On May 25 on Twitter, Nick Szabo praised the innovative ideas of two Bitcoin startups — Abra and Streamium:
Here’s what these companies are doing to earn praise.
The world’s first peer-to-peer digital cash, money-transfer network launched at the Launch Festival 2015, a startup competition founded by investor Jason Calacanis. Abra is a global bitcoin remittance app that enables its users to transfer cash instantaneously, without any transfer fees or bank accounts.
As with most pre-existing remittance services like Western Union, users are able to deposit cash to the app by scheduling an appointment with a nearby trained Abra teller, or with a debit card.
CEO Bill Barhydt said in a presentation at the festival that “Abra tellers use smartphones to allow any other Abra users to deposit cash or withdraw cash from anywhere in the world.”
The network of local Abra tellers is displayed in a map within the mobile app that also provides contact details so that users can set up appointments.
Barhydt explained that users of traditional remittance and payment services in places far away from the city are often forced to travel two to three hours and spend more than US$10 dollars to get to the nearest remittance store. However, Abra users can simply arrange a meeting with an Abra teller nearby to withdraw cash instantly. The CEO explained in an interview at the festival :
“Abra is desperately needed by billions of people. Take the case of Haiti, for example. Haiti relies on money transfers for 35% of its GDP, but after the earthquake people couldn’t get money in because, first, the buildings where you picked up money were destroyed, and second, many people lost their IDs in the quake, so they couldn’t identify themselves to receive funds. Cash had to be helicoptered in — and they still couldn’t get it to the right people.”
Although the company launched Abra at the festival, the beta version of the mobile app will not be available to the public for at least two more months. Abra announced at the festival that they want a minimum number of tellers to be trained and signed up in over 100 countries before they make the mobile app available.
Barhydt stated, “The analogy, going back to Uber, is that they can’t launch a new city until they have enough drivers in that city. Tellers are our drivers. And we need to do this in 100 countries … though that probably won’t all happen in May.”
Streamium, a trustless live broadcasting platform, has received praises from a few well-respected figures in the cryptocurrency industry, including Shapeshift founder Erik Voorhees and BitGo engineer Ryan X. Charles.
On Twitter, Voorhees stated:
Streamium developer Demian Brener explains that in typical paid video streaming, “the viewer wants to pay for what he views, while the broadcaster wants to make sure he’ll get paid but has no means to enforce payment after the viewer consumed part of the content provided.”
Most of the time, these type of systems require intermediaries between the broadcaster and the viewers, such as the popular streaming network Twitch or Netflix. To discard the involvement of intermediaries, Streamium launched a bitcoin-based broadcasting system, where viewers pay broadcasters with bitcoins in real time.
Broadcasters can choose the amount charged to viewers and link the video to a bitcoin address. Viewers then pay the broadcaster with bitcoins as they stream. According to Streamium, “The broadcaster can be sure he’ll get paid for the content provided, since the transaction he received has been verified and recorded on the blockchain before the connection has been established.”
Abra and Streamium have caught the attention of renowned cryptographer Nick Szabo. They have developed bitcoin-based platforms to disrupt billion-dollar markets in the remittance and broadcasting industries. If they successfully scale over time, Abra and Streamium are set to compete with major companies in their respective industries, such as Western Union, Twitch and Netflix.