It's no secret that having more Bitcoin services and merchants is better for Bitcoin adoption. Of course it's amazing to have companies like Microsoft and Dell accepting Bitcoin. Of course it's helpful to have services like BitPay and Blockchain helping people use and transact Bitcoin. All of those companies are playing an important role in bringing Bitcoin to the masses, but I think it's possible to do better. I want to share a story about a service called Twitch that helped me realize that some companies could be encouraging Bitcoin adoption on a more personal level.
Twitch is service that allows gamers to stream their virtual escapades online for anyone to view and enjoy. While I've never found time to actually use the service very much, the idea behind it has always fascinated me. Sporting events are wildly popular for their excitement, action, and competition. Video games usually have all of those same attributes, so it makes sense that a service like Twitch would show up.
Just days ago, Twitch began allowing viewers to send Bitcoin tips to gamers through a partnership with Changetip. Twitch had already been accepting Bitcoin for special subscriptions, but now users can spend their Bitcoin more interactively. What made the announcement even more exciting for me, however, is the way a friend of mine reacted when I told him the news.
This friend is definitely the gamer type. He plays games like World of Warcraft (probably more than he should) and watches Twitch streams regularly. When he heard that Bitcoin tipping was now integrated with Twitch, he instantly became interested and excited. It might still be awhile before my friend really gets into Bitcoin, but this reaction made me realize that Twitch and Changetip might be encouraging Bitcoin adoption much more effectively than some other companies.
Let's think about this. Microsoft and Dell accept Bitcoin, but do they give people any incentive to actually use it? Probably not much. Customers usually have to pay the same price whether they use cryptocurrency or fiat currency, so most of the time, they probably do not bother to learn about and buy Bitcoin. BitPay and Coinbase definitely encourage merchants to accept Bitcoin, but once they succeed, we're back to the point where customers have little incentive to actually use it unless they already know the benefits of Bitcoin.
Twitch, on the other hand, took Bitcoin straight to the people. My friend is passionate about gaming, and Twitch put Bitcoin right in the middle of an important part the gaming sphere. But the company didn't just obnoxiously start talking about how awesome Bitcoin is, like we all love to do sometimes. Instead, they actually made something useful and profitable based on Bitcoin.
Now, video game streamers can make some extra money by accepting Bitcoin tips from their fans. Now, viewers can support their favorite gamers even if they can only afford to donate a few cents worth of Bitcoin. Tip recipients also benefit from fees that are much lower than credit card or PayPal fees.
Only time will tell how much of an impact this partnership will actually make, but I think Twitch is really on to something. I'm not even sure if the company cares that much about Bitcoin adoption - they probably just want to add useful features their users, but that's exactly what Bitcoin needs. Useful features. If we can use Bitcoin to improve the things we already love (gaming, in this case), then we have succeeded.
Leave a comment and tell me if you think Twitch will encourage more Bitcoin adoption!