It is difficult to think of a better market for blockchain than online freelancing. Today some estimate the amount earned by online freelance professionals at nearly 2 trillion dollars. Regardless of the exact amount, the space has grown substantial over the last decade. Platforms like UpWork and Freelancer are currently in the top spots, but blockchain could change all that over the next few years.
There are issues for online freelancers that blockchain could easily address. Making sure that payment is secure for a freelancer is sometimes problematic. There are sites like UpWork that will hold money in escrow, but this is expensive, and isn’t a perfect system.
Blockchain can also help freelancers to build up a solid reputation, that doesn’t rely on a third-party website to verify their credentials. There are numerous ways that a person can defraud a client, and claim responsibility for work they never did. Blockchain can create a secure record of authorship, so that clients know they are hiring a professional that can get the job done.
Some Early Movers are Entering the Space
Zoom is on the cusp of releasing a blockchain-based freelancing platform that would tap into the potential that DLT tech could bring to a massive market. They are working on a platform that could replace a site like UpWork, and offer additional benefits as well. Zoom would use smart-contracts to make sure that freelancers would get paid, but they would also use blockchain to match freelancers with potentially perfect jobs.
Zoom CEO, Plamen Nedyalkovis, commented to Venture Beat on the benefits that his company would offer in the payment space:
“We are using blockchain to handle the escrow and transaction services of the platform, equalizing the power differential between client and contractor because the payment is held in the hand of neither.”
Clients would also benefit from using Zoom. The platform was created with multi-party projects in mind, and allows numerous groups to participate in forming a single entity to manage a complex workflow. They would also benefit from the skills-matching feature of the platform, as clients would be saved from sorting through piles of talent.
Moonlighting is another freelancing platform that is embracing blockchain. While Moonlighting is still a relatively small company when compared to UpWork or Freelancer, they have grown significantly since they launched in 2014. They are working on a new round of fundraising, and plan to use some of the proceeds to integrate blockchain into their already successful platform.
Jeff Tennery, one of the founders of Moonlighting, had this to say about the capital raise:
“We feel an immense sense of pride each day we serve this talented group of risk takers and now, as we kick off this crowdfunding campaign, they can share in that same success as partners in the very business we love.”
Many of the people that have entered both the online freelancing and blockchain space are passionate about what they do. It is easy to see that Jeff Tennery is probably sees a value in Moonlighting that is more than financial. Many in the blockchain space have similar feelings, and are looking for new ways to organize social structures.
Smart-Contracts are a Perfect Fit
No matter how they are employed, smart-contracts are a great tool for online freelancing. Some freelancers may prefer to work through an organized system, like the one that Zoom or Moonlighting is developing, while others could find that a platform that allows smart-contacts to be drafted easily is a better fit.
It is likely that the same advantages that blockchain offers other industries will be realized in freelancing. Unlike banking and FinTech, start-ups like Zoom have far fewer regulatory hurdles to overcome. Sites like UpWork may want to keep an eye on blockchain-based freelancing technology, as they will have to compete with these platforms once they are operational.