It looks like a joke to most. But this joke has the potential to turn the entire global financial ecosystem on its head. And nobody will see it coming.
Indeed. This is no ordinary joke.
It’s a story so big, with implications so immense, with significance so stupendous, with ramifications so incredible…
The fact it’s hiding behind a controversial frog meme many Americans (from both wings) believe got Trump elected… is perfect.
I’m talking, of course, about Pepe.
Who is Pepe, you ask?
Pepe, as mentioned, is a frog meme.
He first became popular deep within the bowels of the underbelly of the Internet — on a message board of rabble-rousers called 4chan.
Many 4chan users believe — some jokingly, some certainly not — that Pepe represents an ancient Egyptian god of chaos, KEK, that’s using 4chan as his vessel through what they call “meme magic.”
And, yeah, they say, KEK helped Trump get elected.
(I told you it was bizarre.)
What makes this story even crazier is just how batty the Hillary campaign team went over Pepe, which, of course, only encouraged 4Chan’s belief in the power of KEK.
It seemed as if Team Hillary was bringing Pepe up at every turn — mostly to label it a dangerous symbol of the alt-right.
Courtesy of The Economist…
So triggered were Hillary’s compadres by the green frog, in fact, there’s even an explainer on Clinton’s campaign website, which reads at the top: “That cartoon frog is more sinister than you might realize.”
[It should’ve been clear that the moment the campaign started blaming a frog meme for its problems Hillary’s campaign was over. Hindsight = 20-20.]
Conjuring up the Streisand Effect, the Anti-Defamation League then classified Pepe as a hate symbol. And the cards Pepe fans were making and trading — called Rare Pepe — as hate speech.
“But through the power of the blockchain,” Theo Goodman, a Rare Pepe Foundation member, told Bitcoin magazine, “[the Pepe cards] are immutable. So we are able to have our free speech as we want.”
Enter the Rare Pepe project…
Enter Rare Pepe…
Put simply, the Rare Pepe project allows Pepe fans to trade collectible trading cards using blockchain technology and Counterparty cryptocurrency (XCP).
But make no mistake. Although the project is crass, weird and unsightly at times, it’s one of the most innovative projects on the Internet.
Each Rare Pepe card is a finite digital asset that’s stored on a permissionless, decentralized, immutable and incorruptible ledger system. This allows individuals to trade these digital Pepe assets with one another without the need for a middleman.
The Rare Pepe project utilizes crowdsourcing, P2P tech, blockchain tech, decentralized cryptocurrencies and loads of human ingenuity to create its own private, anonymous, censorship-resistant economy.
(If you can’t see it yet, this has huge implications for the fintech world.)
Yesterday, I had a conversation with the Rare Pepe crowd — a marauding flock of Pepe digital card collectors and producers — on their Telegram page.
Here’s what I learned.
What is Rare Pepe?
First things first. The Rare Pepe group wants to make clear they don’t represent the alt-right.
“I’m the lead game dev,” John Villar told us. “I’m a latino-hispanic Venezuelan. And all of the team is pretty much NOT alt-right.”
Neither, they say, is Pepe.
“Pepe is a mirror,” another member, Scrilla Ventura, said. This means, according to another member, Buddha, Pepe is a “blank template — reflects what you putin (sic?) on it.”
And what about Rare Pepe?
“Rare Pepe,” another member, Bench, said, “represents the first crowd sourced project in publishing digital art in a manner where content creators can sell tokens associated with their content, certified on the blockchain.”
Each card, you see, is tied to a specific token on the blockchain. And, to make the Pepes rare, creators (which can be anyone) have the power to issue a finite number of tokens for each card.
For example, I purchased this Friedrich von Pepe card (I couldn’t help it), of which there are only 101 such cards verifiable on the blockchain.
This is where it gets interesting.
“Though the cards may be trivial in nature,” Corin Faife writes in Vice magazine, “genuine scarcity plus a desire to collect translates into real world value. Built into the wallet is a mechanism for placing buy/sell orders, fulfilled through XCP or Pepecash (the “currency of the Pepesphere”), both cryptocurrencies which can be traded on exchanges for bitcoins or dollars.
“They cannot be faked, don’t get damaged like paper cards and are easily transferable and tradable. Simply put, blockchain technology combines the best of both physical and digital collection attributes and digital assets on the blockchain are more attractive collector items than the off blockchain digital counterparts because of this. The fact that Satoshicard, one of the rarest SoG cards on the blockchain, has been sold for more than 6 bitcoins even before the full launch is one piece of evidence supporting this hypothesis.”
Pepe Murders the Middleman
“The rare pepe project,” said Buddha, “brings decentralization to the art world. I think this is very important. Twenty years ago, musicians had to be signed to a label, preferably a major label to get their music heard and to finance the making of that music. The art world is still a centralized world but Rare Pepe is the start of a major change. In the near future, artists will not have to court gallery owners and so on. The game changer to me is that artists will be able to fund their art through the blockchain. After all, artists just want to make art.
“I think the blockchain will open the door, widen the onramp for future artists. Instead of getting their art into a local gallery, blockchain artists are exposed to a world wide audience from the start.”
Also cause most of them are dank af.”
But, of course, this could go well beyond just the art world…
Permissionless, scarce, immutable, private and decentralized digital assets have the potential to flatten financial (and, by proxy, political) power structures in ways impossible in the past.
A decentralized ledger of ownership, tied to digital or even real-world assets, could change every aspect of the way we do business — by keeping business honest, efficient and cutting the meddling middlemen out completely.
One company leading the way in this revolution, which is, as mentioned, the technology Rare Pepe uses for its cards, is Counterparty.
With Counterparty, anyone has the ability to create digital assets, conduct a crowdfunding campaign by selling those assets, issue dividends to investors and even create “proxy tokens” tied to real-world assets like commodities or foreign currencies.
To learn more about Counterparty, check out the Counterparty team explain below why the world needs its tech.
Why Counterparty is Needed
Modern finance is based around the concept of a trusted third-party middleman, who brokers deals on behalf of two or more parties. This worked well in days past, where such arrangements were simpler and financial technology less developed. However, in today’s age of financialization, globalization, and excess centralization of power, these frameworks are beginning to break down.
The crisis of 2008 was a warning call to the world about the dangers surrounding the excess concentration of power, privilege and money to too few. Still, very little has been done as a response:
Complex financial derivatives continue to be created and rehypotheticated, further entangling the system in a web of excess leverage and trust requirements. Egregious practices such as market scalping, naked short selling, and blatant manipulation of market rates such as Libor and the Gold fix continue to take place in one form or another. And, countries the world over engage in extensive quantitative easing (“money printing”) policies meant largely to plug the gap created from years of debt-based phantom growth and the destruction wrought by harmful financial products and practices.
This would be one thing if it only affected those who chose to take the risks and commit these actions. However this is not the case. We are all pulled into these games, as witnessed via the shrinking size and health of the middle class in many countries, the growing sting of inflation surrounding numerous consumer prices, and the stark rise in enrollment for government assistance programs as the gap between rich and poor continues to rise. This crisis demands action, yet our politicians and mainstream finance industry seem either incapable or unwilling to to anything, and more often than not are just making what is quickly becoming an intractable situation even worse.
As the world evolves and becomes more interconnected, the structures and systems we use at the heart of finance and governance must also evolve. Technology itself has arguably enabled many of these issues, through magnifying the impact of human shortsightedness and greed. However, properly conceived and deployed, technology can also provide the solution. Built on the revolutionary peer-to-peer blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin, Counterparty provides decentralized financial markets and instruments, intended to help solve these issues at hand.
Through the use of the Counterparty platform, the immense computer network powering the Bitcoin blockchain itself takes the role as the trusted third party in trades. Excess leverage and trust requirements are then eliminated as math and cryptography replace failable human logic and greed. Finance can continue to evolve to suit the demands of a global economy, but this time with built-in protections that prevent the system itself from being gamed by those in positions of power or influence.
This is the purpose behind Counterparty, and we offer the vision of a better tomorrow, founded on the basis of truly free and fair markets.
[Ed. note: This article originally appeared on Counterparty’s website right here.]