Tokyo-based blockchain startup Credify has been selected as one of 80 Asia-based tech startups to pitch at Slush Tokyo on March 28-29th, 2018. Credify, which is developing a blockchain based reputation protocol and service that works on any platform, hopes its international network and potential scope will make it stand out from the pack.
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The 80 teams who made the cut in Tokyo come from all over the Asian region. The winner will win an all-expenses paid trip to Helsinki, Finland to pitch again at the grand final on 4-5th December.
There are advantages beyond just the pitch competition though. Slush is an organization that showcases startups from all over the world, with local events in over 18 different cities. The idea behind Slush events is to match startups with venture funders, and also provide networking opportunities by pre-arranging thousands of private meetings between participating startups and investors.
As a sign of how blockchain has become more mainstream over the past few years, a quick search of the Slush finalists list revealed a small number that explicitly mention “blockchain technology” at the heart of their machinery.
Among them are certification system Aekraes Kodex and crowdfunding platform Starbase. However most of the other projects are still more “traditional” tech startups producing hardware devices, health diagnostic apps, social networks, fashion and retail services, and travel and logistics solutions.
Blockchain tech isn’t alien to Slush though. Back in 2014, cryptocurrency derivatives exchange BitMEX were pioneers when they won Slush’s Hong Kong round, and later pitched in Helsinki.
Credify to Fight Corruption, Abuse of Existing Review Systems
Credify bills itself as a “credibility protocol”. It takes aim at the manipulation and fraud issues that have come to infest reputation and review (R&R) systems — e.g. gaming Amazon and Yelp reviews by using paid shills, or R&R platforms themselves using their clout to blackmail companies into buying ad space.
Even now, some studies estimate that 20 percent of all online reviews are fraudulent in some way. User anonymity masks identity and often intent. Well-resourced companies can pay reviewers with genuine individual accounts to talk up a business or sabotage a competitor.
There are also other less obvious problems with today’s reputation and review systems, like reputation “silos” that only count on one platform or topic — or even the fact that real people are more likely to post negative experiences than positive ones.
Reputation on the Blockchain: Immutable, Portable, Protecting Privacy
Credify is creating a blockchain economy where marketplace users can vouch for the credibility of service providers and merchants by staking Credify utility tokens against the outcomes of their marketplace activity. Users are incentivized to participate in the network via rewards for backing positive outcomes — and penalized when they back negative outcomes.
With a blockchain base, Credify’s event data will be immutable and can build a reputation profile for individual users without requiring them to supply personally-identifying information.
Co-founder and CEO Dallas Johnston told Bitsonline that Credify’s main pitch point is its unlimited scope.
“We’re providing a protocol level solution for reputation on blockchain, to be used in all marketplaces — Amazon, Monster, Freelancer, Gumtree, Craigslist, anything.”
It’s an extensible protocol that can be integrated into other platforms directly — or used on non-participating and even offline networks. For example, a user could put their unique Credify QR code into any profile or print on a sign.
This way, Credify “augments” the experience, rather than needing to deeply integrate with it. It’s an approach that makes Credify reputation potentially useful anywhere.
“It’s addressing an issue that’s been around for years but hasn’t been solved till now,” Johnston added. “Everyone I’ve spoken to, from some of the biggest e-commerce marketplaces, is looking for some sort of portable reputation. Something transferable from one system to another.”
Credify has a working concept with a Japanese household handyman app its partners are developing, called “Handi”. Similar to Freelancer on a more local level, it requires both service providers and their customers to leave genuine reviews for the platform to stay reliable.
The same goes, of course, to any network on which reputation matters — which is a massive business. That’s the pitch Credify will be making to investors in Tokyo this month, and (its developers hope) again in Helsinki at the end of the year.
Can blockchain tech cement reputations on and offline? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Images via Credify, Flickr user Michael Dorausch