The rapidly growing Latin American social network Taringa! will start paying its content-providing members in bitcoin, offering a service that could boost Bitcoin adoption in the region, The Wall Street Journal reports.
With its 75 million users mostly located in Spanish-speaking Latin America, Taringa! (the exclamation mark is part of the name) is the second-most-popular social network after Facebook and one of the main destinations in the Latin American Web. The social network, whose slogan is “Collective Intelligence,” is a hybrid of Facebook and Reddit, offering a crowdsourced social bookmarking and commenting platform similar to Reddit.
“Today we are launching Taringa! Creators, a revolutionary program that allows Taringa! users to receive a monetary compensation for the valuable content they share in our community,” announces Taringa! (in Spanish). “This is a super innovative project, because we will pay in bitcoin: the new virtual currency that works without banks or governments and allows paying via Internet without a credit card or a bank account, instantly and without transaction costs. For that, we signed an agreement with the company Xapo, founded by Argentine entrepreneur Wenceslao Casares, based in Silicon Valley, which offers the virtual Bitcoin wallets where we will transfer the money earned by you, which you will be able to use as you prefer.”
Offering a financial compensation to those who dedicate part of their time to power the social networks that are an increasingly important part of everyone’s online life is certainly revolutionary but also overdue, and bitcoin payments are an ideal implementation. Perhaps other social networks such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter will follow.
“Xapo’s partnership with Taringa! implements the largest bitcoin integration the community has yet to see and is a historic moment for both bitcoin and social media,” notes the Xapo announcement. “Top content creators can now earn bitcoin through Taringa!’s Revenue Sharing Program, rewarding users who bring quality content to Taringa!. The platform is supported by a simple one-click integration with Xapo’s secure bitcoin wallet.”
The initiative is likely to will have a huge impact on Taringa!’s user base, largely under-banked despite having access to smartphones and Internet, and could introduce millions of people across the globe to the benefits of Bitcoin. According to Xapo, the partnership has the potential to quadruple the current number of bitcoin transactions worldwide.
The traditional payment infrastructure couldn’t support Taringa!’s plans to reward its loyal users for content shared on the social network, and therefore Taringa! had to look for alternatives. Latin America’s “horrendous,” underdeveloped financial system made it impossible to deliver funds, said Taringa!’s co-owner Hernán Botbol. Credit-card networks aren’t developed enough and bank account penetration isn’t deep enough for users to receive payments in their traditional currencies.
“We have had this on our mind, mainly because we think we can bring more people to create great content and also because we think that it’s fair, given that all this that we have is just because our users are creating the content,” said Botbol. “But we never were able to do that because the infrastructure is horrendous – even if you send someone a check, they don’t know what to do with that.”
The Wall Street Journal notes that the initiative, which exploits bitcoin where the traditional financial system is unable to deliver, could be an impetus for wider adoption in the developing world, where many believe digital currencies have their best chance of success.
Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that Bitcoin and its underlying technology are about to bring disruptive positive changes to finance, business, and society.