Ok, so we are living in the age of austerity. We were warned about it! The bankers got greedy and the rest is history, or at least the rest of us were history as far as the bankers were concerned! The public sector shrunk, wages went down, prices up, and the worst of it is the politicians tell us to expect more of the same!
So what have we done about it? We’ve been resourceful; we’ve looked at the facts and the figures, done our sums, and concluded that, well, money, or the lack of it, is not quite the hindrance it has been made out to be. So an investment banker is the only person who can afford to buy a “luxury” one bed in Canary Wharf or a 60 foot yacht; meh, who cares, we never planned to live there anyway; we can make do with some swimwear from Primark and a day trip to Margate, thanks all the same!
It’s just like the 50’s. UKIP are raging, “things ain’t what they used to be!” Iain Duncan Smith thinks he can live on 60 pounds per week. After all, isn’t it true that for just ten pounds you can buy your own bodyweight in horsemeat, or ride the circle line in perpetuity, reading a free press, albeit one depicting parties thrown by Russian Oligarchs (how many of them have seen the inside of a tube train!). Or, the sensible ones amongst us have realised, we can change the reality of how things work by rewarding those who we think are doing a good job in the midst of all this madness!
Sorry, what was that last one? Oh yes. They said it could never be done; that it was too fiddly and nobody would bother with it. That it’s too distracting / new-fangled / unsafe when in reality it focuses the mind / is as old as time itself / is more secure than anything that has ever been built before, anywhere, at any time. What is it? Micropayments. Not the answer you were expecting? Or perhaps you are a student of online payments and are thinking, “not again!”
If you haven’t spent much time considering the implications of scattering tiny lumps of shiny cyber nickels around the web like confetti at a wedding or salt at a sumo wrestling ring, don’t panic, because some boffins have been giving the matter plenty of thought. The latest, perhaps the greatest incarnation, Tibdit, from founders Pauline Hunter and Justin Maxwell, looks highly promising. Part of their solution is to exploit the recent resurgence of bitcoin, a word that still gives casual internet users the screaming heebie-jeebies accompanied by a narrowing of the sphincter muscle; ironic really when we consider that actual money has proved to be about as secure as Angela Merkel’s hairdresser’s job! Rest assured there is method in their madness.
It’s often assumed that the costs associated with processing micropayment transactions are prohibitive, although this is in fact a widely-believed MYTH!! The transaction cost problem has been solved many times, in many ways by long since disappeared micropayment start-ups, but of course the credit card companies don’t want us to know that! Using bitcoin, transactions can be processed for a fraction of the cost, and the system provides a wonderfully defiant point of difference to traditional online payments systems such as Paypal, who have been sniffy about micropayments despite their obvious usefulness. So has the Barrier now been broken? Are the Floodgates open?
Not quite, because a separate problem is that the motivation to send somebody a shiny cyber nickel or two isn’t quite enough to overcome the friction, both cognitive and technical, around the decision making process: to tip, or not to tip, as it were. You can imagine how annoying it would be if every time you wanted to use a PDF converter, read your favourite blogger’s new article, or shout someone a coffee because they made you laugh or put some beautiful music online, you had to reach for your wallet, punch in all those fiddly numbers, and then try to remember that password you set all those months ago! Was it your exes’ name? Your first pet? The town you grew up in? Ah, forget about it!
But tibdit is different. To receive donations, you simply open a bitcoin wallet, confirm your password, save it in a very special place where you keep all your important documents, and you’re ready to go. To donate, you make a purchase online the usual way, set the amount you want to tip, and every time you do so it takes a matter of seconds. When you want to top up, it couldn’t be easier. And the fees you pay for the service are totally minimal. It’s like plasticine. Fun and easy to use!
Ok so to return to the question of why you would want to use micropayments online, only from now on we are going to call them “tibs”, because that’s what tibdit has designated them as. I am a blogger and as you can see if you look at the top RH corner of my site, I’m accepting “tibs”, which makes me a “tibbee”. You, the reader, if I make you laugh, make you better informed about an issue, or point you in the direction of something interesting on the interweb, may choose to “tib” me. You are the “tibber”. Got it? Good!
This is not a totally new phenomenon. Reddit users, for example, will no doubt be familiar with the concept of readers rewarding insightful or amusing commentary with “Dogecoins”, or “Changetips” but, if I may make so bold, Tibdit is the coming force! Why? It’s a better, more approachable product, meaning masses of people will actually use it. Not satisfied with that answer? Ok, to answer this one comprehensively and in a way might confuse you at first but ultimately enlighten you, I will have to come back next week when I have spoken to my friend Justin Maxwell, chief techie of Tibdit. He has explained it to me but I made him promise to explain it properly to you as well, reader.
I know I know, I still haven’t said how becoming a “tibbee” or a “tibber” will help you change the world. Well isn’t it obvious? A tib is a sign of approval. It’s a nudge and a wink, a tip of the hat. It says, “I like this, and I want to see more of this kind of thing”. Zuckerberg thought he’d cracked it when he brought us Facebook but in reality he was only half way there, or not quite all there, as many people think of him.
Likes and shares, even tweets and retweets, are all well and good, but let’s face it, their usefulness has dried up pretty quickly. If you’ve ever tried to run a Facebook or Twitter ad campaign you’ll know what I mean. It’s unproductive and it feels false. Not so Tibdit. Tibdit is fun and it’s exciting and it is cool and it’s becoming part of the zeitgeist. That is why I installed their wordpress widget (which is very easy to do). That is why I’ve chosen to write some stuff about them praising their efforts to date. Plus I’m excited to see how many “tibs” I can earn, and I’ll be keeping you updated as I go. If you own a blog or a site that provides useful content like tips, reviews, samples, or advice, you can easily do the same, the tibdit guys are on hand to provide all the assistance you need.
So listen here reader, it’s time to “Tib”. It’s “Tibbing time”, we’ve reached the “tibbing” point, so get on your “tib”by toes and reach for the stars! You’re not going to lose or make a fortune, clearly, but that’s not really what’s it about. It’s about making a statement, making somebody’s day, or maybe just their minute? And having fun. Did I mention it was fun? And there are so many nuances to tibbing, and some pretty neat use cases. Which I promise to update you on once you have heard from Justin, and we have successfully navigated “the science bit”.
For more information on Tibdit and to learn how you can start your own campaign, please contact Justin, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Pauline, email@example.com