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Blockchain May Make E-Commerce Cheaper, Fairer

Besides Blockchain, their proposed solution involves "smart contracts" and game theory

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Blockchain, E-Commerce, Cheaper
A Blockchain-based system that allows buyers and sellers to interact directly can make e-commerce platform for digital goods "cheat proof" and the products cheaper. Pixabay

A Blockchain-based system that allows buyers and sellers to interact directly can make e-commerce platform for digital goods “cheat proof” and the products cheaper, says a study by India-origin researchers.

Blockchains allow multiple stakeholders to transact money or data virtually over linked peer-to-peer computer networks.

Besides Blockchain, their proposed solution involves “smart contracts” and game theory.

“Our scheme offers potentially a big improvement over the state-of-the-art in electronic commerce because it allows buyers and sellers to interact directly with each other without the need for third-party mediators of any kind,” said Bhaskar Krishnamachari, Professor at Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, the US.

Blockchain, E-Commerce, Cheaper
At present, the system works only with digital goods because physical products can’t have a cryptographic hash associated with them. Pixabay

“It uses a dual-deposit method, escrowing a safety deposit from both buyer and seller that is returned to them only when they behave honestly. And the verification of who is at fault and who is honest is done automatically by the smart contract,” added Krishnamachari.

This “smart contract” stores a good’s digital hash code or “digital fingerprint”.

Krishnamachari created an algorithm that runs on a programmable Blockchain as a “smart contract” with Aditya Asgaonkar, a recent undergraduate computer science alum at BITS Pilani

Here’s how the system might work:

An author wants to sell her digital book, but she hopes to avoid going through Amazon or some other company that takes a commission.

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Instead, she uses Asgaonkar’s and Krishnamachari’s blockchain-based solution and lists the book’s price at $20. An interested buyer contacts her.

To ensure an honest deal, both the buyer and seller agree to pony up a $10 deposit through a programmable Blockchain platform.

The author then sends the digital book to the buyer, who could only access it by making a verifiable payment for the correct amount.

If the transaction satisfies everybody, then both parties receive their deposits back.

Blockchain, E-Commerce, Cheaper
Blockchain-based system that allows buyers and sellers to interact directly can make e-commerce platform for digital goods “cheat proof”. Pixabay

But what if someone tries to cheat? What happens, for instance, if the seller intentionally sends the wrong e-book? What recourse does the aggrieved party have?

This is where the so-called smart contract kicks in.

The contract stores a good’s digital.

The buyer has access to that digital hash code before making a purchase. If they receive an item with a different hash code, however, they can dispute the transaction.

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In this instance, the seller would forfeit their deposit after the algorithm determined that they had attempted to cheat the buyer.

At present, the system works only with digital goods because physical products can’t have a cryptographic hash associated with them.

However, physical goods stored in a safe-box that can be opened with a digital password could be potentially transacted using their system.

Asgaonkar presented the researchers’ joint paper at the IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in Seoul, South Korea. (IANS)

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Amazon Severs Relationships with Several Delivery Contractors in US

Amazon ends ties with several delivery contractors in US

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Amazon is severing relationships with several small delivery contractors across the US apparently due to "safety" concerns. PIxabay

Hundreds of people in the US face job losses as Amazon is severing relationships with several small delivery contractors across the US apparently due to “safety” concerns, the media reported.

While Amazon delivery partner Bear Down Logistics was cutting 400 jobs, Seattle-based Delivery Force was laying off 272 workers, according to the reports.

According to a report in GeekWire, Amazon said these firms were found short of meeting the safety or performance requirements.

In a bid to help entrepreneurs start delivery businesses, Amazon launched an initiative called Delivery Service Partners in 2018. Although they operate independently, the DSPs receive support and training from the e-commerce giant.

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Amazon said these USfirms were found short of meeting the safety or performance requirements. Pixabay

“Prior to launching the DSP programme to empower entrepreneurs to build their businesses with Amazon, we contracted with a number of small logistics companies,” Amazon was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Some of these companies have not met our bar for safety, performance or working conditions, and we’re in the process of exiting them from the programme. We are planning for there to be zero or very little net job loss in these communities because nearly all impacted employees of these companies will have an opportunity to move into other delivery driver roles with Amazon partners,” the statement added.

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Amazon is now delivering 50 per cent of packages itself, according to recent Morgan Stanley estimates reported by CNBC.

Global courier company FedEx last year decided not to renew its air shipping contract with Amazon. (IANS)