One of the major goals of Academic Karma is to make open-access publishing both cheaper and faster.
One of the reasons open-access publishing remains expensive is the cost of coordinating peer review. This is estimated to make up at least half the cost of publishing in a pure open-access journal. Peer review is also one of the main reasons it takes so long between submitting and publishing a manuscript (https://quantixed.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/waiting-to-happen-ii-publication-lag-times/). Peer review is slow because its difficult to find reviewers (we are all too busy working on our own manuscripts, which makes sense as that is what we are rewarded for) and its difficult to incentivise reviewers to spend time promptly on the review rather than their own work.
Scientific reports, a Nature Publishing Group open-access journal, also recognised that slow peer review is a problem, but they proposed to solve this by providing fast-track peer review with a commercial partner for a fee of $750, of which $100 goes to each reviewer (presumably either two or three reviewers) and the remainder is taken as an extra processing charge by the journal and its commercial partner.
In contrast, the whole point of Academic Karma is that diligent, timely reviewers should be able to access fast-track peer review on their own papers. So in a sense we also want to introduce a two-speed review process, except that ours rewards Academics who are contributing to speeding up peer review. The logic is that this creates an incentive for every scientist to be a regular and diligent peer reviewer, which speeds up the system for everybody. In the long-run this creates a self-sustaining system which makes it much easier to find Academics eager to do ‘enough’ peer review so that their own papers will be reviewed in a reasonable time-frame.
Of course, timeliness is not the only factor in peer review. The quality of the review is also very important, and for that reason we are working on ways in which reviewers, editors and authors can evaluate the quality of the review. Ultimately we are trying to build a system which speeds up, improves the quality and lowers the cost of peer-review.