Cellnet general manager John Dunbar is backing a local venture that plans to provide a secure digital trading platform, as an alternative to the way web-based business is currently done.
A team of programmers based at Auckland’s Unitec began working on the Manabars project six years ago, with a view to offering information trading with an inbuilt payment system to reward content providers.
Today, subscribers can access information on the Manabars grid network and content can be charged for in computational credits. Subscribers can even be rewarded for contributing unused storage space on their PC to the grid.
Dunbar says the recent move to change the music download industry is one of the most exciting applications of the technology.
“We thought with DRM [digital rights management] the pirates would always be one step ahead. It has been impossible to secure static content like music and someone will ultimately crack DRM.”
Under the model anyone who uploads content is rewarded when their content is accessed. Because Manabars says the network is hacker free, the system is designed to encourage music distributors to compete with illegal downloads done through the internet.
The built-in payment system allows charging down to 0.1c, he says.
Dunbar is an investor in the project and is also a member of the Manabars board. He says this is totally different to his role at Cellnet and that he was keen to support a local initiative.
“I thought this looked like an opportunity worldwide to do something really significant. It’s a huge project and after six years of development we’ve finally got to the stage of asking where it could go from here.”
Manabars has already sold one of the first developed products, a spam-free email package and web server which doesn’t rely on hardware.