And guess what? Not using actual money also let's them access "millions of talented freelancers live in countries where it’s hard, if not impossible, to open a local bank account". That's great because those workers also tend to live in countries with lax or non existent labor laws. These new inroads in exploitation is just another great win for innovation! How bright our future gets every day!
I recall Nigerians and Ethiopians mentioning how cryptocurrencies have allowed them to more easily work with western clients or employers.
Kainda sad how all else is either hard to use or skimms too much off the top.
"Privileged" worker? The cult of the robber baron really has spread its wings. Not everyone is willing to talk themself out of a livable wage and benefits, but you do you.
And please let's not even debate if they work or not yet, I am more interested in the reasoning behind preserving the current status quo where billions of people literally cannot access these tools.
Almost every single person on Earth benefits in some way from the current systems over not having them at all. Yes, they tend to let power and resources accumulate with a select few, which is not necessarily the best or most moral outcome. I'd be interested to know why you think this wouldn't be the case with the alternatives - regardless of the intentions of well-meaning ideologues, the powerful tend to get what they want in the end.
> Why not give the rest of the world access to the tools for economical freedom too?
If the issue was as simple as this sentence, then sure. In reality it isn't, though. I could flip it and ask "why abandon regulations that limit how capital can exploit labor and prevent criminals from evading laws"?
> And please let's not even debate if they work or not yet, I am more interested in the reasoning behind preserving the current status quo where billions of people literally cannot access these tools.
What line of thinking is this? Of course the reasoning behind preserving the current status quo, which is a known quantity, over something new, could well be that you don't yet know if or how the alternatives work? That doesn't mean that they can't be better or shouldn't be implemented at some point, but it's totally valid not to want to run head-first into something unknown and potentially detrimental, just because what we have now is imperfect.
I'm not suggesting a complete replacement of the current system (for now). I want an alternative, accessible to everyone, even the people in the walled gardens. In other words a system that is open, public, borderless and censorship resistant. A. Antonopoulos summarized these properties and couple others with an acronym: RIPCORD systems (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG4u55e3SYo). One of the goals is to include the 1.4 billions of unbanked adults (out of about 5 billions of adults in the world) and give them the same means you and I share to participate in an economy, I believe this kind of access should be a basic freedom and the systems they rely on should be public goods (this obviously disqualifies a lot of "crypto" projects).
> regardless of the intentions of well-meaning ideologues, the powerful tend to get what they want in the end.
Obviously if this was considered nothing would ever be tried, but the purpose of choosing decentralized systems that cannot be taken over and controlled by these few is to go past this consideration. For example, Bitcoin still being verifiable on low-end hardware with limited bandwidth is mainly driven by this idea, if the attempts to take over it and increasing block size had been successful I would have considered this experiment failed and moved on to an other idea.
> I could flip it and ask "why abandon regulations that limit how capital can exploit labor and
You'd have to prove they are in place to this effect... and considering that many industries rely on this exploitative behavior currently and they usually do well within these regulations, I would think you'd be in a pickle.
> prevent criminals from evading laws"?
Criminals are barely hindered by KYC/AML procedures. And banks often accomodate them anyways: https://www.icij.org/investigations/fincen-files/global-bank... . The answer of governments is to either ignore it, or take part in it by taxing this laundering (I believe they call these "fines", but in my book when the profits taken with the fraud outpace the fines I consider that they are just taking their cut). So I am in favor again in providing an alternative that give these means to everyone, currently only a select few individuals can do this with near impunity.
> What line of thinking is this?
The one that attempted to not derail the discussion into a technical debate on which decentralized system works the best for this task right now and rather explore what our goals should be for a freer society. And that does not mean I am against work related regulations, my idea is to level the playing field though, the current system hides this exploitation by excluding the same people it exploits (and they benefit of no regulation we put in place usually, companies find ways around regulations as long as they aren't uniformly applied).
> Of course the reasoning behind preserving the current status quo, which is a known quantity, over something new, could well be that you don't yet know if or how the alternatives work?
The issues of the current system are known though, and there is work done to bank the unbanked (the World Bank shows progress in this) but it's been a pretty slow process... mostly helped by technology and not better regulations or a desire by governments to include more people.
> That doesn't mean that they can't be better or shouldn't be implemented at some point, but it's totally valid not to want to run head-first into something unknown and potentially detrimental, just because what we have now is imperfect.
It is a valid point, and I don't have a strong argument against a conservative approach... but the fact is the ideas behind effectively decentralized cryptocurrencies are not really stoppable. You can hinder them at their edges (mainly fiat bridge/ramps), but if they develop parallel economies you will have to deal with them anyways. There will always entities acting as bridge between those systems, until they either collaborate or merge.
Today Braintrust is a democratizing force enabling talent to earn from anywhere, yay! Tomorrow everyone is going to be competing with the absolute cheapest labor globally and NA will be earning avg(NA, Africa) salary while paying NA rents. Uber's trajectory is the same - in every market, it started out with drivers making amazing wages (yay Uber is great!!) and ended with them making less than minimum wage.
Heck, if the future of work is limited freelance gigs, without any workers rights and protection, and being paid in potentially worthless crypto tokens, it is a very ugly future.
But you're absolutely right that this is a mechanism by which they can expand the labor pool for digital work.
US banking regulations don't apply to these dollars? Well, of course, because US banking regulation only apply in the banks in the US. Banks that are located outside of the US are subject to whatever regulation is in place in the location that they're at. Does that mean that Eurodollars are unregulated? No, it doesn't.
Second, currencies don't have interest rates. Only debt instruments do. I have no idea what you're talking about when you say that Eurodollars and US dollars have different interest rates.
Your regulators are thieves and thugs and I don't trust them one bit. I have faith in Bitcoin, or things I can instantly convert to Bitcoin without your regulators interfering. Fiat currencies I need SWIFT or ACH to access are literally worthless to me as I have access to neither, and even if I did it would be a precarious situation that I have to worry about all my money disappearing in a Kafkaesque net of AML investigations from which it will never escape. Your sarcastic tone about "unregulated tokens" is exactly how everyone in my country views your worthless dollar.
I am more worried about excessive tax complexity that getting paid in a foreign currency brings.
Don't forget to mention how employing a person to work 16 hours a day making clothes or a phone helps feed their family.
Here is something doing good for poor people, and here we are, doing nothing for those poor people, judging it. That feels off to me.
If this was Stripe Slavery, I would have no problem calling it Bad. I don't support slavery. But empowering people to engage in voluntary working arrangements -- it can be abused, sure, but Bad? I'm skeptical.
I've heard that in polite settings when I was younger, and my absolute rage at it has only grown.
Last time, the industrial revolution ate the artisans. Then automation ate the blue collar jobs in the industrialized world. It seem digitalization is going to eat the white collar jobs, kind of starting, it seems, with the lower level dev jobs that helped to bring this whole thing about in the first place. Early on it was workers forming unions that brought change about, not sure if white collar employees, currently being highly paid, will do the same thing.
Given also this announcement is a new capability for how to get paid, not an impairment or obligation, I would hope it wouldn't have detrimental results.
Which is to say that, certainly for now, there's a conflict between technological progress and profit, because cheap labour is so reliable and de-risked compared to eg, creating new machines to automate a process that is currently outsourced. Risks include being undercut by cheap labour, too.
All of which is to say, I don't share your optimism. Maybe there's a case to be made for global full employment being preferable to a highly automated economy, but that begs the question of how to make work itself less hostile to life.
> If there's one thing missing from every 10k it's how prosperous "everyone" is becoming.
What does that even mean?
This is a fairly low risk move by Stripe, as USDC is more open and trusted than USDT (Tether)
They are also easily and instantly (and perhaps most importantly permissionlessly) exchangeable to hundreds of other tokens thanks to DeFi swap smart contracts.
You can receive payments in USDC and immediately exchange them for other safer tokens if you wish, and if you use a fresh address each time, nobody can stop you.
It's the same as a centralized bank. If you get your salary deposited you can also go and take out cash immediately, but until you do, you don't truly own the par value.
Users are free to exchange the funds to DAI which cannot be frozen by a centralized issuer.
Take your typical painting/handyman/landscaping/small-scale-construction business as an example. In the US at least: you could call the owner a freelancer, but the majority of the small business is traditionally employed workers.
“Freelance Forward Economist Report” by Dr. Adam Ozimek for Upwork. https://www.upwork.com/research/freelance-forward-2021
Thanks for the source though, don’t mean to sound annoyed at you but rather the post in general.
I look forward to the day that Stripe will get investigated for all of the above with this and end up like Paypal, eventually freezing or banning these accounts.
Crypto does not offer anything new at all.
EDIT: It seems Stripe and Crypto apologists have downvoted & flagged my comment since Stripe is somehow a HN / YC darling that is immune from valid criticism even if they venture into crypto scamming, with no usecase that is better than the current financial system.
Crypto is only used for speculating and will eventually collapse under regulation.
Stripe is no exception here for regulation and will comply by banning accounts if these 'remittances' are fraudulent as the majority of them most likely are.
Even in El Salvador, the country that has adopted bitcoin, merchants aren't using it for payments because they lose money extremely quickly due to volatility, so there isn't a usecase for cryptocurrencies or blockchain at all.
Great as long as it works for you. Just wait until you yourself are stuck in a situation such as "Google locked my account and I can't reach support", "Stripe banned my business for no good reason" or "Wise froze my funds" - you literally see these threads on HN every week. Crypto suddenly starts to look a lot more appealing once you've experienced these situations yourself.
Have used Wise in the past because it's very convenient to use but they are just extremely expensive compared to P2P crypto.
Also they don't support many countries or only support one direction.
Not a crypto bro and very critical of crypto fads normally
but this use case actually works for a regular person like me.
Going to try Xoom though and check their rates. Hadn't heard of them.
Locally, Binance P2P is used a lot for remittances, and plenty of establishments use it as a way to receive payments as well. I've seen the Binance QR code in a bunch of restaurants and autoparts stores, for example
I used it earlier this year to send money to my sister in Argentina. Super fast, no fuss.
If the biggest player in the crypto space can’t get enough users, I’m doubting any real adoption.
> It is a massive mistake that Stripe is offering anything in the crypto space as everyone and Stripe knows it is full of fraud, money laundering, scams and it is completely unregulated.
The argument is engaging in "everything is X" talk by blanketing an entire space as only engaging in negative impacts.
It should be noted that the percentage of crypto used in illicit activity is significantly less than 1%, compared to the estimated 2-5% of global GDP that is involved in money laundering alone within traditional financial ecosystems.
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10873/3 (page 1)
Using the same argument, it could be said that cash should be banned because its private & semi-anonymous nature allows for its use in transactions for gambling, drug use, child porngraphy, assasinations, & slave trafficking.
Sure we have issues in the current financial system, but augmenting (and dare I say) replacing it with an entirely worse unregulated system which loses people money through scams, increases and emboldens ransomware and exposes people to huge volatility is not the way to go.
> The argument is engaging in "everything is X" talk by blanketing an entire space as only engaging in negative impacts.
The negative impacts are FAR greater than the positive impacts of crypto.
If we somehow magically had come up with a cashless system first, and cash instead was introduced now, I am quite sure that yes there would be calls to ban it for those reasons. It is however an ancient legacy system that's deeply entrenched in our societies, so we're living with it for now, although perhaps not forever.
i recommend reading the original bitcoin whitepaper to understand what is new: https://bitcoin.org/en/bitcoin-paper
The Bitcoin whitepaper outlines a P2P payments system, today it isn't used as such, rather a store of value, not even Stripe is using Bitcoin for payments at all.
So what use are these cryptocurrencies for, if not for scams and fraud?
Cancellation resistance. Protection from oppressive governments trying to squash freedom. Protection from retroactive laws targeting previously legal transactions. Asset protection.
And look I agree with you. And everything I posted above carries a huge cost given the volatility of most cryptocurrencies, but unfortunately we live in times where if you truly care about freedom from tyranny, your behaviour is going to overlap heavily with criminal behaviour.
So you're back to the current regulated system that works, is stable and is the best we have.
> Speed is one advantage of crypto payouts. Reach is another. Millions of talented freelancers live in countries where it’s hard, if not impossible, to open a local bank account. For example, a majority of the people in Djibouti, El Salvador, and Bhutan don't have bank accounts. With Stripe, freelancers in those countries are now able to receive funds via USDC in minutes. With the addition of USDC, Stripe cross-border payouts extend to more than 4.4 billion people in more than 110 countries—a majority of the world’s population.
Say, you get paid in USD.
You got paid: 10000 USD
Income tax: 15%
Government exchange rate: 130 ARS per 1 USD
Unofficial exchange rate: 330 ARS per 1 USD
10000 USD * 130 = 1300000 ARS and then 1300000 * (1 - 0.15) = 1105000
10000 USD * 330 = 3300000 ARS and then 3300000 * (1 - 0.15) = 2805000
You got paid: 3300000 ARS (fair market value)
Government rate: (3300000 - 1105000) / 3300000 = 0.66
Unofficial rate: (3300000 - 2805000) / 3300000 = 0.15
> With Stripe, freelancers in those countries are now able to receive funds via USDC
That is just people opening bank accounts, but with extra steps.
How is this decentralised money that was promised by crypto and blockchain? You may very well use Wise, Moneygram and other regulated alternatives which works better, is also relatively faster and is more stable and widely accepted than these USDC tokens.
I don't see any fully independent verifiable real audit of their entire reserves anywhere with USDC, and a lousy blogpost by Circle isn't strong enough evidence and no substitute of this.
Curious what US Treasury, FinCEN, OFAC, etcs take on this is. The plumbing is easy, it’s the laws, regulation, and compliance that are the work.
High level, Stripe is reaching for growth when there isn’t much innovation to be had in financial utilities besides reducing waste and inefficiencies by cannibalizing your business or someone else’s while the industry continues to commodify basic services like payments, cross border transfers, and deposit accounts (lending and data is the last bastion of profits for financial services).
It is a fragile, brittle system that is highly likely to fail, you only need to look here to see why. 
This absolute statement is asserting that ALL smart contracts don't work. There is overwhelming evidence of some smart contracts working just fine, and of course a lot of smart contracts also have problems. It is wild to just drop all of the nuance of such a complicated issue. What new technology has been flawless without any failures along the way?
They are just pieces of code in esoteric programming languages running on world's slowest VMs. They encode primitive trivial rulesets and are still so complex that their own authors fail to see trivial errors even after multiple audits.
An actual real world contract such as buying or selling property (which I've done several times now) would be a beast of such byzantine proportions that it would take until the heat death of the universe to write and audit it. And it would still be unenforceable after that.
I also don't recall any regulated bank accounts getting automatically drained or losing everybody's money due to a single scammer or a bad actor.
One single error or exploit in these smart contracts results in millions being drained. This happens on a weekly basis with a giant lack of consumer protection, unaccountability or any chance of getting your money back (which that is a huge unsolved problem). So yes, these smart contracts do not work.
It's a system designed to fail with thousands of disasters, rug pulls and scams just waiting to happen.
One single failure on an airplane can kill hundreds of people, even a single line of code could crash several planes. There are just thousands of accidents waiting to happen. Planes do not work. They have had a hundred years to make planes perfectly safe. Every year more and more people fly. It is a system designed to fail.
Crypto is a lawless 'decentralised' wild west that has zero accountability for when anyone loses their money in smart contract hacks, scams, wallet draining and rugpulls, in all cases your money is gone with no refunds or consumer protection.
So yes, it is a system designed to fail.
Of course, I’d say the benefits of cryptocurrencies are far smaller than the benefits of the internet (it’s pretty hard to compete with connecting almost the entire world into a single instant global network for the first time). But some benefits do exist, and I feel like you’re being wilfully blind if you disagree with that.
Of course, you might feel that the downsides (massively) outweigh the upsides. And that’s fine. Others will disagree.
One thing I think we can all agree on is that crypto is at least decentralized and permissionless enough to not go away any time soon, no matter who wants it gone.
I would agree with you that more regulation is needed, but to keep saying there is zero regulation is either ignorant or disingenuous. Regulation can also coexist with something that is decentralized and is not obviously adversarial, e.g. we have regulations for gold markets to prevent scams, etc.
The list of course is too large for this comment section so somebody has already done parts of the work. 
Any user would be very lucky to get their money back in these situations, but like I said, no refunds or consumer protection in the crypto space when you lose your money.
EDIT: So? My point still stands about accountability, regulations or not, even Paypal knows the buying and selling of crypto assets is completely unregulated after 15 years.
The main point of this thread is that there is more evidence of broken smart contracts causing more damage to consumers and there is nobody to hold scammers accountable when a rugpull happens.
Because nobody is going to get their money back for them.
How is crypto, this brittle, 'decentralised' broken and unregulated system going to augment or replace the current financial system?
They don't deny the existence of negative rates.
I think it is easy to dismiss as a value proposition. In the end, the future will show, so we probably should not spend too much time speculating.
Total bitcoinization would be dystopian but as a lifeboat against the inexorable spread of the negative side effects of inflation and the skyrocketing price of assets due to the cantillon effect - it is remarkably effective.
Hate to be a parrot but... "zoom out".
Crypto is hardly inflation-proof, with major cryptos having fallen 80% or more in the last 6 months putting it on pace with the Lira - if you then adjust it for inflation you lose another 10%. It's somehow managed to do all that in the single most inflationary period in 50+ years. I was pretty sure we'd given up on that silly narrative. Crypto is a high-beta speculative play on US dollar liquidity in the global financial system, not a hedge on inflation.
Wanna save money from inflation? Buy some I-bonds.
So uh, zoom back in ;)
 Also, liquidity per (as defined by the size of the Fed's asset book) se isn't really correlated with asset prices, which is why we're doing interest rates. I recommend listening to the Odd Lots podcast with Kashkari in re: inflation.
Where do we find proof of the cantillon effect then? Government spending as a percentage of GDP and subsequent public sector employment but then again, this isn't something new, it is boring and obvious, not some conspiracy of the government scheming against you.
If you're worried about inflation then I-bonds seem like a less risky way to handle this. (Though the limits are too low for many people, and the website is pretty bad.)
TIPS and I bonds are in my opinion the way the economy should work everywhere. Yes it means nominal yields can be negative but the entire point of the concept is that the unit of account should be stable and not inflating. Even if rates are excessively negative, it is still more predictable than inflation and you know exactly how much you are losing and prices will stay the same so your salary doesn't shrink over time.
Most of crypto is built on speculation which results in direct losses to consumers. And extensive and endless hacks, which is just another tax on consumers. Very little of bitcoin or any cryptocurrency is used for drugs, terrorism or other serious crimes.
Real world money laundering (trade based etc) is 500x that of bitcoin and real world drug dealing is at least 1000x greater than darknet markets.
Stripe is the next Google - with the all the good and bad that this brings.
Honestly either you do everything on L1 Ethereum or you do everything on L1 Solana(or Avalanche or any other scaling blockchain), there is no room for solutions in between.
What does Solana have to do with Ethereum L2s? And what are you referring to about bridges, forks, chains?
L2 = rollup. Users have several to choose from, and are not forced into a single processor like Stripe or PayPal. Withdrawal back to L1 is trustless. Interop might eventually be solved with recursive zk proofs.
Trying to build a decentralized payment infrastructure on a centralized chain like Solana sounds like a disaster.
I wish the best to the guy, yet i'm wondering does anybody think it is kind of fishy?
My concern is that the organization is split into two entities:
(1) Freelance Labs, which owns and controls the website., and
(2) A Panamanian Non-profit that "owns" the token.
"And because it’s decentralized, the people that use Braintrust also own and operate the network: Talent keeps 100% of its earnings and clients can make their budgets go further by cutting out unnecessary middle men."
#The Braintrust Foundation has nothing to do with the website:
From the usebraintrust.com TOS:
"This Terms of Service (also referred to as the “Agreement”) is a contract between you (“you” or “User”) and Freelance Labs, Inc. (“Freelance Labs,” “we,” or “us”)."
#The website controls the operations of the network:
Also from the usebraintrust.com TOS:
"The Site is a marketplace where Clients and Freelancers can identify each other and advertise, buy, and sell Freelancer Services online. Subject to the Terms of Service, Freelance Labs provides the Site Services to Users, including hosting and maintaining the Site, facilitating Projects between Users,, and assisting Users in resolving disputes which may arise in connection with those Projects Users are required invoice and pay any amounts owed for any agreed upon Projects facilitated by the Site and/or Services."
#Users keep all their earnings, except for the 10% fees clients pay:
From the Braintrust whitepaper:
"Talent are charged no fees: they are paid their full contracted rate (whether that be per hour or per project). Clients are charged 10% of the total contract value, an amount that is significantly less than in other networks and consulting firms.
Client fees are collected in USD, converted into BTRST, and sent to the Braintrust DAO through the Fee Converter, a smart contract that was proposed, voted on, and implemented by the community in October 2021. This process makes it possible for client fees — in the form of BTRST tokens — to pay for network operations and to fund community programs"
#The token technically doesn't own anything:
Also from Braintrust's whitepaper:
"BTRST is not a share of stock, does not represent a claim on profits, dividends, equity, or debt in any company or organization, and is not a financial instrument. BTRST has been adopted by the Braintrust network and users for various activities on the network only, such as for staking, governance, voting, and educational purposes"
#The token has no claim to anything:
From a podcast with Adam Jackson:
"We have a token instead of a share of stock. It does not represent any financial claims, any dividends or profit sharing, simply because there is no profit. The network is meant to run sustainably. It's meant to sustain itself. And so, it charges just enough fees to get by on, paying for hosting and maintenance and upgrades and that sort of thing."
Again, I still think it's a potential improvement on the alternatives, and they've built a lot of functionality, but I just worry that the website, seemingly the only way to contract on the network, isn't owned by the foundation.
Is the foundation contractually obligated to heed to any votes from the DAO? It's not very clear that they are.
They've built out a lot that makes me hopeful their network will hold its value, but I just wish they could leave no doubt that their users own the network as well as the resources that power that network.
For example, what if once the network has gained enough value, the owners of Freelance Labs sell the usebraintrust.com website to UpWork? Can they, and if so, what happens then?
Or are they making the assumption that the future of work is freelance gig economy? That sounds awful. And it's not how I've seen the phrase used before.