Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the job market by creating a sharing economy through the principles of democratization, decentralization, and transparency. This new economy is part of the digital evolution that will bring those that embrace micro-tasking and freelancing into a new market that is far more flexible, lucrative, and fulfilling – says Simon Yu, StormX CEO, in Bithub.pl’s #SundayInterview.
What are gamified micro-tasks and how do they work?
Simon Yu: Gamified micro-tasks are short, easy-to-complete, freelancing tasks that are curated for a specific user experience. The concept of gamification taps into user psychology and explains why certain games, apps, and even slot machines, are so appealing and addicting for people around the world. It’s why people are attracted to mobile games like Games of War, Candy Crush, and Words with Friends. What we see is that there’s a real opportunity to take similar mental models and concepts, and instead of rewarding the user with in-app points that don’t really have utility or value in the real world, we reward them with cryptocurrencies.
In addition, not everyone in the world has the same access to education or opportunities, making it difficult for people in developing countries to complete highly-skilled freelance tasks. With our platform, micro-tasks are transformed into a “wizard-like” experience – similar to the TurboTax wizard – making it easy for anyone, anywhere, and from any device, to complete the tasks successfully. Imagine a person doing simple machine learning tasks, like helping a computer program identify 100 oranges in photos every day. After a few weeks, we’d have very clear data about the person that would demonstrate their ability to consistently complete tasks, how accurate they were in identifying the oranges, and if their productivity increased over time.
People can earn in STORM tokens on your platform but what next? Are your tokens convertible to fiats or altcoins? Are they tradable on the exchanges?
SY: People are rewarded STORM Tokens, bitcoin, or Ethereum for completing tasks on our platform. STORM Tokens are an ERC-20 token, and since the current ecosystem of resources that support ERC-20 tokens is healthy and growing, it offers quite a bit of flexibility for our users. Several exchanges, including Coinrail, Bancor, HitBTC, Radar Relay, and IDEX, have already listed STORM Tokens on their platform. We are also aware of several businesses that are seriously considering adding STORM Tokens as a method of payment for their products or services – a kind of use case we are really excited to see.
Before you reach out to workers you need to successfully reach out to job providers. They’ve been using intermediates like Freelancer.com or Mechanical Turk for years and it seems to work for them. How are you convincing them to switch to innovative, cryptocurrency-based platform?
SY: Traditional intermediaries, such as Freelancer.com and Mechanical Turk, use less efficient transaction methods, such as ACH, Credit Cards, and Wire Transfers, and in doing so, are forced to charge higher transaction fees (up to 40%) to the freelancer. Our area of focus over the past few years has been the area of microtransactions. We have experience facilitating transactions as small as two-tenths of a penny up to $40 in USD. Most of the current payments systems in place cannot handle these sorts of microtransactions.
Also, job providers are interested in building and scaling up their machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. QA testing is a job category that we are working on building up. We know that it’s far more efficient and effective to have 100,000 people all over the world test an application over a day, than having several highly paid QA engineers in one location run automated tests for an application release. We are currently working to offer these additional opportunities for users to give millions of people around the world the chance to increase their earning capabilities.
In addition, 2 billion adults remain unbanked, making it impossible for these workers to receive payment from traditional freelancing services. These types of transaction methods were not designed for global use, let alone a global system that includes micro-transactions (transactions that are less than $5). Cryptocurrency-based platforms are significantly more efficient because the technology enables very small transaction amounts to be sent to people across the globe for little to no fee. We believe that in the end, both the freelancer and the job provider win when using a cryptocurrency based platform.
Your focus is on micro-tasks, which means micro-jobs and micro-earnings. Do you think you’ll be able to offer some ‘serious’, better paid tasks for qualified people in the future?
SY: Yes, we do. In terms of scaling and providing more opportunities to our users across 187 countries, we know that peer-to-peer freelancing tasks are the future. In addition to micro-tasks like machine learning and QA testing, we are also building out the platform to allow real freelancing to thrive by offering bigger tasks such as building out a website. As the company matures, the jobs and tasks made available to people will continue to expand, providing people with more opportunities to earn even bigger amounts. Our platform also enables workers to build their reputation and resume, letting them advance their career on a global stage.
Blockchain is starting to change the landscape in many areas of economy, including job market. Some are afraid of this because it’s bound to cut out a lot of jobs in various intermediary businesses. But there’s even bigger transition looming on the horizon, brought by the AI. Do you think micro-tasking or freelancing will be a sort of recourse for people pushed out of a job market by algorithms?
SY: Micro-tasking and freelancing will be a resource for all people, including anyone that may be pushed out of the old world job market, which was born out of the agricultural and industrial revolution. People had to work one single job, all day long, day in and out, in order to survive in this type of market.
However, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the job market by creating a sharing economy through the principles of democratization, decentralization, and transparency. This new economy is part of the digital evolution that will bring those that embrace micro-tasking and freelancing into a new market that is far more flexible, lucrative, and fulfilling. The new world jobs will enable a future that is far more globally democratized and based on the advancement of AI and machine learning.
Interview by Przemyslaw Cwik