In this SHRAMA with CryptoCoinShow, Tim Bos discusses the next generation sharing economy, ShareRing’s competitive edge and much more!
Ashton Addison: I’m Ashton Addison from EventChain for Investment Pitch Media and FinTech News Network, and today on Blockchain Interviews we have Tim Bos, the co-founder and CEO of ShareRing.
Tim, welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time to be here today.
Thanks, Ashton. Thanks for inviting me on.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
The Next Generation Sharing Economy
Ashton Addison: I’m really excited for this discussion. I’d love to kick it off by just hearing more about what is ShareRing, what is your platform do and how is it changing the sharing economy?
What we’ve done with ShareRing over the last couple of years is we’re basically developing the backbone of the next generation sharing economy. You might want to know what that means. In summary, our vision is really to build technology with a blockchain platform to connect people, places and commerce globally.
The things that we’re basically doing is operating in certain areas, such as travel, aviation, finance, banking, government, cities, logistics and transportation. A lot of our community know us as a company that’s been working in the travel industry, but we are working in a number of other industries at the moment as well.
The underlying technology that we’ve developed is based around identity management. So self-sovereign identity, document storage and verification, on-demand access to services like booking rentals and things like that.
P2P marketplaces, so e-commerce as well as the standard sharing economy, and then also micropayments. That’s sort of the platform that underpins all of those other industries that we’re working in.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Ashton Addison: It’s really interesting and it’s great to be expanded out into different industries and have your hands on all those different pots.
The Problems ShareRing is Solving
Ashton Addison: Now, when I think of the sharing economy in sort of the problems that are in there right now, the main one that comes to mind is that the middlemen are taking a large cut of something just for having the platform.
Now, is that the main problem that you’re solving? Or can you elaborate on the scope and the size of the problem and maybe there are other problems as well?
It’s definitely one of the problems that we’re helping to solve. It’s not just about taking that middleman out. It’s also helping some of these smaller companies that are forced to use those larger middlemen to be seen and to actually run their business.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
We’re basically helping to shorten the gap between that supplier and the customer. It’s not necessarily just P2P, It could be a B2C relationship, a B2B relationship, and a C2C relationship. We see ourselves as B2B to C.
In my experience in the sharing economy, which is about 14, 15 years of experience, other issues that we’ve noticed are the centralization of user data. Hacks happen all the time. User data is hacked and taken and used and all that sort of stuff. So our digital identity solution and document verification solution helps actually solve that problem.
It’s the speed of the transactions, things like micropayments, cross-border payments, sign-ups. Like if I wanted to use, say, six different sharing economy products right now, I need to sign up six different times and give my ID to six different companies.
What we do is we try to remove that requirement to give my information to so many different companies as well.
What Gives ShareRing a Competitive Edge
Ashton Addison: It’s super interesting. With the solution, is there something unique and proprietary? Is it the identity system or a specific technology of the blockchain which gives you guys a competitive advantage in the market?
The identity solution is actually very unique, we’ve taken quite a different approach. A lot of identity and even self-sovereign identity platforms centralize the verification of that identity.
In that example, what would happen is someone would sign up, ShareRing would verify that ID, do a digital fingerprint of that ID and then that would be verified.
What we’ve done is we’ve actually expanded that and allowed for third-party verification of identity and then also P2P verification of identity.
What that means is even beyond standard passport and driver’s license, maybe a certain sharing economy company or a company might require a unique type of ID, maybe an adhaar card from India.
Instead of us actually verifying it, maybe there’s a supplier in India that verifies adhaar cards. They put their digital fingerprint on it to say they are the verifier.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Then when it gets sent to, say, the rental company, they can say, oh, that company is the one that verified it. We don’t support verification from that company. So we won’t support that ID.
We actually we take ourselves out of the equation even with the identity management. It’s similar to our payment system and micropayments. We actually have developed it so we don’t need to be part of that whole equation.
We can actually support cross-border payments, FX and all that sort of stuff through our platform, and other companies can jump in and provide their own payment services on our platform without us actually being involved. We don’t want to create yet another middleman, basically.
Ashton Addison: Totally. That makes sense. I find it really interesting with this identity management platform in the sharing economy because identity management & digital identities is a huge industry in itself.
Buy vs Build – ShareRing ID
I would like you to walk me through that buy vs build, in having that identity platform in there. I feel like it’s a lot of work to have that all in-house, which makes sense. What was your thought process behind that?
When we started about two and a half years ago, we actually looked at what was available. I truly believe in not reinventing the wheel. If there’s technology out there that does it and does a really good job and fulfills all the requirements, use that technology. Particularly around a lot of the different DApps and stuff on blockchain technology, there’s a lot of really good things out there.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
But what we found when we started this process, we even looked at building on Ethereum, NEO, Waves, all these different architectures. We realized that none of them actually solve all the problems that we wanted to do. So we decided to build on Tendermint our own blockchain platform on top of that.
In terms of identity management, at the time, nothing actually ticked all the boxes once again. There are some really good digital ID platforms that solve certain problems.
However, what we wanted to do was solve a wide range and make something that’s a lot more flexible. Not necessarily just controlled by us, and allows people to actually extend on it and build on top of it as well.
I’m hoping when we release ShareRing ID in the next few weeks for people to actually use and get into and build on top of, people actually realize that and appreciate the fact that they can build their own businesses on top of what we’ve done.
How has COVID Impacted ShareRing’s Strategy?
Ashton Addison: It’s really interesting. You mentioned and I read on the site that one of the main focuses was travel, bookings, vacations and things like that. Obviously, that’s taken a pivot with the pandemic and the lockdowns. Can you talk about how much that’s affected your strategy moving forward?
In fact, the interesting thing is since the pandemic happened, what we did is we stepped back and said, OK, where are we in our roadmap? Our roadmap was really let’s launch our travel product in March.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
The travel product was going to be hotels with express check-in, working with a lot of boutique hotels and some larger chain hotels, activities and a bunch of other things.
When COVID hit and everything was shut down. We basically said, okay, this gives us a chance to either sit down, wait, push through it and then relaunch when it comes back up. Or let’s double down and actually accelerate our roadmap and build and enhance our products a lot more over this period of time.
That’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve doubled our team size, got a lot more developers on board, we accelerated our e-commerce platform and development rolled that out, which has done really well for us. We’ve added more functionality to the identity product, we’ve added more travel providers.
We’re also working on a what we call the Open World Passport, which is a COVID-19 type passport to help open the borders again, we are talking to a number of countries and companies about partnering with them on that platform.
For us, we’ve gone from a singular focus on travel and after travel it’s going to be this, this and this. To now focusing on travel, open world passport and e-commerce all in parallel with a much, much larger team as well.
Ashton Addison: That’s really interesting. It’s great to see that you’re able to pivot like that really quickly. Now, I’m curious because you mentioned your strategy and that there’s actually a lot of growth going on.
Is ShareRing Seeing Growth in Specific Geographic Regions?
First of all, are there any restrictions besides obviously putting your identity in there for people to start using ShareRing right now? And also because of the e-commerce then vacation, it seems like it’s globally accessible. Are you seeing growth in specific geographic regions of the world right now?
The first question, there are restrictions for anyone to use it now, we have launched our mainnet that people can actually jump in and have a look at that. We’ve actually released our API. The one thing that we haven’t done is actually unlocked it to allow people to build their own products on top of it.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
The plan is in December that will actually allow people to start doing that. In December, we are also launching the ShareRing ID app. With some travel and some other functionality in there, and then also the shop within the app.
December is a huge month for us in terms of the launches, giving the community the ability to integrate with it and then also providing more information about some of the integrations we’ve done with our existing partners.
In terms of the other question, in terms of the regions that we’re looking at. Thailand’s been a big focus of ours only because we’ve got great relationships with a number of companies, government and things like that over there.
In terms of the first regions, the Southeast Asian nations are really where our primary focus is now. Not to say that we’re not looking at other areas, but that’s where we seem to be getting the most traction at the moment.
What does ShareRing’s Relationship with BSN mean?
Ashton Addison: That’s great. I was reading that you’ve also partnered with the China Blockchain Service Network, which’s also partnered with Ethereum, NEO, Tezoz and some of the largest blockchains. That’s really interesting, can you tell me what does that relationship mean and what does that look like going forward?
The simplest way to explain what it means to us is it means more access to our platform. Through the Blockchain Services Network, what they’re doing is simplifying access for businesses to integrate and use blockchain technology through their portal and all that sort of stuff.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
It means a lot to us in terms of providing more access to more companies to be able to easily build on our platform. The other thing is it also gives companies the ability to cherry-pick technologies.
They might see some DApps on Ethereum or one of the other platforms that have partnered with the BSN and say, let’s use that here, ShareRing’s digital solution, this over here and actually create a single system that I guess is a homogenous system that uses bits of technology from the other chains, instead of aligning themselves with a single blockchain.
Which is great for us and all of the other chains, because if it actually helps our technology shine, instead of just talking about what blockchain platform we’ve ridden on.
Ashton Addison: That’s great. With Tendermint and Cosmos, one of the keys is blockchain interoperability, especially as the space continues to grow. You want to have everyone working together and rather than competing against each other, because this still so small and in an early stage with this new technology. So that’s great to hear.
ShareRing’s Vision for 2021
Ashton Addison: Now, you mentioned a couple of things with what’s coming up, the ShareRing ID, a lot of things coming up in December. I just want to look one more step forward beyond that and sort of your vision for ShareRing in 2021 and how you see yourselves growing.
I think 2021 for us is all about the user and business acquisition. If we look at what our plan as a business is, the three areas that we focus on for 2021 is user acquisition. We’ve got a number of campaigns lined up to basically bring users on-board.
Its partner and business acquisition as well. So assisting a number of companies to integrate with our platform, to consume information that’s from, say, identities and things like that on our platform.
Then also to start working with the community on building their own DApps and their own sort of interaction and integration with our platform.
We’ve had a huge amount of demand from developers or people with ideas that they can build on our platform. We’re actually looking forward to opening the doors a lot more and allowing them to come in and start interacting with the platform and building really cool apps.
That’s the one thing that probably excites me more than anything, is to see what other people can actually build on top of it.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Best Ways to Get Involved with ShareRing
Ashton Addison: Definitely, that is exciting. You mentioned that the mainnet is live, but you’re looking at that DApp solution for developers and also just for people that are interested in the sharing economy. What’s the best way for them to follow along with the updates and get involved with ShareRing?
They can on our website at sharering.network. We’ve got a great blog there, one of the recent blog entries was actually a publication of our API. So you can look at the functionality that’s available there.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
We’ve also got a very strong, Telegram community. Anyone can jump in there and ask questions, it’s very, very welcoming. There’s a lot of very smart people in there that are more than happy to answer questions as well.
Ashton Addison: Great. I’ll leave those links in the description box below as well, that’s all the time that we have for the interview, Tim, but I really appreciate you coming on and all the best with ShareRing. Hopefully, you guys have a great December, and let’s follow up in the near future.
Awesome. Thanks, Ashton I appreciate it.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
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