As an aspiring or established freelancer, how many times have you transacted outside of the centralised freelance platforms to avoid exorbitant fees or ridiculous delays in receiving funds? Indeed, without exception, one can peruse the forums off all such providers to find an endless source of complaints regarding fees, delays, and administrative difficulties that continue to plague the freelancing dream.
As a freelance worker I have regularly engaged with clients via a centralised portal, only to take such business offline in the interest of time and money. As the freelance (‘gig’) economy continues to grow, more people are turning to direct sale of their skills as a viable income stream. This is especially true for specialist skills: never before have we existed at a time where communication technologies have facilitated global business interactions in a manner that is sustainable for the individual. Despite this, centralisation of client-provider interactions remains a stumbling block for many; fees, delays, and administrative difficulties makes the provision of specialist skills through traditional freelance portals impractical in the majority of cases. Indeed, for many of us, freedom from oversight is the primary reason we pursue self-employment in the freelance arena. Why, then, do we burden ourselves with the weight of freelance platforms that are focused on company profits, rather than facilitating the individual?
As just one example, Upwork — a freelance portal responsible for $1billion USD worth of jobs a year — charges freelancers between 5–20% of the job cost; this fee is tiered depending on lifetime earnings with a single client, meaning that freelancers with a variable client base are regularly paying 20% fees on the majority of their jobs. And this ignores the flat 2.75% payment fee levied on clients. For some specialist freelance workers it may be possible to work for a single client or with sufficient volume to minimise these fees. However, for example, as a specialist writer and editor, my client base is broad and dynamic, and individual job costs would rarely, if ever, exceed the required volume to qualify for lower fees. This is not an isolated phenomenon: Freelancer, Fiverr, Guru, and the majority of others all charge fees in the range of 5–10%, a huge chunk of a freelancer’s earnings.
Enter CanYa — An Australian blockchain start-up — that puts power back into the purely peer-to-peer freelance marketplace. CanYa is designed upon the broader principles of blockchain: decentralised, peer-to-peer, and user-driven; a fabric upon which providers and clients will interact with transparency and safety. CanYa is less a traditional freelancing platform, and more an overcharged community noticeboard, with the added bonus of transactional safety. To understand the broader implications of this project, one must look away from the online world of specialist freelancing and focus on the gig economy as a whole. CanYa will enable the economical delivery of any service — plumbing, painting, picking, patching, programming, proofing — at a global or community level.
Arguably the framework of this capacity is the provision of low-cost, trustless hedged escrow. That is, once a price has been agreed by a client and provider, the client releases funds into the system, which are held by a ‘smart contract’ (more on that in a sec), and released to the provider following mutual agreement on completion. This entire system relies wholly on the blockchain — a technology best known as the backbone of cryptocurrencies. For those new to cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is a manner of storing transactional information that is verified by many computers independently, and which cannot be redacted by a single entity; that is, no amount of tampering from a central authority can alter or interfere in transactions between individuals. ‘Smart contracts’, then, are essentially computer programs built to perform more complex operations on this principle; in CanYa’s case, the smart contract will be used to hold and distribute funds independent of CanYa itself. As noted above, clients will put money into the smart contract, and mutual verification of the smart contract from both parties will allow release of these funds. This process is entirely automated, and it is for this reason that CanYa can provide such a low cost service; in fact, CanYa will charge only 1%* from the providers payout for each job, and payments from clients will be entirely free. Frankly, this is more than just an improvement, but instead an entire paradigm shift in the freelance arena.
CanYa, as evident fans of cryptocurrency technology, will also integrate cryptocurrency payments using their own token, as well as well-known currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, among others, but will continue to provide a bridge to traditional fiat currencies. To facilitate integration of these features, CanYa is currently preparing to run an ‘Initial Coin Offering’, where they will sell their own token as a means of raising funds for development in 2018–19. Generally speaking, I am financially disinterested in CanYa, although I think it will be a very positive investment, but will dip my toe into the ocean of cryptocurrency simply to support a project that I feel will redefine the manner in which I work on a day-to-day basis.
Undoubtedly, CanYa has a long way to go. Whilst a working pilot is currently being rolled out across Australia with encouraging growth, the goliaths of the global and community gig economy will not be toppled easily. That being said, with application of blockchain to create a truly peer-to-peer service marketplace, never before has David been so well-equipped.
More information: canya.io
*Payment fees are currently higher than this, but it is my understanding that fees will be scaled back with introduction of the smart contract platform.
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Disclosures: I do not work for CanYa, nor do I own CanYa coins, but I will certainly buy some when the ICO opens as a means of supporting a company that, ultimately, supports freelancers.
EDIT: I do now own CanYa coins! If you’d like to use my referral I’d welcome it — 321db.
If you’d like to show your appreciation for this post and motivate me to discuss more projects that have promise beyond simple investments, you may support me with Bitcoin at: 15vSEadQyz2paTJw9oq37qSAJjDJAdRW9J - anything received at this address will be used to support CanYa, in turn.