Toronto-based Bunz has launched a digital points rewards currency called BTZ.
BTZ can be used within the trading and bartering app, which currently has one million users. Starting today, anyone with the latest version of the Bunz app and new downloads will receive 1,000 BTZ, though there is a finite amount of BTZ to be distributed.
Bunz users can earn BTZ by contributing to community growth through posting items for trade that receive many views, sharing the Bunz app with their networks, or watching educational videos about BTZ.
BTZ can be redeemed for food, coffee, beer, clothing, and beauty services from Toronto retail partners like Cry Wolf Clothing, Drake General Store, The Fifth Pubhouse, and Halo Brewery. A full list of retailers can be found here.
The launch of BTZ has been met with scrutiny from its community, with members speaking to the Canadian Press upset that Bunz would launch a cryptocurrency. Others, engaging with the company on social media, have gotten Bunz to admit that BTZ is not a cryptocurrency because it is not a decentralized currency run on a blockchain.
CEO Sascha Mojtahedi told the Canadian Press that Bunz launched BTZ with the intention to learn from the data and the information from user behaviours before converting BTZ into a cryptocurrency. Mojtahedi told the Canadian Press that he has not yet determined whether there would be a mining element to BTZ.
However, Bunz’s original press release repeatedly refers to BTZ as a cryptocurrency, particularly in the title of the release.
“Bunz’s fundamental goal is to build community that promotes a sustainable future. Part of making the world more sustainable economically means the decentralization of social networks and marketplaces, making way for stronger local communities. New technologies like cryptocurrency are making that possible,” Mojtahedi said in the release. “BTZ is an extension of the Bunz bartering revolution. We see a future where large institutions will be replaced with decentralized systems that are owned by the people who use them, instead of the people that built them.”
The company also said that it raised an undisclosed Series A from Fidelity in March 2018. The Bunz team launched the app as they noticed users would often resort to subway tokens and gift cards as commonly accepted alternatives to cash when a true trade wasn’t possible.
BetaKit has reached out to Bunz for further comment.
UPDATE 04/10/18 12:43 PM EST: This article and its headline have been updated with additional reporting on Bunz’s BTZ announcement.