The Monero Konferenco took place in Denver, Colorado last month, drawing some of the brightest minds of the privacy-oriented community. While most of the speakers presented on protocols, secure hardware and decentralization, they also shed light on a Monero (XMR) ecosytem that’s beginning to unfold.
The Monero community is actively expanding its use cases, and new business models are growing from those who are active in the community. Riccardo Spagni, better known as Fluffypony, told Crypto Briefing that the core Monero community “has an interest in progressing the ecosystem, and in building cool things that utilize Monero.”
Some examples of expanding use cases for Monero include Tari, CypherMarket, hardware wallets, even drones designed to stop bullets and mine cryptocurrency in their downtime. In addition, Monero also supports e-commerce and small businesses as well.
The Monero project website dedicates a section to merchants and services that accept and operate within its ecosystem. Some of these companies work in mining equipment, digital marketing, lawn care, SEO consultancy, web hosting, apparel, and portable solar panels, among others.
Expanding reach within the Monero ecosystem
Diego Salazar (aka rehrar) staffed the CypherMarket booth at Konferenco, where he sold apparel and other Monero-related merchandise. Speaking to Crypto Briefing, Salazar noted that free open source software (FOSS) typically doesn’t have great funding models. So, CypherMarkets’ goal is to “make FOSS sustainable.”
The small business’ model involves partnering with different FOSS projects and designing merchandise for the e-commerce store. Then, CypherMarket and the FOSS partner split the proceeds 50/50.
However, Salazar said, “at the moment we’re stuck with idealists that accept Monero.” Something Spagni hopes can shift and expand the perception of the Monero ecosystem with the yet-to-be-determined launch of Tari.
Tari is an open source blockchain protocol, focused on digital assets. The new blockchain, which will be merge-mined with Monero, will be used to trade assets such as tickets, loyalty points, in-game items, and crypto-native assets (i.e., Crypto Kitties). According to Spagni, a built-in non-custodial exchange could offer a platform for future security token offerings (STO).
Monero’s success is at Tari’s core, Spagni said, and he hopes a Monero-based exchange can impact the broader ecosystem and increase the user base. Further, Tari Labs invests in the ecosystem by funding bi-annual Monero Research Labs research workshops, as well as maintaining a fund for the Community Crowdfunding System (CCS).
Beyond internal projects, new enterprise and industrial use-cases have emerged outside the core Monero community. These use-cases highlight how Monero’s privacy and data ownership protocols can benefit both cutting edge and traditional industries.
Potential Use Cases Outside Monero
Astral AR is a company that builds “toaster-sized lifesaving drones” designed to stop bullets and de-escalate potentially fatal conflicts. Drones are deployed in pairs, and Astral AR sells packages of five units at a time. Each unit can act as a spare in case any of the others malfunction.
The company has signed a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and offers a variety of use cases for schools, universities, police, fire, and emergency entities. Leah LaSalla, Astral AR CEO and founder, estimates that 1.9 million units may deploy in the coming years.
The technology that powers drones can even be used to mine cryptocurrency. The drones, LaSalla says, “[are] tiny flying GPUs that are robust and capable of mining cryptocurrency, even though they weren’t designed for it.”
Astral AR projects that drones will be active for only two hours each day. In their downtime, the drones will mine Monero, which will be used to fund device maintenance and operations.
Privacy-oriented technology might also have an impact on the healthcare industry. Amanda Calaveri shared some insights on bringing privacy mainstream, largely stemming from her direct experience working for AARP. In this role, Calaveri noticed that HIPAA standards don’t adequately protect patient data, offer anonymity, or privacy in general.
Current future growth models project that more than 1 billion people in the world will be over the age of 60 by 2030. An ageing population will increasingly require more medical and healthcare services, as well as additional privacy and protection from financial fraud.
To protect the elderly population from third parties selling consumer data, Calaveri believes the answer lies in privacy features of distributed ledger technology. She said, “it’s going to take a lot of creative people to figure this out, but it is possible to anonymize oneself so predatory entities can’t attack vulnerable populations.”
These creative people are the types of individuals who Magic Grants aims to empower, by funding education efforts that apply cryptocurrency towards various disciplines. The program offers undergraduate scholarships, research grants, and infrastructure grants, as well as hosting and participating in educational, scientific, or otherwise academic events.
Leadership of Magic Grants is closely intertwined with the Monero community, as Dr. Goodell and Salazar are both board members. This year, the non-profit seeks to distribute five $1,500 scholarships to eligible students and two $3,000 research grants to “individuals early in their career with great potential to exhibit leadership in both education and research in fields related to cryptocurrency.”
Beyond The Dark Web
Monero is a community that places a high value on privacy. For that reason, some perceive it as nothing but a tool for pseudonymous individuals to hide illicit transactions from Federal watchdogs.
But Konferenco highlighted expanding use cases within and outside of the core Monero community, including those that can benefit law enforcement and legitimate securities offerings. Perhaps the negative stigma can be removed by the companies building products and incorporating new tech into older organizations.