With all the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies, more and more companies are turning to initial coin offerings (ICO) to fund their ventures. It was then only logical that someone in the translation industry turned to the world of cryptocurrencies for funding.
What's an ICO?
You may already be familiar with the good old IPO, where companies sell equity for cash. The company sets a price for each share, the investor pays that amount, and walks away with shares.
An ICO is basically the same thing, but instead of shares, the company creates a cryptocurrency and sells it as tokens. The investor can pay with cash, of course, but most will opt for another cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin just to name the most famous one). Of course, the hope is that the company succeeds and the newly created tokens appreciates faster than whatever currency the investor used to pay for it.
These ICO are controversial though. Unlike an IPO, they are greatly unregulated, attract their fair share of scammers, and are generally a step into the unknown.
A New Old Idea
The first ICO ever in the language industry comes from Hong-Kong based Langpie. According to their white paper, they aim to "be a perfect platform for interpreters as well as clients".
It's not the first time a company offers remote interpreting. After all, it is an attractive proposal. There could be interest on the clients' side as well as on the translation/interpreting side.
What is really original is how they are going about their funding. They developped their own blockchain-backed cryptocurrency. Sorry for the mouthful there. It is called LPG, and Langpie is selling tokens for USD 10 cents each. And it looks pretty successful, in a post from last week Langpie announced it raised USD 80.000 from a large European company, with more to follow.
Another supposed advantage their own cryptocurrency gives them is lower fees in general. Only 5% of each transaction would be burned so the interpreters would receive 95% of their client's money. Now, whether that means more savings for the clients or more money in the translators' pockets remains to be seen.
Uber for Interpretation Services
All in all, the platform looks to operate like many other start ups in other industries. They would be cutting out the middle-man and only taking a fee on the transactions. Which means:
- Less overhead for Langpie (only 14% of costs would be for their original team and 6% on legal and others, with another 6% on tech infrastructure).
- Clients would be able to choose from a pool of interpreters 24/7 only pay for what they use.
- Interpreters would get more work. Their profile would be shown to more potential clients. Freelancers would not need to go out of their way to get prospects and clients.
All of that, of course, with a 5-star rating system after each call.
The theory is that you could order your own interpreter form anywhere with an internet connection. At first glance, the idea looks good and there might be enough demand in the market for this sort of service. Who knows. What remains to be seen is whether their goal of 1 million (!!) downloads and 350 million dollars in profit is attainable by Q3 of 2020.
Maybe if this is a huge success we should consider it for our own, admittedly old school, translation services.