As part of my entry into the Business Plan competition recently run by @aggroed I outlined an idea that I had for a marketplace where users can buy and sell unused gift cards in exchange for Steem. You can read the original business plan submitted here if you're curious.
I was fortunate enough to win this contest, winning 500 ENG tokens (used to create Steem Engine tokens) as well as 500 STEEM. I wanted to outline where I see the marketplace fitting in, how I am going to realise the vision, what the next steps are and also what else to expect. This post is an introduction to the Gift Card Marketplace itself as well as other planned initiatives.
The gift card marketplace is going to be a part of a more broader umbrella of marketplaces. I envision a bunch of different marketplaces for different scenarios.
- Gift card marketplace
- Domain name marketplace
- Services marketplace
At this stage, all aforementioned projects are still in the final step of finalising issues and project priorities. Repositories and projects have been created, which will be filled momentarily as the scope of work is expanded out, finalised and subsequently started.
This is a look at what is coming, and an opportunity for people to get involved in a potentially very big Steem project.
Priority #1: Gift Card Marketplace
I don't currently have a name for this app yet, but I am hoping it'll be more original than calling it Steem Gift Card Marketplace. Prior work has already been done on the marketplace in a private repo separate from the organisation, but the intent is to start from scratch and port over code from the existing repo.
I actually started working on this idea about a year ago. Originally it was going to be built with Bitcoin and Litecoin in mind, but Steem is faster and way better to transact and work with. This is the idea outlined in the competition entry and therefore, it will be the first product delivered.
The intention is to get an MVP out of the door, but also not sacrifice code quality in the process. I want all code delivered to be secure, written with best practices in mind and tested (unit and end-to-end tests). It will be a balancing act to ensure things move at a nice pace without blowing out delivery timelines.
A roadmap will be put out shortly as well as a public projects board in GitHub with issues tagged. Admittedly, this is an ambitious undertaking and one I hope the community will partake in and get involved. The goal is to get this project done within the next six months, if not, less. That will be achieved by starting small and rolling out new features and updates after the initial launch.
The aforementioned business plan which is linked again here explains the reasoning behind "why a gift card marketplace", "why it matters" and "why unused gift cards are such a problem" - if you're curious about the concept, this is the best place to start, but over the coming months, more detail about the problems being solved and development of the project itself will be revealed.
While no official roadmap has been created yet, a rough outline of what can be expected is below. More specifics are to come, the semantics and details are currently being worked out as we speak.
- Setup a Steem Engine Node (currently in progress, will be done by the end of the week), this will handle transactions and eventually the concensus layer being built for SE.
- Get a functional working MVP of the Gift Card Marketplace by June 2019.
- End of June, start of July 2019 the Gift Card Marketplace will issue a call for testers/early users. As an incentive for testing the site and reporting issues and making improvements, MARKET tokens will be issued as payment.
- The testing period will run for about one month until August 2019.
- Gift Card Marketplace will aim to launch in September 2019, possibly earlier in August 2019 depending on issues encountered and work left.
- Throughout this, work will be done in parallel on additional packages for certain pieces of functionality (the payments package will most likely be released before the marketplace), tentatively probably around June 2019.
Branding / Marketing
The STEEM won in the contest will most likely be used to fund the services of a designer to help with branding and logos. I am a front-end developer, so branding and design are not my strongest traits. Once the naming has been sorted, a logo for the gift card marketplace will be created.
Because this is going to be one of many marketplaces under an umbrella organisation, I am envisioning a logo that can be used for the different marketplaces and adapt accordingly, looking familiar but also possessing its own separate unique identity, that will be a huge undertaking.
The intention is work on branding will be done asynchronously from development, so it won't slow things down.
As part of the push, marketing will play a very important role. I envision getting the community involved and incentivising people to market the site through financial incentives like STEEM tokens as well as MARKET tokens (the proprietary token for the platform).
The marketing aspect will be explored in more detail at a later date, so the project is not halted by semantics that currently do not matter during the initial development phase of the project.
The very core principle of Steem Marketplace is open source development. While many Steem projects seemingly operate in the shadows, all work is intended to be done in plain sight. The Steem Marketplace organisation can be found here on GitHub. Repos exist for the front-end of the marketplace here as well as the API here.
Work has been started getting the skeleton and initial app setup in the front-end repository, the API repository will lag behind until the front-end is in a place where it can consume an API. You can star this repo and follow along with the progress, there is already a working app there it just doesn't do anything yet.
The intention is
MARKET tokens will be issued as payment to anyone willing to jump in and help with development. Numerous opportunities for copywriters, designers and developers will be offered of all skill levels. These tokens can be sold on the Steem Engine marketplace or used on various marketplace applications.
A separate post on the utility of the
MARKET token will be coming shortly, as we delve into how the economics of the platform and numerous marketplaces will work. The
MARKET token will be integral to the gift card marketplace, as well as other marketplaces serving as a "credit" like store of value users will use to transact on the site with.
Steem Marketplace and its numerous marketplace applications are being built with two goals in mind:
- To increase adoption and awareness of Steem
- To give back to the community and strengthen it with well-written, well-tested code they can leverage for their own ideas
While marketplaces and a core marketplace framework will be one of the key priorities, as a result of the development work, numerous separate installable packages will be created. Core pieces of functionality broken out for reuse in third-party applications, scripts and bots.
One such package will be a payments library that will nicely wrap Steem and allow you to implement a payments system similar to how Paypal's IPN works as well as other payment services like Stripe, or for crypto, similar to how Coinpayments.net works watching an address for money and reacting accordingly.
This payments package will live in this repo here. It is currently empty, but if this interests you, give it a star so you're notified when it's ready. A broader extension of this package will be an open Websocket based API where you'll be able to watch for transactions without needing to use steem-js or other libraries and work with the blocks directly. It will also support Steem Engine tokens.
A project board exists for the MVP launch here and as work is scoped, it will be added in here and tagged accordingly. These will be features and bugs crucial to be completed for launch.
This is only the beginning of something highly ambitious and exciting. I really hope the community gets behind the concept and participates any way they possibly can. It's going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, but if we want Steem to succeed and grow, we need more ambitious use-cases that expand beyond gaming and gambling.