. With crypto not only will these fees go down to relatively negligible costs, but creators will now be able to unleash their imaginations with the full programmable potential of crypto. As a use case of this, creators can now program perpetual fees to come from each sale of their work. Beeple earned not only a few on the original $69M auction, but also will receive a percentage of the proceeds from any future sale of his work.

Gary V is selling access tokens to democratize time with his followers. He’s offering unique experiences ranging from courtside basketball seats to structured mentorships.

Karmen del Toto recently sold one NFT granting exclusive access to a private gallery of images for 1.9 Ethereum.

These are only a few of infinite use cases that crypto gives creators through programmable non-fungible tokens.

I believe that in order to democratize access to these functions, we will need to bridge crypto in web 3 with web 2 apps like Facebook, where 2.7 billion users digitally live.

By providing a public permissionless island for innovation within Facebook’s Diem open sea, Pontem will connect web 2 with web 3 to drive mainstream adoption and help us achieve our mission of financial inclusion globally through crypto bridges.

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  1. Blockchain fees. Most NFTs are issued on the Ethereum blockchain, where you have to pay for gas. NFT minting involves a complex smart contract and thus requires a lot more gas than simply sending crypto. Plus, the gas has been very expensive in the past few months, so you can expect to pay at least $50–100 in gas fees per NFT collection.
  2. Marketplace fees. While you can issue an NFT on your own, it will be hard to promote it and find buyers. That’s why most creators work with NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible. And while minting NFTs on OpenSea is technically gasless and free, there is a gas fee to initialize a seller account and accept a bid from a buyer — expect to pay around $150 in total. On Rarible, the costs can exceed $600.
  • Facebook has almost 3 billion monthly active users, giving Diem the largest potential audience of any blockchain project on earth;
  • The stablecoin will probably get integrated into transactions on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp (shopping, paying for ads, sending money to friends etc.);
  • Facebook can afford to hire the best developers and marketers, so the execution and promotion will be top-notch;
  • Diem’s programming language, Move, is safe, flexible, and well-suited for writing smart contracts;
  • It should be possible to add third-party dApps to the Diem ecosystem — think of WeChat with its thousands of mini programs, but on blockchain.

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