There Will Be HNT

A conceptual framework for the Helium Network Token (HNT)

“I’m an HNT man” — Daniel Plainview circa 2020

Disclosure: I operate several Helium hotspots that earn HNT and co-founded HeliumEx, a community-driven service provider to the People’s Network. I’m also a research analyst at Messari and the views expressed do not represent that of Messari.

If you’re involved in any capacity with the Helium network, then you’ve undoubtedly been faced with the task of explaining it to the uninitiated. As a patron, I’ve dealt with this numerous times and at some point, I need to explain what the hell that little device is that I want to put in someone’s apartment.

Each time I’ve done so, I’m able to spot the exact moment during this bit when the eyes of the onlooker begin to glaze over, signaling the battle is lost.

It’s not the concept of a wireless network, people can understand that.

It’s not the IoT aspect, most people understand that.

But once you start talking about the ever-so-nebulous Helium token (HNT), that’s when people get tripped up. More often than not the conversation is some variant of the following:

Hotspot owners get paid in it, so it’s a cryptocurrency?

> Well no because it’s not used as money per se.

But it gives users upside, like equity?

> Yea but it doesn’t give any voting rights in a company or claim on cash flows

And you mentioned they’re used to access the network, so almost like AWS credits for wireless?

> Kind of, but they’re minted on a predetermined schedule and are traded on secondary markets

At this point, I try to save face on this crazy-sounding idea by establishing a semblance of legitimacy going with the cop-out — well they must be legit because look at their blue-chip investors: Khosla Ventures, USV, Google Ventures, Marc Benioff and some of the companies they work with: Nestle, Lime… you get the point. While I hate having to resort to that kind of signaling to prove something isn’t a scam, it really is difficult for people outside the realm of crypto to grasp how these systems work.

So if the People’s Network is to grow beyond this core group of passionate tinkerers and hobbyists there needs to be better storytelling to explain something as critical to Helium as HNT to the layperson.

After dozens of attempts, trying out various tactics and analogies, there has been one that seems to stick. And that is HNT as a digital oil. Now I know that’s been tried with the Ethereum community before dying out giving way to the ETH is money meme. But bear with me as I think it can be effective in explaining much of the nuance behind this new asset.

Research Analyst @Messari

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