Conventional online freelancer platforms suffer from a series of major deficiencies. The right blockchain implementation can solve these, offering advantages for employers and workers alike.
In the highly connected world in which we now live, we take certain things for granted. Almost any piece of information we might need is right at our fingertips. We can talk in real-time to friends and family on the other side of the world. We can shop online from a global choice of stores and goods.
But some areas haven’t kept up with these rapid developments. It’s still hard to transfer money across borders; the legacy banking system makes this slow and inefficient, especially for smaller amounts of money. And while more and more people work from home, we still don’t have the kind of free marketplaces for services that we do for physical products.
The Problems of Online Freelancing
In the modern world, why shouldn’t we treat work the same way as we treat shopping – providing and acquiring work from a global market? Of course, a number of online freelancer sites do exist and some, like Upwork and Fiverr, have become industry standards for offering and finding services.
But for all the many different online work platforms available, none deliver the same kind of benefits we are used to in other areas of life. Workers and clients alike have to contend with a series of problems that, in many cases, makes using an online freelancer portal more trouble than it is worth. The drawbacks include:
- High fees. Platforms typically take a significant cut of freelancers’ pay. Moreover, there may be additional costs involved in moving money around the world, with PayPal or other payment processors charging their own commission. The number of currencies supported can also be limited.
- Unscrupulous clients and opaque conditions. Freelancers may have to deal with delayed payments, or even have funds withheld entirely for arbitrary reasons, despite completing work to a high standard.
- Fake accounts and reviews. Similarly, clients may struggle to find trustworthy freelancers, due to users who game the system. Unsuccessful freelancers with a poor reputation can simply create a new account and start from scratch – and possibly cheat to make themselves look more reliable than they really are.
Freelancing on the Blockchain
eDEV, a freelancer portal hosted on the blockchain, offers to solve all of these problems – creating a genuinely global, efficient marketplace for services.
eDEV offers a high degree of flexibility for managing jobs. As well as organising the work, it’s possible to track progress as tasks are updated, and request revisions if necessary – much as it would be in a regular job. Once sub-tasks or the full piece of work are complete, the client can approve them and release payment.
Payments is another of the key areas in which eDEV offers fundamental advantages over conventional freelancer platforms. The software is combined with an integrated wallet, and it’s possible to make and accept payment in a wide range of currencies, quickly and with low cost. (Transfers of the same currency are zero-fee, while exchanges into another currency incur only a small commission – far better than the large ‘spread’ in the rates popular high street exchange services use.) Thanks to the blockchain platform on which eDEV is hosted, all payments are practically instant, even when money is sent across borders. Escrow and multi-sig functionality is used to protect funds and ensure payments are made on time – but not before.
In addition to this secure, efficient payments functionality, eDEV offers two further built-in features: crowdfunding, and a digital currency exchange.
The first enables entrepreneurs and businesses to crowdfund the money they need to get a new project off the ground, and potentially reward supporters or investors. The second enables all users to convert different digital and fiat currencies and assets almost seamlessly – cashing out payment in one currency to a local currency, exchanging crowdfunded cryptocurrency into a more stable store of value, creating a balanced portfolio of assets from your earnings, and so on. Both of these are regulated and secure, with simple, low and transparent fees for all operations.
VPLedger: the Blockchain Under the Bonnet
All of this is possible thanks to VPLedger: a next-generation blockchain platform that provides the infrastructure for eDEV’s far-reaching functionality.
VPLedger takes an ‘enterprise first’ approach to blockchain development – ensuring that the platform has not only the technical features that businesses need, such as Turing-complete smart contracts and throughput of up to 100,000 transactions per second, but the necessary regulatory features too. This includes identity verification as a condition of entry for every single user, carried out by approved third parties. The platform is run on a permissioned network, with validating nodes also subject to enhanced KYC.
VPLedger is currently in testnet phase. Anyone can sign up for an account on the MVP, which will be migrated to the public mainnet early 2020. There are attractive offers for both individual users and businesses. Individuals can secure lifetime membership for just EUR 500, fully refundable upon mainnet launch. Lifetime membership includes ongoing benefits including reduced fees and the ability to generate passive income from a competitive referral programme. Meanwhile, businesses that sign up to use the platform are eligible to claim EUR 25,000 worth of Vimple tokens – the native means of payment for all products and services on VPLedger – enabling them to get started with diverse functionality including efficient payments, robotic process automation and smart contracts at reduced cost.
This means that any user for any application built on VPLedger has already been KYC-checked. eDEV clients and freelancers alike will have undergone identity verification when they signed up for the platform as part of registering their profile information, if not before. As well as reducing the burden for businesses, this offers effective legal protections for everyone in the event of fraud.
Overall, this means that eDEV and other platforms on VPLedger can provide their services with all of the benefits of blockchain technology, including fast, low-cost transactions; transparency; immutable storage and reputation systems; and escrow functionality – without compromising on the user experience and compliance of conventional freelancer portals.