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In the early ‘90s, a movement took root from the pioneering ideas of Dr. David Chaum, who wrote extensively about anonymous digital cash and pseudonymous reputation systems throughout the ‘80s. In San Francisco, circa 1992, the term cypherpunks was coined by a group of digital anarchists led by Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May, and John Gilmore. The term was an amalgamation of the words “cypher” and “cyberpunk,” and a few months after the Cypherpunks mailing list was launched, Eric Hughes published his seminal book, "A Cypherpunk's Manifesto”.
How is all of this relevant to today’s decentralized world of digital assets, ICO’s and cryptocurrencies? John Wantz, the Co-Founder & CEO of a forthcoming blockchain-based eComm ecosystem and utility token SHOP, remains heavily influenced by the cypherpunk movement, revealing in a recent interview that his company's principles are firmly rooted in a quote from Eric Hughes’ notorious book:
"Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn't want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn't want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world." - Cypherpunk Manifesto
In Wantz’s words, “being a Cypherpunk means being an enlightened individual who understands that privacy and control are the core tenets of living a freedom-based lifestyle, which is something I’m afraid we’re losing sight of rapidly today.” He went on to share concerns about how we’ve allowed major data centralizers, such as Amazon, Walmart, Facebook and Google, to collect our data—and by extension, us, “to an extent that would have been considered criminal only a generation ago.”
So what is SHOP all about, and how are they committed to implementing their core principles of decentralization and fairness in an industry that is sorely lacking both?
“SHOP, in contrast,” explains Wantz, “is a consortium of Brands and Shoppers formed with a goal of decentralizing the control of consumer data by reinstating default privacy and control of data and the principles of pseudonymous reputation systems.”
SHOP is an entirely new retail operating system for apps and storefronts alike, built atop the Ethereum Blockchain, which will ensure that the permissioning and data storage is always committed to decentralization. Their native SHOP Token will enable fair and transparent value exchange between parties, which in turn will give Shoppers complete control over their data and how it’s shared. As Wantz went on to say, “this way, Shoppers always have control over something Brands want and need, and Brands are always incentivized to reward Shoppers in the form of savings and rewards to access it.”
In addition, the SHOP ecosystem will be rooted in a democratic co-op model, giving every Shopper a direct say in the future of the platform. When asked why SHOP chose this model, Wantz explained that a co-op, “was the most logical organizational model for us because it reinforces our principles around creating a decentralized retail structure that’s truly owned and controlled by Brands and Shoppers.”
SHOP is kickstarting their ecosystem with a millennial-focused online apparel store named KangaShop.com. The SHOP token is being used as the closed-loop currency within the ecosystem, and any brand that desires to extract a Shopper’s data will be able to provide them with SHOP tokens as a reward for doing so. Wantz had this to say in regards to launching with this particular store: “KangaShop serves as a utopian example of how a retail environment can operate fairly and equitably within our ecosystem. There’s no fees for Brands that sell through Kanga, and Shoppers retain all of their data.”
All things considered, where does Wantz see the SHOP co-op in 10 years time? “Staging a hostile takeover of Amazon.” He went on to explain that they don’t plan on launching direct attacks against Amazon’s existing stronghold over brands, as that would be an expensive and grueling process. “Rather, we want to create a new system of supply and demand within infinite other consumer touchpoints where Brands & Shoppers can move freely without being leveraged and centralized.”