Website owners looking to make it easier to monetise web 2.0 services and reward user-generated content are starting to make use of Bitcoin micro-payments.
So far it has not been all that easy to make micro-donations on the Internet when you want to support a cause or reward a performance. You have to enter your bank account details on various websites and then there will also be a charge for each transaction you make. However, for those who want to push ahead with monetising Web 2.0 services, Bitcoin may provide a useful means of getting around these two obstacles.
Bitcoin is an electronic crypto-currency not tied to any financial institution, which enables you to make international transactions without incurring the charges levied on those who go through the banking system to make payments. The idea of making micro-transactions of between $1 and $25 free of all administrative costs is now really starting to catch on.
San Francisco-based ChangeTip is part of the Bitcoin 2.0 movement. This peer-to-peer network protocol is designed to reward providers of services which stand out from the ordinary – such as a great YouTube video or Tumblr post – with the equivalent price of a coffee or a beer, just as one tips for service in the real world.
Tips can be sent via social networks such as Facebook and Google+, microblogging platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr and content sharing sites, e.g. YouTube and reddit. You just mention ChangeTip, the recipient and a tip amount in a social network post or message such as: @greatcause, keep up the good work! I’d like to contribue $10 to the cause. @Changetip. The ChangeTip bots are constantly patrolling the web, looking for occurrences of @ChangeTip together with an amount and a beneficiary. With these three elements – the two parties and the amount – the bot proceeds to enact the transaction. The value of the sender’s tip will be sent from his/her wallet account to the receiver’s.
This is not of course the first-ever service enabling micro-donations. There have been other initiatives, notably TipiT payments from Twitter, but they never went viral. For the moment Bitcoin micro-transactions are only possible via the fully public areas of the main social networks, although you can of course send a private message alerting your recipient to the tip, which will be on its way to their account once a ChangeTip bot spots it.
However, the startup has now just launched an embeddable publisher widget, called Tip.me, designed to make it much easier for content publishers to obtain rewards for their efforts. A content publisher needs to claim a Tip.Me domain, then share the URL on his/her blog, website or social profile. ChangeTip has also designed website button icons, similar to ‘Like’ buttons, saying ‘Tip Me’. ChangeTip thus seems confident that the time is right for a fully-fledged Web 2.0. payment system that uses the Bitcoin protocol to facilitate the transfer process. Expecting mass adoption, the company plans to begin as of January charging a 1% withdrawal fee to move your tips out of your ChangeTip account.