In the latest episode of Epicenter Bitcoin, Brian Fabian Crain and Sebastien Couture were joined by Daniel Peled, CEO and Founder of Gems, and Tom Kysar, Marketing Lead at Koinify to talk about the social messaging app that aims to give users ownership and bring cryptocurrencies to the masses.

Perhaps the best way to think of Gems is as an attempt to create a Bitcoin 'killer app'. At this stage, most products created by Bitcoin companies target the small Bitcoin user base. As great as they may be, they don't provide strong incentives for new users to join the community and only contribute in limited ways to increasing cryptocurrency adoption. A killer app would use cryptocurrencies to provide a service that users really want even if they aren't yet Bitcoin users and that can't be provided without using cryptocurrencies.

When Daniel Peled joined the Bitcoin ecosystem, the question of what such an application could look like was at the front of his mind. A core insight of his was that standalone Bitcoin wallets are a difficult sell, because there are very few things one can do with them. So he turned to looking at the single category that saw the most explosive user growth over the past years: Social messaging apps. The most famous example is Whatsapp that grew to over 400 million active users in just four years before selling to Facebook for $19 billion.

While Whatsapp users have gotten the benefit of a free, high-quality product, they did not benefit from the success of the platform. So when Gems was created one of its core ideas was to create its own native token gems to give users a stake in the platform and incentivize the kinds of behavior that lead to viral growth.

Besides incentivizing users, Gems also provides a fun and seamless introduction to cryptocurrencies. Setting up Gems will be just as easy as installing any other mobile messaging app and users will immediately start off owning a few gems. The ability to send those to friends and, in the future, purchase services and goods in the network will provide a powerful way to get acquainted with using cryptocurrencies. And since Gems is simultaneously a Bitcoin wallet, transitioning to using Bitcoin users will be easy too.

“If you're not paying for the product, usually you are the product."

- Daniel Peled

By having its own token, interesting new business models become possible as well. Advertising, for example, will be optional but those who choose to see advertisements will be given additional gems. Another possibility is to let users set a price for receiving unsolicited messages. It's an interesting way in which cryptocurrencies can be used to fight spam. And it gives users the power to set a price for the value of their attention or opt out entirely for an ad-free social networking environment.

As many other projects, Gems have chosen to pre-sell some of the token supply to fund the development of the platform and giving a large group a stake in the project's success. Hosted by crypto crowdfunding platform Koinify, the sale will begin on December 1 at 9:00AM PST and end on January 5. We don't yet know if one day we'll look back on Gems as one of the first applications that managed to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses. But what is clear today is that it's a compelling example of the many ways cryptocurrency layers can be built into services we already know and love to make them even more powerful.

About Epicenter Bitcoin

Epicenter Bitcoin is a show about the technologies, projects & startups driving decentralization and the global cryptocurrency revolution. Every week hosts Brian Fabian Crain and Sebastien Couture talk to some of the most influential people in the cryptocurrency space about their projects and get their perspectives on recent events.

You can take part in the live Google Hangout on YouTube or download the audio version after the fact on SoundCloud, iTunes and other podcast apps.

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