What is UTU? In Swahili “UTU” means humanity. It’s also the principle behind UTU the company, which puts people first in their platform that turns trust into infrastructure in the most humane way possible.
Trust as an Infrastructure
Who do you trust? Your family? Your loved ones? Maybe… you friends? Trust is one of the most fundamental human behaviors that exist in the world. But when you take a look at all the digital platforms that exist in the world, how many of them do you actually trust? The truth is that this crucial element of our human nature is often ignored by many of these digital sharing platforms. Moreover all of this “trust” is built with anonymous ratings with thousands of people you may never meet in your life!
And so, with a desire to provide trusted and reliable service to the world, the UTU team created a shared economy hoping it will bring together the billions of people around the world. Now, before diving into what UTU is, we have to talk a little about its origin story. UTU is the Swahili word for “Humanity”. The story goes way back to 2015 when the team was trying to create a mobility app in Kenya hoping to solve the issue of trust. The team realized a fundamental issue that existed in the global marketplace and that was.
The Need for Trust
What about the several billion people that live in places nothing like San Francisco or London? And what about Nairobi? Or the billions in cities that have more in common with Nairobi than London? What about the millions of marginalized people in almost every country for whom the world is not so open or safe. So can we build something for all of these communities?
With all these questions in mind, the team was set to building a machine learning powered recommendations engine relying on interpersonal trust and looking to power a sharing economy – a trust economy.
The results are stunning. An overwhelming number of people chose a personally trusted service over ones with higher star ratings. This further validated the team’s hypothesis and demonstrated the strength in their platform.
- 20% better conversion
- 20% more satisfaction
- Strong viral acquisition
- Higher retention
The success did not just stop there. The trust-powered approach received wide-spread attention in Africa, and many entrepreneurs from around the world wanted to get a piece of it as well.
The team finally began to offer services to local entrepreneurs across the continent. So after the many requests from platform operators in every other sharing economy sector and massive demands from the community, UTU is set to open up the trust infrastructure as an API. As an API, it will provide a more global access for users allowing everyone to participate and build upon the trust economy. The UTU team is also in a partnership with Africa’s brightest talents with global researchers, investors, and partners that will help transform the sharing economy into a trust economy.
UTU’s Fundamental Principles of Trust:
What is UTU?
So most people I would assume would trust their family, friends and themselves. Hence, people usually trust those that they know very well. UTU is able to utilize this strength to create a platform that is built on this social-relationship of trust. So an example of this UTU’s AI-powered Trusted Recommendation Service is as follows:
If a user provides us with their data, they will enjoy a recommendation system based on relationships with either passive or active feedback. Consider, for example, a platform connecting nannies with parents, where the user could see “Your friend Peter has booked this nanny 3 times in the last month”. If this friend provided feedback or endorsed this nanny with tokens, in this case the user will see an active recommendation “Your friend Peter endorsed this nanny with 10 tokens, she is particularly good with children’s homework”.
If the user refuses to provide data to UTU, they will still get a recommendation system but based on similarities with passive feedback (thanks to publicly accessible data). For example, in the nanny app the user could see “This nanny has been booked 3 times in the last month by someone living in your area”.
The latter part of the example enables UTU to provide recommendations to users without having much data.
UTU is simple, it is a decentralized and secure platform allowing for trust within the digital economy. So UTU’s Trust API will smoothly provide personal recommendations for trusted service providers on sharing platforms.
Some services provided by UTU:
- Family Services
- Online Professional Services
- Home Services
- P2P Lending
- P2P Ecommerce
- Mobility Services
Why should I use UTU?
Do you believe in a friendlier version of the internet? If you do then UTU is for you. UTU hopes to create a trust infrastructure that replaces the traditional anonymous reviews, scores, and stars. UTU also has several advantages, to name a few:
- Personalized Trust
- Conversion Satisfaction
- Trust as a Currency
- Customizable Needs
- Simple API
- Best Pricing
UTU’s pilot program with MARAMOJA app, a trusted personal mobility service, has already shown a 20% increase in conversion rate, 20% increase in satisfaction rate and a higher retention rate when a recommendation is made through a social relationship. Now what’s the reason not to use it if you’re going to be so much more satisfied?
The Infrastructure of UTU’s Trusted Recommendation Service:
The main components of UTU’s Trusted Recommendation Service comprises of two parts. 1) A classic web service, and 2) a decentralized blockchain-based protocol to facilitate data provision.
In order to provide the best recommendations to its users, the service needs to answer a few questions.
- Which options did the client consider?
- What situation was the client in?
- What did they finally choose?
- Were the service execution and delivery successful?
- Were they satisfied?
- What did they like/dislike in particular?
By answering these questions, the service will receive the feedback data and can therefore output a good recommendation to the user. Below is a formulaic representation of the trusted recommendation service.
To further improve the quality of the recommendation service, the team will also utilize AI algorithms (deep learning, reinforcement learning, and other clustering techniques). So the recommendation service will see its first use be in third party platforms. By working with a third party platform, it will provide the necessary feedback data that will help power the recommendation engine. Once they receive enough feedback data, the system can start learning the different clients’ recommendation needs. Other than receiving the data through third parties, the platform can also obtain data directly from the clients. While that may not always generate the needed feedback, the team has implemented a Decentralized UTU Trust Protocol to achieve direct client feedback.
Decentralized UTU Trust Protocol and the UTU Trust Token (UTT)
To incentivize clients to provide data, the team created a non-transferable utility token built on a blockchain platform. This token is known as the UTU Trust Token. The token will be rewarded in two ways:
- Endorsing of service providers and also stake tokens on the service providers. Successful endorsements (endorsements that lead to clients requesting the same service and then endorsing the same provider themselves) will be given rewards dependent on staked amounts.
- Other data provision will receive rewards in the form of tokens for their usefulness to the recommendation service.
By having the UTU Trust Token, clients can utilize it in these following ways:
- Clients can convert the Trust Token into a UTU Coin, the second coin on the platform with monetary features, which will be freely exchangeable on crypto-exchanges
- Some UTU Recommendation Services may require the proof of existence of certain amounts of tokens in order for consumption
The main usage of the UTU Trust Token is for it to be non-transferable and not transferable on exchanges. So by doing this, it prevents people from “buying their way” into the system. Instead, people will have to participate properly and engage in feedback data, endorsing, etc. Moreover, to prevent people from quickly selling the token out of the system, there will be a time restriction of the conversion of UTU Trust Token to the UTU Coin. The overall amount of UTU coins given out at a certain time also has a limit. However, it is important to note here that users have FULL control over their data, and they can share the data with whomever they trust.
Clients will not only be able to profit from endorsements but also be punitive action for some. This occurs when clients deem a service not recommendable. So this will allow the acquaintances know of the problems with the service provider and will require a narrative. To disapprove a recommendation, you simply have to pay a small fee.
By having a penalty system in place, it will allow only the best services to thrive and be provided to others.
The UTU Coin
As mentioned previously, the UTU Coin will serve as the main form of payment on the platform. Instead of the usual Proof of Work algorithms that are in place for the currency, the UTU coin allows users to monetize their active participation in the system. So many of the UTU services on the ecosystem will take service fees in the form of UTU Coins. There will be a total of 1 billion UTU Coins. Moreover all of the coins will be freely tradeable, and the value of the coins will be determined by the market. So you may wonder, how can I get some UTU Coins? You can purchase UTU Coins in the following ways:
- Actively participating in the ecosystem by providing data and endorsing services (convert UTU Trust Tokens to UTU Coins)
- Selling access to one’s data to UTU’s recommendation as well as other 3rd parties
- Taking part in distribution/generating events
- Trading on exchanges with other currencies/fiat
Built around the fundamental idea of Trust, the team is committed in providing a transparent governance in both product development and usage of funds. Furthermore as many of you may know, governance is a very human problem and cannot be solved simply by technical means. Therefore, the team has adopted a user-friendly voting and delegation system to make it easy for users to participate in governance. So the process will be fully-automated, DAO-type governance, and will support delegated voting as in Liquid Democracy.
Future Development of UTU
- Conduct Token Sale
- List UTU on an exchange
- Release MVP of web application for the UTU Trust Portal for DeFi
- Initialise research projects on decentralized trust with UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS)
- Prototype and implement auction/conversion mechanisms
- Release MVP of UTU DeFi Oracle with pilot partners
- Release MVP for the governance protocol
- Evaluation and adaptation of tokenomic parameters based on simulations and tests
- Release MVPs of remaining components and products
- First results from research projects with TAS
- Extend support of UTU Credit Trust oracle for more sectors
- Upgrading all apps and smart contracts based on usage and feedback
- Incorporate results from research projects with TAS
- Integrations with more 3rd party services in more sectors
- Trustless governance protocol release
- Prepare the first draft of publications with TAS
- Evaluation and adaptation of tokenomic parameters based on research and more tests
- Release of all major remaining components
- Integrations with more 3rd party services in more sectors
- Continuous improvements of smart contracts and applications based on learnings
- Initialize follow-up research projects
A few companies that UTU is developing a pilot for:
- MARAMOJA (Africa) trusted personal mobility services.
- Jamborow (Nigeria/Tanzania) a pan-African platform that connects borrowers and lenders all over Africa.
- Telecom sector (partner to be announced) value-added services.
- Skuli (Kenya) a trusted transport service for school children.
- DropExpress (Jersey) a trusted logistics service.
- Graychain (Hong Kong) a crypto credit scoring platform.
- Netwookie (Kenya) that connects customers with various service providers such as motorbike drivers, plumbers, cookers…
- TradeXSocial (Bulgaria) a platform where you can mine cryptocurrency on any smart device and copy the most profitable crypto-traders multiplying your earnings without the prior need of relevant crypto knowledge.
- EasyCarros, (Brasil) a platform connecting car owners with mechanics, car washers, etc
- ConnectHealth (Kenya) provides services to medical plans and their preferred healthcare providers based on an Electronic Data Interchange platform that enable them to perform eligibility and benefit verification before treatment and claims submission after treatment.
- Tip Me (global) direct tipping of factory workers.
- Dating (partner to be announced)
- Fake news (partner to be announced)
- Talent tech (partner to be announced)
- Afrimart (Africa) an ecommerce marketplace
In conclusion, the UTU platform revolves around the fundamental elements of trust. So if you trust that this service will be the one that will succeed in the future, be sure to learn more about it by reading the whitepaper below. Moreover we hope that you were able to learn more about UTU through this article and let us know if you have any other questions!