With smart contracts, we see a possibility to empower billions of working-age people to prosper despite their earnings by capturing their intangible value (as social capital) from fulfilled commitments, which can dwarf their financial wealth and earnings (similar to how Starbuck's market value is 15 times its book value).
What it does
Our mobile platform allows people to receive acknowledgement for their authentic contributions to the community by registering their everyday commitments (social contracts) as smart contract based promises on a blockchain in order to build their Social Credit Brand with digital badges for recognition and a Social Credit Score, as an indicator of their character for credit, employment, insurance, and housing, based on their track record of fulfilling their commitments.
Our socialXchange chat bot messaging application (being piloted in Toronto's West Queen West neighbourhood in October) engages merchants and community residents in collaborative activities that support community and social causes, whereby residents commit to supporting a merchant's business with in-kind activities in exchange for a charitable donation, which allows people who cannot afford to make regular purchases to also be valued by merchants and the community.
Merchants (possibly backed by insurance) can confidently extend tab privileges to residents with a high Social Credit Score as a customer loyalty incentive, thereby also providing them with their first line of credit to help such residents establish a formal credit rating. We make it possible for merchants to replace banks as lenders of first resort and manage their risks by purchasing credit insurance policies based on their customers' Social Credit Score. Banks and credit unions can, in turn, provide merchants with lines of credit to cover their cash flow requirements, also based on the customers' Social Credit Score. Both the credit insurance and line of credit could be provided by other community residents who are collectively willing to back fellow residents who have a high Social Credit Score.
How we built it
Our objective for this hackathon was to integrate our off-chain front end and middleware that was being developed for our first pilot with a smart contract back end.
The intended smart contract would record and track generic commitments for calculating a rolling Social Credit Score and issue issuer-approved self-expiring tokens that support time-constrained badge issuance. It would be integrated with the Chatfuel front end and uPort for managing Facebook identities.
Unfortunately, we had challenges with getting developers to support both initiatives. We also learned that integrating our Ruby on Rails application with the smart contract and uPort would require more technical expertise and effort than we had anticipated.
So we are left with a collection of technical fragments and some valuable insights about what it will take to get to the MVP.
We demonstrated a simulation using the same Chatfuel chatbot in Facebook Messenger that we used for our Ruby on Rails off-chain prototype and submitted an incomplete (but functioning) Solidity smart contract.
Challenges we ran into
Our biggest challenge was to get reliable commitments from team members. Initially, we were very optimistic, because we were successful recruiting 15 team members, which included 7 developers (4 of whom had smart contract development experience). In the end, none of them were willing to commit to completing the project.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
A small, core team came together in the final week to create a smart contract, product demo, pitch deck, and several videos. We are proud to have been able to produce a quality hackathon deliverable, despite our unresolved technical challenges.
We are also proud of the fact that we were able to considerable validation from mentors and peer hackathon teams about the prospective merits of our solution.
What we learned
We learned the following:
- It is almost impossible to develop software with volunteers or for only future considerations.
- Getting team members to commit and fulfill their commitments is, unfortunately, not a realistic expectation.
- Blockchain integration into other applications is considerably more complex than making a few standard API calls.
Our experience with getting people to fulfill their commitments also reinforces the core value proposition of our solution, which rewards people with a Social Credit brand and score for fulfilling their commitments. I can imagine how future hackathon teams would be selected based on prospective team members' Social Credit Score.
What's next for Social Credit Tab
In collaboration with the local BIA and Sketch, a social services organization that supports creative at-risk youth, we are planning a pilot implementation of socialXchange in the West Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto, this fall. We hope to demonstrate it's effectiveness for:
- engaging youth and millennials in facilitating charitable donations
- financial inclusion by accelerating the process of Sketch clients getting employment and credit (i.e. social impact)
- driving business activity for participating merchants
We will use the pilot to identify prospective customers and strategic partners for the next round of pilots, including some that integrate our platform into existing enterprise applications.