Cryptoeconomics: Understanding It and Its Role In Decentralization
February 19, 2020
Cryptoeconomics: Understanding It and Its Role In Decentralization
February 19, 2020

Cryptoeconomics is the amalgamation of cryptography and economics. Cryptography deals with data security, encryption and safe transfers across different systems and platforms. Cryptoeconomics, on the other hand, deals with protocols defining the distribution, production, and trade of various goods and services within a digital ecosystem.

Cryptoeconomics attempts to solve the participant coordination problems in a digital ecosystem through cryptography and economic incentives. It is essential to consider cryptoeconomics when building decentralized networks as the mechanism provides a way to align participants’ incentives without the need for trusted third parties.

Cryptoeconomics is a mix of game theory, mechanism design, mathematics, and other methodologies from the field of economics. It helps design, develop, and facilitate the operations of decentralized networks.

Making Sense Of Cryptoeconomics

Cryptoeconomics = Cryptography + economics

Cryptoeconomics is the use of economics (through incentives) and cryptography (through encryption) to design a secure system or network with predefined desired properties.

– The cryptography aspect underlying these systems is what allows communications and interactions between peers in the network to be proved and secured.

– The economic incentives defined inside the system encourages all actors to behave in a way that holds desired properties and enables the network to operate smoothly and thrive over time.

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Creating sound cryptoeconomics is both the root and goal for a system in building a robust decentralized network that can prevail and thrive against malicious actors attempting to disrupt the network.

When the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto developed the Bitcoin blockchain and implemented a Proof of Work (PoW) protocol to the system, he/she/they were doing so to secure the network through cryptography and using an incentive system for settlement.

The Proof of Work consensus algorithm, in a nutshell, allows transactions on blockchain to take place. Through it, members of the network with high levels of computing power (miners) prove that a specified amount of work has been completed in order to validate transactions.

Why Is Cryptoeconomics So Fundamental To Decentralized Networks?

Cryptoeconomics enables parties who do not know each other to reach consensus on the state of a blockchain. The elements of cryptoeconomics — cryptography and economic incentives allow the creation of decentralized networks to reach consensus, without the need to rely on a trusted central authority.

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Building sound incentive mechanisms into a decentralized system that has no trusted or central authority is a complex task. The main reason is due to cryptoeconomics attempting to combine the “perfect” world of technically implemented rules with the unpredictable behaviors of human nature.

Aleksandr Bulkin, co-founder of Coinfund said:

“Cryptoeconomics of a token is a hybrid between rules programmatically implemented on a blockchain and the entire world of interactions real human beings have with it.”

Bulkin accurately analyzes the differences between cryptoeconomics and traditional economics. The latter is a product of centuries of research, governance, and observations of social dynamics.

In contrast, designing cryptoeconomics elements of a network demands that most of its characteristics be designed from the beginning. It requires designing predefined rules based on all the possible ways human beings can interact with the system. Accordingly, designing good rules requires understanding and predicting the way humans will interact within a decentralized system.

This is what makes cryptocurrencies harder. We are not used to designing economic structures from the scratch. We are entering a new territory while learning how to fly.

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At the same time, it makes cryptoeconomics to be so essential. If rules are not correctly defined, a decentralized system is bound to collapse and fail. This is where proper mechanism design comes in. Mechanism design is an economics field and game theory focused on designing mechanisms to incentivize or disincentivize behaviors within a system toward desired objectives.

Finishing Thoughts

Even though cryptoeconomics is a relatively new concept that emerged with the advent of Bitcoin. It is a significant building block to consider when designing decentralized networks. 

The different roles of cryptoeconomics model help to analyze costs, incentives, and value flow for each participant group. Cryptoeconomics and the usage of cryptoeconomic models can be highly beneficial during the development of future networks. By studying cryptoeconomic models that were already tried and tested in live environments, future networks can be designed to be more efficient and sustainable, resulting in a more robust ecosystem of decentralized economies.

There is immense potential for cryptoeconomics to develop further given cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy. The perception of trade, money, markets, and even supply/demand could change completely.


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Jafrin Ahmed

Crypto newbie passionate about creating resourceful content on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and decentralized apps.