The people’s network: Democratizing digital infrastructure through DePINs | Opinion

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Imagine a world where your smartphone, laptop, or even your home router could help you earn money. This isn’t a futuristic fantasy; it’s the potential reality offered by decentralized physical infrastructure networks (DePINs). As we look deeper into the digital age, DePINs are set to transform how we use and benefit from shared computing resources like GPUs and routers, making web3 mining accessible to everyone. 

While DePINs offer promising potential, their implementation is not without challenges. Despite the powerful technology, the process remains intimidating for the average user. Despite the collective market capitalization surpassing $20 billion, the DePIN sector remains fragmented and overlooked. How can we collectively drive adoption to such a niche segment in web3? These are some of the questions surrounding DePINs, but perhaps there is a misconception that shrouds its perception.

With such a transformative tool offering unparalleled potential, why is DePIN still underrated, and why are people hesitant to integrate DePINs into their daily lives?

DePINs create a mesh of interconnected devices that collaborate to complete computational tasks traditionally handled by large, centralized data centers. This maximizes the utility of everyday devices and decreases our dependence on Big Tech’s infrastructure, enhancing data sovereignty and cutting costs. Yet, the complexities of blockchain technology, which underpins DePINs, can be a barrier for many.

Operating a DePIN node can deter even the most experienced users. The technical demands are high, from setting up secure connections to handling cryptographic transactions and consensus protocols. User-friendly applications that can automate these processes and present a clean, simple interface are helpful and necessary. These tools lower the entry threshold, enabling anyone with a basic GPU device to participate in and benefit from web3 mining.

Simplifying DePIN technology through user-friendly applications is crucial for broader adoption. These applications can reduce the entry threshold, making it easier for non-experts to engage with DePINs. An often underestimated factor that greatly influences user adoption is these applications’ familiarity and ease of use. For example, when Threads was introduced as a social media platform, its interface required minimal guidance, facilitating quick adoption. This principle of accessibility and user-friendliness is even more crucial in DePIN applications due to their inherent technical complexities. 

By making DePIN technology more accessible, these applications can democratize access to decentralized networks. This not only opens up new opportunities for individuals to participate in the digital economy but also enhances the overall resilience and efficiency of our digital infrastructure.

Teleport, a ride-sharing service operating on a DePIN model, provides a compelling example of the potential of decentralized networks. Unlike Uber, which relies on centralized cloud services like Google Cloud and takes a significant cut of drivers’ earnings, Teleport allows drivers to retain about 85% of their income. This model empowers drivers and supports local economies by redistributing economic benefits more equitably.

Teleport also enhances security and data privacy by distributing data across multiple nodes, reducing the risk of centralized data breaches. This decentralized approach can inspire broader adoption of DePINs across various industries, demonstrating how they can create fairer and more sustainable business models.

As of Q4 2022, Amazon Web Services (AWS) handled 32% of all cloud infrastructure services, with other significant contributions coming from Microsoft, Alibaba, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud. A drawback of these centralized systems is their ability to discontinue services at any moment for no specific reason. This presents a reliability risk for users. On the contrary, DePINs mitigate this risk, particularly in areas like cloud storage and GPU networks. These networks operate on principles that prevent arbitrary service termination, offering a more secure and dependable infrastructure.

Cloud infrastructure services vendor market share worldwide from fourth quarter 2017 to first quarter 2024 | Source: Statista

The future of decentralized physical infrastructure networks is poised for significant expansion, not just in terms of technology but also in market growth and broadening user demographics. As these networks mature, anticipating a marked increase in DePIN initiatives should come as no surprise, each aiming to capitalize on the unique benefits of decentralized infrastructure models. This expansion is expected to be catalytic for a broader understanding and adoption of DePINs across various sectors.

Market growth and diversification

The DePIN market is projected to experience a rapid expansion, with estimates from Messari, an independent research firm specializing in cryptocurrency, values the total addressable market (TAM) for DePINs at approximately $2.2 million, with projections suggesting an increase to $3.5 trillion by 2028. This surge is driven by an increasing recognition of decentralized solutions’ ability to enhance efficiency and cut costs across diverse industries. For example, DePINs can transform data storage and processing, offering more resilient and cost-effective alternatives to traditional cloud services. This growth will likely be supported by increasing investments in blockchain technology and a rising interest in leveraging unused computing resources.

DePINs are particularly appealing in scenarios where high computational power is sporadically needed. One such user group is the gaming community, where high-performance GPUs, essential for modern gaming, can also be utilized as powerful nodes within DePIN networks during downtime. This dual functionality optimizes the use of expensive gaming setups and introduces gamers to new ways of generating income through web3 activities. The global gaming market’s growth, which reached $217.06 billion in revenue in 2020, underscores the potential for DePINs to tap into this sector, further broadening their appeal.

Future developments in DePIN technology will likely focus on enhancing the functionality and accessibility of these networks. Innovations could include more sophisticated consensus algorithms to improve network security and efficiency or the integration of smart contracts to automate and expand the range of possible interactions within DePINs. Such advancements will make these networks more appealing and accessible to a broader audience, fostering a deeper integration into everyday tech use.

To address the question, despite their transformative potential, DePINs are still somewhat underrated and underutilized. This is largely due to their limited visibility and inherent complexity, which may discourage everyday users. 

As we look to the future, the trajectory of DePIN adoption is set to reshape niche sectors and potentially the broader landscape of how we interact with and benefit from the digital world. By democratizing access to powerful computational resources, DePINs hold the promise of a more inclusive digital economy where everyone has the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from advanced technological ecosystems.

Domenic Carosa

Domenic Carosa

Domenic Carosa is the co-founder and chairman of Hivello. As an accomplished entrepreneur and tech pioneer with over 25 years of experience in the tech industry, Domenic notably founded, one of Australia’s first major digital music platforms, and became the youngest CEO of a publicly listed company in Australia at age 25. Domenic is a key figure in blockchain technology and co-founder and chairman of Apollo Crypto, a leading crypto investment fund. He also founded Dominet Venture Partners, fostering growth in over 50 technology-related companies worldwide. Hivello, led by distinguished blockchain payment solution pioneers, is dedicated to transforming the accessibility of decentralized services globally. Users can start earning tokens in minutes, as simply as installing an app—no wallet, blockchain, or web3 experience necessary.

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