What is the Limit on Disintermediation?
A lot has been discussed about p2p (peer-to-peer) network´s to disintermediate redundant third parties. Right now, a lot of effort is being made to develop these networks which enable p2p (peer-to-peer) apps.
In Bitcoin for example, end users only need a wallet and the bitcoin network. General purpose p2p apps might use Bitcoin as their decentralized payment infrastructure, but they might also use Ethereum for running Smart Contracts or exchanging messages between each other.
Most of us would agree that this is great, and that we can finally build distributed p2p apps that don’t need third parties. At this point a question might pop-up. What is the limit of disintermediation? From where is no more disintermediation is possible?
To explore the answer, let’s think about a use case that is easy to understand: a P2P taxi app. Let’s say there are in fact two apps, one for passengers, and the other for drivers.
There are some undeniable things we will need:
- Passenger’s smart-phones where the Taxi Passenger App run.
- Taxi Driver’s smart-phones where the Taxi Driver App run.
At the same time we need: Passengers and Taxi Drivers.
In the following we will look at different possible generations of p2p taxi apps, in order of increasing disintermediation.
The first set of such p2p apps removes taxi companies. That is what Uber already did by providing a platform that matches passengers with drivers, playing the role of platform provider.
The second generation is where Uber is removed and and replaced by a Smart Contracts at a network like Ethereum. In this case, a company creates the passenger and driver’s app. Both use Ethereum or a similar p2p network for the connectivity between them. The company involved is subject to be removed.
The third generation is where there is no company but an open source project community that develops the apps and uses P2P networks like Ethereum or others to connect these apps and provide the services to passenger and drivers.
The fourth and final generation is where a p2p decentralized network is used only to facilitate the connection between smart-phones to each other, and from there these devices are connected directly, without being dependent on the P2P network in the middle anymore.
Once we reach this point, where the apps are developed by a community and these apps communicate to each other device to device without even a p2p network in the middle, we have reached the final stage, where no more disintermediation is possible. At this final stage the transactions are the cheapest they can be.
I call the space where fourth generation p2p apps live the Person to Person Economy. The Internet of People is the p2p network that enables smart-phones to get connected directly between each other. You can find a good explanation about both terms in my previous post.
Thanks to Markus Maiwald and Amadeo Charlé for the editing.
If you are interested in learning more about Fermat technologies, this list might help you:
- “Fermat, the Internet of People and the Person to Person Economy.”
The Internet of People architecture dissected.
- “Introducing the Graphchain.”
The cryptographically secured data structure we use to store profiles and their relationships.
- “Introducing Redtooth”
Like Bluetooth with global range.
- “The Profile Server.”
The cornerstone software of the Internet of people.
- “The Location Based Network.”
The geo-located network that help other services to be geo-localized.
A bit about me: I am a systems architect who started his career designing and building banking systems. Later I turned into an entrepreneur. Three years ago I learned about bitcoin and decided I would use the underlying technology to fix the biggest problem we have as humans: “unlimited concentration of power”.