tib: noun: a small online payment, typically around 15p (25¢), sent by a tibber to a tibbee, either as payment for access to content or a service, or as a gratuity.
You know what they say, mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Plant the seed of an idea and under the right circumstances and conditions watch as the idea blossoms into a project, a project becomes a business, more businesses grow up around the first, and an industry is created, eventually becoming a social phenomenon.
This has certainly been the story of the internet; it’s hard to imagine life before the world-wide-web, as over the past decade online has been a factor behind most of the world’s significant steps forward; the music, retail, social networking and mobile industries, to name just a few, all owe their success to the internet, they literally could not survive without it, and hundreds of businesses have achieved staggering valuations on the back of a groundswell of public backing and recognition.
How bizarre, then, that a phenomenon which has created so much social and business change, has been unable to find a way to implement a properly functioning micropayments system. In a world where any business with the ability to become virtual has done so, its surprising to see how formal and sparing people still are about making small payments online. Bitcoin, the closest approximation to an online currency, has been mired in scandal ever since, or perhaps even before, it first began to make a name for itself, but the principle, at least, is very sound. Why else would the Google Campus in the heart of London’s Tech City choose a bitcoin cash machine over an ATM? Step forward, then, Justin Maxwell, the founder of tibit, who, by addressing first the problem of micropayments, and applying a bit of logic, an understanding of human psychology and social interaction, and a common sense approach, could be on the verge of a significant breakthrough .
So what is tibit and what does it do? tibit is a solution for those who wish to make casual online micropayments or donations for services rendered. A good, informative blog post, a video that makes you laugh, a useful problem solving but free site, a musician or artist uploading free content, all deserve to be recognised for their efforts, but currently few are. When you receive good food at a restaurant, hear a busker you like, or if a mate does you a favour, you tip them, send them a card, buy them a beer, show them a token of your appreciation. tibit is an online token of your appreciation.
Any site can receive tibs just by putting a button that links to tibit with their bitcoin address on their site. In other words, they can become a tibbee. A tibber will top-up their account, most likely in their own currency or using bitcoins, set the amount they feel is appropriate, say 15p/25¢, and are free to tib as they please. It’s not obligatory, nobody will be watching or feel offended if you decide against it, and tibs may also be used to enable a service, for example, a site enabling a tibber to read the conclusion of a paid article, or have a large scanned document OCR converted. It sounds straightforward, but the micropayments debate has been rumbling on since the dawn of the internet. Why is the argument so complex?
Firstly, there are implementation issues. Credit card companies are unwilling to process such small transactions as it is not cost effective. Who or what will keep track of so many small payments? Why not charge a higher fee and increase the value of the services offered?
Justin Maxwell, a New Zealander, quickly sees through a lot of these arguments. Firstly, his service may not be for everyone. It is up to you if you choose to receive tibs or not. Secondly, by using bitcoin, he can use their fabled “block chain” software to keep a record of payments and update accounts accordingly, without the tibbee even having to create a bitcoin account. Thirdly, he brings a social charm to his project that shows how the lines between online and offline behaviour are becoming increasingly blurred, for the better.
Consider this excerpt from the Huffington Post, for example, highlighted on the tibit website:
“It is now possible to contemplate a time in the near future when major towns will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters….There is, however, a striking and somewhat odd fact about this crisis. Newspapers now have more readers than ever.”
We all like to read the news, and thanks to the web it’s never been easier, it’s also never been cheaper because almost all of the content is free. But the writers still need paying. So who are they really writing for? Advertisers, of course. If we want unbiased content, we need to help journalists to monetise. Perhaps that is why you never quite find yourself agreeing with what you read online, because somebody else is paying for their point of view to be expressed. tibit can help to level the playing field, by making the internet more of a meritocracy for content providers.
Aware of the arguments against micropayments, Justin, who developed the idea for Tibit whilst studying for a degree in Maths and Physics, made sure he fully validated his idea before deciding to go ahead with it. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, the idea considered original and viable. Justin’s co-founder is Pauline Hunter, who brings 30 years of business and operational experience to the role of COO. The Company was registered in September 2013, and tibit will be raising circa £140k through the BankToTheFuture. An application for SEIS eligibility has been approved by HMRC.
The team are launching a marketing campaign using bloggers, journalists and other sites, to try to prove concept and create a small customer base. Because of the small sums involved, it is quick and simple to set up an account, and, of course, completely secure.
The internet has traditionally always been about change and progress. Changing habits and attitudes for the better. So why not get involved, follow the team and be part of what may one day be seen as the most fundamental change in our recent history? After seeing what they can be capable of, people object to modern banking practices, and nobody likes being hoodwinked by advertisers. On the other hand everyone loves a good tibber!