The efforts of Uber and Airbnb to develop and grow a new labor market based on short-term contracts and freelance work have driven multi-billion dollar valuations, and an economy in which the participants share in value creation through selling products or services, building relationships, sharing advice or reviews and collaborating. However, critics of the current sharing economy business model have labeled this transformation of how goods and services are produced, shared and delivered as "platform capitalism" due to the fact that the party that largely profits from this value created is in fact, the platform.
Separately, while the efficiency of a participatory model where customers directly engage with each other over a mobile app or website has introduced better methods of finding short-term housing (Airbnb), hailing rides (Uber) and contracting services (Fiverr), these companies have each consolidated their respective markets and charge rising middlemen fees for the use of their platforms.
Decentralized sharing economy platform The Bee Token is taking on these issues and recently announced Beenest, a blockchain-powered short-term housing marketplace to find and book distinctive spaces in a cheaper and more secure way. Built using blockchain technology, Beenest is re-imagining short-term housing rentals by charging 0% commissions and passing that value onto guests and hosts. Bee Token co-founder and CEO Jonathan Chou answered a few questions about the new platform:
Q. How does the blockchain eliminate middlemen in the short-term housing market?
Centralized platforms like Uber and Airbnb charge fees for a myriad of interactions from cancellations to booking fees to credit card payments to currency conversion fees. This results in added fees for users that range anywhere from 10-22%. With blockchain technology, we can eliminate these fees by removing the "rent collectors" and automating processes in a secure and verified way that reduces the costs of running the network. Smart contracts within the blockchain network can handle everything from solving disputes, issuing reimbursements, and ensuring the trust and security of all participants in the network-- no third parties required.
Q. Why should a host or guest choose Beenest over similar platforms such as Airbnb or HomeAway?
Beenest is aligning the values of both the company and the users of the network in a way to breeds trust and equitable incentives. Users want to trust not only the person they are staying with but the platform behind it. Beenest is a decentralized platform that grows with its network and is always aligned in making sure hosts, guests, and the surrounding communities thrive. Beenest will also be a cheaper alternative with the elimination of commission fees, and the benefits of blockchain will help us create a more secure and seamless user experience than the options available today.
Q. What do you foresee as the biggest hurdle to adoption?
Sharing economy participants are starving for an innovative revenue model that sets in motion a realignment of value distribution, and we are doing exactly that with cryptocurrency. But this alone will not attract people to use Beenest, and we understand the success of Beenest and The Bee Token rests on broader communication of token economics. This is a challenge and an opportunity that we welcome and are looking forward to finding answers to. Educating and informing the general public on the benefits of using native tokens for apps and services is a great opportunity and we hope people turn to Beenest as one of the first real world use cases for this growing space.
Q. What is the roadmap for Beenest availability in US cities?
Beenest is expected to launch in San Francisco in the first half of 2018 with a focus on testing the platform for the remainder of 2018 in California. Beenest will expand to wider markets on the east coast and beyond in 2019.