How the Blockchain is Set to Alter the Gig Economy scene for the Better

Gig Economy

In the past decade, the number of remote freelance workers – in relation to traditional employees – has skyrocketed.

One of the most notable reasons for the workforce facelift is paradigm-shifting technologies that have enabled such a transition to occur.

In recent years, various platforms like Freelancer, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Handy, and a myriad of others have burst into the public limelight, providing a reliable avenue for those who need a job done to be matched with those capable of fulfilling each need.

These types of platforms are what has – and continues to – fuel to immense growth of the gig economy. These portals enable people of all walks of life and varying levels of knowledge and skill to connect with a wide variety of suitable jobs and tasks; everything from giving someone a ride to completing surveys, app development, and more can all be found on these marketplaces.

This type of on-demand work is now commonplace in the United States. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that, “. . . nearly one-in-ten American adults (8%) report that they have earned money from some type of digital work platform in the last year, often by doing online tasks.”

The study also noted that while some use these types of digital marketplaces for fun, a significant number of individuals “depend heavily” on such platforms for the bulk of their annual income.

This dependency should be evident considering that 2016 saw American freelance workers reach over 53 million, comprising 35% of the country’s workforce. Moreover, these self-employed individuals earned an estimated $1 trillion last year.

53millionfreelancers1

Because of these statistics and the popularity of freelance platforms, the gig economy is often celebrated by media outlets as a way for the typical 9-5 employees to become independent business owners, to gain the flexibility and freedom they have always desired.

While this is largely true, the gig economy is still undergoing an inevitable evolution; as most everything does.

As it currently stands, all the most popular freelance platforms are still centralized platforms, meaning that freelancers must rely on certain institutions to earn their living.

This can sometimes be challenging for the self-employed with increasing fees and charges implemented by websites like Upwork and others. For example, Upwork charges clients, “. . . 20% for the first $500 billed with the client,” with rates adjusting from there.

Freelancers, by their very nature, however, are self-reliant and independent. These folks, by definition, have taken their lives and their salaries into their own hands.

While the gig economy has flung open the doors for the masses to also take control of their professional destinies, is there a way to further the evolution of the gig economy and diminish reliance on a certain system, while simultaneously growing interlinked and autonomous communities that can prosper together?

Is there a way for freelancers to push the system forward, thereby becoming increasingly independent within a transformed version of the gig economy?

Yes. And the answer to doing so lies in blockchain technology.

How the Blockchain Revolutionizes the Gig Economy

Blockchain technology holds the potential to fix certain flaws within the gig economy (such as the centralization of platforms like Uber and others) while pushing the gig economy forward into adopting a new, and even more empowering paradigm.

Current freelance marketplaces tout users as independent entrepreneurs, yet these folks are often dependent on the centralized systems in the same way that they would be dependent on a traditional job.

Freelance marketplaces built on a foundation of blockchain-based, peer-to-peer networking, however, effectively diminish the control a centralized institution holds over a marketplace and places that authority squarely in the hands of its users, making them true independent entrepreneurs.

This is exemplified by Bitcoin miners. This model has each user contribute resources required for running the marketplace, thereby making it resistant to control by a single entity, effectively empowering its community to prosper in accordance with its own attributes and abilities.

As the system begins to mature and unfold in this direction, more people will find interest in adopting such platforms because of the freedom they tout; a win/win for everybody involved.

And blockchain-based marketplaces like CanYa are already busy putting this solution to work.

CanYa characterizes itself as “. . . a hybrid between an on-chain cryptocurrency payment layer using CanYa Coins, and a fast off-chain service that enables users to find and book services.”

What makes marketplaces like CanYa even more feasible and sustainable is the trustless payment system on which it is based. When exchanging services for “CanYa Coins,” funds are held in escrow to guard against currency fluctuations; this provides users with assurance that they will always be paid the agreed upon amount, even if price fluctuations occur.

canya_screens_display-03-e1507533458228

Additional Benefits

When presented with regulatory obstacles – as every growing industry eventually faces – blockchain is relatively impervious as there is no central office for an institution or government to go after.

In early April, Italian lawmakers opted to implement a nationwide ban on Uber. While taxi associations were pleased with the ruling, this is sure to significantly impact any freelancers who leverage the platform to generate income.

With the use of blockchain technology, however, bans would be extremely difficult to impose upon an open source, peer-to-peer platform.

Blockchain-based marketplaces ensure there is no centralized control by a group or individual. This decentralized model enables a true gig economy to grow and flourish as the technology provides the level of control and freedom that most freelancers aim to achieve.

Start offering your services on cryptocurrency and blockchain-based marketplaces now, as this is very likely the future of the gig economy.

The following two tabs change content below.
Itai Elizur is the COO at Inbound Junction, a content marketing agency specializing in helping startups and business increase their online visibility. Prior to joining the Inbound Junction team, Itai worked as a Creative Manager at Wix.com, and as the Director of Marketing at Infolinks, the 3rd largest website network in the world.