Bunz giving users digital currency for viewing advertisements, sharing data


Money-free trading community Bunz recently announced a new in-app advertising initiative, looking to reward users for viewing advertisements and sharing data.

BTZ in its digital currency form can be used for trading and bartering goods and services with other Bunz users on the app.

In exchange for interacting with the ads, Bunz is paying its users with BTZ, its digital currency that is part of its in-app rewards program. The company stated that when it partners with a brand, 60 percent of that marketing spend will go to users, in what it’s calling its #PayPeopleNotPlatforms revenue model. The other 40 percent of the brand’s spend will be used towards Bunz’s operational costs and “investment into growing the community network.”

Starting April 1, Bunz users that view ads are able to receive “an aggregate sum of BTZ” based on the number of ads they view in a day. In addition, businesses can also sponsor in-app surveys, and participants that respond to the surveys will receive the digital currency in exchange for sharing their data.

“Data will be the most valuable resource in the world, and is the currency of the internet today,” said Sascha Mojtahedi, CEO of Bunz. “There is a massive shift happening in terms of how people value their online data, and Bunz is on a mission to change the way data monetization works.”

Bunz first launched BTZ in April 2018, calling the program a cryptocurrency. However, the announcement quickly came under scrutiny from the Bunz community who noted that BTZ is not, in fact, cryptocurrency, because it is not a decentralized currency run on a blockchain.

When it was announced Bunz repeatedly called BTZ a cryptocurrency, and Mojtahedi told the Canadian Press at the time that Bunz launched BTZ with the intention to learn from the data and the information from user behaviours, before converting BTZ into a cryptocurrency. He also noted that he had not yet determined whether there would be a mining element to BTZ.

After facing criticism, Bunz released a blog post explaining its plans for BTZ. It admitted the digital currency only “exist as a component in the Bunz application infrastructure, and cannot be used outside of the Bunz app.” But it also outlined its “roadmap” for the program, noting “soon, BTZ will be a decentralized cryptocurrency.”

The company explained its approach to building a cryptocurrency, stating that it chose not to take the direct route of infrastructure-first because of cryptocurrency’s “poor usability.”

“This poor usability is the primary reason we’ve chosen to focus on the user experience for BTZ first, while working towards a cryptocurrency capable of widespread adoption,” Bunz stated.

RELATED: How Bunz transformed from a grassroots community to an up-and-coming startup

In August, the company announced it is now possible to “convert [BTZ digital currency] into the BTZ cryptocurrency.” The blog post stated that users can withdraw up to 500,000 BTZ from their Bunz wallet and move it into an Ethereum wallet.

“It’s been possible to have BTZ as a fully decentralized currency (as an ERC223) as of August 2, 2018.”

It is now possible to transfer BTZ into an Ethereum wallet, converting it into a token or digital currency within that framework. Bunz’s new ad revenue model is paying users with the in-app digital currency, with the option to move it into Ethereum’s main net.

“It’s been possible to have BTZ as a fully decentralized currency (as an ERC223) as of August 2, 2018,” Mojtahedi told BetaKit. “Lots of people have done this. Lots of people haven’t, because they prefer how easy it is to use BTZ ‘IRL’ [in real life], with other Bunz users or at local shops.”

BTZ, in its in-app digital currency form, can be used for trading and bartering goods and services with other Bunz users on the app. According to Bunz, it can also be used at more than 150 local businesses across Canada.

“Which would you rather use, a platform that makes money off your data, or a platform that pays you? We believe in returning the value derived from data to its rightful owner, the people who share it. The Bunz cryptocurrency BTZ is a vehicle to do this,” Mojtahedi stated, continuing to call BTZ a cryptocurrecny.

The #PayPeopleNotPlatforms revenue model has been running in beta since January, working with Wealthsimple, Koho, and Lyft. Bunz stated that the three companies have sponsored surveys and have been able to collect valuable data related to their business. It stated that, to date, more than 73 million BTZ, (which apparently converts into $730,000 CAD), has been paid to it users.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Senior Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.

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