Via tibdit, online publishers at any scale can collect micropayments and/or microdonations ('tibs') from their users.
tibdit users ('tibbers') can send tibs to publishers as gratuities for content they appreciate, or as access payments, 'without a second thought'.
We believe that tibdit is set apart from failed and failing micropayment services by addressing the critical-yet-subtle cognitive barriers that have inhibited casual online micropayments so far.
tibbers pre-set a personal tib-value within a range, and purchase tibs in bundles of ten or more. Every transaction is for exactly one tib. Because donated tibs are used to express appreciation, tibbers set a value high enough to be a useful micropayment; but since they are also used as payments, tibbers set a value low enough to be spent without a second thought. The burdens of cost-evaluation and fairness-judging are thus avoided at the moment-of-deciding whether to make a specific payment or microdonation; instead it becomes a near-instant binary choice.
The value of each individual tib is not revealed to the publisher ('tibbee'), forcing them to treat every tibber equally. tibs can be spent anywhere where a tib button or URL is published.
'The Micropayments Problem' is intransigent. We believe that the Internet has failed for two decades to produce a funding method that scales to the highly granular way that content and many services are now delivered.
➤ tibdit provides a viable solution for both publishers and consumers.
Contemporaneous attempts to obtain payment for online published goods and services often have a very visible and negative effect on the relationship between publisher and consumer. Examples of this include advertising swamp, clickbait headlines, and attempts to recruit subscribers by completely blocking access to the very content the user most appreciates, whilst they are only part way through it.
➤ tibdit re-establishes a method of casual paid consumption providing a natural bridge to subscription models.
Micropayments have worked where there is a captive market, such as in-game, and there are some examples of 'micropatronage'; but we have yet to see a viable solution to the general problem.Meanwhile respected content producers fail, seriously affecting quality journalism, while 'listicles' and trivia thrives.
➤ tibdit goes some way to addressing Walter Issacson's plea that: "journalists ... again be beholden mainly to their readers, rather than catering increasingly to advertisers or other agendas".
The potential impact of a viable, widespread, casual, and multi-purpose microdonation and micropayment solution is apparent everywhere where content and services are either unavailable without a subscription, or reduced to being no more than a mechanism to bring eyeballs to advertisements.
Some compare micropayments to busking income, and for many this will be true. However unlike street busking, creative goods like music or photography can collect pocket change online continuously. Non-professional bloggers can raise funds to cover their operating costs, or even in support of a favoured charity.
The range of use cases, and consequent disruptive impact, are wide and far reaching.
Substantial accomplishments to date
A fully functional service has been launched.
In January we went live with the final core feature: card payment acceptance.
The product is accessible globally for both tibbers and tibbees.
A tibdit plugin for WordPress is available for download directly from the WordPress plugin repository. It allows WordPress users to easily collect tibs, including unlocking content in return for a tib, and also to display a count of the number of tibs received for a particular article, post, or page etc.
At the time of writing, a small number of tibs purchased with credit and debit cards, and paid out to tibbee bitcoin addresses, have been securely transacted.
tibdit was invited to Boston for MassChallenge 2014 second round judging.
We exhibited tibdit at a sponsor booth at WordCamp London 2015 in March, and a recent live demo at 3-Beards "Don't Pitch Me Bro" had positive and enthusiastic feedback.
We have filed a non-provisional method-of-business patent application in the US covering the core inventive aspects of our solution.
tibdit have assembled a dedicated team that includes development, operations, PR, sales, and legal.
tibdit collects 1.5p per tib paid. The micropayments space is inherently a volume business, and we anticipate requiring substantial volume to break even.
We believe that tibdit's solution naturally includes a powerful incentive-driving viral loop. However, like a two-stroke engine, a significant amount of initial effort will be required to get it running. Except for loyal fans of tibbable sites, we anticipate that only once potential tibbers encounter tib buttons on more than a single site will most consider getting a tibdit account, and purchasing a bundle of tibs.
The immediate focus is therefore on marketing and getting early-adopter tibbees on board, including promotions and giveaways, event attendance, and reaching out directly to smaller potential tibbee organisations such as local and specialist print-publishers.
Planned enhancements include:
Social media integration for tibbers. While tibdit will automatically send tweets like "someone just tibbed something.com/article", the impact of an actual person announcing that they have parted with a payment (however small) for something online is much greater than a 'thumbs-up' or an "I liked this" status update.
tib-value going to third parties. This feature supports both charitable giving by tibbees (for example: 'If you like my article, please tib; all tibs collected are donated directly to the Internet Argument Resolution Society'.) and also a reverse-affiliate scheme, where a 3rd party collects tibs on behalf of a community of tibbees they support, and deducts a percentage before forwarding the received amount. This may include converting the receipts back to local currency and depositing directly into tibbees bank accounts.
Use of proceeds
The funds would allow tibdit to drive uptake of the service for approximately six months, long enough to develop sufficient traction to support a growth funding round at that time.
Key items of expenditure include:
PR and Marketing: Outlined later in the following sections, but including more involvement of our contracted PR agent, and the employment of two part-time business development and marketing interns. Also sponsorship of offline and online events.
Significant UX and UI improvement through professional web design, and input from an expert front-end developer. And implementation of supplemental features including those described above. We also intend to slightly increase wages for our very loyal developers.
We expect to need our first user-support employee during this period.
Office rental costs and other operational sundries need to be covered.
tibdit is initially focussing on recipients ('tibbees'), even though they are not our customers per se. We are targeting bloggers generally, with an emphasis on the cryptocurrency and financial blogospheres.
By increasing the number of tibbees seeking to generate income from tibs, we expect the number of potential users ('tibbers') encountering tibdit will grow at a much faster rate than by targeting them directly.
Publishers of any content that is inherently granular, ranging from small bloggers, to artists such as photographers and poets, to mainstream news media; and publishers of automated services ranging from document processing to dating sites and including the likes of Reddit & Tumblr; all the way to hosted media e.g. Youtube, BandCamp and SoundCloud.
tibdit expects to partner with companies that might at first be regarded as competitors; for example, subscription paywall vendors. We believe that tibdit could be regarded as an asset, rather than a threat.
We intend to develop additional plugins, to enable easy and responsive tibbing across a number of technologies.
➤ a hobbyist or blogger with a strong following puts a tibjar on his blog, to collect 'beer money' from fans
➤ a trusted impartial product-reviews magazine finds online-only subscribers a difficult market to crack; they use tibbing at a granular level (e.g. per product reviewed) to better monetise their digital content
➤ a free online encyclopaedia struggles to cover its significant annual operating costs with twice-annual fund-raising drives. They put a tib link on each article page, suggesting that if visitors found the article interesting or helpful, they tib the article
➤ a news publisher with a paywall that bounces most visitors offers per-article tibbing as an alternative to registering or subscribing for casual purchases. They then offer a discounted subscription to people who regularly purchase article access with a tib
➤ a busker displays a QR code 'tibjar'.
Full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u1SU870s0I
Characteristics of target market
Many publishers and creators are forced to choose between giving their work away for free, smothering it in advertising, or forcing customers to subscribe.
➤ Newspaper publisher advertising declined by seven billion dollars between 2011 and 2013 — An Annual Report on American Journalism by Pew Research
➤ "With newspapers entering bankruptcy even as their audience grows, the threat is not just to the companies that own them, but also to the news itself" — David Carr NYT (2011)
➤ "The holy grail of the internet entrepreneur is the micropayments space" —Andrew Hilton, Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (2011)
➤ “EUR15bn micropayment market by 2015 and 15% pa growth” —Value Partners digital media & management consultancy (2011)
➤ “Consider this as a future: paying small amounts to read, watch and listen to content online. It's a system called micropayments, and some believe it is the future for supporting journalism, and other creative content, on the internet.” —Dave Lee BBC News (2012)
The main advertising for tibdit is from tibbees placing tib buttons on their sites.
We will use a range of strategies, from presenting our product at relevant industry events, to direct personal approaches to key decision makers in targeted companies. Ultimately, the service will be mostly self-advertising.
We are actively pursuing opportunities to present our product at blogging events and cryptocurrency events. We have also sponsored events e.g. Meetup and are sponsoring at Wordcamp in March 2015.
An initial press release resulted in tibdit being covered by Coindesk and other bitcoin focussed media in December 2014, and an interview request with Canadian 'Decentral Talk Live' in February. We are attending various Wordpress events.
Since every user leaves the signup process with a residual bundle of tibs to be spent, we believe there is an incentive for publishers of quality content to implement a tib button. We believe that this will drive more users to join, resulting in a larger pool of unspent tibs, increasing the incentive for publishers. A powerful non-contrived viral loop is therefore inherent in tibdit's product.
Furthermore, we plan to integrate users' social media, allowing users to publish their tibbing activity directly to (e.g.) twitter and facebook streams.
For print publishers, we will initially target prospects who may be struggling with print revenue, and move up to larger publishers over time. Our emphasis will be potential tibbees who already place some online content behind a subscription paywall, with a view to offering an alternative way for casual customers to access whatever the site has to offer.
This further allows publishers to target subscription sales at consumers who have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for their content, rather than obstructing the customer and triggering resentment at the very moment they are most engaged. This should result in increased goodwill from the customer, and so an increased conversion rate.
We believe there are no current viable competitors in the field of casual, ad-hoc (i.e. non-subscription) micropayments and microdonations. The cognitive hurdles encountered with tiny payments have been well analysed and discussed, but seemingly to us not by most startups seeking to enter the space.
tibdit has filed a US Patent Application covering our original, inventive method, which reduces cognitive costs to give tibbers a near-instantaneous, binary choice: tib, or don't.
Furthermore, unlike other contemporary microscale tipping and payment services using cryptocurrencies, our tibbers are not required to even be aware that tibdit uses bitcoin: They purchase tibs in their own currency, using their existing cards.
There are a number of competitors who overlap to varying degrees, and some indirect competitors focussed on subscription models that may ultimately incorporate casual tibbing within their own products.
Competitor examples include:
● fixed monthly spend, distributed equally between recipients
● focussed on microdonations for social good
➤ tibdit: all-purpose, commercially focussed; and users do not plunder their earlier tips to pay for later ones.
● each article is individually priced
● success concentrated within the Netherlands/Dutch market
● incorporates the content delivery platform
➤ tibdit: not just for articles; global; users define their own micropayment amount; we do not take over or interfere with the publisher-consumer interface or relationship.
● focussed mainly on microdonations/tipping, and requires tippers to have bitcoin
● tippers are required to decide how much to tip for every transaction
● over US$4M funding despite what we consider relatively minimal traction and a model similar to earlier failures
➤ tibdit: original, simpler, patentable business model; tibbers use familiar currency; two-click process.