About 1.1 billion people are engaged in on-demand gig work on the global market [1]. This market is characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent positions. For instance, in the US, gig workers make up 35% of the total workforce. The numbers increased by 2.2 million new gig workers in 2020 alone. This is because gig employment has its advantages, for both businesses (cutting infrastructure costs) and employees (no immediate supervisor and a flexible schedule) alike. After the pandemic, some companies switched to the gig-employment model, which means using gig-based platforms to post gigs for freelance workers.

This document includes the description of the Crowdfeeding gig platform, designed for easy and secure interaction between clients and freelancers. The service provides 3 main options:
  • Posting new gigs via a special marketplace for finding gig jobs.
  • Employer's deposits are made in fiat currency and cryptocurrency, micropayments for employees are only provided in cryptocurrency.
  • Freelancers' financial security is guaranteed by the Escrow payment system for gigs.

In terms of functionality, Crowdfeeding is based on the same principles as Fiverr, while also providing integration with BitPay. I.e. it's a gig platform with the option of receiving payments in cryptocurrency.
Crowdfeeding is based on the UBIX Network platform as a microservice. It's comprised of two main parts: the payment gateway and the gig marketplace.
Being engaged in various projects, companies often face challenges, where micropayments have to be made to a large number of workers. For instance: there are payments to be made to thirty thousand freelancers, from all over the world. This would be a nearly impossible task for the current bank system since every employee has to open a bank account in their country first, then a cross-border payment would have to be made, and there can be delays of different kinds due to the time required for things such as, for example, processing, SWIFT transactions, banking compliance or foreign exchange controls [2]. Besides, for micropayments (e.g. 2 dollars) transfer fees might exceed the payment amount, making it not economically feasible. This type of assignment is quite common [3]. They are not limited to projects within marketing, PR, or other fields, but do not include highly specialized projects, such as taxi or delivery services where there exist operating gig aggregator platforms (Uber, Lyft, etc).

A lot of crypto projects in the early stages of development launch various bounty campaigns, within which one is asked to complete certain tasks. The participants of the bounty campaign, the so-called bounty hunters, are rewarded for completing the tasks, usually in the form of tokens. Such projects are geared towards the same target audience, that the Crowdfeeding platform is designed to support. Generally, the Crowdfeeding service can be utilized in any kind of project that involves a large number of workers and micropayments.

However, since the gigs offered via the service are, for the most part, online jobs, the majority of them come from fields like marketing and PR, often involving promotions of different products and services. Therefore, to illustrate how the service works, a good example would be to examine the implementation of such a marketing-oriented project. It might look like this: there’s an employer, usually, a company planning to carry out a project. Based on the statement of work, the company submits a request for Crowdfeeding, which in turn adds the gig to the gigs list at the marketplace. The service has a community of freelancers, many of those freelancers might be interested to participate in marketing activities like this. They choose a project, finish it and inform the client of its completion through the platform’s interface. The client inspects the completed work and then gives the green light to release the payment to the particular worker. Having received the instruction, Crowdfeeding sends the payment.

The bottom line is that the service provides two functions. The first one is the so-called marketplace, i.e. a place for posting gigs, open for all freelancers. And the second one is the technology to pay the freelancers.

Crowdfeeding may be of special interest to start-ups because it offers a solution to one of the key problems: how to quickly attract more real employees. The fact is that often the startup capitalization is dependent on the number of real employees, i.e. a certain dollar amount per worker. For two start-ups with employee pulls of 100 thousand and 1 million, the capitalization will usually be 10 times as high for the latter. In other words, the service solves the problem of the initial recruitment of enough staff members to allow for quick capitalization growth.

From the clients’ standpoint, the main advantage of the service is that they make one payment using whichever format is more suitable for them – fiat money or cryptocurrency assets, including various projects tokens. After that, the service distributes the money to the users who completed the tasks.

It’s worth noting, that micropayment, while not the only, is one of the key functions the service was designed for.
Project description
Crowdfeeding is a gig aggregator platform for gig projects offering instant micropayments in cryptocurrency and protection of the worker’s interests. The service has the following features:
  • Engage in searching for any number of workers for the gigs.
  • Make payments in any amount to an unlimited number of freelancers, irrespective of their location.
  • Perform analysis of the worker pool with automatic skill-based matching, offering the posted gigs to those freelancers most qualified for the job.
  • Guarantee additional security for freelancers via the escrow mechanism, preventing employers from publishing new gigs without financial support.
  • With the whole sector of gig employment being relatively new, this means that Crowdfeeding has no counterparts on the market.

Until 2017, Fiverr had the option of payments in Bitcoin for freelancer works [4]. In a certain way, the niche that Crowdfeeding is intended to fill is one that was previously occupied by Fiverr, i.e. publishing small gigs with the option of freelancers receiving payments in cryptocurrency. The solutions provided by other companies working the market of micropayments in cryptocurrency (for example, Ripple, Geeq, Dropp, etc) differ from Crowdfeeding substantially, because they do not offer the functionality of a marketplace with gigs being published. Those solutions that do offer such functionality, publish regular permanent job ads (not gigs), but with payments made in cryptocurrency (for instance, Crypto Jobs, LaborX, etc).
Use of the service
The marketplace is the place where the gigs are published. It is a website where the workers have their accounts. The users log in to their account, where they can see the gigs sorted by type and status: the new ones that are available to apply for, the ones that the users are currently working on, and also the ones that are finished. The user can apply for the active tasks and post progress reports. After a job is completed, the user gets paid in UBX cryptocurrency to the UBIX wallet. The balance is also shown on their account.

The interaction between the user and the platform happens through the web interface, as shown in Picture 1.

Picture 1: The service and user interaction schema

Picture 2 illustrates the interaction between the company (client) and the Crowdfeeding service through the API.

Picture 2: The service and multiple clients interaction schema

Thus, the API is used to transfer the task/assignment data, information on funds transfers, invoicing, and payment confirmation. Since the company interacts with the service through the API, new companies will have to integrate their systems with the Crowdfeeding service.
Picture 3 demonstrates how the payment from the client is broken down into payouts to the workers.

Picture 3: the illustration of the Crowdfeeding payment calculation mechanism

Technical implementation
The Crowdfeeding service is built on the Ubix Network platform as a microservice. From the technological standpoint, the Crowdfeeding service is built with C#, using the PostgreSQL database. The service is integrated with the other services of the Ubix ecosystem:
  • Unified identification service UbixID,
  • Payment system UbiPay,
  • Ubix.Exchange service, that provides a listing option and opens access to the tokens secondary market,
  • Notarial service SilentNotary that allows verifying the authenticity of any file,
  • CHH & QHH – wallet processors,
  • Notification service Ubix.notification 

Some of the applications of the Ubix Network ecosystem and their interaction with Crowdfeeding are shown in Picture 4.

Picture 4: The Crowdfeeding and the other services of the Ubix Network platform interaction schema

There is a dedicated consilium implemented on the Network platform for the Crowdfeeding service. There is a smart contract linked to it, and tokens were issued.

Based on a consilium definition [5], the consilium is a blockchain integrated into the UBIX Network platform. The consilium consists of subsets of nodes that accepted the rules of the consilium. When the conditions defined by the rules of the consilium are met, the consilium is activated and it processes only those transactions accumulated in the mempool that have a corresponding label, i.e. that have to be processed by the consilium. The processed transactions are formed into a block, which is bound in a certain way to the previously obtained blocks, making a directed acyclic graph (DAG).

Once a user applies for the job, the service automatically transfers the user’s profile via the API to the client company’s Crowdfeeding service account. In the client company’s account, the user is immediately authorized, therefore the client’s side doesn’t have to fill out the fields twice, they instantly get an authorized contact to further work with. After that, the worker carries out the job. Although the work is done outside the service, Crowdfeeding allows users to submit confirmation of the job completion, by posting links to copies of the files (photos, videos, copies of webpages with the upload timestamp) verified through the SilentNotary service.

Picture 5 shows a high-level schema of the interaction between client, worker, and the Crowdfeeding service.

Picture 5: The high-level interaction with the user/company diagram

The two main reasons that influenced the choice of the Ubix Network platform for implementation, were: reuse of the existing infrastructure (wallets, the payment gateway, consiliums, token release mechanism, etc) plus, unlike Etherium, a token that’s not ever going up in price (predictability of costs).
Along with the Ubix Network platform monetary consilium, a smart contract was created and a UBX/UBXE token was emitted. At the time of the service launching, 1 million tokens were released, which were distributed in an 80/20 ratio, i.e. 80% for sale and 20% for the team.

The economics of the service is fee-driven, meaning that for various sorts of transactions (for instance, a payment for the completed job) the service charges both the worker and the client a commission.
Service development plan
The main part of the project, that is currently being developed and that will handle the financing and further development is the payment processing functionality.

Currently, it is planned to roll out the core functionality with an uncategorized list of tasks (simple list), without tags, without workers ratings, and without confirmation of workers' skill sets. As the service gets further developed and more new clients join the platform, the aforementioned features will be implemented and added to the platform, as well as other new functionality, not mentioned above but derived from clients' demands.

There’s an experiment planned to develop a channel to work with system integrators, as more and more companies start to work with blockchain [6]. Some of those companies are potential clients of the platform, who would like to join the service, but whose IT departments do not possess the required qualifications and expertise to be able to set up the integration with Crowdfeeding on their own. Therefore, certain IT system integrators, which possess the required expertise in the field of blockchain, will be offered partnership agreements with Crowdfeeding. Within the scope of these agreements, they will receive learning materials and documentation, as well as Crowdfeeding service integration training. The agreement's terms will allow integrators to sell their consulting services of setting up and tuning the integration with Crowdfeeding. In its turn, Crowdfeeding can count on extending its client base with existing clients of those integration companies.

It is planned to create a dedicated section in Ubix Network Community with a description of best practices and implementation success stories. The purpose of this dedicated developer community will be to host and encourage discussions of various technical aspects of integration with the Crowdfeeding service.
The developers of Crowdfeeding paid special attention to the protection of ordinary workers that use the platform. In particular, in addition to a basic escrow mechanism, the service supports the mechanism of spending the escrow in parts proportional to the part of the work completed. On one hand, such an approach allows the worker to work on a large task in stages, having a certain work-planning horizon. On the other hand, task executors get paid as they complete the stages, without having to wait until the entire task gets completed.

In contrast to many other work marketplaces, Crowdfeeding does not have artificial payment delays after the client confirms the completion of the task. This often becomes the crucial factor for the choice of gig aggregator by professionals.

Also, the service does not allow publishing a task, when the client does not have the escrow money for that particular task. I.e., there is no way to publish a task without having financed it. From the workers’ viewpoint, a task published without financial backing is a big problem for many work marketplaces, since in the end many such tasks never get any workers assigned to them, just because they have been published but not financed. So the clients go ahead publishing the task, obtain a cost estimate for it and then either decide to not continue with it at all or choose to pick another marketplace. Such a method of order placement is used on many work marketplaces and is not fully transparent for the marketplace workers: they spend time and effort on creating proposals for such tasks, completing test assignments, and also reading the accompanying documentation to assess the feasibility of completing a given task. For Crowdfeeding service, such situations are excluded by construction, since workers' protection is a high priority for the service. This in turn makes one hopeful that the service will become popular among the increasingly larger number of gig-workers.

In its turn, judging by the data reported in [7], the gig-work sector grows year by year, and so does the number of gig-workers, so the worker target audience is ever increasing. The number of clients who move part of their work from traditional employment to gig-work market is similarly increasing.