A new ‘bitcoin’ for social media but will YouTube, Facebook and Instagram users buy?

Livestreaming app UpLive is banking on social media platforms to popularise its soon-to-be released cryptocurrency

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 11:01pm

Entrepreneur Andy Tian is hopeful that gifto, his soon-to-be released digital currency will become the bitcoin for the masses, a cryptocurrency which could be popularised and used by the billions of users on some of the biggest social media such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

“Up until now, cryptocurrency and the technologies behind it are mostly used in the crypto community. We want to help digital currency and its related technologies crack into the mainstream by allowing a large number of real users to not only spend the currency, but to use it with fun,” said Tian, co-founder and chief executive officer of Asia Innovations Group, which runs the popular livestreaming app UpLive with a global user base of about 20 million.

We want to help digital currency and its related technologies crack into the mainstream by allowing a large number of real users to not only spend the currency, but to use it with fun
Andy Tian, UpLive

With its first ever token sales event scheduled for November, the company is building a blockchain technology-enabled “universal gifting platform” that will allow global users on social media platforms, such as those on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to send virtual gifts to content creators they like without locking into any particular platform. These gifts can be redeemed into gifto.

Gifto would have real value equivalent, and be convertible to ethereum or bitcoin, which smashed through the US$5,000 level to an all-time high last week, Tian told the South China Morning Post in an interview ahead of the token sales. He did not disclose the size of the offering.

Rather than relying on digital coin to raise capital, the exercise also known as initial coin offering, which crypto information provider CoinDesk said over US$2 billion had been raised globally, Tian wants gifto to be a “world changing product” to help social media content creators make money from their followers even when they do not speak the same language or use the same currency. The international transfer of cryptocurrency is free of charge and fast.

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Globally, the market capitalisation of cryptocurrency has surged 800 per cent this year, which is a sign of the speculative bubble to many except insiders including Tian, who believed that blockchain technology can become mainstream and bring significant changes to a range of industries including social media. Changes such as allowing the content creators and individuals, in addition to companies, to create the virtual gifts and generate revenue from them.

Asia Innovations’ plan is to encourage global social media users to use gifto to buy virtual gifts for the creators they like and allow them to use blockchain technology to generate and manage the circulation of such gifts in a decentralised fashion, an approach that Tian said could effectively boost the income of content creators.

The gifting as a tip model has proven to be an apparent successful way of monetisation on the UpLive app, where 20 million global users are on track to generate a total US$100 million in revenue this year through buying and sending more than 500 different kinds of virtual gifts, from virtual flowers to a digital BMW car.

“Sending gift is so much more entertaining than directly sending money, it is a great way to enhance social relation. The top earning host on Uplive can make 300,000 yuan (US$45,530) worth of gifts in a week on the platform,” said Tian, adding that the market was potentially huge as there are billions of social media user across the world.

Asia Innovations has a R&D centre in Beijing, but gifto would not be available for users in China as cryptocurrency is illegal in the country, said Tian. Individuals are allowed to own them, but not to trade in them.