Disrupting Middlemen

The first startup theme sparked by Dwolla:

Albert Wenger says the following on the USV blog post announcing the investment:
One thing should be true in a world of data-as-money: payments initiated by a known party that do not involve an extension of credit should be (almost) free at the margin. When you hand someone cash today, no one comes up and takes a portion as a fee. Similarly, if you use data representing your money to pay for your coffee that should essentially be free of fees.

So, here’s the high-level conceptual issue.  In a world where a social architecture of party-to-party relationships has been constructed through various social applications, is this a mega-thesis for creating businesses that displace third-parties or artifacts that sit between potential transactions?

A shorter and more direct connection between parties is an all-pervasive theme in our world.  Creating more direct routes from producer to consumer makes things better in so many ways.  By removing transaction costs, eliminating the middle-man gives consumers better prices, and puts more money in producers’ pockets.  With respect to services that involve knowledge transfers, consumers can get information directly from parties other than costly service providers. With respect to tangible products, it gives us healthier, better, and more environmental friendly products when they make the journey from supplier to consumer in a shorter time, travelling a shorter distance. Reducing the importance of artifacts like brand name or accreditation to compensate for better alternatives such as direct recommendations increases the ability of producers to rise on their merit and customers to benefit from increased competition.

The bottom-line is: where you have a transaction that could be better from a direct party-to-party connections, there is a disruptive opportunity to displace the incumbent solution that is the product of a world where those direct connections did not exist.