Last month we posted about the launch of TipperCoin, a new Twitter based product for sending bitcoin tips to other Twitter users. Focused on tipping bitcoins to tweeters, TipperCoin is tied to the trend of digital currency tips that have become a popular way to reward other users as well as introduce newbies to bitcoins.
Taking Twitter based payments a step further is PikaPay. Established in 2011, PikaPay is the longest established provider of twitter based bitcoin payments. If I had to describe PikaPay in a few words, it would be ‘PayPal 2.0’. PayPal brought to the world the ability to send money to anyone with an email. What PikaPay does is provide similar abilities to send bitcoins to anyone with a Twitter account. PayPal is based on fiat currency transfers by transposing its services alongside traditional financial institutions and banks. Simiarly, PikaPay can be considered the digital currency version of the same attributes of Paypal, but instead is linked to the blockchain.
PikaPay is the invention of Joris Bontje and Richard Kohl, two early bitcoin adopters who are active in the Amsterdam bitcoin community. Discussing the product’s history, Kohl explained to Digital Currency Magnates that it was initially called PayBitBack when it was launched in 2011 and had attracted the use of some of Twitter’s engineers. Kohl continue by stating that after its initial success, the two founders spent the next two years “to build a safe and stable service that goes beyond the “hobbyist” stage.” According to Kohl, the result is that now “PikaPay is built on an an open enterprise-grade developer’s API that is secure enough to be used as a realtime transaction platform.”
Using PikaPay, users simply connect their Twitter account, which automatically creates them a PikaPay account. Once connected, PikaPay can be used to send payments to other Twitter users as well as make bitcoin requests. PikaPay accounts can be funded by transferring bitcoins or purchased by Belgium and Netherlands users of iDEAL direct debit. According to Kohl, bitcoin based deposits appear in user wallets after only one confirmation.
In terms of PikaPay account to account transfers, funds are sent instantly. Kohl explained that this could be done as transfers remain within PikaPay’s trusted network as he said “The way that Bitcoin works you can accept payments with zero confirmations if you are completely willing to completely trust the person paying you. Payments across our platform are handled as trusted transactions and require zero confirmations from the Bitcoin network before we consider them completed transactions. After processing a bitcoin transfer, both accounts are notified. However, unlike other Twitter based products, payment details remain private, unless otherwise tweeted by the participants.
Beyond person to person fund transfers, PikaPay also provides merchant tools for accepting bitcoins. After creating an account, users have the ability to embed ‘pay now’ code on their website to receive bitcoin payments or donations from customers or readers. Kohl explained that “One of the advantages that PikaPay offers to merchants is the ability to create a fast, fun and frictionless way for customers to pay that is completely secure and fully connected to the social media stream.” He added that the PikaPay embed code can also be integrated into other applications like Facebook. As a result of PikaPay being able to integrate with numerous social media products, Kohl explained that “It boils down to one of the easiest and most convenient ways of using Bitcoin that also allows us to directly and accurately calculate the ROI of your social media campaigns.”
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Nothing gets people interested like free stuff. With PikaPay, Kohl explained that an area they are seeing interest for their services is free bitcoin promotions. Using PikaPay’s API, businesses can tie client actions such as taking a survey or downloading a white paper with receiving free bitcoins.
PikaPay itself is also offering free bitcoins to new users. Readers can go to the PikaPay home page and before creating an account enter their Twitter handle in the box below and press send.
Building on Twitter
While PikaPay is bringing an innovative approach to payment transfers, the reality is that it is closely aligned to Twitter. As a result, changes in Twitters API rights could create issues for the PikaPay network in the future. In terms of similar products, Ribbon, a dollar based Twitter payment service was temporarily banned by Twitter. At the time, it was believed that Ribbon had infringed on Twitter’s terms of service.
Speaking about Twitter and potential problems that could occur, Kohl couldn’t speak about the company’s contacts with the social media giant, but stated that “Twitter is one of the most innovative social media platforms and welcome developers.” He added that because of their innovation they were attracted to Twitter, but you need to follow their rules. Kohl also mentioned that an advantage of their product is that users need to have a Twitter account to receive payments, which could lead to more Twitter accounts being opened.
Is PikaPay the Paypal of bitcoins? At this point it is too early to know. But, if the past is an indication for the future, simple to understand products tend to rise to the top. By linking accounts with a Twitter handle, PikaPay has accomplished that goal of creating an easy to use bitcoin transfer network.