Millennials welcome new industry dynamics, but they have their own motivations for supporting the ascendancy of open-source, decentralized blockchains, many of which are unique to trends common for their generation. Regardless of the reasons for their backing, millennials are indisputably crucial to the survival of blockchains. Now the largest population on Earth, millennials also enjoy more collective buying power than any other group, with $200 billion in discretionary income in 2017 expected to increase significantly this year. More so than their financial support of blockchain solutions, decentralized ledger technology also speaks to millennial values. While some of their motives for loving blockchain technology are shared with peers, there are additional reasons blockchains cater to millennial tastes over any other audience.
Disenfranchisement by the System
A generation that bears the burden of their predecessors’ financial mishaps, there is significant evidence showing that millennials are poorer than their parents were at the same age. With historically low wage growth and unrelenting inflation, this specific constituency is largely bereft of shelter in one of the biggest financial squalls of all time. Alongside student loan debts of almost $1.5 trillion in the United States alone, many millennials have largely given up hope of a healthy financial future.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies represent a small rebellion to the average millennial — a chance to go against the grain and deploy their money as they see fit. Furthermore, blockchain-based efforts toward disintermediation and reducing the role of centralized authorities is a fitting driver for millennials to embrace these concepts, especially when considering their wariness toward institutionalized corruption.
Rejection of Traditional Financial Products
Despite the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, millennials see it as a more trustworthy alternative to traditional financial products like stocks, bonds and even insurance. There are many reasons why this young group’s preferences swing in the opposite direction of their parents’, but the likeliest is that they witnessed the 2008 financial crisis firsthand and don’t feel comfortable or in control as stakeholders of this system. Who would trust products that can be obscured and manipulated to such a worrisome extent without consequences? Better to participate in a newer market where entrenched stakeholders have less sway.
The evidence is resoundingly painted by the numbers when considering more millennials are choosing not to invest at all, keeping their money in cash. In fact, according to a survey of U.S. adults conducted by Bankrate, millennials prefer real estate, cash and even gold ahead of stocks. With bitcoin viewed as digital gold and other digital currencies remaining outside the realm of mainstream finance, it is no wonder that millennials prefer asset classes which distance them from the traditional financial products pushed by Wall Street.
Achieve the Pipedream Lifestyle
One of the more troublesome trends in the millennial market is that millennials are more willing to spend big, even if they lack the funding to support their lifestyle. Part of the reason is greater exposure to media with a convincing materialistic message, which encourages to find fulfillment in entertainment, vacations, clothes and other luxuries instead.
A general lack of money is no barrier to this lifestyle as many see the financial deck stacked against them regardless. Nevertheless, the blockchain sector has found solutions to get around this financial quagmire, letting younger generations enjoy life without having to participate in the status quo. Cool Cousin, for example, is a blockchain project which lets users hire local experts during their vacation and get a great and authentic experience. The service, and platforms like it, leverage millennial ideals to create low-cost alternatives that don’t sacrifice the experiential aspect of the venture because of financial concerns.
Tech Savviness and Utility
The first generation to mature alongside the internet, millennials are a distinctly tech-savvy group. They can understand and appreciate the benefits of blockchain technology, especially its participatory aspect. For younger investors and entrepreneurs alike, the initial coin offering (ICO) model represents a more accessible, democratic way to invest in new ideas or to launch their own, without jumping through the hoops present in the status quo’s investment arena. Millennials are eager to become not just customers but also stakeholders in the applications of tomorrow and have a real knack for picking easier solutions.
Blockchains empower millennials to become part of the platforms they believe in and thus create more comprehensive and better models for various technologies. Offering more than simple financial services, this trend has led to an explosion in high-tech offerings which disrupt established paradigms. In the field of computer processing, for instance, Golem provides an intriguing case study in harnessing decentralized network power for broader uses. Participants on the platform earn tokens by sharing processing power and pay tokens for the privilege of using a remote supercomputer that draws on this network’s parallel processing capabilities. Millennials have taken to this new investment model and are determined to see their generation’s crucial apps on the chain.
Building a New World
More than having a stake in the future, millennials want to use blockchain technology to build it with their own hands. The digital ledger is a revolutionary tool for promoting pure transparency, which is a word that has little relevance to today’s politics, financial markets and business world as a whole. Millennials love the internet, but this also makes them intimately aware of its downsides, namely that it only exacerbates media bias, corporate control and political obfuscation. Many in this age group see open-source blockchain technology as an accountability tool, one that will create a better system for voting, sharing data and advertising for instance. Already, services like Horizon State and others are creating platforms that make voting and other democratic tools more accessible and transparent, further empowering younger generations.
Ushering in the Future
Millennials are growing up and can no longer be characterized as the youngest and most naïve generation. They’re waking up to the inequity present in the world and are hyper-aware of the status quo’s faults as well. Blockchains provide not just productive ways for them to air their grievances but also social and financial tools allowing millennials to demonstrate what the problem areas are and, at the same time, exactly how to fix them. While the future for blockchain technology is anything but clear, if millennials have their say, it will not only stick around but grow and flourish.
This is a guest post by Reuben Jackson. Opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.