Zach Salter On How Blockchain And Crypto Will Benefit The Gig Economy
The gig economy is on the rise with stats showing that millions of workers every year are choosing to trade their traditional employment for work on a per-project-basis. This is not surprising. The benefits that come with being a gig worker are huge. Contractors in the gig economy can choose whom to work with, often ditch the commute, enjoy more flexible schedules and a high income potential.
But being a gig worker is not all roses. Aside the downside of missing out on the health and retirement benefits that traditional workers enjoy as employees, one common issue is the ‘double-edged sword’ that gig platforms represent.
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The gig economy is largely centralized and powered by platforms such as Uber, Airbnb, Fiverr, etc. which are the middlemen through which the worker is connected to and paid by the customer. They facilitate the crucial connections that keep the gig economy moving, for a fee of course. This is a good thing. But it’s also where the problem lies.
Due to the often high service fees these platforms charge, many gig workers only use and tolerate them as of necessity. It’s common for gig workers to lament the platforms taking a large percentage of a job’s value without offering many of the benefits traditional workers enjoy as employees. Plus, some of them hold payment for as long as three weeks before the gig worker can make withdrawals.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are often seen as possible solutions to these problems. The blockchain ledger system, with its rigidity and immutability, can be the perfect channel where contracts can be executed, communications stored and payments processed swiftly and securely, according to Zach Salter, cofounder of blockchain and cryptocurrency investment firm Zima Digital Assets.
I had a quick chat with him and he shares with me some important ways blockchain and cryptocurrencies can impact the gig economy and create more leverage for gig workers. He also shares some actionable tips for team building, personal development and entrepreneurship.
Abdullahi Muhammed: What is blockchain’s impact on the gig economy?
Zach Salter: Blockchain has empowered roughly one-third of Americans who work as independent contractors. Consider, for instance, copyright protection. This is something of great importance to the creative arts community and blockchain could bring a lot of solutions to copyright protection issues. Also, blockchain offers a safer, more advanced, and more swift method of payment for both parties. For example, if I have a web developer in London who finished a website for me and I have to make a payment, methods like wire transfers would take several days to complete and they typically have exuberant fees due to exchange rates. With blockchain, payment can be made instantaneously or in real time.
You also get to enjoy greater security overall. Blockchain ledgers are decentralized and hack proof. So if you codify your contracts with clients you work with using blockchain, you can have the peace of mind that there’s virtually no way of tampering with the decentralized blockchain ledger. Even your financial transactions with clients via cryptocurrency are way more secure than using the traditional payment processors like Stripe or PayPal.
Blockchain also holds a lot of promises for the enterprises hiring gig workers. Think about how it could streamline the process of onboarding newly hired gig workers if the workers’ certifications, licenses and credentials were on a blockchain. That would make for greater accuracy and time saving in accessing and verifying qualifications. For instance, MIT is experimenting with providing new graduates with their diplomas on a blockchain wallet. All in all, blockchain is currency evolution and empowerment.
Muhammed: Tell me about your crypto hedge fund
Salter: Zima Digital Assets operates various private funds focusing on investments in cutting-edge technologies, including crypto and other blockchain based assets. We manage a high frequency and high liquidity cryptocurrency trading portfolio. Principals at ZDA have had a pulse on the digital asset markets since 2011 being early bitcoin investors. Exercising extreme financial agility while demonstrating the innate ability to forecast market movements enables us to confidently capitalize on trends regardless of market conditions. What separates ZDA from conventional funds is that we trade at a much higher frequency than most funds and typically remain market neutral in between trade executions to mitigate risk. We are constantly looking for arbitration throughout the decentralized pricing model and while we do utilize artificial intelligence components in our market analytics, we still execute all trades using a final judgement call to ensure each trade is made with surgical precision by our chief investment officer and cofounder, the “Kryp+0 K!ng.”
Muhammed: How can solo entrepreneurs who might not have huge funds invest in crypto?
Salter: The best investment a solo entrepreneur can make is in self-education. Solo entrepreneurs need to immerse themselves in educational videos, podcasts, articles, blogs, chat rooms, meet ups, conventions, etc. in order to learn the intricacies of the industry and set themselves up for success.
However, depending on your investment goals, you can utilize an array of different trading platforms which have their own advantages and start learning through trial and error. Bitcoin is currently the best performing asset in history. No other asset class currently exists with this type of exponential upside potential, so if you’re going to invest the time to learn something new, this would be an emerging industry I would consider well worth your time. You are your best investment, obsessive self education is a requirement in this industry, so start educating yourself and don’t delay your success; you’ll thank yourself later.
Muhammed: What are some costly mistakes you’ve made as an entrepreneur and how did you fix them?
Salter: Any winning strategy involves losing. There isn’t a single successful entrepreneur out there who hasn’t had to learn to see the upside of a downside. A master of anything has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. However, you only have to be right once. Our mistakes are what define and help shape our destiny. If there is no push back, there is no push forward. My successes teach me to repeat successful actions while my mistakes give me insightful wisdom on how to perfect and refine my approach. With every investment we become richer or wiser, but rarely both.
Muhammed: What’s your advice for early-stage entrepreneurs?
Salter: The three most significant things that I believe all fledgling entrepreneurs should know are: one, self-education needs to take precedence above all; two, assemble the best possible team, and three; utilize technology to its fullest potential.
As for education, you need to view learning, research and experience as an investment in yourself. Your value as an entrepreneur is directly correlated to your unique skillset and expertise you possess in your niche of choice.
As for assembling the right team, It’s important to bear in mind that great things in business are never accomplished by a single person, they are carried out by a team of people working together in unison. Not to mention the victory is so much more fulfilling when you can enjoy these triumphs amongst your team. Even as a gig worker or independent contractor, the caliber of people you work for, partner with or hire would impact how fast and how high you can rise.
Great leaders know how to empower their team and optimize working conditions for each individual so that they participate with the others in the most effective and efficient ways possible. My favorite saying is, “Everyone is the CEO in this company, now work like it.”
Lastly, The importance of utilizing technology to its fullest potential is something I continually reiterate to my team. Technically speaking, we are already cyborgs in some form since our smartphones are basically cyber genetic extensions of us. We use Google via Siri for answering questions, we use maps for perfect route execution in foreign territories, we use social media or iMessage to communicate with others across the globe, etc.
These technological advancements continue to accelerate at rapid rates to improve our everyday life with systems that assist and optimize our daily life. These new concepts are not something that anyone should shy away from due to lack of understanding, this is something we need to embrace and anticipate. Harness the power that comes with technological awareness, invest in your inner cyborg and lean into technological advancements. Stay ahead of the curve, the future needs new leaders and forward thinkers, the past is already spoken for.