TA start-up uses blockchain tech to help students get jobs

University students looking for jobs will be able to find and share jobs using the same technology that powers cryptocurrency, thanks to an Israeli start-up.

bitJob, which was founded by Dror Medalion, Aviad Gindi, and Elad Kofman, will be an online platform where students from around the world can find jobs they can perform over the Internet for companies looking for extra help and student expertise.

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What differentiates bitJob from other job platforms is its use of blockchain technology.

A blockchain is a secure digital register that displays data, transaction trails, and scripts from users in a public, permanent manner, and allows for secure and effectively impossible-to-modify transactions. The technology has been used most famously for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, but has been implemented in other applications as well.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post from the company’s co-working space near Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood, Medalion, who serves as the start-up’s CEO, said that bitJob is not entirely decentralized, like many other blockchain projects, but uses some of blockchain’s features to its advantage.

For example, users can be paid by employers on the platform through regular currency or through a cryptocurrency, Student Coin (STU), created by bitJob, and the way STU is digitally “mined” happens through what Medalion calls “social mining, [which] uses blockchain.”

“Mining [for cryptocurrency] is basically creating new coins, and registering [them] on the open ledger, with blockchain,” he said. With bitJob, if a student chooses a job he likes, and [then] he doesn’t want to do that or it doesn’t fit his skill set, he can basically,” through a word-of-mouth referral, “offer that job to a friend… [for example,] maybe he’s not a graphic designer, but maybe his friend is.”
If the friend “chooses to accept that job, the student will get paid for that referral. This is why we like to call it social mining, because he takes a social activity in order to mine this new revenue,” Medalion said.

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The start-up also creates a “dynamic resumé” for users, Medalion explained, that registers on the blockchain each job a person does, allowing for a record of work effectively immune to being falsified by hackers.

THE ORIGINAL idea for bitJob arose when Medalion and his co-founders were university students themselves, around a decade ago.

“We always sat on the grass [on campus] and thought, We can do much more with our skill set and time,” he said, “because [for] hours… we just sat and did nothing, waiting for class. We always thought… it would be nice to have some application, something that can offer ‘micro-jobs,’ online jobs for students to do between classes, or on the weekends, or overnight.”

Medalion would later partner with Gindi and Kofman on various business ventures and student-focused initiatives, and they paid close attention to the advent of bitcoin in 2011 and other blockchain innovations.

“When Ethereum [a platform that can be used for building blockchain-based programs] came out in 2015, we were amazed; we knew that we’ve got to create… some kind of a project that will benefit students” using blockchain technology, he said.

“Students need to find relevant jobs for their degree… they don’t need to wait three or four years until they graduate, and then they need to start [a] journey of looking for some ‘office-desk’ job… while they’re still students, they can use that skill set for an online job for professional employers… because students today are basically all-around players, and they can do much more with their skill set.”

The initial coin offering (ICO) for STU, which introduced the cryptocurrency and used a crowdfunding campaign, occurred last autumn. More than 2,000 people contributed during the ICO, Medalion said, and people around the world – including from countries such as Iran that have no relations with Israel – expressed interest.

There is no fee for students using the platform or STU, Medalion said; fees are paid by the employers and are meant to be kept low. He said bitJob is cooperating with companies willing to accept STU for transactions.

Medalion said that bitJob has already partnered with various companies that will post jobs on the platforms, but said it was too early for him to name any specific companies.

When asked how the platform will protect students from exploitation by employers and how the company will deal with person-to-person or legality issues that could arise, Medalion said that the company is working closely with legal firms and a team of advisers, and it will incorporate a dispute system into bitJob where students and employers alike can flag issues.

But Medalion is confident the new system will be successful.

“We are working here for the future of our children… we want to build something that can change people’s lives,” he said.
Students and employers alike will benefit, he said, and “Student Coin has a great future” ahead of it.

After the beta version of the platform launches, bitJob plans on incorporating feedback from testers ahead of the platform’s official launch on January 1, 2019. A mobile application will be released sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

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