The third half of every trade

Part of a collection of essays on TRUST by @futurepaul

Trust is a currency as valuable as money, and we ignore it at our own peril.

“Money is one half of every trade” is something people say sometimes. I think it’s kind of an odd and imprecise phrase… barter still exists, after all.

Well, let me make it worse: “trust is the third half of every trade.”

Just think about how many transactions you make in your day today without involving some sort of third party escrow service. You buy coffee and wait, terrified to learn if you’ve been rug pulled, until at long last 47 seconds later a barista hands you your coffee. Trust!

Trust is wildly involved in so many aspects of a transaction. It’s how you pick who you will transact with based on reputation or more subtle signs of quality. It’s how you often don’t check dollar bills for counterfeiting, but sometimes you do check the benjamins. It’s how you hope (sometimes wrongly!) the product you buy won’t fall to pieces immediately. The delay between delivery and payment in some service industries is existential for the service provider. The delay between payment and product delivery is how the the Music Man’s con works in the hit musical The Music Man.

Trust! It’s everywhere! More trust? Easier trades. Trust is a scaling solution.

Posted Sep 8, 2022