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UTU Aims to Transform Kenya’s Digital Trust Infrastructure.

UTU TRUST: A Real Decentralised Model of Human Trust.

Kenyan-based company UTU Trust (Swahili word for “Humanity”) launched on November 4th 2020 on a mission to make us trust digital platforms in the same way that we trust in real life¹. Its vision is to replace anonymous reviews and star ratings (the Internet’s current, de facto trust mechanism) with a machine learning-powered recommendation engine modelled on the fundamentals of real interpersonal trust.

CEO Jason Eisen sees three problems with current forms of digital trust: wrong incentives, wrong delivery mechanisms, and wrong theory². So far, Internet tools have delivered trust as a product instead of as infrastructure. Malicious actors ‘game’ the conventional trust systems by creating large numbers of fake accounts or bot armies that submit fake reviews, but UTU’s design prevents such manipulation.

Conventional review systems operate similarly to eBay in the 90s: a one-size-fits-all, archaic, and centralised model. Instead, UTU seeks to encourage good behaviour through punishing bad actors e.g. bots or accounts that submit fake recommendations by clients disapproving services. The one-off disapprove function takes a fee from the disapproving client, which disincentivizes the use of disapproval to “sabotage” services maliciously³. This reflects the three core design protocols of UTU’s product:

  • trust must be decentralised.
  • trust must be evaluated dynamically and presented descriptively.
  • trust must be delivered as infrastructure.

Marketplace sites and other online platforms can connect to the UTU Trust Application Programming Interface (API) and use UTU’s Web Software Development Kit (SDK) to integrate the core features of UTU’s Trust infrastructure into any app where the purpose of establishing whether a service is trustworthy is a necessity for decision making. UTU Trust includes star ratings, video reviews, feedback, and recommendation mechanisms³. All the data is stored on a blockchain, which both allows people to control their own data and verify the reliability of other data, all while anonymous. A future SDK will support mobile platforms.

UTU TRUST provides its infrastructure to Third-Party Services⁴.

UTU’s trust service is most valuable to platforms that have more risk, such as local home services, freelancing marketplaces, and sharing apps. The UTU coin (UTU), an ERC20 token on Ethereum, which is the monetary facet of the system, allows UTU Trust to monetize UTU Trust Tokens (UTT) as they are convertible to fiat currency. UTT constitute and measure positive contributions. UTT’s, consequently, are non-buyable tokens and do not function as a currency.

UTU’s major investors are SoftBank Group’s DEEPCORE, Zeroth AI, Aeternity, Animoca Brands, Kenetic, Genesis Block HK, One Block, DuckDAO, MoonRock, Brilliance Ventures, and Elrond among many other investors backing the company². Users can already experience UTU’s innovative products (across Africa called) Maramjo (mobility) and JamboRow (P2P lending) which operates in Nigeria and Tanzania. After a successful private token sale, UTU Trust is now listed on UniSwap.

UTU TRUST aims to Tokenize Trust by offering a Token for its Trust Engine⁴.

​​Finally, UTU describes a decentralised service marketplace as³:

  1. Facilitating a service marketplace, where services might be requested by clients directly or by other (composed) services.
  2. Implementing the token-related constraints and incentives as outlined above.
  3. Give participants a means of providing their data to interested parties, with secure (encrypted) storage and full automatic or semi-automatic access control.
  4. Providing a means of verifying the identity of participants and other structured data by participants or parties, possibly with zero-knowledge proofs.
  5. Enforcing the platform’s guarantees, particularly with regard to data privacy and integrity, independently of any entities which might be interested in gaining control of such a platform, such as governments, big companies or other organisations, or coalitions thereof.
  6. Deliver all of this through a simple and intuitive UI, digestible by the average person with no knowledge of decentralised applications, blockchain, or cryptocurrencies.

*Editors note

Sankore 2.0 is an Africa-focused community integrating the NEAR blockchain with projects and solutions conceived and built by local developers in Kenya. As noted in the content of this blog, Sankore 2.0 seeks to promote the development of Web3 products in Nairobi — for Kenya and for Africa as a whole

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Reference list

[1]: CryptoGuru. ‘[WATCH] Kenyan-Based Utu Technologies Releases the UTU Decentralized Trust API and Infrastructure Engine’. Bitcoin KE (blog), 1 April 2021. https://bitcoinke.io/2021/04/utu-trust-api-goes-live/.

[2] : — — — . ‘[WATCH] Kenya’s Utu Token Crowdsale Sells Out in Minutes’. Bitcoin KE (blog), 14 October 2020. https://bitcoinke.io/2020/10/utu-token-crowdsale/.

[3]: Eisen, Jason, Bastian Dr. Blankenburg, Alex Mwai, and Mahondo Ronald. ‘White Paper: UTU Protocol’, 2020. https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSn7d9BovABf8IxaK9uvvoUkRQKMMEsUqxvetEjovhq-F2Sw7czzbBV4Gghsoi1txn6ydSx3bqeAXst/pub.

[4]: CryptoGuru. ‘[VIDEO] Utu Technologies - Building a Trust Engine Infrastructure On the Blockchain in Kenya’. Bitcoin KE (blog), 20 June 2019. https://bitcoinke.io/2019/06/video-utu-technologies-building-a-trust-engine-infrastructure-on-the-blockchain-in-kenya/.

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