Less than one year after Origin Protocol introduced themselves to the world, the platform for the decentralized sharing economy has deployed its smart contracts and flagship DApp to the Ethereum mainnet.
This marks a significant milestone for one of the more accomplished and promising teams in the distributed ledger space. Users can now manage their own on-chain identity, communicate securely over fully decentralized messaging, and engage in peer-to-peer commerce. With over 50 new or existing companies set to build marketplaces on Origin's open source code, some of which already boast six figure user bases, we should expect relatively rapid traction of buyers and sellers on the platform.
Why is this important?
The primary advantages of a decentralized sharing economy are at least fourfold: Low fees, censorship resistance, rewards for lead users, and a shared data layer upon which marketplaces can be built. Let's quickly break down why these are important.
1) Low Fees: By replacing overhead-ridden middlemen (Uber, AirBnB, Ticketmaster) with trustless, automated protocols, buyers and sellers share in the 20 - 30% fees that would normally go to the centralized transaction facilitator.
2) Censorship Resistance: Disruptive platforms such as AirBnB and Uber have historically been met with push back and regulation by government entities, limiting or outright barring the scope and quality of services available. Meanwhile, a set of open source protocols processed on a distributed network is much more difficult to repress or silence.
3) Rewards for Lead Users: To accelerate adoption, Origin will implement a diminishing rewards program, allowing early users to earn small amounts of Origin tokens for participating in activities such as creating listings, writing reviews, and referring friends will reward users. As the network grows, the tokens earned by lead users will appreciate.
4) Shared Data Layer: This is one of the more profound shifts, both philosophically and technically. Origin's protocols also allow for marketplaces to exist on a shared data layer, breaking down user monopolies that companies have thrived on in the past, instead empowering the network as a whole through aligned incentives.
Removing the middleman from transactions between mutually distrusting parties, especially when involving more subjectively interpreted things like services, does create some unique challenges. Identity, reputation, arbitration, and insurance are obstacles to adoption and smooth customer experience that Origin will need to solve in order to succeed at their vision of decentralizing commerce.
Having iterated and implemented the ERC-725 standard, you can now confirm your identity through existing verifiers such as phone, email, Twitter, and Facebook. Rather than creating an account with Origin, you 'sign in' with your Metamask account, linking pieces of your identity to your public wallet address. This identity token creates the foundation for a reputation ecosystem by attaching buyer and seller reviews to your wallet address.
Arbitration and disputes will currently be handled by the Origin team as they move to distribute this and incentivize the community to self-regulate.
Origin is inviting buyers and sellers to test the DApp through it's Beta phase as the team begins to roll out more features. As we move through Q4, the team plans to introduce more listing types, release their own wallet, improve overall UX, and prepare to launch their partner marketplaces.
To participate in the new sharing economy, head to dapp.originprotocol.com.