The Steemit blockchain is full of surprises. One of them - and I'm talking about real-life, verifiable features here - is the escrow capability. In layman terms, if you want to make an exchange on the Steemit blockchain and your counter party doesn't trust you (or you don't trust him or her) you can trust the funds involved to a third party, called an escrow agent.
If you don't know what an escrow agent is, I prepared a little quote for you from Investopedia:
An escrow agent essentially serves as a neutral middleman in the context of an escrow agreement. An escrow agreement is a contract between two parties whereby they agree that a third party should hold an asset on their behalf until their transaction is completed. The funds or assets are held by the escrow agent until it receives the appropriate instructions or until predetermined contractual obligations have been fulfilled.
The most important part of that quote is: "until it receives the appropriate instructions or until predetermined contractual obligations have been fulfilled". And out of that snipped, the most important word is "predetermined".
Yesterday I was offline almost the entire day. I traveled by car, and, because there is some sort of holiday here in Romania, the traffic was absolutely horrible. A road trip that usually takes under 2 hours took me more than 6. Add to this extreme heat and the serendipitous lack of air conditioning in my car, and you get a nice picture of my Friday afternoon (and a good part of the night).
During one of those gazillions stops in those endless car queues, I checked my Steemit feed and, out of nowhere, I got a reply to one of my post saying that I have to supervise a transaction. In my 20 something years of being on the Internet I heard tons of horror stories that started like this. So I was quite worried.
Once I got to the destination and I got a little bit of internet access, I immediately checked all my other communication channels: mail, text, etc. I had a direct message on Steemit chat, related to the same phantasmagoric transaction, a hangout invitation from a person I never heard of in my entire life and another comment on Steemit about the same transaction.
After checking my wallet history, I saw there was a transaction calling me in the role of escrow agent, but I knew absolutely nothing of it The sum wasn't big, around $100, but still relevant.
So, I answered immediately on Steemit that I know nothing about any transaction and waited.
A day after - meaning today - I got a reply to my comment saying something like: "But you are an accepted escrow agent listed on Steemit".
Well, of course, I am, I applied to that position very soon after some guys from Golos implemented this feature, but that doesn't mean I can accept any transaction, without knowing anything about it.
I didn't mention any of the names involved in this situation (although the astute Steemit blockchain user can easily find who they were, just by carefully perusing a block explorer) because one of them is quite a veteran here (he's here before me). But, given the nature of Steemit, that account may not point to the same person anymore. The account may have been sold (which, given the nature of Steemit, again, namely the fact that an account is literally worth some money, happened quite a lot in the past, and it still happens).
I didn't investigate further, and I prefer to live under the assumption that this was a huge mistake, and people were well intended - but not very well informed - about the entire nature of escrow.
Which brings me to the second part of this article:
When And How You Should Use Me As An Escrow Agent
So, if you do want to make an escrow transaction on the Steemit blockchain, I can function as an escrow agent, provided that:
- I personally know both parties involved (or if I don't know them personally, I need proof of identity, keybase will do, for now).
- I know the details of the transaction: who sells what, to whom and under what terms. It's the predetermined word from the definition of an escrow agent above.
- I am announced about this intention in a public way: a comment on Steemit before the actual transaction is set to take place will also do it.
- the escrow transaction is set to take place after more than 7 days from the moment I gave my accept. The reason for that is that any piece of content on Steemit becomes immutable (non-editable) after 7 days. So if the transaction is set to happen sooner than 7 days, there's a consistent chance that the content pertaining to that transaction may be changed (the transaction itself cannot be changed, but its terms may be).
With that being said, please pay attention to what you're trading here, and what type of transaction you choose. Make sure you know at least how escrow works and be aware of each escrow agent rules.
I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
If you're new to Steemit, you may find these articles relevant (that's also part of my witness activity to support new members of the platform):