In Haiti, everyday citizens need access to “critical infrastructure” such as reliable electricity, education, clean water, sanitation, stable currency and more. The government cannot consistently provide critical infrastructure. So, Travay [pronounced “tri-vi”] incentivizes everyday, unbanked citizens to complete jobs pertaining to betterment of their community. Through the completion of these jobs individuals will earn a salary, are no longer unbanked and will have a resume of work. While also assisting the country in establishing consistent and reliable access to critical infrastructure.
What it does
In Travay, upon a user signing up, they receive a set amount of cryptocurrency to fund their wallet for their first transactions on the blockchain.
Users browse and filter through jobs. Examples of typical work, are weekly trash pick up and deposit (sanitation), reading to a child (education) and retrieving medicine for an elderly person (public service). Once the user finds a job they’re interested in, the user claims the job and begins work immediately.
After the work is completed, the user uploads a picture for proof. Their work is then evaluated for payment in Dai, a stable cryptocurrency equal to the United States dollar.
Because the jobs in Travay are either 6-months or 12-months, the user will have recurring income and have curated an online resume of skills. As well as increased their social capital amongst their neighbors.
Additionally, individuals around the world can sponsor and create jobs. If an individual creates a job, they must have sufficient cryptocurrency to fund the entire length of the job. This ensures all jobs are fully funded and the worker is guaranteed a salary so long as they meet the job requirements. Job sponsorship increases the incentives for workers, by getting bonuses for work. In addition, sponsorship shows that long term investment is being made in their community. In all, Travay’s goal is to foster a self-sustaining community.
How I built it
Travay is a progressive web application (PWA) built using Vue.js for the front-end and Ethereum, MetaMask, uPort, colonyJS and Firebase as the backend. The app is available in English, Haitian Creole, and soon French.
We used a PWA as it allows anyone with limited Internet access to use Travay on any device. We also chose to incorporate cryptocurrency in Travay so unbanked users can immediately have access to capital in a digital way and find long-term employment without going through a financial or government institution.
Incorporating blockchain via Ethereum was not a light decision. Leveraging blockchain technology allows citizens to self-coordinate jobs without the influence of corrupt or illicit state actors, as well as verify existing jobs were completed with out needing a billion dollar infrastructure overall.
uPort identity integration allows users to keep their information secure. While colonyJS smart contract infrastructure allows us to provide secure mechanisms to manage our marketplace.
Challenges I ran into
Creating an entire web application that only uses the blockchain while maintaining security of transactions and protecting privacy is a challenge. To mitigate this some informaiton is centrally stored. For example, jobs created are stored in Firebase (a centralized backend managed by Google), but all payments are done in cryptocurrencies and stored within virtual blockchain wallets. It is important to not expose unbanked citizens to identity theft or financial risks. Thus in the coming weeks we plan to roll out individual features until we are, where it makes sense, fully on the blockchain. We will continue to engage in robust testing before we do so.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are proud to hear initial feedback about Travay from individuals in Haiti. Based on feedback received we have been able to make substantial updates. When we originally demoed the product users could only sign in and create a job. Now individuals around the world can sponsor jobs, manage jobs and receive payment via cryptocurrency.
What I learned
Our target user are individuals who are looking for immediate long term work and are unbanked. Our biggest concern was on-boarding users to the blockchain and getting them to securely store their cryptocurrencies. Most of our users are Android mobile phone users without a computer, so learning through development that MetaMask (a cryptocurrency wallet) is available in Firefox on Android was a great discovery.
The above is an example of how often we must make UI/UX (user interface and user experience) considerations at every turn to make our product accessible to the end user. And this discovery confirms our decision to create a PWA rather than build a native mobile application that would require months to creates a stable and security cryptocurrency wallet.
What's next for Travay
We are planning to onboard our first real users to Travay in September. In addition, adding more French translations, integrating end user notifications based on transactions in the app (email and/or text messages) and lastly programmatically generating formatted resumes for end users based on their completed jobs. So our no-longer unbanked citizens can have a portable resume that they can email and distribute to achieve even greater economic mobility. Lastly, we are testing the payout of jobs on Ethereum’s testnet using Metamask and smart contracts.