What is typically thought of as the peer-to-peer or sharing economy — think Uber or Airbnb — could some day become so peer-to-peer that drivers and riders or hosts and guests connect to each other directly through their smart phones and ditch those companies as middlemen.
Or so goes the vision of Luis Fernando Molina, the chief executive and founder of Fermat.org, a platform that enables “decentralized applications” that connect users directly to each other without the need for an intermediary. The system uses a technology similar to what powers Bitcoin transactions, often referred to as a blockchain.
Tuesday, the organization announces the publication of a white paper describing how the platform, which also offers a way for content creators to manage the copyright of their work and for developers to be paid modularly for app components that they create, works. Operating in stealth for two years, Fermat already has more than 60 full-time contributors collaborating on its open source platform that Molina hopes will launch an “Internet of People.”
“We will see an evolution from social to peer-to-peer,” says Molina, comparing Fermat to the file-sharing service BitTorrent, because it is a device-to-device-based network.
The release of the white paper comes in the wake of excitement in the Bitcoin community about the launch of another decentralized application, OpenBazaar, a peer-to-peer version of eBay, in which buyers and sellers can download OpenBazaar’s desktop software and connect directly to each other without a third-party marketplace taking a cut of the transaction.
In the peer-to-peer, Fermat-powered version of Airbnb, someone who wants to let a room would download the Fermat host version of the app and upload information about the room. (Fermat apps are nested inside of the Fermat application, which, when opened, shows a new mobile phone desktop holding all the user’s Fermat app icons.) People with Fermat’s gues...