Blockshow Europe is a regular event where the Blockchain community gathers to share, display and compete. More than 80 speakers, 3000 attendees, 200 journalists and the grand prize 50,000 euros for the competition of the Blockshow Oscar make Blockshow the place to be for Blockchain experts, influencers and enthusiasts alike.
During the most recent Blockshow event that took place in Berlin between the 28th and 29th of May, the Decentral Magazine team was very much present and throughout the next series of articles we shall focus on some of the most innovative and exciting start-ups that participated in this event, starting with NeoPlace through an exclusive interview with its CEO Mr. Amine Chabbi.
CEO of NeoPlace Amine Chabbi ( right) along with the co-founder of Decentral Magazine Jaafar Saied ( Left).
Who is NeoPlace?
NeoPlace’s senior management team consists of the CEO Mr. Amine Chabbi, Co-founders Roland & Robert Srong who are CPO and CTO respectively. Mr. Amine comes from a background in private equity, product strategy, and Entrepreneurship. His interest in high-integrity data systems drew him to blockchain technology and later to the Srong brothers through networking. The Srongs are both Software Engineers & full stack developers with Robert focused on developing IT systems with 7 years of experience in finance and insurance; while Roland being more Big data-oriented with an ability to design and build IT architecture with his 5 years in investment banking. They are both Ethereum developers with software scalability skills and are able to design and build complex data structures.
What is NeoPlace?
In simple terms, NeoPlace is striving to be the all-in-one protocol for completely decentralized e-shops and marketplaces for cryptocurrency holders. More elaborately, they are putting the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts to the best use through a 3-layer architecture, which will enable Neoplace to build a scalable, comprehensive and extendable ecosystem and APIs to any third-party App that wishes to adopt the NeoPlace protocol. Below is a scheme displaying how the NeoPlace model for e-commerce acts according to their white paper:
Source: NeoPlace White Paper.
As described by NeoPlace’s CEO, when asked about what sets NeoPlace apart from everyone else: “what NeoPlace is not, is yet another payment gateway or another small improvement. The e-commerce transaction as you know it has a lot of inefficiencies – mostly on the infrastructure side- but also in the business development [side]. And so, what NeoPlace is, is a new way for e-commerce to be more cost effective for the seller, and to improve protection, transparency, and traceability for all the stakeholders; including the stakeholders that you don’t see in e-commerce value chain. Like influencers, or people who want to build an e-shop but don’t have the technical resources to do so, people who have a strong user base but are very scared [of the idea ] of a marketplace because they don’t want to lose their customers. So all of these can come to our ecosystem (…) Everyone will be able to plug and play, benefitting from all the added value that the blockchain infrastructure brings in terms of automation, traceability, and protection. ” In order to fully understand the benefit of NeoPlace and simply answer the question ‘why NeoPlace?’ we must unpack this answer.
Firstly, NeoPlace targets a very particular part of the market that is exponentially growing with already 25 million users, according to Statista. Adding the unbanked to that mix, and one can see that there is a sizable target market who either has assets that they cannot use for day-to-day transactions or is completely not catered to by the existing e-commerce solutions.
Then comes the issue of the deficiencies of the current model of e-commerce itself. In terms of cost, the powerhouses of Marketplace e-commerce such as eBay and Amazon have fees that start from 8% and that can go as high as 25%, which may or may not include other intermediary costs such as forex costs. Whereas the NeoPlace platform promises an impressive 2% fees all included. Whilst for services platforms such as Upwork and TaskRabbit, the fees are roughly 20%, NeoPlace’s are 5%. This shows the very attractive edge NeoPlace possesses, which did – of course- not come from nowhere as Amine Chabbi stated: “(…)if you look at small vendors and small transactions, on a $10 item [in] retail; the first vendor or OEM ( Original Equipment Manufacturer) makes 50 cents of margin on that item. With our solution, that margin moves to $1.5 to $2. So that’s an increase of 200-300% in margins for the first vendor. And it’s not that we’re cutting all middlemen; we’re slashing costs everywhere it’s possible, and we’re engaging the ecosystem to actually take on-board tasks that are not automated but are not practical to be done for a business. Like, for example, sophisticated dispute resolution (…)” This statement leads us to the other significant deficiency, which is the structure. This flaw becomes particularly more visible in the example, among many others, of dispute resolution, which is particularly harmful to small vendors who cannot afford to have many returns or faulty payments, etc. In order to tackle these issues, NeoPlace combined the magic of Blockchain along with community management, which Amine Chabbi made a reference to in the previous statement and also expressed clearly, when he said: “ (…) you need the community to curate what they [vendors & partners] do, give advice, etc. The beauty with Blockchain is, thanks to the token, everyone is incentivized with well-designed token economics; all of that is not a utopian dream where everyone is nice. People who add value are all incentivized and incentivized properly.” Briefly, thanks to the immutability of blockchain and the constant curation of their community, they make sure their platform and protocol are constantly enhancing and closer to solving structural issues such as dispute resolution or vendor on-boarding.
Instinctively, we asked Amine Chabbi why NeoPlace chose the blockchain technology to build the NeoPlace platform and protocol upon instead of a centralized network. The answer awaiting was simple yet right on target: “(…) I was looking at blockchain technology at the beginning of 2017 saying: this is the best system for high integrity data I’ve ever seen, and I come from Aircraft systems”. His admiration for Blockchain – which we, obviously, reciprocate- is very well founded. Blockchain grants, by definition, the chance to have a decentralized system which within itself has benefits but offers, in extension, – as previously mentioned- unparalleled technical robustness in terms of security, traceability, and transparency of each transaction made. Moreover, NeoPlace is using blockchain as an incentive through its token (NPT) which is registered and can be collected as a reward for activism and purchases in the ecosystem.
What is next for NeoPlace?
Considering that NeoPlace has ‘first mover’s advantage’ in this market and thanks to its inclusive approach which allows any third party to immerse in their ecosystem and improve it; their chances of achieving profitability and even market dominance are not far-fetched. At the moment, their HQ is located in Singapore and their main focus is to be Asia-centric – very understandably of course, since their seller base is mostly in China and their buyers are crypto holders, who in Korea and Japan are perfectly acclimated with and advanced in, crypto-based payments. Their roadmap could be described as very ambitious -as they should be- considering that after one year of their founding, they managed to launch their first MVP and Smart Contract- as they aim by the end of 2018 to launch their first API and by the end of 2019 to launch their platform for services and expand to Asia as well as Africa. They will be launching and officially registering their token NPT with a soft cap of $3.5 Million and a hard cap of $30 Million- whose target is NeoPlace customers in order to incentivize them to better enhance the ecosystem as previously mentioned-. For the winners of the Paris Blockshow event, that might not be too hard of a feat.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that NeoPlace, as a part of their more immediate roadmap, is organizing a Hackathon in Paris on June 23rd in which they are more than open to having remote but very motivated teams. Mr. Amine expressed that Neoplace considers this Hackathon to be their “first major step outwards ahead of their Asian Roadshow”.