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Why the Freelancer Economy Needs These Blockchain Solutions

Amy Tori

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The freelancer economy is large and growing. More than 50 percent of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2020 if current growth trends continue. But freelancer hiring platforms have a lot of catching up to do if they want to handle this talent pool effectively.

Unfortunately, many websites out there just aren’t up to the task, promising freelancers low pay and high competition while clients struggle to find genuinely qualified candidates among sketchy accounts, flakey contractors, and bad matches. Boon is an exciting startup that uses blockchain solutions to tackle some of the freelance economy’s biggest problems. Here’s how they do it:

Incentivizing Positive Contribution

People might not think of Facebook likes or Reddit posts as “work,” but these actions help contribute value to platforms just like the maintenance and development work done by those companies’ actual employees. Users create and organize much of the content that makes contributor-based websites useful in the first place. This is true for freelance platforms too: users who complete work in agreed-upon time frames, are transparent about pricing and work product, leave feedback and establish work histories, and report platform misuse all contribute true value to the site.

That’s why Boon rewards its users with a dedicated blockchain cryptocurrency called Boon Coin. Boon Coin incentives encourage freelancers and clients alike to participate robustly and ethically in the platform — even if they develop a working relationship that could be taken to a different venue. Boon Coins can be exchanged into Boon Dollars, crypto-tokens designed to maintain stable value in the face of crypto market volatility.

Fixing Personality Mismatches

Existing freelancer platforms generally operate on a simple five-star ranking system. But five stars can’t capture the nuance of freelancer/client relationships. A five-star ranking from a client who gives mostly three-star rankings should matter more than a five-star ranking from a client who only gives five-star rankings. Likewise, a multi-month project demands more trust between freelancer and client and should affect parties’ rankings differently than a quick one-off transaction.

Boon solves this problem by replacing those five stars with something far more sophisticated: artificial intelligence. Boon uses IBM Watson’s Personality Insights program to analyze user behavior, communications, and work activity to create their Artificial Intelligence (AIQ) score. The AIQ score, which operates on a 1-100 scale, creates far more sophisticated matches than users would get searching through five-star rankings because it incorporates users’ full work history and personality traits. Matches made with AIQ are thus likely to result in far more stable and long-lasting freelancer/client relationships.

Stamping Out Scammers

Working with someone online requires a degree of trust, and unfortunately, the more freelancing moves online, the more people find ways to abuse and exploit that trust. Craigslist and other early digital classifieds systems were rife with abuse such as clients who disappeared before delivering payment or freelancers who never delivered the work promised. While Craigslist is largely anonymous, dedicated freelancer platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr have attempted to utilize profiles and ranking systems to counter bad actors. But these websites still wind up hosting scammers, ranging from plagiarists to identity thieves.

Boon counters scammers using largely the same mechanisms it uses to promote positive contribution. Boon Coins essentially act as bounties for responsible users who might report interacting with scam accounts. Would-be scammers must buy into the system by holding a minimum balance in Boon Coin. AIQ scores and sophisticated AI visual recognition security protocols detect bad actors even when humans don’t. And work agreements trigger funds moving into escrow, ensuring that no side of the agreement can just take the money and run.

Lowering Costs

Despite their numerous flaws, freelancing platforms tend to be expensive. Fiverr or Upwork can charge their users fees as high as 20 percent of client payment. Some have blamed the frequency of plagiarism issues in these platforms on high fees, arguing that many freelancers who survive in this ecosystem succeed by saving time and filching others’ work.

But these platforms don’t have blockchain solutions like Boon. Boon leverages blockchains’ immutability and transparency to ensure that work agreements are clear, secure, and reliable. Smart contract automation means that transactions can be processed quickly and automatically. By building blockchain efficiency into their platform, Boon can charge much lower fees than other websites. Furthermore, Boon knows that the best way to build a truly resilient digital ecosystem is to nurture contributors rather than wring them of extra cash. Minimizing extraneous fees makes good business sense.

Final Thoughts

Freelancing can be a difficult way to make a living, but for a growing number of people, the sense of independence and satisfaction they gain from being their own boss is worth it. Freelancers and clients alike would prefer to spend their time working in their industries rather than combing freelance platforms to find the perfect partner. Boon is using blockchain to make sure freelancers and clients can help each other quickly, and get back to work.

How will blockchain change the freelance world?

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