A peer-to-peer, bitcoin-only freelance marketplace called Rein has launched a beta version, bringing it one step closer to completion. The service could create a strong, uncensorable market for Bitcoiners to offer their skills online and earn a living in bitcoin.
Like Openbazaar, Rein has been designed as a decentralized software program that offers user ratings, a multisignature escrow solution, and TOR routing, while taking no fees from its users. Instead of selling products, however, Rein users sell services that were designed to be not censorable. The platform must be installed by both the freelancers and the clients offering jobs. Once they have done so, it works a lot like other popular freelance job boards such as Upwork, Peopleperhour, Toptal, and Simplyhired.
Latest Version Release
The new Rein version 0.3.0 beta was launched last week for Linux users. The instructions on how to install the program are, however, not newbie friendly. “The software has been through the command-line only stage”, developer David Sterry told Bitcoin.com, adding that it is now “seeing the first push with a GUI”, referring to the program’s new graphical interface. In addition, he said:
I can say the software works because I’ve been using it and, from my perspective, it’s ready for a large number of people to use.
Once installed, users will find that there are already some active listings with a few jobs completed. “Previously there have only been a handful of users, mostly centered around testing, and building Rein itself”, Sterry said. “A couple of programming jobs for Bitcoin software, a few for Rein itself, and some marketing gigs”.
The jobs board offers many of the usual features found at a freelance jobs website, such as making a profile, posting jobs, browsing jobs, making bids, and accepting delivery, all with a built-in multisignature escrow system.
As proof that the marketplace itself works, he noted that “Rein is, in fact, being used to accelerate building itself,” in his latest announcement. “All of the work for newest developments were done by working individually with 2 devs and 5 translators paid collectively 1.2 BTC.”
Full Escrow and Anonymity On Every Job
The escrow works much like Openbazaar’s escrow, where moderators (called mediators in Rein) can become involved after a dispute arises. A set of 2-of-3 multisignature keys is always generated with every contract. Once both parties have chosen a mediator during a dispute, the mediator then gets the third multisignature key. Mediators charge their own pre-determined fee, typically around 1%, according to Sterry. He also noted that:
Two-of-three signature release on funds, with independent mediators, guaranteeing that you’re working with actual people, rather than a corporate dispute management protocol.
The open source project also has a full TOR integration, allowing Freelancers, Clients, and Mediators all to use the site anonymously. Sterry has been working since late 2015 on the project and has kept the focus on decentralization and anonymity. There are no contractual obligations to the site or Sterry in any way. “Unlike many other platforms, we don’t impose any legal limits or requirements on our users,” he explained.
Since the project is still in development, Sterry admitted that Rein isn’t yet fully decentralized, and is currently operating “using a couple of servers” at the core for now. However, he explained that “The software is designed to make use of any number of servers and anyone can run their own server to add to the decentralization of the network”. In addition, he pointed out that:
At some point in the future it may not be necessary for servers to be run at all but at the beginning stages, this model works well. People need not stay online or keep their client running for their jobs to move forward.
However, the current lack of decentralization creates an opportunity for anyone who wants to run their own server to earn some coin. Sterry explained that “The software also includes basic payment processing so if anyone is interested to run a server they can charge for it”.
The Road to Adoption
In the new beta version, there are only a handful of jobs listed, but Sterry is confident that this will soon change. “My impression is that for the few people I’ve engaged, the income they earned working on Rein was significant for their own monthly budgets”, he detailed, adding that he doesn’t “think it’ll be long, probably this year,” when a full version is ready. By that time, most people already using bitcoins can install Rein and start earning a living.
Sterry realizes, however, that the rest of the world will be dragging behind in adoption because they aren’t already a part of the Bitcoin economy. He believes that “For those who have bitcoin and have never hired anyone to do anything, Rein is a great way to get started leveraging their coins to accomplish their goals whatever they may be.” He further noted that:
If we’re talking about mass adoption, that’ll take time and probably some technology advances along the way…just like Bitcoin.
“We are working on a mobile app that should see its first release next quarter,” Sterry revealed. “Rather than native desktop apps, it’s more likely that we’ll make a Chrome extension or a client-side encrypted web application similar to Blockchain.info’s wallet.”
Until then, the developer realizes that there is a long road ahead getting the word out. “The key challenge is showing potential clients the benefits of using bitcoin to pay for online work in the way Rein makes possible,” he described. However, he believes that if he can show them these benefits, the value proposition of a decentralized marketplace for labor that takes no fees will help market itself. He noted:
It really unlocks a global workforce and takes out of a lot of the friction around payments and fraud so there’s tremendous value.
What do you think of Rein? Let us know in the comments section below.
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