There have been talks about blockchain being a threat to online retail stores, but people always shoved them off through excuses like “Amazon is too big to fail” and so on. However, a recent development has raised the eyebrows of the same people and has forced them to have second thoughts about the potential of blockchain technology.
This recent development is Syscoin – a distributed ledger, database, and blockchain. It is a versatile technology and can be used as a cryptocurrency as well as a trade-able token. The official website says “Syscoin is based on a fork of the Bitcoin protocol and is merge-mined with Bitcoin, giving us one of the most secure, stable and scalable networks to ever exist on the planet.” Syscoin claims it completed Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of a blockchain-based marketplace, but it seems to be much more than just that. It is also a blockchain platform for writing smart contracts and a fast-transaction-cryptocurrency. If further development and maintenance of Syscoin happens in the right way, it can truly be the “Swiss Army Knife” of cryptocurrency platforms and can support very sophisticated smart applications which are virtually impossible to build on top of other blockchain projects out there.
A salient feature of Syscoin is that it is a first-of-a-kind decentralized marketplace. As the official site claims, “[they] have developed a state-of-the-art marketplace where you can securely and reliably buy and sell any items you wish. Entire stores can be created directly through the marketplace where you can sell your own products or re-sell others’ products for commission.” There are plenty of advantages which theoretical decentralized marketplaces have over companies like Amazon and eBay, including the prevention of bureaucracy, political interference, downtime and hefty commissions. Syscoin aims to offer a true peer-to-peer global commerce, with no middlemen and institutions. Furthermore, in addition to buying and selling goods, the platform also allows reselling of items. People can create their own customized stores on Syscoin and can mix their own items with the items they want to resell. It is also guaranteed that your business won’t be adversely affected due to platform’s technical problems because Syscoin guarantees a 100% uptime. Thus, your items are always online. Another feature provided by Syscoin, which makes it a more secure marketplace platform is that of arbitrated escrow. This allows a seller to give her buyers the confidence to know that their funds are secure. Buyers get the functionality to specify a mutually agreed upon a 3rd party to secure funds in escrow while the items/services they buy are in transit. What’s more, Syscoin provides a general encrypted messaging service which can be used by buyers and sellers for mutual communication, which can lead to healthy long-term business relationships. Also, the Syscoin wallet is a dashboard-like place which keeps track of all the items bought/sold by you, along with other peer-to-peer value transfers.
Indeed, there are some inherent disadvantages a decentralized marketplace has. The biggest one is lack of regulation, which also haunts the general blockchain discussion. There is no ingrained mechanism to ensure that illegal items (like some drugs) and are not sold in the marketplace. Moreover, some items which are legal in some places are illegal in others. This requires a system to register a deal only when an item is legal at both ends, i.e., buyer’s and seller’s locations. Time will tell how Syscoin solves these problems without compromising the decentralized nature of its platform. Perhaps they will be extending features like Syscoin Identities, which prevents anonymized fraud.
Apart from being a decentralized marketplace, Syscoin also offers other functionalities, like peer-to-peer asset transfer, use of aliases and digital certificate management. Syscoin’s money transfer feature ensures secure, fast and convenient money transfer. Also, we no longer need to type complex wallet addresses to send and receive money. Aliases simplify the process by allowing the use of easy-to-remember names like “AddressOfSam”. This is just like having usernames on social media. Furthermore, Syscoin allows storing and transferring small documents via their blockchain. There is also the functionality of optional encryption, which is very useful for transfer of important legal digital documents and certificates.
From this discussion, I think it’s more or less clear that if Syscoin is able to develop and sustain its versatile “Swiss Army Knife” services for an extended period of time, it will become a major threat to Amazon, let alone blockchain giants like Ethereum and Ripple, especially when it’s backed by another tech giant like Microsoft.
Saurabh Chaturvedi is a freelance developer and technical writer with a keen interest in blockchain, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
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