Decentralising Data in Commerce: Q&A with Cyrus Taghehchian, CEO and Co-Founder, Spl.yt

Spl.yt is a non-profit smart contract-based ecommerce protocol that is aimed at supporting a more efficient, transparent, and secure e-commerce ecosystem. Based on blockchain, it offers a one-stop-shop global listing platform. RetailTechNews talks to Cyrus Taghehchian (pictured below), CEO and Co-Founder, Spl.yt about the vision behind the protocol and how Spl.yt hopes to make an impact on e-commerce.

RetailTechNews: Why Spl.yt? What is your vision behind the protocol?

Cyrus Taghehchian, Spl.yt

Cyrus Taghehchian: In today’s digital economy, the majority of power is wielded by a handful of data-rich corporations, namely Amazon, eBay, CJ Affiliate, and Walmart. We believe in empowering buyers, sellers, and smaller marketplaces to achieve their goals without being hindered by inefficient systems and a lack of transparency that has resulted in today’s oligopolistic e-commerce system. Spl.yt is connecting the world’s inventory to the blockchain and automating multiple points of an online transaction, removing the need for most middlemen that take a large commission out of every transaction. This means better prices for buyers and sellers all while incentivizing honest behavior through our smart contract based protocol.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows for the decentralization and connection of systems. Smart contracts are applications built on top of the blockchain that facilitate the automation of transactions normally performed by middlemen. Vendors can now participate in a global inventory wherein listings from all over the world are automatically synced and displayed for sale. Smart contracts will change affiliate marketing through the automation of affiliate transaction payments. Spl.yt protocol vendors will also have the opportunity to innovate new markets within the growing sharing economy through the fractional ownership capabilities of Spl.yt.

With a mission to create a social utility for the public that will inherently become a self-sustaining system, Spl.yt is developing a protocol to form the foundation for a new, decentralized e-commerce system that will ultimately be owned and governed by e-commerce users.

What problems does Spl.yt seek to address?

Today’s oligopolistic e-commerce environment is ripe for censorship due to the centralization of e-commerce power. This problem of censorship can extend to items bought and sold as well as the exclusion or favoritism of certain vendors over others at the discretion of the third party middlemen. The result of censorship and banning leads to a lack of healthy competition in the space which further affects consumers in the form of increased prices on goods.

Spl.yt is seeking to alleviate these problems through the decentralization of data in e-commerce. This will allow vendors to conduct their business without the hindrances of powerful middlemen. Spl.yt’s global inventory listing capability will allow vendors to display their products for a fraction of the cost. Vendors can also generate revenue by listing products of other marketplaces to take advantage of any affiliate marketing offerings.

Another problem that we want to alleviate is the issue of spam and fraudulent posts that victimize shoppers on a daily basis. Spl.yt’s solution to this problem is two-fold: first, our inter-marketplace reputation system will create censorship resistant transparency of vendor reviews across all connected marketplaces. Second, Spl.yt’s in-system tokens, called Spl.yt Access Tokens (SATs) function to incentivize more honest transactions throughout the e-commerce ecosystem. Introductory features include: escrow systems powered by smart contracts to enable secure transactions, spam and fraud identification, global reputation system and dispute resolution.

Who is it aimed at?

Spl.yt was created to enable and equip vendors and buyers participating in e-commerce with the tools and resources they need to break away from the strongly held e-commerce oligopoly. Our aim is to provide a solution for those affected by censorship, exploitation, and fraud; and all of those who have yet to be affected. Both buyers and vendors will save time and money by removing and automating costly middlemen functions. The Spl.yt founders believe the next stage in this decentralized economy should be powered by the participants, and not large data rich corporate interests.

What are the benefits for vendors and buyers?

The creation of a global inventory means buyers will no longer need to spend time searching multiple marketplaces to find product availability at the best prices.This also helps vendors need not worry about accidentally double-selling items listed on multiple platforms because the listing will automatically update on all spl.yt inter-connected marketplaces when sales are made By reducing the siloing of data and information with centralized middlemen, Spl.yt will drive the market towards near perfect competition, leading buyers to obtain better prices for products and vendors to save on fees normally paid to third parties.

In traditional e-commerce, marketplaces have to manufacture trust to build confidence for buyers and sellers to transact. There is a cost associated with this creation of trust in the form of insurance and policy guarantees. Trust is inherent in the Spl.yt protocol. When a buyer makes a purchase, the tokens go into a smart contract escrow and do not get distributed to the seller until the online transaction is complete. If there is a dispute, the buyer can open a claim and the spl.yt staking mechanism will act as a mediation tool for the resolution. If an immediate resolution cannot be reached, the Spl.yt protocol will assign a qualified anonymous arbitrator to help resolve the dispute.This results with the winning party receiving the losing party’s stake minus a small amount to compensate the arbitrator for their service.

In what way does it benefit marketplaces?

It’s incredibly difficult for smaller marketplaces to compete against Amazon, eBay, Apple, Walmart and other tech giants, but Spl.yt’s smart contract protocol encourages an open market through the decentralization of data and information between marketplaces. Spl.yt facilitates both healthy competition and collaboration through participation in contributing to the mutually beneficial public global inventory system. This aspect of collaboration is displayed through the automated affiliate reward system, meaning that anytime anything is sold from the Spl.yt Global Inventory, all marketplaces who contributed to the sale will generate revenue. What’s more, by automating payments to the dispute resolution process, Spl.yt frees marketplaces to compete and focus on improving customer service and developing their brands.

What can people test on the live demo?

Anyone can try the Spl.yt Core ecosystem at the Spl.yt Alpha demo. The demo features two test marketplaces that show how global inventory is updated automatically across marketplaces using the Spl.yt protocol. The demo is powered by smart contracts designed to facilitate automated payments and affiliate commissions. The Spl.yt Alpha also shows listed items can be fractionally purchased, owned, and managed automatically using the Spl.yt protocol. The Spl.yt team expects to be able to demonstrate real-world execution in the next few months by integrating already operational marketplaces onto Spl.yt Core.