Revolt against the 30 per cent middlemen

October 18, 2020
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The last decades have cut out some middlemen but created new ones.

Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber are familiar names now but they did not exist before the Internet. Apple is fighting in court against the revolt of Epic, Spotify and others who consider the 30 per cent App Store fee too hefty and unreasonable.

There is a multitude of examples of digital rent-seekers who were bringing us benefits when we converted from the old analogue world to the digital era. Now, the centralisation and consolidation have progressed to the point that the new rebels are the old guard.

While reading Out of the Ether and the early history of Ethereum it reminded me of the decentralisation basics that have been brewing for so long. The work is not done yet. There’re more middlemen to cut and the centralisation and consolidation of power are nowhere near finished. It has just shifted and shaped to other formats.

As the early Bitcoin enthusiast discovered the limits of Bitcoin and started reimaging alternative ways to carry on the mission the 30 per cent (industry standard) fee structure is a big enough business case to target for disruption.

Gradually the technology starts to mature enough that we can block by block shift away from the centralised models. There are so many benefits to give all the power to users directly. It’s evident that this is the direction we are going.

As clear is the counter-force that Johan Norberg illustrates in his latest book. Disruption and innovation are always faced with fierce opposition from the incumbents, elites and others benefiting from the status quo.

It is over ten years ago when Satoshi dropped his anarchist Zero-to-One style revolution that did not ask for permission. I’m wondering when we will see more of this level disruption.

The history is full of leaps that start from people getting fed up with the current ways that are becoming excessive. Education is one of the sectors experiencing this now thanks to Coronavirus and its impact to on-site service provisioning.

What was considered acceptable before has become too much. The subscription-to-everything model is not yet high enough in the fed-up curve but that is a clear trend that will face its counter-force in the future.

The first indications are already laid by Revolut and other payment service providers that make it easy to manage, block and cancel subscriptions with a click of a button. Small monthly streams combine to large flows and when you start to see the overall impact it’s easier to consider alternative options.

This is the eternal cycle of innovation from new to old and new again. What are the ripest industries and business models to reshape in this decade?