I am implementing an online platform, where third-parties sell virtual goods to clients on a subscription basis. Let's take for example ebooks as a virtual good in this case.
How can the third-parties trust my platform? How can they know that I don't cheat with the number of subscriptions I report back to them? Do any solutions exist for this or some papers? I can't possibly be the first with this kind of problem. The problem is I even don't know what to search for.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think CS StackExchange is appropriate for your question. You may ask it on other StackExchange or websites that accept general questions. Personally, I would trust the platform which can prove their qualification. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Tang
    May 3 '20 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ You may need a trusted third party. $\endgroup$
    – John L.
    May 3 '20 at 18:35

As far as I know, sellers can't fully verify that the platform is behaving honestly, so you'll need to trust the platform. A malicious platform could always sell a copy to someone without giving the seller their cut.

  • $\begingroup$ In other words, I need a decentralized system where I am never in the possession of the virtual good and the users get it directly form the third-party. $\endgroup$
    – Jamal B.
    May 3 '20 at 17:44

Platforms stealing from sellers ? No way...

You could imagine a following scheme, encouraging random testing :

  • Each time someone subscribes to something, you give a notification to the seller
  • You encourage them to create dummy accounts/contact friends/random strangers with an account, and verify that their subscription is indeed notified
  • To motivate these dummy subscriptions, you cancel these subscriptions for free on demand of the seller (so that they didn't have to pay the commission just to verify you're not scamming them)

This isn't foolproof (you could theoretically have algorithms to detect which subscriptions might be "test" subscription, typically brand-new accounts) ; but it's a good start, this kind of security means that you couldn't be scamming a lot of people (the biggest the platform, the more probable it is that someone would detect it).


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