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Have you ever wondered how you can utilize Blockchain technology in order to secure things today? Maybe apply it to your income or any risky agreements, including those made completely over the internet with strangers? Indeed, you can. And in this article, we’ll tell you how.

Infographics: How you can secure your fixed hourly rate using blockchain & Trickle

The Problem

🤔 Wage theft is the denial of wages or employee benefits rightfully owed to an employee.

In the modern world, there’s a “standard” of how you get paid: normally, on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Starting a new job with an employer over the internet can be unnerving. This feeling is a common thing as many people find it difficult to trust someone they don’t know.

When getting paid, you have to completely rely on your employer. In some cases, you might even become a victim of wage theft, working for months without receiving your salary.

Bringing third-parties to such agreements doesn’t often work well either, or you end up either waiting for long periods of time or facing additional fees.

However, today, with the use of blockchain technology, we finally have a way to avoid fraud or wage theft, without the need for any intermediaries. The model described in this article is pretty straightforward:

  • The sender and the recipient agree on a fixed hourly rate (e.g. $20/hour).
  • Using the blockchain-enabled service, the sender reserves money equivalent in a smart contract, which in turn guarantees the recipient’s payouts for the time spent working.
  • It’s the sender’s responsibility to follow the recipient’s progress (which is natural); the sender can terminate the agreement then, however, the smart contract guarantees that the recipient gets the reward in any case, proportionally for the time elapsed.

And even much more than that:

  • The recipient is getting paid for each second of their work; they don’t need to wait a month to receive their salary, as they can withdraw the accrued fraction according to their fixed hourly rate at any moment.
  • Transferring money with crypto requires the payment of fewer fees and in most cases, have fewer legal complications compared to bank wire transfers.
  • Finally, cryptocurrency features non-volatile, so-called “stablecoins”, which keep their value at 1:1 conversion rates (f.e. to the US dollar).

Curious about how to try it yourself?

Introducing Trickle — Smart Agreements (D)App

Decentralized applications, or DApps — that’s what applications are called that depend neither on your bank nor on your employer. Using Blockchain, they always work as intended and its programmed behavior from running smoothly can’t be prevented. Hence, they can store value and control exactly how it is distributed.

Trickle is a DApp implementing fixed hourly rate agreements over the Ethereum blockchain, between any two parties. And the most exciting part is that you can use it today!

The only step you have to complete is to have the sender (your employer) agree on paying you in crypto (stablecoins or tokens).

Originally, Trickle.gg was developed by DreamTeam engineers at ETHCapeTown — the world-class Ethereum hackathon organized by ETHGlobal. Trickle even managed to win a prize!

DreamTeam is an esports startup, which provides gamers with an all-in-one platform shaping their path to become pro players or just helping gamers play for fun with teams worldwide. Trickle is a part of DreamTeam’s mission.

In the context of the DREAM token, Trickle tries to solve the most annoying problem in the esports industry — when team or players don’t get paid or receive tournament prize payments.

You can read more about Trickle on its documentation page and on DevPost, as well as follow our open-source repositories for updates. Below you’ll find more information about how to use it for your next fixed hourly-rate contracts!

Some Trickle DApp screenshots. DREAM is used as an example of the Ethereum token, though it may be any other token or stablecoin.

How to Work with Trickle

The key point of the Trickle app is to prevent both the sender and the recipient from not holding up their end of the agreement, by providing a secure way to transfer value using a fixed hourly rate. Upon the agreement creation, the sender’s funds are locked in the smart contract, which distributes them linearly over the agreement period to be withdrawn by the recipient.

However, both the sender and the recipient have the ability to terminate the agreement. The key point is that in the case of agreement termination, the recipient receives tokens/stablecoins that have accrued on their balance up until the termination date, according to their fixed-hourly rate. Thus:

  • From the recipient’s side, they are secure because blockchain guarantees they will receive the tokens/stablecoins which have accrued to date. In the case the sender spontaneously decides to terminate the agreement, the recipient just stops providing services with no losses.
  • From the sender’s side, they don’t have the risk of paying a dishonest recipient; it’s the sender’s (employer’s) responsibility to check how well the recipient (employee) performs, and in case of a bad performance, the agreement can be terminated at any point.
An example of how smart contract distributes funds if the agreement gets terminated after 1/3rd of the period: the total of $300 is proportionally divided and $100 is sent to the recipient (earned so far) and $200 back to the sender (the rest of the funds which have not accrued to the recipient’s balance yet)

These two points are crucial. We believe that this is the only true transparent model for over-the-internet or untrusted financial relationships, which doesn’t require the involvement of third parties.

Here’s how the whole process works (also described in this documentation):

  1. The sender and the recipient agree to use crypto tokens/stablecoins for their financial agreement, as well as Trickle.gg to secure things. They determine the recipient’s fixed annual/monthly/weekly/daily/hourly rate, as well as which token/stablecoin they use for the agreement. Also, they agree on the period in which the recipient gets paid and for which the sender’s tokens/stablecoins will be reserved in the blockchain. They also agree which account (wallet) is used to get the compensation. An Ethereum wallet has to be created prior to the agreement (Metamask, Trust, MEWconnect, or any other wallet).
  2. The sender registers on the exchange of their preference and purchases Ethereum tokens/stablecoins (as well as a bit of Ether to perform the transaction on the Ethereum network — to pay for consumed gas).
  3. Using Trickle, the sender creates an agreement in tokens/stablecoins as agreed upon with the recipient (the agreement example).
  4. Once the agreement is created, the recipient ensures that the agreement is valid (again, using Trickle). It should appear in the My Agreements section of the app while browsing using the recipient’s wallet.
  5. Then, the recipient starts doing their job and gets paid for each second of their work. At any time, both the sender and recipient can check whether the agreement created in the blockchain is still valid (again, using Trickle).
  6. At any time, the recipient can withdraw accrued tokens/stablecoins to their wallet by performing a withdrawal transaction (simply by clicking on the “Withdraw” button). For this operation, the recipient also has to have a bit of Ether on their balance to perform a transaction on the Ethereum network.
  7. At any time, both the sender or the recipient can cancel the agreement. However, the tokens/stablecoins accrued on the recipient’s balance to date are sent to the recipient without exception. The rest of the tokens/stablecoins are returned to the sender’s balance.

Refer to the Trickle’s documentation to get more information about how it works.

Expanded step-by-step infographics of Trickle, hourly-rate-driven decentralized smart agreements service.

If you aren’t familiar with crypto, this may look quite complex at first glance. However, you have to go through these steps just once, any crypto-agreements after can be made with just a few clicks.

Also, before performing things on the live network (Ethereum mainnet), you can try Trickle on Ethereum testnets (Ropsten or Kovan). To do this, just switch your wallet or Metamask to the desired test network. You’ll also need to get some tokens on the testnet as well as some test Ether to run transactions (you can get free test Ether using faucets for Ropsten or Kovan networks).

Let the crypto era begin! We appreciate any feedback you may have regarding our Trickle DApp and hope you’ll find it useful! Feel free to star/watch the Trickle GitHub repository to get updates, as well as DreamTeam’s Medium — the development center of the future of esports and crypto.
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Here’s a Real-World Blockchain app that lets you Create Fixed Hourly Rate Contracts Right Away was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.