Decentralization is a buzzword of late that has crept into our lexicon along with crypto culture. After all, crypto is what gave rise to “DAOs” — also known as decentralized autonomous organizations. 

These collectives have advantages over traditional organizations because they have no single weak points, or as Elon Musk has called it, “no choke to strangle.” We can see the benefits of decentralization, as a concept, as a means of preventing overreach of government power.

For example (as a very unlikely but interesting theoretical), if the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots had resulted in a successful coup, installing former President Donald Trump as “King of America,” he might have been able to turn Facebook and Google into his own state-run media, censoring whomever he pleased and redesigning algorithms to promote only positive stories about himself. But if the servers were decentralized, he would never have been able to accomplish that.

But how do you set out to purposefully build an organization that’s decentralized? Therein lies a mild conundrum that can be solved through incentives. Crypto ventures hoping to encourage people to band together and create decentralized networks have started to offer such incentives to help get the ball rolling — namely in the form of crypto rewards.

Yes, you heard that right.  We've seen people find new ways to make a living through the rise of the gig economy, the sharing economy, and the creator economy. Now you can hustle and diversify your income streams further with the decentralized economy. How can you get in on this gold rush before it's too late?  Or worried that you might end up fleeced by some scam that sounds too good to be true? Fear not. We curated a list of three legitimate projects you can join to make a little money on the side, if you have the right technical skills.

1. Helium Network

You might have heard of the “Internet of Things,” the idea that all of our devices will eventually connect to each other and the internet. Our fridges may communicate with our Amazon accounts to replenish our groceries. Sensors built into park benches might alert city officials about how often they are used. From smart homes to smart cities, the applications of this form of technology are endless.

But there are potential snags. In a white paper, Helium
argues that “current solutions such as cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth are suboptimal: they are too expensive, too power hungry, or too limited in range.” Inadequate hardware would overburden gadgets that require much less bandwidth than our smartphones.

Helium saw an opportunity to address this pain point and came up with LongFi, a radio wave with a lesser data throughput but a longer range. It is perfectly suited to a large majority of devices that make up Internet of Things networks. Accordingly, Helium encourages people to place devices next to their windows that can work as a network anchor for these connected tools to use.

It does require an upfront investment to buy the devices. Most
YouTubers recommend the Bobcat hotspot which costs around $530.  Since transaction information is publicly available on a blockchain, we can look at any hotspot’s returns on a map. Participants in this system typically earn anywhere from $5 to sometimes $3,000 per month, with most between $30 and $60.  The amount depends on where the devices are located, where they are placed, and how much competition there is in their vicinity. Owners get paid in cryptocurrency $HNT, which they can trade for fiat on any exchange such as Coinbase or Binance.

2. Filecoin

We rely on file sharing platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox to keep our data secure in the cloud. Thanks to these innovations and others, the cost of storing and sharing documents has decreased dramatically over the past years. However, it is still the case that few major players hold a key to these files, and they represent a vulnerable target in the event of a cyberwar. Blockchain can alleviate these concerns. In fact, it is possible that our data can sit encrypted on a blockchain in other people’s computers while being accessible to us, owners, only via a private key.

Just like people can rent out spare rooms or apartments on Airbnb, or supplement their income by driving their car for Uber, people with extra disk storage can also monetize that.
Filecoin allows people to allocate available disk storage space for others to manage cryptocurrency files. By doing this, providers can earn rewards in $FIL, which they can trade for fiat currency on any major exchange like Binance and Coinbase.

3. Lido

Many of us know Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency in circulation by market cap (after Bitcoin). However, developers also mainly use Ethereum as a general-purpose blockchain. Essentially, Ethereum is to decentralized apps (sometimes called dapps) what the App Store is to mobile apps. It provides an infrastructure for ventures to deploy a blockchain for their operations. Since it’s decentralized, it requires many people to operate it such that it can remain secure. On the Bitcoin blockchain, one can earn crypto rewards by contributing their computational power to validate what gets created into a new block. In Ethereum, on the other hand, one has to “stake” Ether such that if they are caught meddling with the block they would lose the Ether they staked as collateral.

In crypto speak, this process is called “mining” and refers to the process of earning cryptocurrency by running and securing the system. To make sure the “stakes” are high for anyone trying to tamper with the blockchain, the minimum amount one can mine Ether with is 32 ETH. Lido is a DAO that allows investors to stake smaller amounts in a pool and share in the profits proportionally to their contribution.

I’ve tried it – it’s really simple and fun. That said, do keep in mind that while one can opt out anytime, they would only be able to reap the rewards once Ethereum 2.0 is live. Only then will its programmers fully roll out the “Proof-of-Stake” update, and the latest estimations hint at a
release date in a few months to a year.

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