I'm a blockchain security specialist and writer living in NY.
In 2008, the defining financial crisis of our generation, the Great Recession, officially began when the U.S. government allowed Lehman Brothers to declare bankruptcy. What started as a single bank failure quickly ballooned into a full-on economic collapse that impacted virtually every aspect of the global economy. Profits plummeted, unemployment soared, and the outlook was bleak.
From the economic ruins emerged new models for making money and transacting value. In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin as the first cryptocurrency. It provided an alternative way to conduct p2p payments, and it spawned a new financial system that, in many ways, was a rebellion against the traditional institutions which failed so miserably in 2008. At the same time, Travis Kalanick, a computer engineer from California, launched Uber, and along with it, he began a transformational movement now known as the sharing or gig economy.
Uber’s platform enabled ordinary people to monetize their time and possessions to create a new industry predicated on nothing more than availability and willingness. With so many people out of work or striving to pay for already purchased possessions, this was a welcome opportunity.
Of course, this model applies to a lot more than just ride-hailing. As a result, a swarm of startups emerged to capitalize on the materializing movement. By 2015, Time Magazine was detailing the sharing economy on the cover of their weekly magazine, and nearly every industry felt the effects of the sharing economy. The economy has slowly recovered, coming back with a lot of changes in tow and it’s not expected to slow down any time soon. The Brookings Institute estimates that the gig economy will balloon into a $335 billion industry by 2025.
The gig economy relies on technology to connect workers with customers. It also requires immense amounts of personal information, payment information, location tracking, and other sensitive data points. As the gig economy approaches its second decade, it’s time to reexamine its underlying technology to ensure that the gig economy is facilitating services to the best of its abilities.
As two technology-oriented ideas that emerged around the same time, there is a natural connection between blockchain and the gig economy. Many of the blockchain’s most lauded features including its enhanced security, quick payments, and reliable infrastructure which are each highly valuable for the gig economy.
What’s more, blockchain platforms like Ethereum enable new startups to take advantage of these features as they launch new services for the gig economy.
For example, CoolCousin is a blockchain startup that represents the world’s first decentralized travel agency. More specifically, CoolCousin uses its ERC20-compatible CUZ token to incentivize connections between travelers and locals.
It’s no secret that millennials, a generation that pursues travel with a unique vigor, are looking for authentic travel experiences rather than contrived vacations at pricy resorts. Since authenticity can’t be bought and first-hand knowledge of a particular locale is a valuable commodity, CoolCousin provides a financial incentive for locals to share their expertise with travelers.
Using the CoolCousin app, travelers search through a list of locals that they can tailor to represent their unique interests and preferences. For example, users could sort their information by destination, education, age, and social profiles. In doing so, travelers can receive event and destination recommendations that are locally sourced and are personally applicable.
Locals are compensated for their knowledge and travelers receive the authentic experience they desire using the platform’s native digital currency. Your cousin could hardly do better.
CoolCousin is already receiving significant attention from media outlets and venture capital investors.
In 2017 The New York Times dubbed CoolCousin “Yelp, minus the negativity.” The Guardian named CoolCousin one of its ten best apps for travelers, and the L.A. Times perfectly captured CoolCousin’s ethos: “Don’t have a cool cousin to tell you where to go on your next vacation? Don’t worry — now you have dozens.”
What’s more, CoolCousin is already operational in 60 cities, and it has more than 500k active users. It received venture capital funding in 2016, and its ICO will officially launch its digital platform.
Ultimately, CoolCousin is a combination of the gig economy and a travel agency. It expands the definition of the gig economy by allowing locals to monetize their unique experiences and expertise, which, in addition to Ubering in their cars and renting their homes on Airbnb, can become a valuable revenue stream, especially for a generation as in touch with their cities as millennials are. Meanwhile, using a simple mobile app, travelers can attain the authentic trip that they desire.
The gig economy relies on powerful technology and value transactions. CoolCousin implements both as it harnesses the blockchain to create a decentralized travel agency that financially rewards locals for their hard-earned expertise. It’s a new take on the gig economy, but one that is already catching on quickly.
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