Modex, one of the earliest players in the blockchain technology market, is providing its trademark Blockchain Database (BCDB) technological layer to Veelancing to set the foundation of a new type of freelancing ecosystem that aims to bridge the gap between freelancers and employers while addressing some of the pain points that have stained the image of modern freelancing. By leveraging the Modex BCDB solution, Veelancing strives to reinvent the concept of freelancing by facilitating a direct interaction and complete transparency between employers who are searching for skilled professionals and freelancers who are actively searching for a way to monetize their skills without needing to worry about long customer support delays, uncertain dispute resolution mechanisms and hidden fees.
It’s well known that blockchain is a technology that is easy to understand by veteran programmers, but quite elusive and difficult to master, nonetheless. When talking about how blockchain acts as a central component for his innovative freelancing platform, Stefan Vanea, Veelancing CEO, also highlighted the fact that it was quintessential to scout the market for a well-established company that could fill in the role of technology provider while also taking on the mantle of mentor to provide guidance during the implementation process. “As a small business with lofty goals, Veelancing has been looking for a well-established partner to provide expertise on the cornerstone of our approach to freelancing: namely, blockchain. We are confident in the notion that we’ll soon be serving a sizable sector of the market we are targeting – and as such, we are glad to be benefiting from Modex’s highly scalable and time-tested blockchain solutions. Not only are we glad to be collaborating with a blockchain firm as well-established as Modex – We also look forward to growing together and providing mutual advice wherever it is needed. With a secure and easy to use software solution that fits the needs of an enterprise big or small, we are proud to be going forward with Modex as a business partner.”
During the early pen and paper stage, the Veelancing team decided to rely solely on the Ethereum network for their blockchain-related needs, but as the project started to take shape, they concluded that a platformed backed only by Ethereum would eventually present in the long run, a series of friction points that would place additional burdens on the two main actors of the platform, the freelancers and the employers. To provide a more streamlined experience for their users, enhanced privacy and competitive costs, Veelancing has decided to use the Modex Blockchain Database solution. The Modex technological layer will act as a solid foundation for the Veelancing platform that will provide the following key functionalities and features:
- Data integrity and immutability – the BCDB layer will provide data integrity and immutability to the personally identifiable information and other sensitive data such as ID and proof of income submitted to the Veelancing platform for the customer verification process
- API gateway authentication – Veelancing utilizes an additional layer for requests that connects the user interface with the backend. This layer is called API gateway. The current iteration of the platform employs a standard authentication model, but by implementing Modex BCDB, Veelancing will make the shift to OAuth authentication
- Streamlined smart contracts between freelancers and employers – in this dimension, the BCDB layer is going to be correlated with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), making Veelancing a hybrid solution. The freelancing platform will use Ethereum as a transparent transaction medium and generate VEE, the tokens that will govern the platform. The Modex technological layer will be employed to achieve consensus, generate smart contracts, eliminate third-party intermediaries and as a validation mechanism for the jobs completed by freelancers.
A quick look at freelancing and why people choose a freelance career
Although it comes with its unique set of challenges and responsibilities, for a significant segment of the workforce, freelancing represents the embodiment of freedom as it removes the need of people who embrace this work model to tie themselves to a specific company, workplace, office or employer. Freelancing is also a great way to polish up your skills and expand your portfolio of projects to add some extra weight to your CV, all while generating some extra income.
If you are a disciplined and organized individual, freelancing can pave the way towards a healthier work-life balance because it reinforces people’s idea of control over their identity, who they are, what their priorities are and what they want to do. As opposed to traditional jobs, as a freelancer, you have the freedom to press the shuffle button and change when you work as well as your workplace according to your mood and preference (as long as you get the job done). You can trade the office for the comfortable and lazy feeling of your pyjamas and work on the sofa in your living room or you can don a slick pair of jeans and a shirt and make your favourite coffee shop your office for the day. If you’re well off, a beach or a mountain resort are also passable options. Besides catering to people who have a strong desire to be their own boss, freelancing offers the flexibility to choose projects that resonate with your mindset that add a sense of satisfaction to your work, an aspect which more often than not is absent when you are working full time for your employer when you may be assigned to a lacklustre project. Many studies also showcase the fact that working from home has a positive impact on the productivity and creativity of employees. Freelancing can also have a positive impact on your family life as it can help people save time by removing the time consuming and often stressful daily commute that has ingrained itself as a morning and afternoon ritual for the average employee, giving people more time to spend on building and nurturing a healthy relationship with their family.
The downside of freelancing
Although freelancing promises a greater degree of job flexibility and a healthier work-life balance, modern freelancing is plagued by a series of problems and inconsistencies that more often than not place the freelancer at a disadvantage. At its core, freelancing was developed to make it easier for the parties involved to get in touch, set some terms, and make the payment/service exchange. Originally designed as a peer-to-peer concept, current freelancing platforms were transformed by big companies into the same difficult and bureaucratic process that freelancers originally fled from. Surveys show that around 44% of freelancers had at least one instance of non-payment by a client. Furthermore, evidence points that a significant segment of freelancing platforms is plagued by poor community service, scammers, delays and a general lack of transparency.
Some of the most common and difficult to manage problems from the freelancer’s side present on popular freelancing platforms are:
- spam/fake jobs posts – on many freelance platforms, clients aren’t required to pay a fee for posting a project listing which leads to an abundance of spam or fake job posts. Admins periodically conduct quality control checks for job posts. Even so, the issue is still prevalent.
- vague requests – veteran freelancers can attest to the fact that ambiguous request from clients often translates to problems in the long run, that could lead to numerous project revisions and iterations, which may lead to a conflict between the two parties. Even clients that seem to have a clear view of what they require may deviate from their original concept or idea.
- payment issues – late payments or no payment at all is one of the worst things that can happen to a freelancer. Due to the lack of protection mechanisms, freelancers are often forced to settle the matter by pleading their case to the admins of the platform or by taking the client to court.
- non-existent dispute resolution mechanism – probably the biggest appeal of a freelancing platform is the idea that they can help streamline contract disputes, but in reality, this isn’t always the case. This issue seems to be somewhat one-sided. If a freelancer doesn’t deliver his work or does a poor job, clients are usually protected by the platform. In the worst-case scenario, the funds placed by the client in an escrow account are returned after a few weeks. The issue becomes more complicated when a freelancer delivers the project on time, but the client doesn’t approve the work and does not release the escrow funds, or even worse, the freelancer gets ghosted by the client, who gets to keep and use the work without paying.
Enter Veelancing, a blockchain-based freelancing platform
Veelancing is aiming to address some of the prevalent issues that have defaced the freelancing model by focusing on providing a new type of freelancing platform based on blockchain, a technology capable of delivering enhanced transparency, decentralization and data security. At its core, Veelancing is a decentralized, blockchain-based marketplace, centred around smart contracts technology, for freelancers and customers worldwide, that aims to eliminate long customer support delays and resolve all payment, mediation and safety issues. The main goal of Veelancing is to bring the freelancing concept back to its origins, by breaking the barriers between people, and enabling real peer-to-peer interactions between the parties involved.
The platform developed by Veelancing is structured in two main components: the marketplace that encompasses a myriad of tools designed to answer the needs of the community, including a chat through which the employer can communicate with his hired professional as well as a milestones road map where the freelancer can submit his progress to his employer, accompanied by a description and other useful information. The second component of the platform is an exchange that allows users to convert their VEE tokens to other cryptocurrencies or in fiat. The team behind Veelancing believes that adhering to your preferred work environment maximizes your output and creativity. To follow up on this idea, it has implemented a voting mechanism through which users can vote on how to update the platform (terms of service, tools, functionalities, etc.)
Enhanced levels of transparency
Multiple pain points of freelancing platforms are generated by a lack of transparency between users, as well as between users and the platform. Veelancing is aiming to reinstate honesty and transparency as core tenets of this work model, by making people take ownership of the concept of freelancing and encouraging them to mould it as they see fit.
Veelancing promotes new levels of transparency through its dispute mediation mechanism and milestone road map.
To address the issue of dispute mediation, Veelancing is relying on innovative smart contract technology, self-executing pieces of code that are written on top of the blockchain framework that takes effect when certain conditions are fulfilled. The advantage to this approach stems from the fact that it renders the services of third-party intermediaries obsolete while increasing the level of democratization of the platform, as the terms are going to be voted upon by the community, based on the options available, according to legal regulations at a global level. Designed to cater to the needs of a wide pallet of users, the smart contracts are created following an online form based on the Veelancing terms of service, which will trigger the backend component of the platform to generate a digital secured agreement between the parties involved. In this manner, there will be no more controversies regarding the decisions made when evaluating/mediating a task / dispute.
Another interesting functionality of the platform is its ability to allow customers to trace in real-time the progress of the task they have assigned to the freelancer. To protect the freelancer and reduce the risk of disclosing their work, methodology and techniques, Veelancing will implement an encrypted cloud in their platform, on the decentralized server, called VEELANCING.IO Workspace. The encrypted network will be accessible based on a set of private keys, one belonging to the freelancer and the other one to the client. Whenever a freelancer finishes a job, the platform’s algorithm will run a quality check on the work performed, at a basic level, to determine if there are any errors, mistakes or mismatches. After this, the customer will be able to evaluate the service on his own as well, but only according to Veelancing’s terms of service.
Where Modex steps in
Veelancing enlisted the help of Modex and its Blockchain Database solution to set a solid foundation for their platform and to achieve their goal of delivering a streamlined freelancing platform that offers enhanced services to the freelancing community.
By implementing Modex BCDB in their existing technological stack, Veelancing unlocked a slew of benefits and functionalities that enhance the internal flow of the platform, augment user experience while also boosting security:
Cost-effective smart contracts. At the moment of writing, generating a smart contract between two users on the Ethereum network may range from USD 50 – USD 70 (even more depending on the complexity of the smart contract), per smart contract, regardless of its real-world value. With a platform expected to generate a high-level smart contract output, the total gas fees would be too high to be practical. After consulting with Dragos Rautu, Modex CTO, the team behind Veelancing concluded that it would be counterintuitive to rely on Ethereum smart contract technology due to the costs it would entail. Given his expertise, the Modex CTO provided a different perspective on the issue by highlighting the fact that what the Veelancing platform needed was a validation and consensus mechanism for a contract between two parties. With the new insight, the team got to work on the new game plan – instead of generating a smart contract on Ethereum that will be validated by miners, Veelancing will deploy a series of BCDB nodes that will verify and ensure consensus on the smart contracts based on what the users agreed upon in the smart contract form and on the terms and conditions of the platform.
Enhanced scalability. Taking into consideration the above mentioned modular approach facilitated by Modex BCDB, scalability becomes readily available. Whenever the question of scalability emerges, the Veelancing team can add an additional BCDB node and assign it a validation or a data storage function. An added benefit is the fact that the new node synchronizes almost instantly with the historical chain of information. From a scalability potential standpoint, the BCDB solution offers greater flexibility than Ethereum. In Ethereum, scalability is determined by the developer community, the number of miners available on the market and the number of applications that migrate to version 2.0.
Data integrity and immutability. Veelancing is relying on the services of IDnow for KYC verification. To ensure the security of user’s personally identifiable data, Veelancing is using the Modex BCDB layer to encrypt and store the hash of the information on the blockchain and compare it to validate the identity of users without risking exposing any sensitive data. When Veelancing sends a payload with user data to IDnow for verification, the platform does not send the information in cleartext. First, the information is passed through the BCDB layer to validate the information and to calculate and append the hash to the blockchain after which is going to be sent to the service provider. This way, although Veelancing is relying on a third party for KYC verification, it can demonstrate that no malicious party can tamper with sensitive data because it is hashed. The benefits of the SHA 256 algorithm utilized by Modex BCDB is that it is impossible to determine the original input from the hash digest and that even a small modification to the original input, such as a capital letter or a lower case letter generates a completely different output.
Secure authentication. The platform built by Veelancing uses a standard authentication schema based on email and password. From a technical standpoint, the user credentials move from the frontend segment, represented by the user interface to the API gateway that is designed to reroute the information to the backend. To achieve its goal, the API gateway needs a separate authentication procedure. At the moment of writing, Veelancing uses a standard, token-based authentication flow, that generates an authentication token whenever a request is sent which is deleted when the operation finalizes. The issue with this approach is that the respective session can be hijacked by a malicious actor with sufficient technical prowess. To address any potential security flaws, Veelancing is implementing an authentication model based on the Blockchain Database solution to achieve validation and consensus on the authentication side. Because of the complex inner workings of the Modex technological layer, if a node is compromised or hijacked, all the other nodes that form the network will have the full history of the session and the requests that led to the node’s compromise and will know how to detect and reject similar requests in the future. Even if a node gets compromised, Veelancing admins can address the vulnerability that led to this situation, or simply close the machine and run a new BCDB node that pulls the information from all the other nodes that compose the network.