Changing the World Through Blockchain: The Sharing Economy Realm

Changing the World Through Blockchain: The Sharing Economy Realm

This is a two-part article where we will feature companies and start-ups making a real change in the world through blockchain-powered platforms and within the Sharing Economy model. 

There is still some uncertainty about one of the undergoing technologies that is set to change the shape of the near future in almost every aspect. Blockchain, that buzzword that became mainstream last year after the Bitcoin boom, is still at its early stages of development. Just as the Internet was unknown and revolutionary 20 years ago, Blockchain is still swimming through uncharted territory and its utterly outcome is yet to be seen.

That is precisely the main fears among the experts in the sector. As Artificial Intelligence or Big Data, two applications that go hand-to-hand with this distributed ledger technology, Blockchain must be taken with care and measure. Featuring totally decentralized, trustless prove of work, and an algorithm that records every movement within its platform, this network can go out of control and fall in the hands of established models which are actually trying to take over it.

Nonetheless, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (which are based on blockchain networks), are now in the thick of things by governments and other international institutions for its volatility and lack of regulation. The monetary system is a serious thing to be playing with, and these organisms have noted a quirk intrusion by this digital money whose main mining infrastructure comes from Russia or China.

On the other hand, blockchain, as a distributed ledger technology capable of building decentralized, secured and peer-to-peer platforms where all participants have an active role and are actually needed for it to be successful, brings along opportunities too.

Start-ups, entrepreneurs, users, producers or even bigger companies can take advantage of the multiple traits the blockchain. These come in the shape of making consumers part of the production system again. Where before customers and users had just feedback to send back to companies so far, blockchain-powered platforms might entirely redefine this model, and producers and users might take on proactive roles in the same schemes, rising up the concept of prosumers.

And for that, the Sharing Economy has a lot to say about. The Sharing Economy features common platforms of local entrepreneurs, producers and consumers, open spaces where they can communicate to each other, sell and buy products, become part of bigger and business-shared communities and ultimately improve their quality of life through digital ways. Simply put, the Sharing Economy is a sort of an awaken time for those who have being forgotten or even left aside by big corporations over long years. And blockchain can certainly help with such enormous task.

Whether if it is helping local dairy farmers teaming up in deep Brazil or building up smart, low-carbon-based electric grids in the heart of New York City, blockchain is present in hundred of good-based platforms who are willing to make a better place of this world.

From Financial Inclusion to the Energy sector, this is a list of those blockchain-powered platforms who are indeed leveraging the name of this distributed ledger to the highest of the standards, while at the same time give us some hope for this technology to be the true disruption the world really is calling out for.

1. LO3 Energy – Energy Sector

LO3 Energy is a small start-up based in Brooklyn, New York, and is one of the main partners of a bigger project called Brooklyn Micro Grid taking place in the same city. LO3 Energy “is developing through the blockchain, innovations to revolutionize how energy can be generated, stored, bought, sold and used, all at the local level. Bringing householders together in designated areas of Brooklyn, LO3 Energy gives support to install new smart-meters for them “to operate a virtual microgrid in such borough. This microgrid enables residents to buy and sell green energy directly to their neighbors at much better rates than if they only interacted with centralized utility providers,” as cited by our friends at Shareable.

This is part of a much bigger project that they are already undertaking called Exergy, which features a permissioned data platform, powered also by blockchain and featuring a peer-to-peer network, that creates localized energy marketplaces for transacting energy across existing grid infrastructure.

As said by Aaron Fernando from Shareable, “the type of blockchain used by the Brooklyn Microgrid makes it possible to collect and communicate data from smart meters every second, so that the price of electricity can be updated in real time and users will still transact with each other using U.S. dollars. The core idea of the Brooklyn Microgrid is to utilize a tailored blockchain to align energy consumption with energy production, and to do this with rapidly-updated price information that then changes behaviour around energy.”

2. Origin – The Economy of Scales

Intermediaries slow down every transaction of any kind. While the play important roles as separate and objective part in any given process, nowadays they have become obstacles to sort out rather than real aid. That role it actually can be removed -or taken over- by blockchain based platforms. Through digital applications, parts can be put in contact and reach agreements under specifically provided norms without the need of a person to do so. Like that, transaction costs could be cut off while more people would have access to options that were away of their reach.

Marketplaces of any kind were one of those spaces were most of the people could get to. Origins, and its “protocol for creating sharing economy marketplaces using the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS without intermediaries” is one of those companies which are trying to change something about it. They stated that their protocol, made out of Ethereum’s smart contract, makes it easy to create and manage listings for the fractional usage of assets and services. Buyers and sellers can discover each other, browse listings, make bookings, leave ratings and reviews, or even create business out of thin air using their platform.

“In creating this kind of decentralized underpinning, blockchains offer communities alternatives to one-size-fits all solutions and economies of scale,” said Aaron Fernando from Shareable.

These two companies are just the tip of the iceberg of a growing technology. Blockchain has already stepped up in this world and it is starting to leave its footprint in initiatives like the ones seen above. However, there are many more companies trying to change the world through Blockchain and within the Sharing Economy that are yet to be spoken of.

In the next part of this article, we will see new companies that are helping those in financial need through platforms aiding them towards a complete and effective Financial Inclusion in many different ways while we will take a look at the most deeper secret of blockchain, its venture capability and, of course, its financial exposition beyond Bitcoin.