The term “sharing economy” has been popularized over the years by the emergence of trends like shared car services and home vacation rentals. Now, a rapidly growing company called Helbiz seeks to further disrupt this market by launching its own unique, blockchain-based concept.
Salvatore Palella, founder and CEO of this New York–based project, took some time to answer questions about the company’s goal of reshaping the peer-to-peer space to the benefit of citizens worldwide.
In short, how do you describe Helbiz and its mission?
Here at Helbiz, we are creating a peer-to-peer, sharing economy marketplace that will make renting a car, motorcycle or bicycle simple, cost-effective and rewarding. This will be achieved through the development of a mobility ecosystem that delivers user access to individual vehicles, fleets and other transportation services via proven technology that’s already available.
How do you imagine that Helbiz will reshape the sharing economy?
We wish to combine the familiar approach of car sharing in the transport sector with blockchain technology. Our mobility ecosystem should soon provide access to individual vehicles, fleets and other transportation services. Meshed with modern technology, it will allow for the most seamless of experiences unlike anything seen today — shifting car sharing from a good idea (which it is today) to a hip, seamless and instant solution that will truly take it to a global scale.
Our ability to execute instant confirmation, insurance and the unlocking of cars is what will make it scalable and usable — eliminating the need for extensive peer-to-peer communication between two parties.
What are the main elements driving Helbiz functionality?
Here are the three main pieces we’re working on:
Helbiz App: Our modern iOS and Android solution on the blockchain allows you to rent any car on the platform and instantly unlock and turn it on with your phone without human interaction with the owner (if the owner has enabled this). Each owner can set their own specific terms and conditions, and they own all of their own data — data that Helbiz seamlessly can facilitate sales of to insurance companies or third parties, who then, through smart contracts, pay them directly in Helbiz coin.
Helbiz Coin: A cryptocurrency and utility token for our transportation services. It’s poised to play a leading role in this new era as a consumptive currency, applicable with all transportation services on land, water and air.
Helbiz Mobility System: An open platform on the Ethereum blockchain, aimed at mobility-related services and companies wanting to build on the Helbiz platform (including insurance companies, for example).
Why is blockchain technology such a central part of this project?
Blockchain technology will serve as a key element for facilitating the registration of all services through the platform, including transactions between owners, operators and external services. We will employ a single payment system utilizing a blockchain to eliminate transaction fees, thereby saving our customers money on both sides of the transaction due to lack of centralization.
What is your target audience and/or market?
The Helbiz app brands itself toward millennials and young business professionals that are early new-technology adopters. But the target market is even broader than that, extending from 18-year-olds to the elderly.
What other exciting news would you like to share about the project?
One thing we are very excited about is our partnership with AmaZix. It is a leading initial coin offering (ICO) community management firm in the crypto space and a partnership that will certainly take our project to another level.
When is Helbiz scheduled to launch?
We are scheduled to launch in May and will release on iOS and Android then. Our Helbiz app will allow users to rent out their cars hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. Essentially, we’ll be competing with Zipcar for this space, along with Turo and Getaround.
What does your roadmap look like for 2018?
Here is a brief synopsis of what this looks like at present:
Q1 2018: Launching the token presale and crowdsale and getting listed on a top exchange; Helbiz marketplace and launch of operations in New York.
Q2 2018: Initial integration of the blockchain system for payments; research and development for wallet and reward systems; establishing Helbiz app operations in New York.
Q3 2018: Private alpha, allowing data owners to share and sell their data; Helbiz app expansion to a second city in the U.S.
Q4 2018: Launch of beta version of wallet, exchange and reward system; Helbiz app expansion in four additional cities in the U.S.
Any news on your upcoming token sale?
Our presale ICO start date was January 26, 2018, at 9 a.m. EST. We sold 30 million tokens in 24 hours. Following that will be the launch of our main ICO (on a major exchange) on February 15, 2018, at 9 a.m. EST.
Finally, where do you hope to be in the next 12 to 18 months?
We expect to have launched our app in six major cities and to have a fully working 1.0 of our platform up and running, which secures all users’ information. Our plans also include having a system in place that allows for the sharing of parts or all of this information to interested third parties seamlessly through the platform.
Our first public version of the platform will be released during Q2 of this year. Currently, our technology team is developing and testing a remote vehicle access solution that will allow users and vehicle owners to seamlessly access vehicles using smartphones.
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