Person to Person Apps

The term Person to Person Economy and Person to Person App was coined by a Swiss Journalist called Tom Lyons after he interviewed me at Zug, Switzerland, the so called Crypto Valley. After listening to my explanations about the Internet of People, Tom brilliantly boiled it down to the conclusion that if Ethereum enabled Distributed Apps by the means of Smart Contracts, then the Internet of People enabled the Person to Person Economy by the means of Person to Person Apps. So, let’s define Person to Person Apps:

A pure Person to Person App is a App that:

  • Runs at end user devices: Think of smart-phones. This contrasts with an execution at the cloud, or at a decentralized network.
  • It’s main data storage is at end user devices: It only stores information outside your device when it is strictly needed to do so. For example, if the app is going to allow other people to find you, it will need to store some information like your alias and profile picture at a decentralized discovery service. Besides those exceptions all your data is stored at your own device.
  • Communicates with other Person to Person Apps through a direct device to device connection: It is important to note here that for direct connections to be secure, they must be acquired only with the help of decentralized services, not companies.
  • Doesn’t use any centralized service provided by companies: Centralized services are replaced by decentralized equivalent services. Payments, Smart Contracts, Reputation, Discovery, Proximity are all decentralized services provided by blockchain enabled by peer to peer networks that Person to Person Apps can consume.

A hybrid Person to Person App uses or depends in some way of centralized entities that still can be disintermediated. Some entities like smartphones manufacturers can not be easily disintermediated as of today.

Person to Person Apps are designed to interact between each other. There are two possible interaction types:

  • Homogeneous Interactions: In this scenario one Person to Person App interacts with an instance of itself running at a remote device. An example of this situation is a Person to Person bitcoin wallet. Let’s say this wallet is running on my phone and on your phone. It is the same App, and once my phone is directly connected to your phone, my instance can communicate securely with your instance and exchange bitcoin addresses in order to be used later, once I decide to send you some bitcoins. The bitcoins themselves are not sent over this direct connection. My wallet consumes the services of the decentralized bitcoin network, and to send the bitcoins it submits a bitcoin transaction to this network.
  • Heterogeneous Interactions: Are interactions where one Person to Person App interacts with a different Person to Person App. A good example of this situation is a Taxi Passenger App that can communicate directly with a Taxi Driver App running on a remote device. Again in this situation the Taxi Passenger needs to consume decentralized services to be able to find the taxi drivers, and acquire a direct connection between them. But once connected, it can request a quotation directly over the direct connection, accept or reject it, and keep that communication open during the ride in case more interactions are needed.

The execution environment for a couple of Person to Person Apps interacting between each other are two end user devices directly connected over the internet via a TCP/IP connection. This minimum set up of two Person to Person Apps plus two end user devices it is what we call a Middlemen Free Environment.

The Middlemen Free Environment (MFE)

This is the end of the road in terms of disintermediation. It is a setup where no more middle men can be removed. If we remove your smartphone or my smartphone then there is no possible electronic interaction between us anymore. If we remove your Person to Person App or my Person to Person App, we are in the same situation. We reached the end of the road, the minimum configuration where no more intermediaries can be removed. Once we reach this state, all the value of the business between two parties stays within these two parties.

When we take a business use case and implement it at a MFE we are able to disrupt the same business use case in the previous disruptive curves. Person to Person Apps disrupts Distributed Apps run at decentralized networks, since Person to Person Apps don’t require fuel (Smart Contract crypto currency) to run because the two parties involved own the devices where these Apps are running. Smart Contract based Distributed Apps disrupt centralized platforms, which in turn disrupt traditional companies. I wrote some detailed examples of this in this post.

Do Person to Person Apps already exist today?

No they don’t. The infrastructure needed for a regular mobile app to reach the status of a Person to Person App has not been built yet. Person to Person Apps need to consume several decentralized services. Some of them already exists, like payments with Bitcoin or Smart Contracts with Ethereum, decentralized storage, and a few others. Some others decentralized services are missing, and we are building them right now. These missing services include decentralized people discovery, decentralized device to device connection acquisition, decentralized proximity services, decentralized people reputation services and others. All these new services are what we call the Internet of People and we are half the way of having them ready. Once they are available, mobile apps can be adapted to become Person to Person Apps, and then the world will change.

Thanks to Amadeo Charlé for the editing.