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“Keep the patrons, ditch the patronizer”

Authors

In this post, we introduce the PeerPatron project, give an overview of our vision and motivations, and present our roadmap.

tl;dr

The PeerPatron project humbly tries to bring another brick to the decentralization of existing web services. We will launch a crowd patronage platform in the coming months, trying as much as we can to leverage the Tezos blockchain to provide censorship resistance and features geared toward the empowerment of artists, creators, and users instead of platform owners.

In this post, we will cover:


The state of crowdfunding

At the moment, projects seeking crowdfunding online are largely forced to use centralized platforms to obtain the tools and exposure they need. This approach works well in many cases and is tried and tested. However, like many centralized platforms, some critical issues arise when control over the platform is in the hands of the platform owners, and when their interests are not aligned with those of its users.

Here are a few common problems encountered on centralized platforms:

  • Unilateral change of rules and contracts can be decided by the platform owner and operator, forcing users to accept them, whatever the cost.
  • Users can be censored arbitrarily for various kind of reasons.
  • All users depend on the laws of the platform owner’s country instead of their own countries.
  • Ultimately, revenues of users are dependent on the stability and policy of platform owners/operators; abrupt loss of these revenues can alter lives significantly.

Amongst others, these problems are met in the crowd patronage field: when a creator provides its fans a way to support them with small regular subscriptions, and get some kind of recurring income stream from all the subscriptions at the end of the month. PeerPatron aims to provide such a service, while trying to mitigate the above threats of a centralized patronage platform.


What we envision with PeerPatron

Ideally, we would like to mitigate the shortcomings of power accumulation with technical barriers. That is to say, even if the platform operator would decide to go rogue, shut down the service, or break the trust of its users, it wouldn't have the technical possibility to modify or cancel the contracts between creators and the patrons that support them.

We think this technology should be used as a tool of freedom, geared towards the empowerment of its users, and not as a lever for more power accumulation in the hands of platform owners. We believe that, as much as possible, the design of the service should seek to align the interests of the platform operators and their users. For example, in our case, the PeerPatron team will be a creator listed on the platform, as with many others. We won't be able to take a percentage of the subscriptions that other creators collect.


How Tezos can help

Bitcoin brought us censorship resistance for digital money transactions. Then came smart contracts and the generalization of these transactions to more complex interactions between economic actors.

Contracts commonly carried out on centralized crowdfunding and patronage platforms can be replaced by smart contracts to leverage their censorship resistance and automatic execution properties. This way, the platform operator merely connects the patron and the creator. Once the contract has been carried out (technically speaking: the smart contract has been published on the blockchain), the operator has no power to revoke it. The contractors (the patron and the creator) are indeed the only actors able to modify or cancel their mutual engagement.

Tezos is an ideal blockchain for PeerPatron because it is designed to facilitate secure smart contract-based applications and always remain state-of-the-art via its coordination mechanisms to adopt the best technologies. Tezos’ liquid proof-of-stake consensus mechanism is more environmentally sustainable than proof-of-work blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and encourages widespread participation amongst all stakeholders. We share these values with the PeerPatron project and are eager to engage with the vibrant Tezos community to support creators and artists of all kinds.


Our roadmap

  • December 2020: launch of the PeerPatron private beta
  • Early Q1 2021: incorporate product feedback from the private beta
  • Mid/Late Q1 2021: launch of the public beta
  • Q2 2021: continuous improvements to PeerPatron based on product feedback from beta users
  • Q2 2021: focus on growth and adoption amongst creators and artists, in particular, outside of the current cryptocurrency ecosystem
  • Q3 2021: PeerPatron community discussions (PeerPatron team, artists/creators, patrons, etc.) to determine the platform's evolution

Along the way, we'll dig deeper on the different subjects we touched on in this article and provide the Tezos community with open source tools, knowledge and feedback geared toward DApp development on Tezos. On the technical side, since we come from an OCaml background, you can expect some OCaml and ReasonML / ReScript templates, libraries and tutorials.


Conclusion

We hope this brief introduction to the PeerPatron project gave you a rough overview of what we aim to accomplish and our motivations for building it. We're well aware that blockchain technology is still in infancy with relatively little mainstream adoption, and our ability as a community to bring Tezos and its benefits to end-users will be decisive in the coming years. We’re excited to do our part. Stay tuned for more information!

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