The “blockchain boom” has opened the floodgates for a new kind of sharing economy.
The idea behind “sharing economies,” specifically as they exist in the digital world (and mesh into the real world) is that value is being traded in a peer-to-peer fashion. Take Uber, for example. Uber is a shared economy for ground transportation—someone has a car, and someone needs a ride. Uber, a “ride-sharing service,” is the marketplace that facilitates that transaction.
In the startup world, a functioning marketplace is the single most valuable thing you could possibly build, because at a certain point it essentially builds itself. The challenge, however, comes down to a “chicken before the egg” scenario. A marketplace can only function when both parties are interacting simultaneously. But in Uber’s case, what came first? The drivers, or the customers?
Without customers, drivers have to purpose.
Without drivers, customers can’t pay for the service.
The blockchain boom has shifted this dynamic.
Just about every industry in the world has started dipping its toes into the waters of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, experimenting with its value propositions and seeing how it could improve their business. And one of the ways blockchain platforms have begun to tackle marketplaces is by looking at which of those two variables—the “chicken” or the “egg”—already exists passively.
For example, every single Internet user already has extra bandwidth. Even if you love to binge-watch movies, stream TV shows, and play video games, there are times in the day when you aren’t using your Internet. Not to mention the fact that with today’s technology, nobody is using all of their bandwidth. There is plenty to go around.
Path, a blockchain platform that saw this extra bandwidth as a valuable asset, decided to create a marketplace for clients that wanted to get an outside-in perspective on their business, website, tech platform, etc. Say you want to know how fast your website loads in another country. It would be really helpful to have analytics that tell you that. Or say you want to know what happened to your site during a DDoS attack. Or which of your services became unavailable during an attack. These are needs that require someone externally to load that website and then report back with analytics.
When you consider that you could just rent someone else’s extra bandwidth instead, suddenly you’ve created a marketplace—except one of the variables is entirely passive.
Path users simply load a light-weight plugin into their browser and let it run in the background. Think of it as your “agent” for renting out a little bit of your bandwidth, which allows you to earn tokens in return. This is the epitome of what a “sharing economy” stands for.
With the blockchain, and the ability to turn portions of assets into passive value creators opens a world of possibilities in terms of innovation. If you can rent out your bandwidth, imagine what else you could share. Beetoken is working on home sharing. Golem is working on CPU sharing. The future is wide open, and the blockchain is the catalyst that is going to spark the next phase of “sharing economies” as we know them.