There are many different services in existence to bring Bitcoin to everyday consumers in a convenient manner. Some of these tools are more straightforward to use, whereas others require a bit more effort and tweaking. ProTip is one of those tools that is not only easy to use but comes in the form of a Chrome browser plugin as well.
ProTip - Peer-to-Peer Bitcoin Tipping For The Internet
As more people start to consume content over the Internet, it only makes sense to see content creators attempt to monetize their efforts. Old traditional models, which usually rely on banner placement advertisements, will need to be replaced sooner or later. Especially now that more users, both on computers and mobile devices, are installing ad blockers to prevent any unwanted advertisements from popping up.
One thing that nearly every person uses on a daily basis is an Internet browser. Rather than creating a whole new platform with another URL for people to remember, ProTip has taken a different approach. Their designers created a plugin for the Chrome browser, allowing users to tip and donate online for work they enjoy reading, viewing, or listening to.
But ProTip does more than just that, as it can also be implemented as a way to set up weekly subscriptions for audiences, as well as create content passes for premium work. Furthermore, the ProTip Chrome plugin is platform independent, and will work with any platform you can imagine. Even services like Youtube, Soundcloud, and Deviantart are supported.
Some people might be wondering why such a powerful tool is created for Bitcoin users, rather than supporting more traditional payment methods. Bitcoin is a distributed digital currency, which is perfectly tailored to send microtransactions at little to no costs. PayPal, credit cards, or other traditional payment methods are not viable when making small payments.
There has been a lot of genuine interest in the ProTip plugin so far, including Juice Rap News, who have started accepting Bitcoin ever since this tool was released. Additionally, the ProTip plugin has received over 20 positive reviews on the Chrome Store, with more and more users downloading and installing the plugin every day.
ProTip Founder Chris Ellis explained the project as follows:
“ProTip is about giving people permission to connect around the world wherever they are. We don't divide ourselves around just national borders anymore, we align around common interests and shared values. The internet is a celebration of all the different ways of being human. It allows that connection to take place and bitcoin allows us to communicate our gratitude and appreciation for one another peer to peer no middlemen required.”
Project Funding Through IndieGogo
ProTip raised a lot of people’s eyebrows when they announced their crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo, one of the many platforms that does not accept Bitcoin. Even though some community members saw this as a potential risk for running a successful campaign, ProTip managed to raise nearly US$7,000 on IndieGogo. Furthermore, over US$4,000 came in through Bitcoin donations for the project, helping the ProTip team to reach their first milestone target of US$10,000.
Unfortunately, not enough funds were raised to make the ProTip plugin compatible with other browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox. Chrome remains the world’s most popular internet browser to date, and serving the widest possible audience was a business decision that had to be made. That being said, if there is enough demand, the team might launch a second crowdfunding campaign to bring ProTip to other browsers.
Once the ProTip campaign came to an end, and the first project milestone had been surpassed, the team held true to their word and open sourced the code on 1st May 2015. For the time being, ProTip is developed as a hobby project/part time job for most of the team members.
How Does it Work?
The way ProTip works is both simple and elegant at the same time. Rather than integrating buttons to make manual financial contributions to content creators, the plugin measures the time spent on a webpage. There is one prerequisite for this process to work, though, as the website will need to have a Bitcoin address listed, either on the webpage or embedded in the page code.
To ensure no funds is being deducted from the user’s ProTip balance unfairly, the plugin can recognize mouse activity, as well as which Chrome tab the user focuses on at any given time. The total elapsed time on the relevant ProTip-enabled website will be re-evaluated every minute. These totals are then added up, and once per week, payments will be sent out to users.
As you would come to expect from a company dealing with customer funds, security is one of the main priorities. ProTip’s wallet service was never intended for users to store large amounts of Bitcoin to begin with. By offering various types of security, users can keep the ProTip wallet as safe as they like, and wallets can even be backed up if needed.
Potential Plans for ProTip
Any Bitcoin-related tool would be nowhere with a loyal community, and that is exactly why ProTip values feedback above anything else. A ProTip Improvement Proposals spreadsheet has been created, where users can submit their ideas, suggestions and feedback directly to the team.
Chris Ellis commented on the future prospects of ProTip:
“We would like to build a ProTip bitcoin faucet exclusive to ProTip users which gives out new bitcoins to users who host the wallet in their browser. This money would be raised with a public key that would be advertised and we would do campaigning around it on our Youtube and social media. We could also do corporate sponsorship of the faucet. I think this would be a great way to get new people into bitcoin. But as I said we just have to take each day as it comes because we don't have a lot of resources, but we do have a lot of passion”
Plugins such as ProTip make a lot of sense for both consumers and content creators. Anywhere in the world, there will be someone in need of a particular thing, and they want to pay a small amount to fulfill that need. Bitcoin payments make a lot of sense in this regard, as this borderless digital currency can be used to send payments in mere seconds.
JP Buntinx is a freelance Bitcoin writer and Bitcoin journalist for various digital currency news outlets around the world. Jean-Pierre is an active member of the Belgian Bitcoin Association, and occasionally attends various Bitcoin Meetups in Ghent and Brussels. Follow the author on Twitter @jdebunt