On August 24, 2017, a team of developers backed by serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban announced the Ethereum based Mercury Protocol.
According to Mercury Protocol’s whitepaper, centralized communication platforms that use private servers expose users to privacy violations by having their personal behavior data sold to advertisers. Mercury Protocol offers an alternative, by allowing platforms that adopt it to "be able to exchange content across previously isolated privatized applications, increase user privacy by creating monetization strategies that do not depend upon their behavioral data, leverage tokens to encourage user participation, and provide stronger network security than a private system that has single point of failure." Thus far, Dust, a chat application developed by the team and launched in 2014, has already implemented the protocol.
On the company’s blog, the Mercury Protocol team describes Dust as "the future standard of private communication." They built Dust to put content ownership back in the hands of users. It is a private encrypted messenger which renders data "forensically-unrecoverable" upon deletion. Based on the premise that Dust aims to become the new industry standard of messaging, the team felt it was a solid candidate to "champion the switch to a decentralized blockchain-based ecosystem." To date, Dust has tens of thousands of active users on a daily basis.
Underpinning the Mercury Protocol system is an ERC20 token dubbed the "Global Messaging Token" or GMT. Preethi Kasireddy, lead blockchain developer at Mercury Protocol, explained to ETHNews, "The protocol integrates the GMT token to be used as a utility metric for communication platform participation."In this manner, the profit model would shift from the gathering of data analytics to one which provides the content provider a token award from the platform using the protocol. Dust will be the first application to use GMT, providing a test space for the tokens as payment for content, interactions, and as a reward or means of value transfer on any integrated applications.
The team is also working on another project, Broadcast, which will act as a social platform that will mitigate issues, such as harassment and echo chambers. Broadcast will also use the Mercury Protocol. Broadcast is slated for release in the end of 2017.