ShareRing CEO Tim Bos talks about ShareRing ID, the current problems with authentication, blockchain adoption, and much more!
Yonah Hochhauser: Welcome back to Reimagine 2020. I’m Yonah Hochhauser, today I’m glad to be joined by Tim Bos CEO at ShareRing. Tim, thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks Yonah, good to be here.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Yonah Hochhauser: Now Tim, for those viewers of ours who might not be familiar with who you are, do you want to give us a little background of who you are and how you got into Blockchain?
I’ve had a history of running my own business. I started my first business in the mid-90s, in 1996 actually doing some jobs after work, helping companies understand computers and the internet and all that sort of stuff.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Then I gave it up and moved back into working in IT. I worked for a video game company for a while as a general manager for their IT operations.
I worked for an investment bank for a while, doing strategy for Asia-Pacific. I worked for a Microsoft/Accenture joint venture, so I’ve worked for a lot of big companies.
Then I was sort of left all of that sort of area in 2004 and started my own company, doing cloud services for GPS and fleet tracking and vehicle tracking and things like that.
I did that for a number of years, sold that in 2008, and that company quickly became a 100+ million dollar company. Then in 2010, I started a P2P caravan rental business, like Airbnb but for campervans. I sold that to a publicly listed company in 2012.
Then around 2012-2013, I had this idea to create this platform for the sharing economy. The idea was basically that any company could come in and run their own sharing and rental business on top of this platform.
We started to develop it and very, very quickly realized that with the rigid way that systems like APIs and all that is developed, it was very, very difficult to create this one size all economy, like what Amazon has done for shopping.
Shopping’s easy, basically someone goes online, they find a product, they buy it and get it delivered. But rentals and the sharing economy is very difficult because the rules behind every type of rental can be vastly different, the workflow and the reviews and all that sort of stuff.
We basically just moved it into doing car-sharing. We started the car-sharing platform called Keaz and ran that for a number of years. I sold that earlier this year to Wunder.
In the meantime, we started ShareRing. ShareRing is really developed around our dream of being able to create a versatile platform for the sharing and actually a number of other economies.
It’s what we call the backbone for the next-gen sharing economy It contains things like identity management, which I’ll talk a lot more about soon, a rental platform, a reputation platform, a payment system through ShareRing Pay, and a number of other things.
I really sort of came up with the idea of using Blockchain for ShareRing in 2016, after the Ethereum Whitepaper came out. That sort of made me look at it and said, wow, this really cool idea of running these smart contracts in a virtual machine on top of blockchain technology where you could create an interface that’s not rigid.
Anyone can build what they want on top of this platform and have this flexibility that we wanted to achieve. That was really the birth of ShareRing.
Yonah Hochhauser: Wow, you’ve really had your foot in many different industries, and I’m sure that gave you the know-how and the knowledge base to help propel ShareRing forward. It’s interesting, you mentioned one of your first jobs was actually explaining the Internet.
Explaining Blockchain to Potential Customers
Yonah Hochhauser: I feel like there’s a lot of carryovers when it comes to Blockchain because this technology is so new and it has similarities to the Internet in terms of that is basically a protocol layer. It’s essentially something that you don’t necessarily need to know how it’s working unless you’re working on the back end.
Do you feel like, just like before a lot of your time was having to explain this new technology, something that it’s very hard to visualize? If you’re a person who’s not familiar with the technology, it’s hard to visualize new use cases. I’m sure if you go back to the beginning of the Internet, people said, what do I need this for? What do I need email for? I send mail physically.
Do you find that you come into similar scenarios here where when you’re trying to sell a product or push a product or build upon this technology, you’re often having to kind of explain and sell what Blockchain is to the customer first?
Totally, totally. You know, the interesting thing is it takes a long time to figure out how to explain it so that anyone can understand it. When the Internet first came out, I remember saying to my partner at the time and I had this computer, actually the Internet was around for a few years first.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
I jumped on a search engine and I said, you can look at anything in the world, what you want to search for? She’s sitting there and she goes, Barbie. And that was the first thing that she searched was Barbie and it’s just like, oh, this is lost on you [Laughter].
Before that, I was doing things like dialing into bulletin board systems and creating things called multi-user domains and all that. But to try to explain to people what that actually is and what you could potentially do and what the potential was is incredibly hard.
It’s probably taken me two years to get to the point where I feel like I can explain some of the benefits of Blockchain and we’re still sort of finding out more and more benefits of Blockchain as people develop different protocols as well.
What Advantage Does ShareRing Have In Travel Over Its Centralised Competitors?
Yonah Hochhauser: Well, let’s use a ShareRing as an example. If someone wants to travel now because I know you guys chose travel as one of your first use cases, so let’s say someone wants to travel, they have options. They could go to Kayak and any of these travel aggregators.
How would you pitch it to them to say, ShareRing, because it’s powered by Blockchain it actually gives it an advantage here over any of these centralized options out there?
It’s a good question. We basically looked at this when we started doing the travel stuff as travel version 4.0. An interesting thing about travel is the technology behind it has been stuck in the dark ages for so long.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
A lot of people look at it and say, well, all I want to do is book a hotel, go to the hotel, check into the hotel. But through that process there are so many inefficiencies there.
The first one is the collection of someone’s identity information. I have to sign up on a website like booking.com, I have to enter my information, I have to confirm it all then I book a hotel.
Then when I go to the hotel, I have to tell that hotel all of my information again, they give me a little bit of paper that I have to fill out by hand. I have to give them my passport and they scan my passport.
It’s just such an inefficient process. We looked at that and said, well, if we use a Blockchain identity process, where we can actually have this self-sovereign ID that I’m in control of, it’s not stored on a central server. I can give it to the booking engine, so the bits and pieces that need to be done, and I can do a booking in one click.
I can go to the hotel, the hotels already got my information because it was sent to them in advance because I approved it. I don’t have to give them my passport because I’ve given them an approved ID. I can basically go get my room key or use my mobile phone, go straight to my room, check-in and I’m in the hotel.
It’s also not limited to just a few of these large chains that lock you into using them. It gives people flexibility across the board and you can use it for hotels, short-stay apartments, and things like that.
We took that and said that’s what travel needs to be. It’s the same with flights, like the process you need to go through to book a flight, do the pre-check-in, check-in, get your visa, to when you arrive at the airport and you wait in the queue.
There are so many efficiencies that you can create just through a really good blockchain-based identity platform. And you add a huge amount of security there, you had traceability there, you add trust there. For us, it just made sense to go down that area as the first use case.
Yonah Hochhauser: I think people are realizing that more and more today, you know, as far as the Internet and smartphones and data really permeates our life more and more, people are starting to realize the importance of protecting and having control of our data.
Because up until now people didn’t know five years ago when they would just press yes for everything what they were really agreeing to, and the amount of data and value they were given away.
How Much Access Do Service Providers Like Hotels Have To Your ShareRing ID?
Yonah Hochhauser: When we’re talking about this ID management on the blockchain, kind of what ShareRing is doing, you mentioned if you want to traditionally check-in to a hotel, you give them your passport, they’re copying it and that’s just laying around. Now there’s another copy of your passport out there in the world. That’s not the most ideal situation, especially if you’re traveling to certain areas.
When we’re talking about IDs on the Blockchain and you need to provide your ID to the hotel, are they actually getting a copy of your ID? Or are they just seeing it on the Blockchain? Is it kind of like a zero-knowledge proof, they’re seeing that there is an ID there, there is an approved passport? Or do they just have viewing privileges? how does that exactly work in terms of the access that the third party has to your ID?
Yeah, it’s a great question. The way that we do it is basically on the blockchain we don’t store ID, and as you said we store the fact that we have an ID. What we also do is we store a digital fingerprint of that ID.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
For example, what I do is on the app, I sign up to the app, I do a photo of my passport, we scan that, I might do a photo of my driver’s license or any other information that I have. We call that our Folio, which is our ShareRing ID.
ShareRing ID is not just limited to identity documents, it could be insurance papers, it could be a graduation certificate, it could be a COVID test, it could be vaccination proof, like anything can actually be stored in there as long as it’s something that needs to be verified or authenticated and something that shouldn’t change.
What we do is we scan the passport, we do a digital fingerprint, which is like a hash of the passport, and that hash is stored on the blockchain. The other thing that’s stored on the Blockchain is the person or the company that verified that passport. For passports, it might be us that verify it. So we go through a process to validate it.
If it’s a COVID test it might be the test center that validates it. So it’s the validator and the hash that is on the Blockchain. Then when I check into the hotel, what our system does is it actually does a watermark over the top of the image of the passport to say who it’s going to, the date that it’s going to, and the digital identity.
We do that in a way that doesn’t actually break that digital hash of it, so we can watermark it and it doesn’t break the hash. That does get sent to the hotel, at the moment it’s required because the hotel still needs to prove to say the government or something like that, that they’ve actually checked you in.
But if that document leaks or someone steals it or anything like that, we know exactly where it’s come from because we know that if it leaks and we see a copy of the passport, it’s got the hotel identity on it, my identity, the hash and all that sort of stuff. It’s fully traceable and it reduces the chance of it being reused as well because it’s got all these watermarks.
Yonah Hochhauser: That’s a really ingenious solution there because you’re essentially making the hotel liable. You’re putting the onus of responsibility on them because of that watermark. So that is a wonderful solution. Traveling for many people is a stressful event. I just traveled, I’m in South Africa right now, that’s why I have a different background to our viewers.
It is stressful because as we’re leaving the apartment, I turn to my partner and I say do you have our passports? Do you have all our documents? We keep it in a Ziploc bag. Essentially our entire ability to travel is just held in this Ziploc bag. It can be lost, it could be stolen, it’s 2020 in my mind IDs and verifications, all these things should be moving digital.
There’s no reason why if I lose a booklet, a booklet is my passport, the thing that gets me in and out of countries.
How ShareRing Solves The Lack Of Authentification With COVID Tests
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned something very interesting there, you mentioned also COVID tests. I had to take a COVID test to fly and I had to prove many steps along the way that I had a COVID test.
I was actually really upset because I had to pay a good amount of money for this COVID test. And what was the proof that I had to show? It was a printed piece of paper on a regular A4 paper that said my name and said I had a test. I could have printed it out on my computer.
You could have changed it, it could have said yes you’re positive and you could have just changed it to say no. We’ve had reports of that from a few other people, all they have is a printout or even a PDF file, you can go in and enter the information or put someone else’s name in.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
That’s exactly the sort of thing that we’re trying to help because what sort of evidence do you have? It’s almost like it’s done just for the purpose of show, without really any real sort of seriousness to it.
Yonah Hochhauser: Yeah like a lot of things about the airport such-as airport security, at least in the United States, it’s proven again and again that the TSA, which is the airport security America, they test it from time to time and consistently 90% to 95% of illegal weapons and contraband get through. It’s more for the show, it’s to make you feel safe. Oh look they’re checking I feel safe.
I was so shocked when I saw this COVID test, it was a joke. My high school diploma was a harder thing to fake than this. When we’re talking about the Blockchain in ShareRing, right now if I do get that COVID test on ShareRing, I could use that to travel. I could show that hash and with that watermark as well when I pass it along?
That’s the type of document we call verified at source. What that means is instead of the test centers sending it to us, or sending it to you and then you putting it in your ShareRing ID. What happens is that the test center actually scans it at the site, sends it into your ShareRing ID, and then it becomes part of your ID.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
What we then know is, number one you own it still, so that becomes your own private data. But number two is we know that it hasn’t changed between the test center and you. And then when you send it to the airline or the government for the visa, we know that it hasn’t changed between those pathways as well.
It’s something that we’ve developed, we’re talking to a number of countries, we’re talking to a couple of airlines and then also suppliers at the airports for when you go through the entry gates and things like that.
We’re in very advanced discussions. We’re actually changing the dialog a bit to be more about vaccinations. For some of the airlines in countries, they want to know if people have been vaccinated to determine the risk profile as well. So that’s where we’re sort of changing the dialog a little bit.
Yonah Hochhauser: That was going to be one of my questions. That seems like the next logical step. Of course, as the vaccination starts to roll out, I’m sure that countries will require or want to know when you come in if you have the vaccination.
Are Governments & Airlines Aware Of Blockchains Capabilities Around Sharing Data & Verification?
Yonah Hochhauser: When you actually approach these government agencies or these airport suppliers with this technology, one, for the most part, were they aware of this capability of this use case of saying, hey, this is a trustworthy way of sharing data and verification?
Two, is it how hard of a sell is it? Are they into it? Are they saying, wow, this is really great? Or are they confused and say why don’t we just maintain a database?
It’s interesting because first of all, getting in the door to talk to them has been surprisingly easy to get the discussion going with them. The first question they ask is, where else have you done this?ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
As a startup, it’s very, very difficult to do that. So our approach is to partner with larger companies that have done stuff like that before and then partner and basically go in as a partnership.
Some of our partnerships with companies like Tencent and those sorts of ones actually help us a huge amount in that discussion. The next question is, which is really interesting, which comes directly from the test centers, is why should we trust you with our data?
For us, it becomes a marketing and educational thing for them to understand. Well, you’re not trusting us with your data. We don’t get the data. You’re trusting yourself and the person you’re giving the data to. That’s it and that changes the dialog.
The next answer is this is too much work. We’re like, well, it’s actually it’s two clicks. But what we’ll do is we’ll put one of our people inside your test center for a while and actually do it for you. That’s sort of where the discussion is at the moment in that area there.
It varies in terms of the response we’ve got, but we’ve found that we do have good, positive answers to move the discussion forward. We’ve done endless amounts of sort of use cases and process flows so that they understand it.
Yonah Hochhauser: I think it’s really interesting because if you look at COVID in the effects that it’s had, so it’s had a lot of negative economic effects. But in terms of macroeconomic trends, we’re looking at on a big scale societal trends. It’s actually accelerated a lot of things that were happening anyway.
We’re looking at the retail market, retail was going online anyway, and they say that because of COVID it has accelerated in the course of 10 months, its shot forward 10 years in terms of online shopping adoption in many other areas. I think here if we’re looking at use cases for the Blockchain, I mean ID verification seems like such an obvious one.
Could Vaccination Verification Lead To Blockchain Adoption By Governments & Organisations?
Yonah Hochhauser: Right now you guys are doing tremendous work in your negotiations for this vaccination verification, If this works and it takes off, can you see this as being kind of a big push for Blockchain technology adoption by authorities and organizations?
If they see it works here, then it becomes a much easier to sell? Oh, by the way, while we move over your whole driver’s license system on to the Blockchain, why don’t we move your medical records onto the Blockchain? Can you see this really being kind of like a tipping point for Blockchain?
Yeah, I do. But one of the things that we need to make sure of is that we consider interoperability. We’re not going to try to be the one and only there are other identity platforms out there.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
I think the important thing is to say, well if the United Arab Emirates is adopting this blockchain technology for identity verification. We need to make sure that we all have a plan to make it open enough for us to have interoperability because when we do that, then we get better and more widespread adoption of that technology.
Number one is to get the trust on the blockchain, which I think is happening now. When we talk to governments, they’re not saying “ooh Blockchain this is for crypto and crazy”. They understand more about why blockchain can be useful, especially in countries like Thailand where they’ve been very, very quick to have a positive view and adopt Blockchain in a number of areas.
I think these sorts of real-world and real benefits are actually going to be a catalyst for more widespread use of the technology.
Yonah Hochhauser: Talking about interoperability, DeFi shows the value of that. We’ve seen it again and again just this money legos as I’d like to say in the explosion it’s caused. When we’re talking about ShareRing, did you guys build it from the ground up to be interoperable?
Or are you guys in talks with the other ID blockchain projects? Because you recognize that kind of benefits everyone here to play nice together. Is there a dialog between you guys to make sure this happens?
Yeah, a great question. We built it from the ground up to be interoperable. Everything that we did has an open API. Everything that we’ve done actually allows other people to integrate with it, even without Blockchain knowledge and experience. We’ve got a standard API that you can integrate with to utilize the identity system without any blockchain knowledge.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
We’ve got plugins that we’ve been developing that allow people to say, put a plugin on a WordPress website and you can use your ShareRing ID to sign-in to that WordPress website. We get rid of passwords basically in that sense because you just scan the QR code and you signed in. For us, it’s really, really important.
The other things that we’ve done along the way are where we’ve seen a better standard compared to what we’ve actually been developing. We’ve done our best to just change what we’re doing and adopt that standard.
There’s a number of identity-based standards that we are adopting to make sure that we can guarantee a bit more interoperability so that there is the portability of the identity across different chains as well.
How ShareRing Removes The Need For Passwords
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned you don’t need a password because it’s already there. That’s another thing that if you ask users of the Internet, which is pretty much everyone in the world these days, that is one of the most frustrating things on the user experience side.
Then one of the biggest security loopholes on the back end is these passwords because once you’re getting passwords and people require passwords and because you need to remember so many passwords, you end up making it the same across devices. You make it a word instead of a random string and hash of numbers. It’s a word that could be guessed.
This is constantly been the most frustrating part of the Internet, as well as the biggest security hole. Do you think that with this Blockchain solution like you guys offer, we will finally, finally see the end of passwords?
I believe that we can. I really do. I think that when you sign up for a website, websites need bits of information about you, and the most basic is a name and email address. But others might need an address, maybe proof of identity, you might be signing up for a bank or something like that.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
So it’s not only the removal of passwords, which is great in itself. Effectively your biometrics, your thumbprint, or your face scan on your phone becomes your password to get into all of these services.
We’re not only saying that we’re also saying the ability to very, very quickly sign up for the services without having to sign up to this one, spend ten minutes there, 10 minutes there, and 10 minutes there. It’s like sign up once, scan the QR, and you are signed up for 10 services in two seconds.
QR Codes VS NFC
Yonah Hochhauser: When it comes to QR codes, it’s very popular in this sphere in terms of removing the need to type in a random string or hash of numbers. My question is why not NFC communication? Is that merely because more people have a camera on their phone to be able to scan a QR and not every phone has NFC? Because in my view, NFC is more convenient.
It’s more universal, and NFC can be more convenient, but it’s more QR codes are very much universal. Every single phone has a camera on it. You also don’t need to worry about is this type of NFC supported by this phone? Apple only just recently allows you to do stuff with their NFC chip as well. So until a year ago that that was off-limits.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
For us, it just makes sense to do that. And in the future, we don’t know what version of NFC there will be or what will be supported. But we do know that cameras are going to always be there.
If I want to sort of get access to a website, there’s no NFC on my computer that can scan with my phone to get access so that it makes it so that it covers digital platforms as well as physical platforms.
How COVID Has Affected ShareRing’s Plans
Yonah Hochhauser: Especially when we’re talking about COVID and with ShareRing, I think it was the first major use case to go with travel. I’m assuming that decision was before COVID hit [Laughter].
My question is this obviously it’s definitely a speed bump in your plans. One, how big of a hit has it been just because COVID out of all the industries travel has really, really been hit.
You could look at it in two ways. One, it slows the roll-out, but two it gives you more time and the ability to fix up and optimize. But how big of a hit has it been?
Two are you guys thinking of now potentially focusing on different use case until COVID, or we ride it out?
Yeah, it’s really interesting. A lot of companies we’ve seen over COVID, Blockchain companies, start-ups, and those sorts of things basically looked back and they said, OK, the only way we’re going to get through this is if we cut staff and we hunker down, we spend as little as possible and getting this for the long haul and then come out after the sun shining again.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
We took a different approach and we basically said, OK, so travel is not happening at the moment. We’ve got this roadmap of products and enhancements that we want to do with the travel products.
We made a very, very focused decision to go back, look at the blockchain technology that we developed, the middleware platform, and the apps, and really spend this time where everyone else is hibernating, actually growing our business and building better products and more things into our products.
Our team has doubled in size since March. We’ve hired more people, we’ve opened a new office. We’re moving into a new office in Thailand, it’s a four-story and we’ve got all four floors. We’ve got someone basically renovating that for us at the moment. We’ve grown substantially.
We’re negotiating with some companies to make investments in them as well and their strategic investments because they’ll bring lots and lots of users to our platform. We’ve launched our e-commerce platform as well, which is ShareRing Shop, which we’ve got partners in Australia and Thailand for.
If if you had said to me in March when everything started shutting down, where are you going to be in nine months? I probably would have said hopefully travel will open up again and we can start selling that. But now with the plan that we put in place to say, let’s grow in these areas, let’s look at other uses of ShareRing ID.
We’re talking to banks, we’re talking to governments, airlines, all sorts of companies about the usage of ShareRing ID. So instead of us sort of running out of the gates, we’re exploding out of the gates at the moment in terms of what our opportunities are.
Yonah Hochhauser: Well, that’s amazing to see. I’m happy that you guys are really using this opportunity to run forward instead of kind of hunker back. I do think that’s going to play off in the short term and the long term. If everyone is sitting down and you guys are racing forward, you’re going to win the race. So kudos to you there.
How Does Blockchain Add Value To ShareRing Shop?
Now, you mentioned ShareRing Shop. How does that work? How is the blockchain adding value in the retail or shopping sphere?
When we started ShareRing, we sort of looked at a number of areas and ShareRing Shop the focus for us around that is to utilize ShareRing ID, to utilize ShareRing Pay, which is our cross-border payment system with very, very low FX fees.
We use our own stable coin, payments in fiat and crypto, a number of things like that. Then a few of the other sort of features that we’ve built into the platform.
ShareRing Shop was always going to be a longer-term platform. We were looking at late 2021 to do that, but with COVID we saw very, very quickly that e-commerce was going to explode.
Part of the reason why I personally saw that is, when SARS hit around 2005, in China, a number of the e-commerce platforms were created off the back of SARS.
When Alibaba started JD or Jingdong, that was really off the back of that. We saw the success of them and how successful e-commerce is in China with local deliveries. With ShareRing Shop what we decided to do was we saw a lot of shops closing down, they couldn’t open because of the regulations.
We thought, what about an e-commerce platform that focused on local shops, that basically said, OK, I’m here in this location in Melbourne and we draw a 10-kilometer radius around it and we get all the shops in that area on it and we give people the same level of products that they might get from Amazon or something like that, like grocery, electronics, office products and all of that.
But that’s from local suppliers and we create a delivery system where we do the milk run to pick up from the local suppliers and deliver it to you on the same day. That’s effectively what we create. And we spent a long time testing it. We’ve got a rollout that’s happening in Thailand now through a big partner over there.
Then we’ve got a new partner here in Australia that’s actually rebranding and rolling it out over here as well now that we’re finished the testing. It’s something we potentially see as a game-changer. There’s a lot that has to go right for it to be successful.
The idea is to find partners around the world that are willing to basically pick up that hub, which is effectively a 10-kilometer radius, and run it in their region and get local shops on board, wholesalers, retailers, and things like that, and actually run the ShareRing Shop in that region as well.
Yonah Hochhauser: Shopping locally has never been more important in terms of supporting, because right now the economic crunch due to COVID has really hit places, especially depending on where you are if there’s a lockdown.
How Does ShareRing Manage Delivery?
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned the delivery. Have you guys had to build out your whole delivery infrastructure or you guys just kind of doing a decentralized delivery where anyone who wants to deliver can get a notification on the Blockchain and deliver it there?
It’s a bit of a mix, we made it once again to be flexible, we’ve developed three apps out of this. One is the ShareRing App, the ShareRing App has travel, it has shopping in there, it’s going to have a bunch of other services like mini-apps within it.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
So the shopping experience is within the app and it’s really cool the way it’s actually structured, I’m looking forward to demoing it.
Then we’re also built a merchant app that’s for the shops. We did that because we noticed that a lot of merchants didn’t have a computer in there in their shop where they could load products and take photos.
So we made the merchant app where you can simply log in with your ShareRing ID, take a photo of a product, enter the details, and bam it’s in the system. It’s a very, very quick way of loading it. They can see their stock levels and all that.
Then the other app, which is answering your question is what we call the Sort and Deliver App, and that’s exactly that. What it does is it tells the driver in the morning what the milk run needs to be, which is picking it up from all of the shops, and then it tells the drivers where the dropoffs need to be. So it’s like a delivery app.
That’s used either 100% by, say, Australia or used about 80% by our partners in Thailand because our partner there is actually a logistics company, so their specialty is deliveries. They find it very useful, but they’ve also got their own delivery app as well.
Yonah Hochhauser: I must say when I got this interview scheduled and I saw the name ShareRing I thought, oh, maybe this is a charity Blockchain or something. But you guys, you really have quite a variety of offers here.
I’m really impressed with how fleshed out your ecosystem is even so early on where you already have, like you mentioned, three apps just for the shopping and really focusing on making the user experience good because I think that’s really lacking in the Blockchain space.
A lot of companies, I think they would see blockchain could help here. Let me shoehorn it in a shopping app and let them figure it out. But I really like how you’re noticing even the small things.
As you mentioned, you noticed that most merchants don’t have a computer in the shop. And so you actually built this app to really help the user experience. And that’s what helps make successful businesses.
So kudos to you for really noticing even the small things, because I do think that goes really a long way.
What Else Is In The Pipeline For ShareRing?
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned that you have a couple of things in the pipeline, you said mini-apps apps on the ShareRing app itself, is there anything you’re able to speak about now?
I’ll give some examples without speaking very specifically. Think of banking and finance, someone within the App might sign up for a local bank and have banking services within the app.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
There might be car rental in the app. We see car rental as not searching for a car, booking a car, turning out, waiting for an hour to get the keys, handing your ID over, and scanning all that.
We see booking a car rental as choosing the car, going to the car, scanning a QR code on the car, car door unlocks and you get in and drive off.
There’s a number of different services that we’re looking at offering. I mentioned the WordPress login, so we’ve created a plugin for that which allows you to scan websites.
We’re in discussions with a couple of companies that do a lot of WordPress hosting, like over a thousand websites for them to adopt it for their clients as well as a free plugin.
We’re talking to a company that’s very heavily involved in the gig economy as well. Like the online gig economy. So using that identity management system as a sign-up to be a verified user on the platform.
Things like credit ratings as well, we’re looking at using it there. I mean it seems broad, but we’re really sort of focused on three main areas.
One is obviously travel, which we see the sharing economy is very heavy in travel. Banking and finance, which goes hand in hand with payments and payments for services and the gig economy, which once again is very much part of the ShareRing ecosystem.
Yonah Hochhauser: The use cases when it comes to ID and blockchain really are quite staggering. The experience you just mentioned when it comes to renting a car, you’re going up to the car, scanning it, getting in and driving away, it seems like a revelation compared to what we have to do now.
In my mind, going and renting a car, it’s not as bad, but It’s in the same negative realm as going to the dentist like there’s just a negative connotation where it’s kind of going to be a drag. So it is wonderful to hear that you guys are working on optimizing and streamlining these experiences as well.
Utilizing ShareRing ID For Age Restrictions Online
Yonah Hochhauser: Now, when we’re talking about IDs I was thinking we have this ability, you have this technology, where else can a digital ID on a blockchain be optimized and help in the real world? When it comes to face to face, if I’m going to the local quick shop and I want to buy some beer, I have to prove that I’m old enough to drink, there I have to show them ID, It works great.
But a place where we’re age limitations kind of don’t work or aren’t effective is online. You go to an adult website, It says Are you 18+? Press here, yes or no, any kid could press yes. Or the best was to enter your date of birth, I don’t think I’ve ever entered my actual date of birth, I scroll down to the oldest possible, I think on most websites I’m 125 years old.
Clearly, when it comes to proving your age online, it’s a ridiculous system. It’s not really stopping anybody. Are you guys already in discussions or thinking about utilizing your ID technology to actually put effective age restrictions online?
It’s something that we’ve spoken very heavily about and we’re sort of looking at what’s the best approach for this and what are the best websites or type of sites to actually approach first, because the thing is, you don’t want to be shoehorned in the wrong area if you jump on that too quickly. We need to sort of get a breadth of sites and stuff first.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
The other thing is, proof of age in the real world in terms of going to bars. When you go to a bar, you’re at the entrance to the bar, It’s reasonably dark, the security guards looking at your ID, holds it under a UV light, he’s looking again, he’s like hmm yeah OK, and lets you in right?
Instead, you go up and scan a QR code in the bar. It might be a little LCD screen, or something like that that basically says, yep, you can go in, that’s it. That’s something that our tech can do.
Or the security guy might just have a phone and you scan a QR code, It pops up on his phone with a photo so you can say, yeah, that’s you, and a tick box saying your age is good and you go in. We definitely see the benefits of that technology in the real world as well as online as well.
ShareRing IDs Ability To Store Additional Data For A Richer Experience
Yonah Hochhauser: That happens also in a lot of places, they just want your age, and yet the only way to prove your age is to show your entire ID, which is to show also your address, your name, and your data when all you really only need is a date of birth. So it’s also really great with the Blockchain ID that you could just check.
They don’t even have to know how old you are because it could just show a check that you are are old enough. And I think the circles back to users gaining more control over what of their private data does get shared and what they actually control.
Now, imagine linking something like a VIP membership to it as well. So you go to the bar, you scan the QR, the tick box is gold, the security guy is like oh yeah your VIP, go in. It’s that additional data that we can provide a richer experience than just showing an ID.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
Yonah Hochhauser: Right, once data is trustless on the Blockchain and could be trusted, I could see benefits for all parties. For instance, if I’m a member of a gym and every time I’m going into the gym, I’m proving it on the blockchain.
Therefore, my visits to the gym are on the blockchain, maybe I get discounts with my health insurance because they know they can trust this. They are able to see that this member goes to the gym every so often and whatever. I could see areas where it’s it’s beneficial for everyone while not letting all the data out there.
The future is bright, thanks in part to ShareRing and so once again, I am excited for that.
The Role Of SHR Token In The ShareRing Ecosystem
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned before that you guys have a SHR token. What exactly is the role of the SHR token in this whole ecosystem?
We basically, instead of hosting on Ethereum or creating protocols on existing blockchains, we developed our own blockchain on the Tendermint framework, so the same as the Cosmos SDK and all that.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
We’ve got masternode holders around the world and those masternode holders need to earn fees somehow. SHR token was created effectively as the utility of the Blockchain.
We’ve done it a little bit differently though. Instead of somebody that uses our platform having to buy SHR token and pay in SHR token to use the Blockchain, what we do is we just charge in Fiat.
A consumer of ID as an example, they might pay 50 cents for the ID, and they’ll pay 50 cents in USD or whatever their local currency is. That goes to us, we then purchase SHR token on the open market, either on the exchanges or Uniswap and then the SHR token that we receive goes straight out to the masternode holders.
They actually get paid for processing transactions, so every single transaction that comes through the platform, they receive SHR token.
The benefit of that is it gets locked up, someone will unlock some of it sometimes but It creates more scarcity and we’ve got mechanisms to make sure that the velocity of the token stays at an optimal level, and that we don’t end up with all of them orphaned or locked up inside the masternodes so that they keep in circulation, but create that scarcity that people obviously want to see.
Yonah Hochhauser: That’s interesting or a forward-thinking move to actually charge in Fiat because if you actually were charging just with the SHR token, it’s possible that due to the SHR token going really high value, it kind of gridlocks the network because no one’s going to want to pay one hundred dollars to check the ID.
That does prevent against that, it’s something that Ethereum, unfortunately, is facing again and again. As DeFi and as the network gets bogged down, gas fees go higher, it kind of gridlocks the network prices out a lot of transactions.
Why The Cosmos SDK Over Other Blockchain Alternatives?
You mentioned you guys are working with the Cosmos SDK. Why did you guys choose to go with that as opposed to building on any other blockchain?
The decision was made about two and a half years ago. We looked at a lot of platforms, including a lot of platforms that were in development.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
So a few factors we need to look at. Number one is we didn’t want to be at the whim of another blockchain where we didn’t truly understand the roadmap of that blockchain.
If we were on sort of some of the other blockchains out there that have failed and got no users or they don’t have enough node holders to be very secure or Ethereum, where the price has gone through the roof for transactions and so on. We didn’t want to fall for that trap because I sort of saw where that was leading.
We also wanted to make it so that it was effectively custom made for our requirements and our requirements were we needed to have things like the ability to have assets on it and potentially billions of assets.
We wanted to have the ability to have lots of transactions very, very quickly. We wanted to be able to create our own tokens to fund our own pricing model to find the cost.
There are so many aspects that we did and Tendermint ticked most of them at the time. But the roadmap actually ticked pretty much all of them.
They’ve been true to their word in terms of what’s been developed in the roadmap, things like we’re worried about size constraints because Tendermint is or any proof of state blockchain is actually quite heavy on disk space.
The latest release has got something called State Syncing, which actually allows our node holders to not host the entire blockchain just basically to have a portion of it which reduces disk space. Everything that we’ve hoped for they’ve been true to their word so far.
How ShareRing Deals With The Unfeasibility Of Fiat Microtransactions
Yonah Hochhauser: You mentioned that essentially the thing that’s funding all the nodes is that the consumer of the request, whether it be ID or another transaction is paying in Fiat, I wonder because it’s in Fiat one of the disadvantages of the current financial system when you’re talking with Fiat is the unfeasibility of microtransactions.
If it is 50c, are you sending them a bill at the end of the month? How is that working? If I’m a bar and I’m checking IDs at 25c to check an ID, how is that transaction happening or the payment happening?
They’ll just buy bulk numbers in advance. They might basically buy a thousand in advance and we would give them a discount for that. Then it just comes off that that thousand that they purchased.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
It’s a pretty simple model and it’s actually one of the reasons why users that create an ID, we don’t charge them. They create their own ID, It gets verified, and all that sort of stuff. We don’t charge them because that’s where you fall into the trap of having to try to take these micropayments from them.
What we realize is the consumer data is actually the one that benefits more on a case-by-case basis. They’re the ones that are willing to pay like a bank will pay a few dollars to verify someone, whereas a consumer is not going to pay the bank a few dollars for them to verify the consumer.
The models are very, very flexible in that way. The other way is if we’re charging for services like travel, eVisa On Arrival, insurance, or something like that, we can basically do the ID part for free because we might make a small margin on the travel that goes back to the masternode holders as well.
Yonah Hochhauser: It’s definitely exciting. We’re talking about where’s the killer use case, and historically for the blockchain, it’s kind of been speculation on different coins. So it’s very exciting to see these real-world use cases that are bettering people’s lives, making it easier, making it cheaper. That’s always good to see.
I think a really important point here in this whole thing that people might not realize, but it’s important to realize, usually we’re so used to now when we get a free service like Facebook, like WhatsApp, like Google, like Android on our phones, these operating systems. They’re free, but we’re paying with our data, and I think it’s important for people to understand in this case that that’s not what’s happening.
It’s free and you’re not paying with your data. You own your data. You’re keeping your data. So it truly is free because the economic incentives work out there. And that’s a very different transaction than what people are traditionally used to. And in my opinion, a much more beneficial transaction for the users and for the consumers. So I do thank you for making it so, you really could have gotten greedy, charged both sides, charge the user, sell the data.
I think it’s really important that we’re moving away from this business model that has really I think caused a lot of issues in the world. Thank you for that.
ShareRing Shop and App Roadmap
Yonah Hochhauser: The last question before I do let you, it seems like you guys got the infrastructure there. Especially with the travel, with the shop. When do you foresee this to be available? Is this available in Australia, in Thailand, people can right now do their shopping? Is travel available globally yet?
ShareRing Shop in Australia was launched earlier this year. We pulled the website a few weeks ago because we basically have partnered with a new company that’s relaunching it under a new brand name. So that’s coming I’m expecting probably next week they’ll relaunch it and then we’re basically the ShareRing app within the next few weeks.ShareRing CEO Tim Bos
The ShareRing App will basically give people a chance to download the app, sign up to ShareRing ID and get ready for all the services that we’re going to be launching off the back of that. We’re going to be inviting people to the soft launch over the next few weeks so they can actually just test it out, download it, get IDs up there.
The first, I think it’s 50 or 100 thousand people, which is a lot of people to download are going to get some really, really solid freebies out of it as well. We’re just sort of getting ready to gear up for the campaign there, which we’re really excited about.
Yonah Hochhauser: Very exciting times Tim Bos, thank you so much for joining us. There is a lot of fun on the horizon and I can’t wait till it’s out. I’ve been dealing with a headache on this travel, hopefully on my next trip I’ll be doing it on ShareRing.
Tim, thanks so much for sharing ShareRing with us and for all our viewers here at Reimagine 2020 I’m Yonah Hochhase, thanks for watching.
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