Partage — White Paper (v2)

Julien Carbonnell
Partage
Published in
22 min readNov 23, 2023

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Partage is hosted by a registered company in Estonia called CivicTech OÜ. Established in the Euro Zone, Partage is built in compliance with the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, a legal framework for crypto asset management within the European Union. Partage aims to establish itself as an independent entity in a global market following user adoption.

Partage, its shareowners, and team members, are not financial advisors. All opinions shared on Twitter, Discord, or through other public channels are those of the respective individuals alone. Partage tokens are solely intended to increase a user’s access to utilities, and provable digital ownership titles into real-world assets. Partage does not promote the tokenization, buying, or selling of tokens representing fractions as a means of investment. Partage is not responsible for how their customers choose to marketize their belongings to share them through the Partage platform, or through any third-party platform which could be used to sell or re-sell shares into utilities. Videos, pictures, and textual content from Partage are purely meant to inform and entertain the public about our activities, and should not be considered otherwise than entertainment. Please consult and work directly with tax, legal, financial, and investment professionals before making any expenses on the Partage platform.

PLAN:
- What is Partage?
- Tokenizing Real-world Assets
- Shared Utilities on the Blockchain
- A Marketplace Atop a Network of Blockchain-Controlled Smart Locks
- Deployment Strategy Through Smart Cities Partnerships
- The Near Blockchain

What is Partage?

Partage is a platform to share utilities on the blockchain. It is composed of:
- a blockchain-controlled smart lock
- a marketplace

Partage users will purchase a Partage Lock and use the marketplace to list items to share with other users. The locking device will be used to remotely control user access to their belongings, and the marketplace to sell temporary access to opening the lock in real life. Partage can be used to share apartments, cars, boats, kayaks, cameras, designer clothes, or anything you’d like to use once in a while with the privilege of owning it instead of renting.

Partage started in May 2022 under the name LandMinis3 as a proposition to tackle informal housing with blockchain-secured land ownership titles. It was further elaborated as an NFT marketplace for tokenized real estate presented at the ONTOCHAIN summit in June 2022. At the Data Natives conference in September 2022, a more in-depth presentation was given in a keynote format called Real-World Asset NFTs and Tokenized Real Estate. The first demo of the marketplace was recorded in October 2022, prior to joining a pre-accelerator program called Web3 Startup Lab in November 2022. Working on a go-to-market strategy and a fundraising campaign, important changes have been made to the original project between November 2022 and February 2023. The project will be renamed Partage in December 2022 and distance itself from the real estate industry to build a product of lower complexity, able to fractionalize affordable and digital items, to meet the expectations of early adopters. As for a proof of concept, the first 9 users of the Partage platform purchased a Megapont NFT collectively using Partage’s low-tech product in January 2023. Therefore, instead of communicating on the underlying fractional ownership protocol, Partage presents itself as a platform for Shared NFT Utilities. More details about this market research have been presented in the video Lean Experiments & Customer Research recorded in February 2023. During spring 2023, we built a solution for a sushi chef willing to pre-sell batches of 10 VIP dinners in his private venue. This first use case of the Partage marketplace was presented in April 2023. We also applied to Y Combinator Summer 23 in April 2023. Having a hard time reaching user adoption with our first working MVP, we reviewed several strategies. We thought of specializing ourselves in private events NFTs, of cloning the sushi restaurant use cases in the restaurant industry. We minted 16 utility NFTs of different categories of use cases and thought of using them to multiply demos to build partnerships in different industries. No idea was convincing, and we also understood that our fundraising campaign would not go through the current floppy market. In July after some research in Blockchain for Smart Cities, his primary background expertise, our CEO started to work on a device able to bridge the physical and digital worlds, that would allow Partage customers to remotely control users’ access to the shared utilities in real life. The first prototype of a smart lock was achieved in September 2023, and the Partage Lock integration with Partage’s marketplace was presented in October 2023. Partage ended finalist at the hackathon of the annual Near Conference in November 2023 with Partage BnB, an updated combination of the Partage Lock and the marketplace for the short-term rental industry.

Tokenizing Real-World Assets

Real-world asset tokenization is the big promise behind blockchain for finance, as it would potentially turn all existing assets into liquid markets available to investors of all budgets. From buildings to commodities to stock markets, natural resources from rare metals to the rain forest, essentially everything in the world that we value could be represented by a digital token whose property could be transferred from one part of the world to another with ease. If this trader’s dream is progressing in the web3 industry, it is still not yet to come, as the democratization of financial investment to the masses has many challenges to unravel. Tokenization is building itself a science called token engineering which aims to prevent such operations from crashing. Trent McConaghy first mentioned token engineering in 2017, combining theory and practice with a sense of responsibility for the system that’s being designed. While most users will look for a maximization of their personal interest when they engage with a tokenized ecosystem, it is crucial to design the system such that users will be incentivized to adopt a behavior that’s beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole. Because blockchains are developed with no central authority to regulate them, engineers need to think and test all potential scenarios to guarantee that no participant could be hurt by a few malicious users.

For example, the objective function of the Bitcoin network is to maximize the security of the network. Therefore the Bitcoin blockchain is designed to reward the users who improve the network’s security and Bitcoin succeeded in incentivizing its users to invest in securing the network.

Blockchain networks are adaptive systems with multi-scale spatiotemporal dynamics. Tokens represent the atomic scale of any crypto-economic system, and blockchain technologies record an unfalsifiable token history which is made publicly verifiable to any user of the network. Token history contains enriched real-time data reflecting all economic activities within their system, which is all we need to provide data-driven economies on which AI could perform the best predictive models we have ever known. The remaining challenge will be to lead a dynamic that truly supports growth and long-term sustainability. In usual companies, sustainability means getting people to pay you for a product or service and using that income to pay your charges such as salaries, offices, etc. When companies are building the initial product to start getting revenues, or when they need to grow faster to outrun competitors, they can issue stock, and sell it to investors for cash. A practice consisting of pulling future revenues to the present, on the promise that allocating investment effectively will increase its value. This fundraising technique is common in the blockchain industry and founding teams sustain themselves by selling tokens representing shares in their project, as they work to improve their product. Revenues from token sales are allocated to workers based on growth potential and alignment with the company’s mission to keep growing the project. To fulfill their decentralization promise, governance in crypto-networks is tied to token holders. Since tokens can be transferred, traded, valued, and modeled by the market, a new form of social organization is made out of governance tokens. When the value of the underlying resource grows, the value of the decision-making on the resource’s governance grows, as the value of its token representation.

Partage is offering a solution for owners willing to share the use of their belongings with other casual users. If the company is expected to grow in value according to the income it will generate from fees perceived by matchmaking between users sharing a common interest in co-owning and sharing the use of the same commodity, the tokenization operation should not generate any speculative behavior from the users, since the token value should keep tight to the real-world value of the underlying asset. Indeed, a new token pool will be minted and issued by the original owner every time a new utility is shared across the Partage’s network. Delivering access to rare items such as a collection car or a limited collectibles edition will probably generate a fluctuation in value, that will stabilize once it reaches its updated market price. Partage is not built to reward speculative behaviors but instead for users willing to gain temporary access to a utility. Partage tokens are built such that token holders have temporary access to a utility secured behind a lock. Partage is not issuing security tokens, not calling people to make a profitable investment out of token trading, and does not make sense to fast-swap. The only bias on the value that we could experience is one of sublets, or users acting like master tenants who will buy all available shares on the market for a specific utility in order to re-issue it on an external marketplace with an added value. We are not quite here yet, but we can already imagine that most cases will be cleared by an equivalent utility being shared on the marketplace to satisfy the demand.

Suppose a car owner works from home half the week and only need to go to office from Tuesday to Thursday. It can mint its car, split the ownership in 7 tokens representing the 7 days of the week, keep 3 tokens for its personal use, and release 4 tokens on the marketplace for other users to use the car from Friday to Monday. It represents a good deal for both as they will always be able to re-sell their Partage token, while they could never get their money back if they rented that car. They also share more rights on the car as co-owners and can agree with others to invest or maintain it like they want. Imagine one day they don’t need their car, they can still delegate the access right to someone else by sending the token in their wallet. This token will be revoked when the delegation period is over.

From the utility perspective, tokenization means adding convenient liquidity pools on top of formerly pure illiquid assets. Be careful: “liquidity” is used here as a physical characteristic and has nothing to do with “liquidity” as a financial resource to secure a tokenization operation. From the blockchain perspective, attaching real-world utilities to digital tokens will help secure their value, reduce speculation, and give them a purpose for mass adoption.

Shared Utilities on the Blockchain

Over the last decade, the sharing economy proposed a change of paradigm between usage and ownership. A handful of startups named Airbnb, Uber, or WeWork built giant monopolies in no time on a business model made of selling access-based services. Passed the hype on great user experience improvement compared to their older competitors, all of them have been later accused of having destroyed their markets, a poor follow-up in their customer service, and cutting insane fees on the precarization of workers. Furthermore, they left users with no alternative as they killed all their competitors and did not provide a long-term plan for society other than a profitable investment for their shareholders. With blockchain technology, the hyper-centralization of powers and money that represent those successful companies from the sharing economy could be broken. Blockchain technology offers all that users need to drive the sharing economy into shared ownership for their best interests and the best interests of society at scale. Service providers and consumers will gain more rights and the power to negotiate arrangements on the utilities they need, and independent workers will gain freedom over abusive landlords.

Even though Partage is a platform to share utilities between token holders, Partage Tokens are different from Utility Tokens. In the classic taxonomy, there are 3 kinds of tokens: Security Tokens, Utility Tokens, and Non-Fungible Tokens. Security tokens represent investments in stocks or companies and are being held as proof of ownership giving rights to receive dividends. Holders can use their Security tokens to exert control and take part in a decision-making process over the underlying resource. Utility Tokens are coupons giving access to products or refunds on products. It’s not considered an investment but a pre-sale or sponsorship. Utility token holders do not gain decision-making rights as the token has no relationship with the company’s valuation. Non-fungible tokens were originally meant for digital ownership. The popularity of NFTs in the 2021 bull market resulted in a fame game and NFTs are since mostly known as investment vehicles that resulted in huge money loss for many speculative investors.

Partage tokens represent shares of ownership in physical utilities. It does not offer passive income, thus it is not a security token. It does give rights for holders to make collective decisions on the underlying asset, thus it is not a utility token. It is not a vehicle for speculation on rarity, not made to hold and being airdropped goodies, thus it is not an NFT. Partage tokens are minted in the standard Near NFT format. When representing shares into a unique property, NFTs are all minted with the same URI, pointing to the same underlying utility. The rights attached to each share are described in the metadata, in particular when a physical timesharing of the property is expected by shareholders. The NFT will contain variables such as “AccessScheduleDays” with the 7 days of the week as values, “ProfileActivation” and “ProfileExpiration” as date frame for the validity of the user rights (one could, for example, get access to a car in Chicago from Mondays to Wednesdays in April), while “AccessStartTime” and “AccessEndTime” could frame this access to business hours. The rights of each user are also modular, so one token could simply have a “Permissions” to “Unlock” a utility or have extensive rights inscribed in its metadata to “Unlock” and “DelegatePermission” to another wallet. With these NFTs representing permanent or temporary access tokens to individual utilities, property owners have full control over listing their belongings available on the marketplace, and can revoke access at any time.

At the purchase on Partage’s marketplace, credentials are negotiated between the holder and the issuer: names, addresses, dates of validity, and other utility descriptions will be embedded in the transaction. Access tokens will be used by co-owners to access a physical utility in the real world through the Bluetooth signal available as a standard feature on all smartphones of the market. The token will be considered valid when it matches the transaction signed by the issuer, made publicly available on the blockchain record, proving that the token contains accurate restitution of the negotiated access. Access token NFTs are issued once and don’t need to be returned. They will not be valid outside of the timeframe they have been allocated for. They can still be revoked remotely by the issuer if the holder is not behaving according to the negotiated terms.

Suppose a flat owner willing to sell access to its apartment for the time of traveling abroad. He/she will install the Partage Lock on the entrance door, register the apartment on the Partage marketplace, listing available dates for other users to use it, and provide a detailed description of the utility. A buyer will select the apartment on the marketplace, select dates on a calendar, and mint a digital certificate containing all the booking details. On the date of entrance, the buyer will tap its phone on the lock to open the door. The token will work all along the period of access negociated. Imagine the flat owner is reported misbehaving from the user by neighbors, he/she will be able to revoke user access remotely by suspending the token validity.

A Marketplace Atop a Network of Blockchain-Controlled Smart Locks

With strong incentives to use blockchain as a means of democratizing access to urban utilities, Partage is rooted in a decade of Smart-City and Citizen Engagement research and development. Cities in their essence have always been the place for social innovation, trading, and management of common resources. While blockchain struggles to establish itself as an alternative to the global banking system, it is attractive enough to onboard new users when it provides them with a direct purpose, like redeeming tokens for goodies or accessing an event in real life. The urban infrastructure, an overlay of technical and social networks intertwined with an accumulation of physical matter, can be thought of as a network of conditional access rights to various properties in constant transformation. Blockchain technology is creating a standard for digital titles of properties, that can be transferred from peer to peer, along with data and payments. Now how could we bridge the physical and the digital layers? We need a hardware device able to check the validity of a user's access to this or that locked utility.

Recently digital locks have become increasingly popular for securing homes and other private properties. Being a lock box with a key inside, a door lock to open with a pin, or a card reader opening a gate, remote access controls are diverse in their design and features for an average price between 150 and 300 USD. Each lock solution has its weaknesses and Blockchain technology could significantly improve them. Traditional key locks still are the most secure solutions, but physical keys can be copied easily and are hard to change. The keypad locks make it easier to change a secret but this must be made in person at the door. The smart locks significantly improve it by allowing a secret to be changed remotely. However, they usually depend on an intermediary platform or server that centralizes maintenance, and the storage of passwords, which raise security and privacy concerns. A blockchain-controlled smart lock is more secure, as only the smart contract owner can control the lock remotely and update the state of the lock or the secret to open it. It is decentralized by design, meaning that the owner is independent of any third-party platform, that could be hacked, stolen, or simply stop its maintenance. And it is more trustworthy in terms of its background protocol: on the blockchain, the code is transparent and is forever. No one can change the terms for pricing or maintenance unexpectedly or deprecate an older version to push new features on the market. Blockchain-controlled smart locks can be locked or unlocked based on the matchmaking between local information shown at the door, and on-chain information stored publicly in a smart contract. Such hardware lock inherits the security and the programmability of the underlying Blockchain protocol. Conditional access is minted uniquely for each user purchase, containing all information about temporary user rights in a public hash.

The first Partage lock was built on an Arduino board assembling standard hardware elements in a DIY fashion. It uses a PIN code that’s randomly generated for the user at the purchase and will be typed on a keypad to open the lock. It was good to prove the concept and still is a fun experiment for educational purposes to build and learn more about assembling microelectronic elements, programming a door lock, and deploying a smart contract to a blockchain. However, the DIY model is not the most adapted to secure a door in real life. A more advanced model could be designed in a FabLab using a 3D printer to build a box, hiding the electronic wires and better integrating the power source. Looking for opportunities to accelerate Partage’s development, integrating our Blockchain solution into market-ready smart locks appeared as a great move. Considering pre-existing user habits in tech interfaces and our smoothest personal experiences, we decided to integrate the Partage app into an NFC reader. With such a device, Partage users will access shared utilities with a smartphone or a tag card holding their digital wallet assets.

Any owner willing to share access to its belongings with other users will purchase a Partage-compatible NFC reader, and install it on the door or the shared housing unit, bedroom, garage, fridge, or box. It will list the shared items on the marketplace, which will create a root reference in the smart contract, and every time a user buys access to it, a new NFT will be minted that contains both metadata elements of the property and unique elements of the temporary user. The NFT will be sent to the user’s wallet and they will tap their phone or tag card to communicate their access rights to the device which will open the door to a valid NFT holder.

Deployment Strategy Through Smart Cities Partnerships

Citizen science is a decades-old practice and has proven many benefits like reducing costs of production, increasing consciousness, fastening up the learning curve, and easing solution deployment. Engaging citizens in the process of problem formulation, data collection, and evaluation has to be seen in the wider context of user-centered design over repetitive feedback loops which places adopters at the core of the solution.

An increasing level of participation and ownership is crucial for such a network of blockchain-controlled smart locks, and Partage is working on partnerships with a selection of universities and local governments willing to experiment with our beta version through their Urban Living Labs. Such partnerships have the potential to significantly accelerate the adoption of our technology by creating the conditions of a consistent and prepared bottom-up approach able to successfully engage citizens located in geographical proximity instead of onboarding customers randomly scattered around the globe. in our deployment partnerships, early users will be selected through open calls for participants in the partnering cities and universities and be offered benefits such as gaining access to our technology for free. Many cities worldwide adopted the Urban Living Lab framework to facilitate the experimental deployment of urban innovation technologies on their infrastructure. It will also be the opportunity to create synergies with other private companies working on their deployment at the same time in the same city. The use of low-cost devices is important as they’ll be installed in public spaces with maintenance partly made by the users themselves. The locker has to ensure the security and durability of the locked utility and the lock itself to not be stolen, vandalized, or hacked.

A network of lockers could essentially go anywhere a property needs to be secured, going from luggage storage in train stations to bike lockers, commercial freezers for rent, multi-purpose lockers… All of them could represent an opportunity to deploy blockchain-controlled devices and a motivation for citizens to install a wallet on their smartphone and start using a blockchain. Working closely with the local government and the user community will be crucial to knowing where to position Partage’s lockers in town. This will depend on the most enthusiastic participants and the items that are most suspected to be shared between them. By using the smart lock and the marketplace histories, and collecting human feedback from users, a large volume of data can be collected from all over the city in a short period, at a low cost. Such information will be completed through preparatory field research, interviews, and surveys of the population, and increase the chance of user participation significantly. The learning side of the participatory process plays a significant role in creating the necessary conditions for achieving a successful deployment. A two-step selection of local workers for delegated maintenance and weighted decision-making will start with selecting beta testers who satisfy predefined constraints and will consider the worker’s participation history in a second step.

Providing users with the right tools, websites, and applications that are both convenient to use and to collect and download data from is of high importance as it will have a direct impact on user acquisition. Mobile phones are undoubtedly the most widespread technology worldwide, therefore we are prioritizing mobile devices to build our tech, but also to interact with our users and in particular with our beta testers. As Discord is commonly used in web3 communities, we will use Partage’s Discord Server with adequate communication and interaction channels to handle our customer support. Suppose our early adopters express struggles in using this app to communicate with us, we will think of a more convenient solution for them. All surveys and 1–1 interviews, all reports, visuals, and diagrams will be designed in a mobile-friendly format, and our marketplace is built as a mobile-first app. Using their phones, Partage users will be able to easily go through the listing, browsing, and purchasing items on our marketplace. They will illustrate their requests, feedback, or data collection with pictures from their mobile phone cameras. An interactive map will complete the marketplace listing so users can directly locate available items around them and filter their research based on categories, providers, or prices.

Complementary to the digital interface, we will try as much as possible to provide physical spaces where users can meet together and our staff in real life. This can be as simple as a store in a city center, or an open desk in co-working spaces. It will be used to facilitate mediation and give a sense of reality behind digital technology. The physical space should be able to support collective decision-making meetings in the early stages and facilitate activities of intermediation when needed.

The Near Blockchain

The Near Blockchain, Near Protocol, Near Network, also referred to simply as Near, is a decentralized application platform designed to facilitate the open web and power its economy. An open web can be seen as a global public resource, accessible, verifiable, and royalty-free for all users.

We can think of an analogy with the surface Web and the deep Web to illustrate what an open web would be. The internet we use most of the time is sometimes considered the surface web. It is held and organized by private companies and somehow biased by their revenue models. The deep web refers to parts of the internet not accessible to standard search engines such as paywalled sites or private databases. On the contrary, an open web is like a public version of the internet that would be held by and made for all its users, without gatekeepers, or third-party control.

Launched in 2020, Near is a Layer 1, sharded, proof-of-stake, carbon-neutral, third-generation blockchain. What does that mean? In decentralized ecosystems, Layer-0 (L0) provides the underlying infrastructure, Layer-1 (L1) is usually referred to as the blockchain itself, it consists of the decentralized ledger and the consensus mechanism, and Layer-2 (L2) is a third-party integration between Layer-1 and other systems. A layer-3 (L3) sometimes provides another layer of user interface. To solve the scalability challenge, meaning to be capable of accommodating an exponentially growing number of users, transactions, and data, blockchain networks choose between L1 or L2 solutions. Usually, L2 functions by executing state transitions ‘off-chain’ from the L1 they’re built upon and subsequently committing state roots and transactional data to the foundational L1. Ethereum for example made the strategic decision to scale via a L2 protocol engineered atop its existing L1 blockchain. Near chose to tackle the scalability challenge directly from the L1 by sharding, a method that partitions the network into distinct segments built directly into the protocol itself while retaining the security assurances of the L1 blockchain. The advantage of scaling from the L1 or by an L2 is still an open debate as promoters of both options tend to emphasize their respective advantages, but we lack the objectivity to make a final answer.

What is a Proof-of-Stake? There are a few well-known consensus mechanisms to keep a blockchain working correctly and being resistant to attacks. In a Proof-of-Stake system, like the one used by the Near network, a large pool of participants (called witnesses) will be predetermined to make decisions during a specific time (set to 1 day) to maintain the network. The underlying goal is to increase decentralization and security and create a fair reward distribution system. Every interval splits into 1440 block slots per minute, and 1024 participants are selected per block. This means that at each interval split, there will be 1,474,560 seats available for all participants indicating their interest in network maintenance by signing blocks. This participation is based on staking money into the network. The reward for maintenance will be directly proportional to the stake.

NEAR Protocol has implemented something called Nightshade Sharding for their Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. Sharding is a type of database partitioning that breaks very large databases into smaller chunks and stores them in different machines. As for blockchain, every node has to store all the information on the blockchain locally and process all incoming transactions. If that’s a very secure process, it is hardly scalable. Therefore some blockchains are using sharding mechanisms to allow different nodes to process different transactions in parallel. Instead of all nodes processing all transactions, nodes will be broken into groups and each group will handle one part of the data and transaction processing. By doing so, the network becomes scalable without sacrificing its security. While this original sharding model has proven to be very useful, it does have inevitable hiccups. Near improves it with Nightshade Sharding. The system is modeled as a single blockchain in which each block contains all the transactions for all shards and changes the whole state. However, participants don’t have to download the whole full network state. Instead, they only maintain the state corresponding to the shards they validate transactions for.

The Near account model and Near access keys are quite specific to Near and a great feature of their blockchain. Like other blockchains, Near is based on public key cryptography and relies on key pairs — an association of one public key with one private key. NEAR uses the public key for identity and the private key for signatures (proving control of its associated identity). Once keys are generated they get stored in the keystore and can be called through the Near API to sign transactions. When a transaction (or message) is signed by a certain key, we can trust that it comes from whoever holds the key. Therefore whoever has the private key controls its associated public key identity. What makes Near special is that it is based on Near accounts which can handle being granted several Access Keys of different access permissions. For example, this account can be granted FullAccess to that contract to maybe deploy the contract or create and delete accounts, or it can be limited to FunctionCall permission. All keys associated with an account will be unique within that account, but we can assign the same public key to multiple accounts and give it different access permissions.

Why do we build Partage on the Near Blockchain?
- On the user side, Near offers multiple web2-like services such as a social network, and a web-based wallet with human-readable accounts (ex. partage.near). No need to download and install apps or browser extensions. It also has a convenient fast-auth mechanism that allows you to create and connect to your account with a magic link sent to your email, and convenient multiple-key accounts to grant specific authorizations to third parties while keeping the option to revoke them at any time.
- On the builder side, Near makes it easy to code and deploy new apps with the common programming languages Javascript and Rust. It provides a great developer experience and supports projects through grant programs. And it also implements a fair business model which redistributes 30% of gas fees to the developers.
- On the technical side, transactions are fast and cheap, and the Near network is certified carbon-neutral which demonstrates a long-term vision from the leading team and gives us, startups building on Near, an answer to the growing concern from the public about the environmental impact of blockchain technology.

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Julien Carbonnell
Partage

CEO @partage // Urban Developer, Machine Learning, Blockchain Utility