An app which allows people to share, connect, search and shop locally is being launched in London.
Smart.London, which is being launched by DigitalTown, promises a “groundbreaking co-operative ecosystem” connecting residents and visitors with local merchants.
The company itself is not a co-operative, but offers residents and businesses the chance to take digitally co-ownership of the app on its platform. This is its first venture in the UK; in the US it has set up platforms in Nashville, Miami, Charleston and, last month, Austin. Around the world, there are ventures in Vienna, Bayern, Melbourne, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Olinda.
DigitalTown said: “Residents of London will have their very own Google, Expedia, AirBnB, OpenTable, PayPal and Bitcoin, all in one, accessible 24/7 via the Smart.London web portal.”
Londoners can co-own the platform through the sale of CityShares, a Blockchain-based solution for managing shared ownership of co-ops.
Legal residents of the Greater London area can claim 10 free CityShares, while unclaimed CityShares are available for purchase while they last.
London merchants can sign up for a free storefront. There are no set-up fees, no service fees, and no requirement for a conventional bank account or merchant account, says DigitalTown.
Merchants pay a low commission on actual sales, thereby making it easy for merchants of all sizes to be accessible via web and mobile. Verified merchants have the option of redeeming sale proceeds to a variety of outlets, as well as major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
DigitalTown chief executive Rob Monster said: “AirBnB and Uber have shown the world the power of the sharing economy to tap the productive capacity of individual citizens in a community. Blockchain, and in particular Bitcoin, has shown the world the power of distributed ledgers as an efficient medium of exchange.
“With Smart.London, we are making it easier than ever for residents and visitors to search local, shop local and think local.”
James Roper, chairman and founder of IMRG, the UK e-commerce association said: “Digital innovations have severely disrupted traditional high streets and much else, so there is an urgent need to help towns and cities recover their vibrancy and create new earning potential by co-operating collectively as a digital marketplace.
“IMRG’s work on the Digital High Street Advisory Board clearly showed what needs to be done. Only ambitious, joined-up and highly scalable approaches will meet this challenge. We therefore welcome the emergence of DigitalTown with its bold ambition to give local economies access to a new era of prosperity.”
Faris Oweis, DigitalTown vice president and UN Smart City commissioner for Blockchain for Impact, said: “Corporations are already looking at how blockchain technologies can help them grow. Local economies globally need to be asking similar questions.
“DigitalTown’s co-operative ecosystem harnesses blockchain to put people and places at the heart of the digital economy, giving them the means to explore, connect, invest and transact in cities. This is the future of local co-creation, culture and economic success.”
To claim a CityShare in Smart.London, residents of the Greater London area should visit Smart.London, click on “CityShares”, and complete the free claim.
To find out more about DigitalTown, visit DigitalTown.com or download the DigitalTown Smart City App on iOS or Android.
- This article was amended on 15 February. A previous version implied that DigitalTown is fully co-operatively owned instead of a private business.