Once the current lockdown is over for all of us in our various countries, most things won’t simply revert to how they used to be. How we go about our daily lives, how we interact with each other and do business will have changed completely.
As we sit at home pondering our future, individuals, businesses and government entities are moving whatever they can online. Telemedicine allows doctors to see patients via live phone or computer video hookup. More distance learning options are being considered by colleges and universities with an expansion of program offerings. Even church services are going online so that worshipers can still feel connected, plus of course the inevitable online shopping.
One important aspect of all of this is that people of all generations will have developed better skills at using technology as they work at home more, teleconference and adapt to their new work environment.
A short while ago I deviated from writing about privacy topics and brought the Particl decentralized marketplace to readers’ attention. This was before our current lockdown era and since so many dramatic changes have taken place, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit the marketplace and consider how it could be useful to us because the 'new normal' is close to being upon us.
There is an update to be released soon concerning the marketplace and information all about it has just been published on the Particl website on April 22. This outlines what has been achieved recently and what the plans are for the near future. Let me also add this is not investment advice, nor is it about the value of the coin, I look at the market place as a tool in this 'new normal'.
But firstly, let me recap about the project in general and the marketplace, just to remind ourselves what it is all about. Then, I’ll move on and explain the big increase in potential it will certainly have once the updates are released.
The Particl Project is a truly decentralized platform, one which does NOT want to get hold of your data, one which asks no questions and allows you to buy and sell with complete anonymity.
It has been flying under the radar for quite a while but seems the team have now put some great things together. There was a common realization among the developers of the project that the data collection activities of those large, centralized platforms had to be addressed. These platforms have shown themselves not only to be untrustworthy but at times lacking the necessary diligence to safely retain the personal data which users have been forced to give them.
There are basically 3 main components to the Particl Project:
Firstly, there is the Particl Platform where users can build secure and decentralized apps. These Dapps can look as good as and work as well as anything from Apple, Amazon or Google but the big difference is the complete privacy and high level of security offered. Transactions on the Particl Platform use the PART Coin irrespective of which currency payments are made in.
Next is the PART Coin itself which can best be described as a top of the line privacy coin. In terms of scalability, it can handle large numbers without slowing down whilst at the same time its decentralization and high levels of security remain intact. This coin can also generate passive income. More on that later.
Thirdly, the team now have a truly decentralized marketplace up and running. Anyone, anywhere can buy and sell goods and services in total privacy with the added advantage of very low fees. The platform is a mix of P2P and blockchain technologies and it is exclusively run by its worldwide users who are running nodes. The marketplace is private by default with no identifiable data being linked to users. Transactions are hidden on the blockchain, metadata is removed from images and data exchange and communications encrypted. This decentralized marketplace is certainly a huge step forward in countering the predatory behavior of the current big players such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.
So now we hear you ask, in the event of things going pear-shaped and one of the parties to a transaction doesn’t perform, who is going to be the arbiter? Well, in the true spirit of decentralization there isn’t one. There is however, an innovative system of double deposit escrow called MAD which stands for mutually assured destruction. Both parties to a transaction need to match, as a security deposit into an escrow smart-contract, the value of the item being purchased by the buyer plus the shipping costs. Then once both parties confirm that the transaction has been completed satisfactorily, the security deposits are returned back less only the regular cryptocurrency transaction fees. If there is a dispute, both buyer and seller are forced to reach a settlement as neither will want to lose the deposit. As the marketplace evolves, a new feature will be soon be added to the escrow system. There will be an adjustable escrow rate wherein a sliding scale of the required escrow amount will be available. There will also be an escrow opt-out option in the event that both buyer and seller have absolute trust in each other.
The Part coin is a good earner of passive income. It uses Proof-of- Stake type of algorithm to achieve distributed consensus on the blockchain. Unlike Proof-of Work for coins such as Bitcoin, the creation of the next block is chosen via various combinations of random selection of the number of coins staked and the period of time which the user has held them. Currently the passive income is 2% per year however this is only true if 100% of the total coin supply is being staked. So if only 50% of the total network is up for staking then the reward rate for the year would be 4% Advantageously, this can all be done on a laptop with no need for huge power draining computing capacity.
So let’s take a look at the upcoming release….
The most striking feature of Particl Desktop 2.4.0 will be the inclusion of infinite markets and market management. This feature will allow users to create an unlimited number of markets or storefronts on the Particl network and manage an unlimited number of identities across any of these markets through user profiles. The Particl marketplace will become a network of infinite marketplaces and seller shops. The seller shops themselves can be made private with selected buyers needing an access code to enter. For instance, these shops could be for special promotions only for a particular group of customers or private channels between merchants and their suppliers.
This sounds easy and straight forward and what is also exciting about the infinite markets is the ability of sellers to send a market to their clients, but one which is not listed on the main marketplace. Let’s assume for instance that you want to sell certain goods but in your country these are controlled by a few powerful players or perhaps under government restrictions. To get around this you could create a marketplace for yourself and give your buyers the access code for it and your storefront therefore remains confidential. A very powerful tool indeed with endless possibilities.
The Particl Academy will also be released with Desktop 2.4.0 and this is a documentation hub with all of the information needed for both vendors and users of the marketplace. It will include in-depth guides about some of Particl’s core components plus FAQs, troubleshooting and all of the basic instructions needed to get started. It’s going to be a plainly written guide without any technical terms, thus making it easy for everyone to understand. A Vendor Onboarding Program will complement the Particl Academy to assist those vendors wanting to join. A lot of benefits will be made available to those who sign up for the program and the developers are keen to get as many sellers to join as possible to have more products and diversity of choice on the marketplace.
I see emerging technologies such as this bringing big changes to the manner in which we buy and sell online and hopefully the abuses by the current big players will soon be curtailed. To me, the Particl platform offers not just a high degree of privacy but cuts out those sizable commissions charged by the existing middlemen. The listing fees on the marketplace are already very small in comparison to the likes of Amazon and Ebay but with the update these will be reduced by around 95%.
This update is the biggest one so far for Particl and it is going to take things to the next level in terms of decentralized marketplaces.
But back to our daily lives. Some consumers are having to try things which they have never done before such as ordering groceries or apparel online or even getting a meal delivered. These shifts in behavior could very well be long term as consumers will be hesitant to return to the bricks and mortar stores with the lingering threat of Covid-19 still around. In a difficult time like this opportunities abound for people to start their own business, especially those considering an online delivery business. In the Philippines, people are currently stuck in their own local areas with limited access to supermarkets but the Particl marketplace could easily be used to connect local producers directly with customers. Delivery services are coming up left and right to fill this vacuum and they too could benefit from advertising on the marketplace.
The marketplace can also help the unbanked and the exploited in developing countries. Starbucks for instance has in the past been taking advantage of coffee farmers in Ethiopia by offering them very low prices for their crop. This at times can represent as little as 2.2% of the retail value. Hopefully in the near future, armed with only a smartphone these farmers and others like them worldwide, will be able to use the Particl marketplace to sell their products at the best price available. At the moment there is a mobile wallet but the marketplace has yet to be included, but once this is addressed I personally see its adoption going sky-high with the Particl eco-system experiencing massive growth in developing countries. The ability to cut out the middleman for all buyers and sellers involved in eCommerce will be a welcome change.
Buying, selling, reselling or advertising services, it seems to me that the Particl marketplace is an ideal venue for starting a new venture.
In order to find out more, I asked CryptoGuard, who takes care of communications for the project, what excites him about it and he came back to me with this:
"To me it's all about freedom. Our world, and even the internet now, has grown very centralized which gives corporations and certain institutions too much power that they leverage to further their agendas and impose on us rules and high fees. Additionally, the giants controlling these central points of control have implemented very aggressive and intrusive data mining and tracking mechanisms which go against the very basic human right that is privacy (and personal freedom).
This can be easily observed in the eCommerce sector. A few giants control most of the market and use their power to impose their rules and policies. This often results in censorship, bans of products and services, taking their own sellers out of business by copying their products, and intrusive data mining which often results in leaks of personal information.
The worse part is that we have very little resources and alternatives as most, if not all, transaction data has to go through marketplace operators such as Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba, and then through payment processors like Mastercard, VISA, Paypal, etc. This is due to the very nature of centralized payments.
What can we really do against these multi-billion dollar companies who prey on any perceived threat to their monopoly the second they get wind of it?
Then came along Bitcoin, a censorship-proof, pseudonymous and free (as in freedom) currency. Yet, Bitcoin still has a problem, because most of the time you still need to spend it through centralized cryptocurrency payment processors.
This introduces the very same issues mentioned above as with traditional payments. Bitcoin, with its decentralized nature, needs an equally decentralized way for it to be spent other than simply transferring coins to an address.
And this is what excites me about Particl. It is an entire marketplace that provides most of the features you would find on a traditional marketplace like eBay, but instead of being run by a business which gets access to all the data and gets to impose its rules, it runs the exact same way as Bitcoin does, inheriting from its benefits and even more.
It is entirely decentralized, meaning there is not a single third-party that has influence over it, is private-by-default, making it impossible for any party to collect and share personal and business information, and is censorship-proof so that anyone can buy and sell what they want, without restriction. And the cherry on top...it doesn't even charge a commission or sales fee.
It is the perfect embodiment of free market, and it is a beautiful leap forward in technology that has the potential to fundamentally change eCommerce as we currently know it. Working as part of this revolution really makes one's life fulfilling."
-CryptoGuard - Particl Communications
Now that was a much longer answer than I expected but you see the passion and the potential plus the need for this decentralized eco- system. I also reached out to Ido Kaiser (also known as Kewde) who is Developer and Software Architect and asked him for his thoughts about the project:
“Once you've had a taste of what decentralization can do for the monetary system then it's obvious that we ask ourselves what it could mean for trade too. Whilst the trade is still rather decentralized today, thanks to a semi decent working of capitalism, it's not impossible to think that it might not stay that way. The Amazon company for example, they are in a unique and creepy position these days. They are both a marketplace and a producer/seller. There will be more companies like these in the future which have an internal conflict of interest. If you see a horrible trend, then I think the least we can do is already work on an alternative option.”
-Ido Kaiser - Developer & Software Architect
“One of the things that I find really exciting about the Particl Open Marketplace is that it is pioneering decentralized and private commerce on the internet, using the very architecture that runs Bitcoin. I witnessed the team behind this project, one of the best in the business, go through the roughest market conditions yet still deliver a decentralized application that actually works, with no funny ICO business or marketing gimmicks. The marketplace is live right now for anyone to use, is open source, privacy-enabled, and can be run on the most basic setup so that anyone can be their own Amazon."
-Miguel Cuneta, cryptocurrency and decentralization proponent, Co- founder of Satoshi Citadel Industries, Philippines.
"I'm excited about particl, because for the first time in history, a truly free and private market can exist. One that does not allow the market owner to use sales data to outcompete its own sellers and put them out of business. It also allows product inventors to bring their inventions to the market without fearing that copycats that use trends data will steal their idea before the inventors can at least make their initial investment back. This has caused a lot of inventions to be put on the ice and I am excited what new product can enter the market now that inventors can once again hope to profit from their ideas."
-Joe Fisher - Particl Advicer
"The world is full of people who can't see the power imbalances that are being created. Only when the effects of those power imbalances are applied to their personal lifes will they be ready to accept decentralization. But that time will come, it's not a "if" statement, it's a "when" statement. I hope I get to see that tipping point myself but I'm very well aware of the fact that the decentralized technology like Particl has the ability to outlive all of us. When the time is right for people to claim back their privacy and freedoms in trade, I hope they find their way to our platform or at least draw inspiration to build their own."
-Gerlof van Ek - Lead Designer & Branding, UI/UX, Developer of the Particl Project
"What really makes me passionate about Particl and decentralized marketplaces is the fact that it takes the burden of having to deal with any middlemen. That really puts the small sellers and buyers at the table and re-establishes fairness in eCommerce."
-Bryan Woods - President Spend.com
One thing which I believe will drive the mass adoption and lead Particl to becoming a more mainstream player are the Infinite Markets:
"It is, simply put, an added functionality that allows anyone to create public or private user markets and storefronts. Whereas Particl’s Open Marketplace used to be the only Particl marketplace available, it will now be one out of an infinite amount of user markets or storefronts that anyone can create. It will, however, remain as the default marketplace, meaning anyone installing Particl Desktop will have access to and see this giant public marketplace."
The Privacy Advocate