In the digital age, social networking plays a central role in most people’s personal and professional lives. While social networks offer users convenience, they also allow corporations to mine user data and reap immense profits. More troubling is that government can use these networks to spy on their citizens. Gems is a new cryptocurrency-based project that hopes to disrupt social networking like Bitcoin disrupted currency by returning control of the network to users and bringing “cryptocurrency to the masses.”
CCN interviewed Daniel Peled of the Gems team about the Gems project and how his team plans to disrupt social networking.
What inspired you to create Gems?
We had two goals in mind that we were inspired to solve:
(1) Bringing Bitcoin to the masses: one of the largest issues we saw with bitcoin is the process for a new-comer. Right now blockchain.info wallet is the most secure while easiest wallet service out there but we wanted to do something even better. There needs to be an extremely simple, very hand holding process for people who want to get into bitcoins. It needs to be simple enough even for a seven year-old to open a wallet and send bitcoins to his friends. That’s what we are trying to achieve with Gems.
(2) Take back social networks: the Bitcoin revolution reclaimed currency from the control of traditional establishments. We thought it’s time we do the same for social networks. Why let companies profit from the networks we build?
We’ve designed Gems social messaging app from the ground up with these goals in mind.
What separates Gems from other community-based coins, particularly Reddcoin, the self-styled “social currency?”
In our opinion for a “social currency ” to succeed it has to have a low entrance barrier and appeal to a large audience. We think these two main points separates Gems from Reddcoin and other competitors:
(1) To get started in Gems, the user does not need to know anything about Bitcoin, Counterparty, cryptography, or encryption. Registration takes less than ten seconds, and can be done through a mobile device. Gems is the first cryptocurrency, providing seamless gateway to mainstream users. Gems has a viral concept of rewarding users for inviting their friends.
(2) Gems is built on top the Bitcoin blockchain making sending & receiving gems and bitcoins between users as easy as possible. Gems success is tied with Bitcoin success and therefore it appeals to a larger audience.
Could you describe how the Gems network will operate?
The Gems network operates very similarly to other messaging apps such as WhatsApp. The system relies on a client mobile app (for platforms such as iOS and Android) which is used for sending and receiving the messages.
All currency related operations, such as rewarding gems in the airdrop, are based on Counterparty and Bitcoin blockchain. The messaging system does not rely on the same mechanism and uses a proprietary real-time data protocol which is better-suited for fast paced high scale communications.
Once a user chooses to send an outgoing message, the client mobile app encrypts the message and sends it to the Gems cloud service. The reliance on a cloud server infrastructure allows Gems to scale easily and support a massive amount of concurrent users. Since the server architecture is completely distributed, new servers can be added and removed from within the cloud according to demand – maintaining a high degree of resource efficiency.
The cloud service stores the message until the recipient has safely received it. This is a requirement because recipients may not be available or have network connectivity when the message was sent. This model does not compromise on privacy because the message is encrypted. The decryption key for secure messages is only found at the recipient mobile app, preventing 3rd parties from eavesdropping to the conversation.
If the recipient is not currently inside the app, they are notified about an incoming message using a mobile push notification. Push notifications are normally delivered in under a second. If the recipient is currently inside the app (such as during an active chat), push notifications are avoided and message delivery is instantaneous between the sender and recipient. The server costs involved with supporting free messaging are will be funded by money raised during the pre-sell.
How does Gems reward users?
Gems introduces an innovative reward mechanism which benefits its users. Anyone using the Gems application receives Gems tokens for inviting their friends, utilizing the network, and helping to build the ecosystem. Gems tokens serve as the in-app currency which, for example, are paid directly to the users by advertisers.
Google and Facebook base 99% of their revenue on targeted advertising. Networks monetize users by exposing them to content. With Gems: Sending content between friends is free but sending unsolicited content or advertisements costs Gems. This economic model achieve 3 goals: Stopping spam. Controlling ads. Creating real demand for Gems in the market. In our opinion after studying other successful messaging apps the main attraction to the currency will be driven by 1) user growth and 2) text usage. As these two figures grow the demand to buy Gems in the market by advertisers will grow.
Aside from purchasing in-app advertisements, what can users obtain with Gems?
Our goal is to develop a really easy and simple user experience. In-app advertisements is a brand new sharing economy model and we want to be the first to bring it to market. As the network grows and new features are added, some of those will require payment to sustain. Gems will always exist as a payment option for any value added features available in the app.
Additionally, as new p2p reward models are created, new opt-in features will become available enabling sharing economy type activities, crowdfunding, and more. Since this is the first time the users will control the core value of the social network it is too early to predict what new novel ideas will come into existence. We will take Gems holder’s input on major features.
Images from Gems and Shutterstock.
Disclosure: The author has no investments in or affiliations with Gems.