District0x Review: The Network of Decentralised Marketplaces
District0x (DNT) has received quite a bit of news recently give the announcement by Coinbase that they plan to list the token.
District0x is trying to develop a fundamentally new model for online commerce by creating decentralised marketplaces and communities. They are also trying to build tools which will allow non-technical users to create their own organisations.
However, given the increasingly competitive landscape, can it really compete?
In this complete review of District0x we will take an in-depth look at the project. We will analyse the technology, team members and development roadmap. We will also take a look at the broader use cases for the DNT token and whether it has potential for broader adoption.
What is District0x?
District0x is an interesting project that is working to create decentralized marketplaces and communities online, which they are calling districts. It is based on Ethereum IPFS and Aragon, and uses a number of technologies and platforms to facilitate user transactions.
Districts exist as Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) on the district0x network and they will be built off the standard d0xINFRA open source framework. This is comprised of Ethereum smart contracts and front end libraries.
Plans are to create an interface that will allow every user create their own decentralized marketplace or community, free of cost. All of these will be created on the blockchain, using smart contracts powered by Ethereum and governance from Aragon.
What are Districts?
Each community or marketplace created within District0x is considered a district and they work in as a completely autonomous and decentralized organization within the District0x network. Each individual district can do its own invoicing and payments, has its own ranking and reputations, and is capable of posting and listing as well as searching and filtering.
The core component that makes districts possible is the d0xINFRA infrastructure. This is a stack of libraries and Ethereum smart contracts. These components are distributed on IPFS and work to power the basic functions of the districts.
When the framework was developed it was intentionally kept as an open-source solution that is fully extensible. This leaves it possible for any district to create auxiliary modules and plug them in to implement unique features and improve basic functionality.
What Powers District0x?
Distric0x is powered by a combination of Ethereum, IPFS and Aragon. Ethereum gives smart contract functionality as described above. IPFS provides security and file storage, as well as ease of access for all district users. And Aragon provides governance for the entire system.
Aragon is a platform that was specifically designed to allow the deployment of virtual organizations or entities. The creation of a district within District0x also creates a linked Aragon entity. This new Aragon entity is the location of the district governance and all decision-making for the district.
What Districts have been Created?
There are three districts that have been created so far, and there are others under development, but no mention yet of what those might be. The District0x roadmap specifies a total of 8 districts created before the next level of the platform is released.
Ethlance was the very first district created, and it was launched in January 2017. Ethlance is a decentralized job marketplace, primarily for freelance job seekers, although it is intended that any type of job can be posted to the job board. While the job board got off to a good start, it’s quiet over there now, and not much more than 1-2 jobs are posted each month.
The second district that was added to District0x was Name Bazaar, which is a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling names registered on the Ethereum Name Service. It launched in October 2017.
The intention is to create an easily searchable register of ENS names that are available for sale. Domain owners are able to customize their listing with either fixed prices, or making them open auctions. Prices can be set in ETH or in any ERC-20 token.
This is the most recently launched district and it was inspired by the Curation Markets design of Simon de la Rouviere. At the Meme Factory users can create custom tokenized memes and offer them for sale. It gives artists an interface where they can create provably rare digital assets on the Ethereum blockchain.
Meme Factory also includes a bulletin-board style marketplace where the assets can immediately be posted for sale. The full version hasn’t been released yet, and the district remains on the testnet for now.
Plans for Future Districts
The District0x team plans on creating and launching new districts indefinitely in an effort to highlight the utility of the platform and to increase the user base. For v0.3 of the platform there are 5 additional districts planned, although they haven’t been named or described yet.
There is an open proposal system in use at District0x where any user can propose a new district to the community via the District0x GitHub. By using the District0x Network Token (DNT) community members can vote for which districts they most want to see built and deployed to the network.
This allows users to have a say into which districts they feel will provide the most utility to the network. Currently the team uses the District Proposal Voting dapp, a custom CarbonVote implementation, to provide voting capabilities.
Who can Create Districts?
The District0x team is the only ones who can create districts right now, but future plans are for the launch of a platform that anyone can use to create new districts on the network. There is no timeframe yet for the launch of this platform, but it is meant to be a part of V0.3 after the Contribution period takes place.
District0x was created to be free of third-party interference, and the development team is in favor of allowing internet citizens to build and launch whatever they need on the network. Those who are interested in the District0x network can suggest new districts and vote on which districts should be deployed next while they wait for the launch of the user platform.
The District0x Team
Just as the platform is meant for decentralized marketplaces and communities, the District0x team is decentralized and scattered across the globe. Tasks are outsourced to a variety of companies, but at the heart of the project is d0xINFRA Labs, a clojurescript development lab.
The founder and lead developer is Matus Lestan. He has been a developer for most of his life, and prior to spreading the Clojure-Ethereum ecosystem he spent a decade working as a freelance developer on various projects. He is known to be extremely passionate about decentralization.
The co-founder of the project is Joe Urgo and besides being in charge of operations at d0xINFRA Labs he is also the founder and CEO of Sourcerers.io. His Sourcerers,io company has been responsible for community management and administrative support for the project. He is also known to be passionate about decentralization, and token enabled governance.
The DNT Token
The District0x Network Token, or DNT, is a staking token that will allow members of a district to participate in the governance and decision making of that district. Voting rights within a district are directly related to the number of DNT staked by a user.
District0x held its ICO in July 2017, raising roughly $9 million by selling 600 million DNT tokens at a price of $0.0168 each. The total supply of DNT will be 1 billion.
The price of DNT rose sharply following the ICO, hitting levels above $0.24 within three weeks of the ICO conclusion. The gains didn’t hold however, and the price plummeted over the next month until reaching around the $0.04 level. It traded back and forth over this level for several months and then got caught up in the December 2017 bull run in cryptocurrency.
The all-time high just above $0.40 per DNT was reached on January 6, 2018 and since then the price has declined steadily throughout 2018. As of December 14, 2018 it is even below its ICO price at $0.011059.
Development & Roadmap
One of the best ways to get an idea of how much work is being done a project is to take a look at their github activity. So, I decided to head on over to the District0x Github and take a look at the number of commits that they have made over the past 12 months.
In line with their objectives, it seems like the bulk of their activity was restricted to their meme factory with less activity in their main repositories. Work on the individual projects or "districts" on the network is likely to continue into 2019.
This is because according to the roadmap, District0x is working on v0.2 and needs to finish deploying Name Bazaar and Meme Factory as well as the District Registry. These are all expected to be completed by February 1, 2019.
Completion of v0.3 can be expected next. The planned updates for this next step are:
- Deploy 5 new districts to the network
- Deploy staking and governance modules
- District extendability via auxiliary modules
- Deploy auxiliary module directory
These steps are all expected to be completed prior to the potential contribution period, with a completion date of August 1, 2020.
Following the contribution period the team will be focusing on the following, with no expected completion date mentioned in the whitepaper:
- Deploy district creation platform
- Deploy auxiliary module registry
- Deploy district0x Network registry
- Handover governance of the district0x Project to district0x Network Token holders
The District0x team is indeed quite active when it comes to communication with the community. They regularly post on the District0x blog the most important development updates over the month. They also have a great education portal where there is extensive information on the project as well as more general topics.
District0x is an interesting project that could change the way we use the internet, but it is developing slowly. The team behind the project are passionate about decentralization and have a high degree of creativity, which will be helpful as more use cases are developed as districts on the platform.
Unfortunately for investors the DNT token has seen a massive slide in 2018. Much of that is part of the broader bear market, but some of it is almost certainly due to the slow pace of deliverables from the project. The fact the Ethlance seems to be slowly petering out at the moment.
The launch of a platform for the general public to create districts should give the project a huge boost, but based on the roadmap this won’t happen for at least two years. In the meantime, you should keep an eye on their blog and twitter account for more updates.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.