In recent years, the way work gets done has begun to shift. Our future world is being built by an army of independent consultants and freelancers who allow businesses and employees to enjoy more freedom. Freelancers now make up more than of the American workforce and are responsible for a significant amount of the U.S. GDP.
is a unique technology, capable of decentralizing networks and allowing people to connect. This decentralization is likely to spur a wave of disruption through its ability to create distributed digital ledgers that act as transparent and living “records of transactions.”
These records are accessible by anyone within the system, and are verifiable by empirical data. With blockchains in place across a variety of industries and niches, we can eradicate many of the and business markets.
Since blockchains are still (relatively) new pieces of technology, we are not exactly sure which decentralized applications will survive long term. The only certainty is that with advancement comes disruption, and we are likely to see fundamental shifts in the way many common markets work.
One of the more exciting ways in which blockchain is affecting an industry is in the independent freelancers’ space. and independent contractors make up a sizable chunk of the U.S. population: there are currently over . Though this group has been growing significantly over the past several years, they are still plagued with annoying transaction costs and plenty of competition.
Blockchains, in theory, will open up new doors for freelancers across the globe. Let’s take a look at a few ways in which this technology might change the future of the freelancer industry.
1. An investment orientation
Freelancers are already starting to opt into getting . People’s familiarity with and confidence in cryptocurrencies have empowered them to receive payment with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. As cryptocurrencies near mass-market penetration, freelancers are becoming more willing to think about investments rather than a typical focus on salary.
This “investment mentality” is a completely new way for creators to think about their income streams. There will be many fresh opportunities for investment managers and advisors to help these freelancers with their newfound willingness to take risks and focus on letting their wealth grow itself.
2. Data monetization
Companies like , a marketplace for data built on top of the Ethereum chain, use trust graphs to allow users to store data in a decentralized database and later monetize the information. While the back end of this technology is highly complex, trust graphs use blockchains to create secure, trusted networks for storing data.
Everyday contractors passively collect enormous amounts of personal and professional data. From Upwork reputations to Github statistics, the data that freelancers collect can be put into Datum and made queryable in a blockchain database. All of this data is then stored and made available to anyone who is interested in purchasing it. Big players, including actor as a way for people to take control of their data.
This impacts freelancers in a number of ways. First, it allows employers to make more informed decisions about who to hire. Second, all of the data stored in the database will be verified by third-party APIs, meaning it will be impossible for freelancers to gamify reviews and cheat the system. Finally, freelancers can now via monetization of their data. This is even how I raised enough money for my latest project .
3. Verifiable history
One of the biggest problems facing the freelance industry today is spam and fake reviews. (a key component of blockchain technology) are stored directly in a trust network, meaning they cannot be changed or hacked without the rest of the network knowing.
In this way, blockchains will enable freelancers to worry less about promoting themselves and more about maximizing metrics for clients. Furthermore, companies can rest easier now, knowing that freelancers are not able to tamper with information online.
4. New opportunities to specialize
With any new piece of technology comes an opportunity for freelancers to dig into a new niche and specialize in a field. Future companies are going to need to help them set up smart contracts and efficient blockchain systems. Right now, there are not nearly enough specialists in this space to support any type of expansion in demand on the consumer side.
As demand continues to exceed supply, being a blockchain expert will be highly lucrative. For at least the next 10 years, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for anyone who knows how to build digital contract systems.
John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur who now focuses on helping people to build amazing products and services that scale. He is founder of the online payments company Due.
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