With unemployment being a key issue in Africa, the continent’s millennials are increasingly embracing freelancing as an alternative to a formal employment. Freelancing online allows many people across the continent to break out on their own and generate income from their hobbies while enjoying flexibility and independence. The rise of independent hiring platforms such as UpWork and Freelancer.com have given African freelancers opportunities to select projects that match their skills and talents.
However, these platforms tend to charge a service fee on transactions between freelancers and employers and charge again to send the money to a PayPal or bank account. Fortunately, however, there is a new platform that has the potential to change the game for African freelancers.
The first Blockchain-based freelance marketplace
Ethlance is the first decentralised online job marketplace that allows employers and freelancers to link up through the Ethereum blockchain at zero cost. Since it uses Ethereum smart contract capabilities to process payments, there are no service fees involved. While hiring platforms like UpWork charge a 20% service fee on the first $500 transacted between client and freelancer, Ethlance users are only required to pay the ‘gas fees‘ that meet the cost of running transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.
Ethlance founder Matus Lestan was inspired by the mass freelance migration and having been experienced some of their problems as a freelancer himself, decided to develop the platform to alleviate some of these challenges. He told ETHNews:
“When I started working remotely, I realized pretty quickly I couldn’t go back to a regular office job. It’s such an essential part of my life because I can work from wherever I want, which is why Ethlance was such an obvious choice for me to build – it’s a tool for people that I think will only become more relevant in the future.”
Merits to Using Ethlance
Ethlance has a simple user interface that allows you to search for jobs by providing your services on the search bar. You can filter the results according to employer rating, project length, payment type, availability, the level of experience and budget. In addition, you can search for jobs using thousands of predefined skills that appear on the drop-down menu on the search bar.
For an employer, you can screen freelancers according to hourly rates, country, rating, skills, feedback, and language. To enable direct communication between freelancers and employers, there are plans to integrate the messaging app Whisper in the future. Also, freelancers are not charged any fees when they receive payments from an employer and neither is the employer for making a payment.
To protect users on the platform against identity theft, a “secure, easy-to-use system for self-sovereign identity, built on Ethereum,” will be integrated.
How to Join the Platform
It is important to note that Ethlance runs on the Ethereum blockchain. To access the platform you can do one of two things, download Ethereum’s Mist Browser, or install the Chrome extension MetaMask. Both options will require you to fund your account with ether. A simple way to go about this would be through a digital currency exchange such as Kraken or Bittrex.
Once you have downloaded either of the Ethereum apps and deposited ether in your account, you can begin using the platform whose UI is no that different from other sites.
The next challenge for the platform will be building awareness about its user-friendly business model for freelancers and what blockchain technology is all about. If the team behind it can pull this off, Ethlance has the potential to be a leading online jobs portal for cryptocurrency freelancers and startups in Africa.