How a new class of startups are using blockchain to tackle some of the Internet's biggest challenges
- Some media companies, like Current Media, entered the crypto space in light of recent data privacy controls scandals.
- Meanwhile, companies like Verasity use their blockchain-based platform to weed out fake news and views.
- RightMesh connects users peer-to-peer using blockchain in countries with restricted internet access.
The Internet is increasingly popular for users looking for free and convenient content. However, major downsides like demonetization, data privacy and fraudulent activity have shaken both consumers and content providers.
Now, a growing number of companies are creating business models that use blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to address those concerns. A few companies, such as Current Media, entered the crypto space in light of recent data privacy controls, co-founder and CEO Dan Novaes told CNBC in an interview.
Some of that movement has been spurred by Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, and issues like Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
Current partners with different streaming media like Apple Music and Spotify, as well as directly with content creators, to ensure that media makers and users are rewarded for viewing and making content. Toward that end, the company has created its own cryptocurrency unit, called a CRNC token, to reward content creators.
Novaes cited YouTube as an example of a company that may want to consider it, given controversies surrounding its pay structure.
"You can only treat creators so badly," Novaes said, adding that billions of people turn to the platform to listen to music for free, rather than subscribe to Spotify or Apple Music.
Each of Current's Ethereum-backed CRNC Token is valued at 24 cents. The first thousand users will be live in a few months, as the company continues to roll out.
Eliminating fake news
Adam Simmons, cofounder of Verasity, said his company developed the blockchain platform to weed out bogus news content. Verasity is a content-sharing platform fueled by VERA Tokens, which can be purchased with and Ethereum, and it pays both viewers and creators for content.
Consumers pay their favorite creator to produce material and in return, viewers get paid for investing as the channel gets more views. Viewers also get paid by advertisers to view advertisements, rather than having advertisers pay creators to attach ads to content.
"More importantly, users see what they hit, it's not a negative experience," Simmons said. "It has a positive effect on the way the viewer engages." Content viewers can also choose to share personal data, and how much they wish to make public.
Anonymous viewer metrics are available to content creators, in order to weed out bots. Automated accounts lead to the promotion of fake news, Simmons explained. If a lot of bots "view" an article, they trick the algorithm into showing the video to more real people.
The company, which recently ended an initial coin offering, is expected to launch its service later this year.
Building connections without the web
RightMesh is a company that connects users peer-to-peer using blockchain in countries with restricted internet access. In that way, it bypasses the web altogether, which is useful in countries where parts of the Internet are unreachable.
"You are you and I am me -- that's how blockchain works," said CEO John Lyotier. "When people can't access the internet, they can't gain that authority." Lyotier said the idea for RightMesh came about when his team in Bangladesh was using dial-up speed internet.
RightMesh works with developers in the area to work with what telecommunications are in place. The network can operate over Wi-Fi, bluetooth or personal Wi-Fi services.
Using a decentralized mobile mesh networking platform, RightMesh provides people access to the internet through Androids. Users are rewarded for sharing their data with Ethereum-backed RMESH tokens.
"Blockchain is going to change the world, if you have connectivity," Lyotier said. "Without blockchain technology and communication, cryptocurrency wouldn't reach its potential."