The concept of decentralized commerce is nothing new to those in the blockchain space. This technology is both highly disruptive and highly inclusive. It’s likely that the next Airbnb or Uber won’t be controlled by a centralized, rent-seeking marketplace. Instead, it will be open and peer-to-peer. We’ve written before why we believe this decentralized future is inevitable. Approximately two billion adults on this planet are unbanked, but thanks to widespread and growing adoption of mobile phones, these individuals now have access to blockchain-powered marketplaces without needing access to traditional banking. With this conviction, we built our own cryptocurrency wallet that is completely integrated into our Origin Marketplace App. Today the majority of our traffic comes from mobile devices, and we expect that percentage to only increase over time.
One country we have recently been focusing our community development efforts in is Venezuela. According to The World Bank’s 2017 figures, 9.5M Venezuelan adults are currently unbanked, just under 30% of the adult population. Meanwhile, those who are banked face six-digit hyperinflation that has rendered fiat currency (bolivars) useless. This has forced millions to scavenge daily to feed themselves and find alternative ways to sustain their lives. According to the United Nations, about 4 million people have fled the nation since 2015. With the political, economic, and social unrest that dominate this country, it was very clear to us that now is the time for us to raise awareness of our mission and educate new users about our mobile DApp. At Origin, this initiative’s goal was to show the local Venezuelans that cryptocurrencies can offer a solution to store and distribute wealth that is more economically sound and safe than the local bolivar which has lost two-thirds of its value this year alone.
Meet Team Aktio
We met Team Aktio during a Venezuela market user survey that we conducted a few months ago. Through our survey debrief sessions with the team, we gained a firsthand understanding of the Venezuelan crypto ecosystem. Team Aktio was founded in late 2016 by Guillermo Velazco, Bernardo Aceituno, and Alfredo Lechin — young Venezuelan engineers who first started out investing and providing financial services through Aktio Financial Solutions. This company helped Venezuelans companies, individuals, and merchants overcome their financial difficulties. Previously, the team worked with Dash Youth to educate university students about the use cases of Dash — which has become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies used in the country today.
Origin Tech Workshop
With Team Aktio’s extensive experience in leading education-focused workshops across Venezuela, we held our first meetup in Caracas last May. We had more than 75 attendees at the event who downloaded our mobile app and learned to use our DApp by making a purchase of our demo listing (a delicious lunch meal prepared by Delibaguette Venezuela) with crypto for the first time. We demonstrated how blockchain can disrupt our traditional marketplace platform model by cutting out the middleman altogether. We also presented a future where with cryptocurrency could be used as a more dependable store of value and medium of exchange, circumventing the fiat currency hyperinflation in Venezuela. With the integrated crypto wallet in our mobile marketplace app, attendees were given access to a true peer-to-peer decentralized marketplace experience. They were literally able to transact digitally and instantly without needing their perpetually weakening bolivar.
We were impressed with the depth of engagement in that room, and we gathered valuable user feedback that will help us build better, user-friendly DApps. As we increasingly commit to our mobile development targeting unbanked regions and regions that suffer from unreliable banking & financial systems, it was crucial for us to gather firsthand feedback from the Venezuelans while raising awareness of our mobile app and its benefits.
Our meetup in Caracas, Venezuela was a significant step towards entering the crypto ecosystem in Latin America and serving regions where crypto can provide improved financial access and freedom. We want to thank Team Aktio, Aure (our talented product designer & artistic director who was born & raised in Venezuela), and the rest of our community in Venezuela who has been supporting us throughout our journey and made this event possible. However, this is just the beginning. As we continue to iterate on our product and launch new features, we will be educating everyday users about the power of decentralized commerce through our mobile app in partnership with Team Aktio and other regional ambassadors. If you are a leader of a blockchain or technology community (anywhere in the world) and are interested in having Origin present virtually about our decentralized peer-to-peer marketplace platform, we want to hear from you.
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