I’ve been interested in Freelancing, AKA, “The Future of Work”, and also in cryptocurrency, AKA, “The Future of Money”.
So obviously I was extremely interested in Faradam, a “Bitcoin Micropayment Service Targets Global Freelancers”.
The idea is to make it extremely easy for individuals to arrange payments for hourly work, in Bitcoin.
The basic technology is a time clock that streams tiny amounts of Bitcoin minute by minute as you work on the project.
The worker sets up a timer connected to his Bitcoin address, which is sent to the employer. The employer deposits Bitcoin into the account.
Then the worker (with override by the boss) starts and stops the clock as he works. Each minute worked gets a tiny Bitcoin payment. Kind of like a chess clock.
The goal is to make it dead simple, “It Just Works”. Freelancers can “Forget about payment issues”, and the Bitcoin arrives immediately (less a 1% fee).
Clearly, this service is designed with something like Mechanical Turk in mind. Simple tasks, little interaction or coordination, minimal contractual terms. Obviously, not all “Freelancing” follows that mold, let alone all work. Just as a for example, consider Freelance writing: the project is scarcely complete when you finish typing, and payment is due upon acceptance, not upon delivery.
It’s also rather misleading to imply that this payment scheme frees the Freelancer from administrative tasks. Payment is only one of the legal details that must be managed. Generally speaking, there needs to be a contract (however minimal), along with work permits, tax payments, and other nicities. Since Faradam “just works”, whether you have all the paperwork in order, it is an invitation to cut corners—and get yourself is trouble.
Faradam itself is a payment system, and operates as a money transfer. It does not know who the sender and receiver are, or where they are. Anyone in the world can “hire” anyone else, and transfer a steady stream of Bitcoins. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that this service violates money laundering laws. If so, then this service exposes the Freelancer to potentially extremely serious trouble—anti-terrorism laws are not to be trifled with.
Basically, this service is probably too good to be true, and too simple to be real. It certainly is not terribly well thought out, at least from the point of view of the Freelancer.
One improvement would be to integrate this kind of interface with a “smart contract” framework which implements a simple checklist and workflow to assure that both parties know each other, are legally allowed to do business, and that relevant regulations and taxes are complied with. Then, and only then, is the “chess clock” available.
Furthermore, there needs to be the payments to be held pending receipt, or other variants. In the end, very few tasks can realistically be paid by the minute.
It’s too simple. Don’t use it.
PS. The service does not work well for me with Firefox. Perhaps my aggressive ad blocking, anti-tracking, and cookie blasting messes up their service. Not a big deal, but not a confidence builder, either.