Cryptocurrency’s disruptive effect on both personal and global finance cannot be understated. Up until recently, most crypto enthusiasts have been more interested in their own personal wealth than increasing the wealth of others; however, all of that has changed with Mannabase, a new player in the crypto markets that espouses the merits of universal basic income (UBI) through digital currency.
A Crash Course on UBI
Unfamiliar with the idea of universal basic income? You wouldn’t be the first. An anti-poverty initiative, UBI as a core philosophy involves providing a base amount of income to individuals in order to help them meet their basic living costs. Often derided as the sort of socialist Utopian thinking that might have a place in science-fiction universes depicted in Star Trek but are otherwise completely impractical for the real world, UBI as a concept is usually dismissed outright because of the logistical nightmares of gathering taxpayer funds and then disbursing them equally throughout a nation’s population — though this hasn’t stopped progressive countries like Finland from launching UBI pilot programs to research its effectiveness.
With the major criticism of UBI being that the money has to come from somewhere, detractors have pointed out repeatedly that only through increased government taxation could universal income systems be put into place. As the phrase “the redistribution of wealth” sends capitalists into spittle-flecked paranoia over the rise of socialism, traditional, government-backed UBI projects are few and far between. However, a new project, one that harnesses the decentralized power of cryptocurrency and takes regulatory bodies like the government out of the equation completely, has been growing steadily over the past year.
The Mannabase Difference
Mannabase, a newly-created online platform that combines UBI and blockchain technology for the first time ever, is free to sign up. With the U in UBI being “universal”, the platform doesn’t turn anyone away — if you want to gain access to the program, you need only sign up. Doing so entitles you to weekly awards of Manna, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency created by Mannabase and provided free of charge as universal basic income.
Currently, an individual Manna isn’t worth much in the way of valuation. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price is set by the free market, and as a result, it’s worth about $0.0125 USD, which means that it takes around 2,000 Manna to equate to $25. While in a developed country the project might not seem like much at all, but in developing countries, the picture $25 paints is much different. In India, for example, the average annual per capita income of around 1 lakh (or 100,000 rupees) is roughly equivalent to $1500 USD. With 1 Manna falling close into parity with 1 rupee, Mannabase’s weekly UBI payments could easily make a difference to many Indians under this example.
The History of the Project
Mannabase as a project didn’t spring up overnight. In fact, the platform as it stands currently began its planning stages in 2013 when entrepreneur Eric Stetson first formulated the idea to use blockchain-based cryptocurrency as a route to economic reform. Stetson went on to found The Grantcoin Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in March of 2015 that would be the forerunner to Mannabase and began distributing the Grantcoin cryptocurrency in 2016.
Eventually, Grantcoin and The Grantcoin Foundation underwent a rebranding in late 2017 and early 2018, transitioning to Mannabase and The People’s Currency Foundation in order to represent the core values behind the movement more accurately. Grantcoin holders were encouraged to exchange their original cryptocurrency for Manna on a one-to-one basis, and UBI recipients can maintain the Manna they receive in this way in a digital wallet of their choice. Meanwhile, weekly deposits are being made into every Mannabase platform member, which will be available for withdrawal and deposit as development of the platform continues.
The Best of Both Worlds?
Mannabase represents a clever step in the right direction for implementing a large-scale universal basic income system. With the platform claiming more than 22,000 participants on March 8, 2018 — and with upwards of $13,000 worth of Manna being distributed, the ability to disburse UBI funds across a decentralized network is obviously possible through the use of cryptocurrency. It’s true that the amount of money being distributed won’t be buying any of the recipients new cars any time soon, but as the value of an individual Manna token changes, there’s no knowing what will happen.
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that not a single taxpayer dollar from any government around the world has gone into the funding for this project, either as it stands now or from its original creation. The funds used to create Grantcoin initially were all sourced from charitable donations, something that The People’s Currency Foundation continues to solicit to help support the price of Manna. As a philanthropic proof-of-concept, therefore, Mannabase more than demonstrates that a UBI program need not be the socialist bogeyman that capitalists fear it is.
Hope For the Future
For now, Mannabase as a platform has a lot of growing to do. Still very much in-development, its core purpose at the time of this writing is to act as a sealed safe-deposit box — Manna slowly accumulate, week by week, in user accounts, until the platform enables deposits and withdrawals, even as coinholders who traded their Grantcoin in for Manna are able to trade those tokens freely on the open market.
Until the Mannabase web platform reaches full functionality, the fate of this grand experiment is unknown. Once this occurs, however, hopes are high that this will be the beginning of a new era of growth for the cryptocurrency and for universal basic income. With more and more people around the globe interested in throwing off the shackles of debt-based economies, Manna could easily be the gift from heaven it purports to be.