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Hedera18 Highlight - Team PayPer
Team PayPer‘s Blog
1st Place Team from London
We have assembled the team a few days before the Hedera18 Hackathon. The original intention was to simply go and experiment with the Hedera Hashgraph platform. I don’t believe there was any serious expectation to win any prize. Participation supposed gaining early access to Hedera’s test net and that was more than compelling. There was no information made public with respect to Hedera’s gRPC API before the event. This element of surprise made the participation even more interesting. Indeed, we knew that solidity smart contracts were supported, but all the extra features built as part of the platform were the ones that differentiated Hedera Hashgraph from others.
The hackathon theme was “Micropayments” and that was a bit discouraging at first. I was expecting that we would build something focused around smart contracts, but then, that intention was put aside in order to research micropayments.
While brainstorming, we went through the usual scenarios for micropayments, like paying for reading articles, for streaming music, or for using micropayments in gambling scenarios where someone might want to spin a slot machine and try his luck to win.
Being unsatisfied with these classical scenarios, the main idea for our project came as a step back from the effort to find an awesome use case and we decided to leave this endeavor of focusing on one specific scenario and do something that is more general.
Why not build something that projects looking into these use cases could use? After a more technical dive into what tools could help other teams build their micropayments DApps, the core idea of our project has surfaced.
Small value digital goods, in general, seemed to be the things someone might want to buy with micro-payments on the Internet. So why not build tools for transacting digital content for cryptocurrency? And since digital content is delivered through web services or APIs, then that thought crystalized the final idea.
Peer to Peer Micropayments for APIs! To build it, we had to take a reverse proxy and extend it to verify payments. So the idea was simple to implement, it was related to micropayments, it seemed to be practical for real-world use cases and it appeared to be innovative since we were not been aware of anyone in DLT or traditional business doing pay-as-you-go models for APIs. Apparently, it passed the test of the four judging criteria listed under hackathon section on Hedera18 website. Then the name popped up as a revelation - “payper” - as in “pay per view” or “pay per click”. And if pronounced similarly to “paper” it had connotations of money.
We flew from Cluj-Napoca, Romania to London, one of the eight locations where the decentralized hackathon took place. Having arrived from the airport just in time, before the official kick-off, we grabbed something to eat since that day we woke up at 3 a.m. and ran to catch the flight with no time for anything else. Few hours of sleep, lots of work and deadline pressure were the main hackathon challenges, but the overall experience was totally worth it!
At the hackathon venue, we found a nice co-working space and welcoming hosts - Maria, Lo and Andrea (from BeMyApp) who were facilitating the event. The front area of the main room was packed with participants and it was noisy. A constant buzz was coming from all of those who were talking and brainstorming ideas for the hackathon. The atmosphere was filled with excitement from people passionately sharing ideas, and collaborating to group into teams.
The first experience with the test net and the SDK was a bit challenging since almost all of us forgot that the test net was throttled to a limited number of requests per second, and until we got guidance from hedera developer advocates team to not flood the network, we experienced errors thinking that there was something wrong with the test net. Once we added a few “sleep” statements to the code, it seemed that everything else was working fine and we could focus on building. It was nice to see that the SDK was built around the notion of shards and realms that communicated the intention to scale and potentially offer privacy features in the future.
Later that day we had a general meeting where we were presented with the structure that we had to follow for making the presentations. We had to pitch and show demos of what we had built in front of the three regional judges. We have been given useful tips on “How to give a Kick-Ass demo!” before that. However, the allocated time per team was limited.
Each team had three minutes to make the presentation plus show a video demo and two minutes for the Q&A session with questions from the judges. Our team already had in mind and sketched the slides, but that took at least fifteen minutes to present. That meant that we had to slash 80% of the presentation, redo the slides, the pitch and practice the presentation more times to make sure the essential information fits in the three minutes before the allocated time expired.
There were nine teams participating in London and competing for the regional prize and sixty-seven teams registered globally. We saw many valuable ideas and very good presentations made by confident speakers that I believe surpassed our delivery. That is why when the final announcement for the regional winners was made in London, we were honestly not expecting at all to be in the top three. It was a huge surprise when we heard “And the first prize winner is … Payper!”. We were blown away!
We stayed at the venue for one more hour to network, exchange ideas or just chat. Then we gave a short interview with the filming crew and went out to celebrate.
During day three, when the Hedera18 conference took place in Dallas, we were traveling back home. That was the day when the global winner was announced. A few minutes before the takeoff, just before the flight attendants were asking us to switch off the phones, we found out that we have won the Global Prize for the Decentralized Hedera18 Hackathon! That definitely added a lot more on top of the positive shock we received when we became the regional winners in London.
Hedera Hashgraph Hackathon was an awesome and somehow overwhelming experience to us. While it is great to win prizes, I believe that there was an even bigger reward in the background. The idea of the Payper project was validated by very smart and experienced people in the DLT space. Both, the regional and global judges saw value in Payper’s idea to embed decentralized micropayments at the core of the web communication protocols.
Without the Hedera Hackathon and without Hedera Hashgraph’s ability to support micropayments, Payper, as well as many other ideas would have not existed. I believe that Hedera’s decision to focus on micropayments was an inspired one. The topic is not new, but it seemed to be revived by the Blockchain / DLT space and it opens the doors to many exciting and useful real-world applications.
We believe the right thing is to make the Payper code available as Open Source Software on GitHub so that anyone could benefit, build projects and products to use decentralized micropayments to potentially transform what we call the API Economy today. This initiative is going hand in hand with the micropayments front-end browser extension that Hedera has announced to release as open source soon.
As for Payper, we invite you to download, experiment, build with it, participate with feedback and contribute. There is a long roadmap ahead until it gets into the place to be used as a reliable micropayments verification component ready to use by web services and API providers to monetize their content. Websites could also use this concept to monetize instead of feeding users with ads in order to sustain their businesses.
Here is a token to motivate cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Imagine that in order to increase adoption for decentralized money, we simply need to enable holders to spend crypto. Cryptocurrency wallets need to be expanded if we really want adoption. It is not enough to move value from one wallet address to another. It is necessary to trade crypto for goods and services to make steps towards adoption! And what other suitable goods and services there are beside the digital ones that we already use every day on the Internet?
Let’s give web service providers new options to monetize with pay-as-you-go models and let’s help HODLers spend at least small portions of their bags.
Payper on GitHub: https://github.com/payperws/payper-gateway
Payper technical article on Medium: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/payper-p2p-micro-payments-for-the-open-api-economy-e8adee76d396