On January 29, 2017 Ethlance, the first decentralized zero-fee jobs marketplace built on top of the blockchain opened its digital doors. Ethlance runs on the Ethereum blockchain, and its front-end files are distributed on the decentralized web protocol IPFS.
As Ethlance uses Ethereum smart contract functionalities to process payments between employers and freelancers, no service fees are being charged by the platform. Only ethereum “gas fees” are being taken off payments, in stark contrast to traditional freelance marketplaces, such as UpWork, which charge up to 20 percent of the freelancer’s payment as a fee.
Ethlance developer Matus Lestan told BTCManager:
“We take no cut from transactions between freelancers and employers and also, there are no fees for membership. This will never change. That’s something a centralized approach with fiat money can never afford to do on a large scale.”
Having said that, Ethlance’s user interface and functionality are quite similar to that of the freelance jobs portal UpWork. As a freelancer, you can search for jobs by typing the services you provide into the search bar, and you can narrow down your search by employer rating, payment type, experience level, project length, availability, and budget. Currently, Ethlance users can not conduct a full-text search, but jobs can be searched for using over 4,700 predefined skills that show up as a drop down menu once you start typing a skill into the search bar.
Employers, on the other hand, can search for freelancers by screening for skills, rating, hourly rates, country, language, and feedback. However, unlike UpWork, Ethlance does not charge the freelancer a fee once he or she receives payments from the employer.
Ethlance encourages users to agree on their own channel of communication such as Slack or Skype. However, Ethlance announced on its Medium blog that the messaging app Whisper would be integrated into their platform in the future. Currently, on the platform itself, you can only send messages regarding job proposals, accepting proposals, inviting for a job and sending invoices.
How to Join Ethlance
If you want to join Ethlance’s platform, you are required to install one of two Ethereum tools to access it. Either you install the Chrome extension MetaMask or Ethereum’s Mist browser.
MetaMask is simply a Chrome extension you can download and then fund the built-in Ethereum wallet to pay for “gas fees” should you conduct a financial transaction on the platform.
Ethereum’s Mist browser, on the other hand, requires you to download the Ethereum blockchain onto your computer, which will take up data storage space. However, Mist is the official Ethereum application that comes with its own wallet, which you can fund with ether to transact.
Once you have installed one of the above Ethereum apps, you can fund your account with ether, which you can obtain on any large cryptocurrency exchange and start searching for job listings or freelancers. All remuneration payments, of course, will be conducted in the currency ether.
Will Ethlance be able to Compete with Other Online Job Marketplaces?
Ethlance’s decentralized zero-fee model will most likely speak to freelancers who have been plagued with high fees at other online job platforms. However, to become a success, enough freelancers and employers need to start using the platform so that critical mass can be reached.
“What we see as the main challenge for us is getting people on board with Ethereum rather than implementing some tech feature. All key parts of tech are done and working. Adoption of Ethlance goes hand in hand with the adoption of cryptocurrencies. We want to start getting out first jobs by appealing to cryptocurrency communities, listen to their feedback and taking the next steps from there.” - Matus Lestan, Ethlance developer.
However, Lestan also noted Ethlance has a different approach and that some people may prefer UpWork or similar platforms. But their ambition is to obtain at least 5 to 10 percent of the daily job listings that UpWork and similar platforms boast in their first year.
Ethlance’s user-friendly business model has the potential to develop into a leading online jobs portal for freelancers and startups in the cryptocurrency space. However, to compete with incumbents, Ethlance would need significant funding to develop further and market its platform, and cryptocurrency adoption would require a substantial boost globally before the average freelancer would feel comfortable to get paid in a cryptocurrency that was never actually intended to be a transactional currency.
btcmanager.com - Alexander Lielacher