Shared from the Wed 22 Nov, 2017 - Financial Review Digital Edition

Online currency makes business boom

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The founders of CanYa, (from left) Chris McLoughlin, Kyle Hornberg and John Paul Thorbjornsen have taken the commerce platform from crocodile wrestlers to crypto-currencies.

Money makes the world go around, but its forms have evolved from foods, tools and swords, to metal coins, and then the paper notes created in China’s Tang dynasty.

In the 21st century, the leap forward is cryptocurrencies, the online form of money which Bitcoin launched into cyberspace in 2009. An age ago in digital terms.

But it’s a currency that the financial world, and governments regulating it, now have to watch sharply as technologies, and the algorithms controlling them, make one advance after another.

One of the most recent and critical advances in the tech world has been Blockchain, a complex and decentralised global computer system – basically an automated, non-institutionalised ledgering system for online transactions from small to massive scales.

Many predict Blockchain will change the world in ways we won’t even know, even though we will be using it.

Blockchain is a global peer-to-peer network of computers which track online transactions every few seconds, verifying legitimate transfers of funds, identifying and eliminating dodgy ones, and protecting any that might be compromised by counterfeiters or hackers – which platforms such as even banks can be vulnerable to.

It is complex but is also the gateway to a new era of global commerce – cryptocurrencies.

Australian company CanYa is preparing for a global launch that will take it far from its humble beginnings as a household goods and services provider platform. CanYa offers babysitters, plumbers, electricians and even crocodile wrestlers to customers.

The company is expanding and will base its payment method on cryptocurrencies such as Ether and Bitcoin, and using the Ethereum Blockchain system to operate it.

Users can purchase CanYa coins with traditional currencies or cryptocurrencies and store them in a digital wallet. These can then be spent on services. The job is then completed with a 1 per cent fee, bypassing banks, credit card companies and other middleman commissions which can be far higher.

CanYa co-founder Chris McLoughlin is preparing for the company’s November 26 Initial Coin Offering, where ‘‘crowd contributors’’ can stake a claim in this financial frontier.

The aim is to raise $25 million traditional dollars, and then go global from March, offering basic and digital services paid for in cyber currencies – mainly Ether but others too – stuffed in digital wallets and not hit by institutional fees.

CanYa raised close to $2 million in a preliminary offering last month.

Blockchain reduces fees and runs checks on every transaction in a secure environment.

‘‘Security is one of the major benefits of the Blockchain,’’ McLoughlin says.

Another is sending transactions. It’s fast, paid almost instantly and costs far less than other types of money transfers.

‘‘With international bank transfers, if you were to send, say $100 million to someone on the other side of the world, it’s going to be charged 5 per cent and take three to four days to get there,’’ McLoughlin says.

‘‘Ether will take 15 seconds, charge you about 40 cents, is completely secure, and no one is handling your money. It is done between a worldwide network of computers.’’

McLoughlin says cryptocurrencies were born out of the global financial crisis.

‘‘The people who invented it saw the need for a better way of transacting and storing value in a globalised world other than the traditional banking institutions which put the US into the GFC,’’ he says.

‘‘Instead of having to trust third-party institutions and pay them money to control your money, you don’t have to trust anybody.

‘‘And you just know the cryptography and computers will do just what they’re meant to do, and nobody can change the process.

McLoughlin concedes that many people still don’t fully understand the world of cryptocurrencies. ‘‘Trying to truly understand it is like peeling back the layers of an onion, you think you know how it works and then there is another layer,’’ he says.

‘‘But it’s basically a consensus of computers handling information that cannot be changed unless they have more than 51 per cent of the computing power, which is near impossible.’’

All of this, in CanYa’s case, is condensed into service providers who are not charged hefty fees for being on the site, nor are the customers they serve.

‘‘Everyone is reviewed after each job. So it goes to an overall score,’’ McLoughlin says.

‘‘When you want to book a plumber, you open the app and can see all of the local plumbers in your area. They will be ranked reviews from the previous jobs they have completed.

‘‘Instead of having separate platforms for booking tradies, babysitters, cleaners or digital professionals, CanYa is a platform designed for all types of service providers who have been reviewed and verified.’’

‘‘The ICO is designed so institutional-style investors and general members of the public from anywhere in the world can participate. CanYa, with it’s real-world-use case may also attract people who are interested in cryptocurrencies but aren’t quite sure how they work.

‘‘But with CanYa you can easily understand what the platform is and the benefits of cryptocurrencies.’’

CanYa’s ICO will begin on November 26, 2017 and last for 30 days, or until the coins sell out.

The people who invented it saw the need for a better way of transacting and storing value.

Chris McLoughlin

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