“Centralized service providers theoretically can end their products” – Masato Kakamu | Hacker Noon

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@SergeenkovAndrey Sergeenkov

Cryptocurrency advocate and analyst, growth hacker

The sheer number of professionals and artisans opting for more flexible working and sharing models aided by significant advancements in communication and transaction-based technologies have surged in recent years.

This impressive growth has changed the way we share talents, knowledge, products, and services, even as more people continue to ditch structured payroll and traditional transactional systems, partly due to the brewing global employment crisis. In the U.S. alone, the gig economy has expanded by 15% in the last ten years with over 6 million gig workers joining the landscape since 2010.

Despite the current and projected growth index of this sector, the gig and sharing economy are increasingly battling monopoly. The most adopted marketplaces in this industry have implemented business frameworks designed to make it almost impossible for freelancers and other market participants to access a fair distribution of value. Although the likes of Uber and Airbnb are prominent casualties of the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, they still control a large chunk of the sharing and gig market. Add Upwork, Lyft, and Fiverr to this list, and you have a group of highly-ranked marketplaces gulping a significant percentage of the revenue generated at the expense of gig workers and professionals.

Because the sharing economy is skewed towards intermediaries, market participants often part with ridiculous amounts to facilitate transactions and access a means of connecting to clients. In some cases, users pay as high as 20% of earnings as commission, thereby, further shrinking the chances of profitability. Without any doubt, the core contributor to this flawed system is the overly centralized nature of the platforms enabling sharing marketplaces. Hence, it comes as no surprise that firms have begun to search for ways of decoupling the sharing economy from flawed business frameworks and eliminating the dominance of siloed centralized platforms.

One of such firms making strides in this direction is TimeTicket GmbH This Switzerland-based company, which is a subsidiary of TimeTicket, Inc., is the owner of TimeTicket, a sharing platform with over 250,000 users. And it has created a decentralized model for creating a fair and interconnected network of decentralized peer-to-peer sharing marketplaces through its newly introduced TimeCoinProtocol. The platform recently announced the launch of its Proof of Caring, designed to distribute a $40,000 price fund to people who actively contribute to the project. Each contributor is eligible to win up to $3,000 worth of TMCN tokens in the bounty-like campaign.

I decided to interview Masato Kakamu, CEO of TimeTicket. We explored the flaws of the global gig economy and identified the solutions that decentralisation is proposing.

Andrey Sergeenkov: Is it true that the sharing economy is rigged to favor certain entities functioning as intermediaries?

Masato Kakamu: It is true. Users cannot carry the creditworthiness they accrue with one service to another. As long as they want to use their creditworthiness they built up in one service, they have to stay in the service and keep paying transaction fees they might not agree with. The power is on these companies’ side.

Andrey Sergeenkov: How does decentralization reposition the sharing economy and allocate value to independent workers?

Masato Kakamu: Users can carry the information that shows their creditworthiness gained in one service to another. It means they can freely choose the service they want. Also with such information, they can be accorded privileged treatment as a credible skilled member.

Andrey Sergeenkov: I recently read through your company’s profile and discovered that TimeTicket has come a long way in the talent and skill-sharing landscape. Despite successes achieved as a centralized platform, you and your team have opted for an unconventional method of building a sharing ecosystem. Why is this so?

Masato Kakamu: I believe that one’s transaction data and evaluation information should be shared when they want. This is the way to maximize users’ value and I want to make it happen with our decentralized platform.

Andrey Sergeenkov: Tell us more about TimeCoinProtocol and its use cases.

Masato Kakamu: We have been working on two dApps running on TimeCoinProtocol. One is the dApp version of TimeTicket. TimeTicket is a successful sharing economy service,  which we have developed and operated in Japan. Users merchandise skills and knowledge on the service. They will enjoy the features provided by dApp TimeTicket, such as fewer fees and gaining the portable creditworthiness. 

The other is the dApp featuring esports, called eSportStars. On eSportStars, anyone can host game tournaments. You can also get rewards by winning awards in tournaments and by providing eSportStars with Let’s Play (LP) videos of game tournaments. Like TimeTicket, users can sell and buy esports related skills and opportunities.

Andrey Sergeenkov: How will the TimeCoinProtocol ensure that it reduces the occurrence of disputes, which is an issue prevalent in conventional platforms?

Masato Kakamu: Freelancers are always at the risk of not being paid in full or at all. It happens that disputes are resolved in favor of a party with power, which is a paying client, even when an operating body declares they judge fairly. 

TimeCoinProtocol is a system based on a smart contract. Because all dialog is stored by TimeCoinProtocol, people cannot lie or decorate what really happened. With solid evidence, disputes cannot take place in the first place. Also, this smart-contract based system helps reinforce human resources as a third-party arbitrator for fair dispute resolution. 

Andrey Sergeenkov: The Inter-Planetary File System features as one of the advantages of TimeCoinProtocol as it allows dapps to utilize a shared storage infrastructure.  Why did you and your team decide to use IPFS for TimeCoinProtocol’s database?

Masato Kakamu: IPFS has several advantages regarding security. One of them we found important is that it is a decentralized file system. It can store the data semi-permanently and free from any control by the storage service providers. Centralized service providers theoretically can end their products and erase all the data they have stored. We have chosen IPFS to avoid these risks.

Andrey Sergeenkov: What about TMCN, the ecosystem’s native token? Are token holders eligible to enjoy certain benefits or access advanced features?

Masato Kakamu: For now, we can only tell you that users can use TimeCoin (TMCN) as a means of payment. Also, users earn it based on how much they engage with the service. 

However, we will make sure that TMCN will have a monetary value and users exchange it for other cryptocurrencies. We can reveal the details to you by the end of this year.

Andrey Sergeenkov: TimeCoinProtocol recently announced the launch of its Proof of Caring, which comes with a $40,000 reward pool. Can you tell us more about this?

Masato Kakamu: Proof of Caring (PoC) is a kind of airdrop for people who contribute to the project through supporting collaborations with potential partners, developing the local community, translating white paper, posting official announcements on blogs or media etc. The project will distribute TMCN tokens to the contributors. Contributors can get up to $3,000 in TMCN tokens and the right to buy TMCN tokens by the price of the private sale.

At this point, we especially need strong partnerships with the esports industry and crypto community. And also hope that our supporters will develop active local communities in such regions as South East Asia, South America and European countries.

Please check the details of PoC via the link. Currently don’t need to register on the whitelist. We are starting Proof of Caring.

Andrey Sergeenkov: TimeCoinProtocol is looking to enable a network of interconnected decentralized applications. Do you think that dapps can compete with centralized and established counterparts like Upwork, Uber, Fiverr, and the rest?

Masato Kakamu: Carrying their creditworthiness outside is a huge attraction to users. This characteristic brings users to dApps on TimeCoinProtocol. The developers will not have to spend a lot of money to draw attention from people. Therefore, the developers can save on cost and consequently reduce the fees imposed on their users and make them happier than the companies you mentioned can ever do.  

Andrey Sergeenkov: TimeCoinProtocol is planning to onboard eSportStars. Tell us more about this plan and how eSportStars as a platform fits into the sharing economy that you and your team are trying to establish.

Masato Kakamu: What we are trying to do on eSportStars is not different from what TimeTicket has been offering as a skill-sharing service. The service connects esports professional players and fans. Their skills, knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm are the important assets of the esports industry. Sharing these on our platform should add value to what they do and help develop a sustainable ecosystem for the industry.

Andrey Sergeenkov: Do you believe that the ongoing pandemic has strengthened the case for the gig and sharing economy? Will more people consider this unconventional working model?

Masato Kakamu: Yes. Remote work is now new normal. More people are experiencing unconventional working styles right now. Also, the companies, which are usually an ordering party, understand its benefits and necessity more than ever. I believe that the current situation is positive for us. 

Andrey Sergeenkov: What are the plans to expand the scope of TimeCoinProtocol so as to cater to a global community of independent workers and service providers?

Masato Kakamu: We are planning to go global, starting with Asia, specifically, China, India, and Indonesia.

Andrey Sergeenkov: When should we be expecting this platform to go live?

Masato Kakamu: The platform will be launched by the end of this year.

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