Buying goods and services online has become second nature for most of us. Being able to order whatever we want with a few clicks of a mouse is easy, convenient, and it’s safe to say the majority of people wouldn’t want to miss the ability to do so. There are, however, a number of drawbacks to the current way we shop and live online. Among all the eagerness and excitement to have the world at our fingertips, we often push aside concerns about online privacy and data security as long as the bargains keep coming and parcels are turning up on our doorsteps. Meanwhile, big corporations analyse our lives to a level that would frighten us into going offline if we understood the true scale of it, and our most intimate information is constantly at risk of being lost, sold or stolen. What if there was a different way? One where the customer is calling the shots, and where data is secure and only shared if you absolutely want to?
Welcome to the world of Decentralized Commerce and Decentralized Ecosystems (DeCo for short but more on this topic later), and all the good things they have to offer.
The current centralized model of commerce – where everything is controlled by a handful of market leading dominating companies – brings with it some serious drawbacks.
For example, do you really know what happens to your personal data after making that online commerce transaction or purchase based on current laws or the terms of service you agreed to when signing up?
When was the last time you read an end-user agreement or a terms of service document?
The chances are that you will likely never do so given the legal terms and lengthy agreement. Why would someone do so if they would like to simply purchase a $20 gift for their grandparents. Would it hardly be worth the effort to have to spend 1-2 hours to understand these terms of service? As a result, you might be getting a killer deal on your Christmas presents but the retailer now knows more about you and your preferences than even your parents.
As having every aspect of your online existence tracked to the n-th degree wasn’t enough of a concern on its own, do you know how your data is being transmitted between the various analytics companies and tracking providers, or how securely it is being stored in the countless databases your name undoubtedly appears in by now?
Like most people you likely won’t have any idea and instead simply trust that those mega billion dollar market cap companies will treat your data with the care and security it deserves. As we know from the countless data breaches that keep hitting the news, that’s simply not always the case. From small fly-by-night retailers to major players, the loss and misuse of customer data has affected many online firms and it’s always the consumer who ultimately pays the price.
The Blockchain Solution
Enter the concept of Decentralized Commerce, a way to manage digital transactions that brings the biggest change to e-commerce since the first internet shops went online almost 30 years ago. Instead of giving all your data to an online retailer or service provider during signup, imagine being in full control and just sharing what you really want or need to. A Blockchain based Digital ID app sits on your phone and allows you to store all your most precious information, fully encrypted and without it ever being transmitted to third party vendors or obscure databases simply because you bought something online and didn’t read 50 pages of legal text before clicking submit. The core concept behind Decentralized Commerce is to put the user in full control of his or her digital identity.
In everyday life this will mean that you can still go bargain hunting online, but you now call the shots and decide who can know what about your own privacy. Some areas of Decentralized Commerce can even function anonymously and much of it utilizes cryptocurrencies and tokens as part of a whole new breed of online worlds called Decentralized Ecosystems, or DeCo for short. This new way to spend time and money online doesn’t rely on a single entity controlling everything and instead – just like decentralized currencies – removes the middlemen and leaves users and operators able to maintain full control of their actions within the ecosystem, and DeCo users will also maintain total control of their personal information.
So, the best way to think about DeCo is as a more secure, privacy respecting environment where you can access everything from financial services to commerce via online shops and social media. Applications used within a Decentralized Ecosystem are referred to as Dapps, or Decentralized Applications, and a new breed of companies is currently emerging who are creating and powering the world of DeCo. Soon, we will look back on the way we transact online today and wonder why we ever put up with having our data used and abused the way it is being done today. The future is one where we, the users, own our online identities and where Blockchain technology will be used to enhance our lives and keep us secure. All of it may sound complicated and alien right now, but very soon it will become second nature for millions of us. DeCo is here to stay and we can’t wait to see all the great things it will bring.