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What if every time you "react" to a post with a laughing or fire emoji, you could sweeten the pot by attaching a tiny amount of Bitcoin for the content creator?
That’s the kind of thing that’s possible with a range of new Lightning monetization tools unveiled today by Lightning company Mash and popular bitcoin media company Tales From the Crypt (TFTC). The company has created a plugin for content creators to accept tips and donations in Bitcoin’s Lightning, their goal is to chip away at media reliance on advertisements and subscriptions to monetize content creation and journalism.
The Bitcoin Lightning Network is a second-layer solution to increase Bitcoin's transaction capacity. It promises instant, low-fee transactions through off-chain channels, reducing congestion on the main blockchain.
Media companies intereted in signing up for the plugin need to join the waitlist for now. Once available, users can use the suite of new tools by pasting some code (similar to Google Analytics or the like) into the backend of their website to install the Lightning-related monetization options.
With these tools in place, users can then vote on content with their Bitcoin, donate to the website, or “react” to particular paragraphs in an article that stand out for them—for free or with a small Bitcoin donation attached. That way, users can converse directly with the content creators. The hope, for media companies, is that providing a new way for users to engage will keep them coming back to the website.
“Media companies have been getting squeezed by big-tech platforms for years—for traffic, and who actually earns revenue for content that is produced. And it isn't getting easier," Mash co-founder and CEO Jared Nusinoff told Decrypt. "Ad rates are declining with changes to cookies, [Apple's App Tracking Transparency] and the like. For the rare few that subscriptions work, great. But they won't for most given conversion rates, churn and the nature of user engagement,”
Entrepreneurs and developers have long been trying to get the idea of small payments for content off the ground, with the Lightning Network's miniscule-sized payments suited well for this task.
Though some websites have integrated Lightning—like Stacker.news where users “vote” for content similar to reddit, but with Bitcoin “satoshis”—this method of payment hasn’t taken off in the mainstream. Though Nusinoff notes that Lightning has only been mature enough to experiment properly with for a few years.
“We've started to see growth with many of these early experiments, and as more companies integrate lightning, including the likes of CashApp, network effects grow and it becomes easier," Nusinoff said. "And the benefit of lightning, like the internet, is that it is an open protocol. The time couldn't be better for Mash to revolutionize media monetization, but we're still early."
Edited by Stacy Elliott.