Flattr, the micropayment tipping system, has just announced that it will now allow users to fund their account with bitcoin. The service, which was created by one of the founders of the Pirate Bay, has the goal of providing an easy way for content creators to gain tip-like payment from the public.
We spoke to Flattr's Linus Olsson about its relationship to bitcoin.
Q. For anyone who hasn't heard of Flattr, would you give a layperson's explanation of your service?
It's a one-click microdonation system system for free content. It's the easiest way to support creators by giving microdonations when you "Like", "Favorite" & "Star" content directly on services like YouTube, Instagram and Soundcloud. All microdonations comes from one budget so you can support all the creators you want without thinking about the cost. The monthly budget you choose is divided by the number of flattrs you make.
As an example of Olsson's description, when you find some content worthy of payment, you "flattr" it. At the end of the month, your monthly contribution is equally split between all of the content creators you flattr'd. For example, if I pay £10 per month, and flattr ten people in June, each will get £1 each. If I had only flattr'd two people, they would get £5 each.
Q. Do you feel there is a philosophical compatibility between Flattr and cryptocurrencies?
Yes, we think creators should be able to make money without going through established media houses with terrible contracts. The same way supporters should be able to support their favourite creators. Bitcoins fits great into that philosophy.
Q. What has stopped you using bitcoin so far?
We did not find the right bitcoin processor, but now we have. And now users can fund their account with bitcoins!
Q. Have you considered any of the altcurrencies?
No, not yet.
Q. Do you think that Bitcoinj's implementation of the off-blockchain micropayment system as described here could help Flattr?
I'm not a developer so I could not say really.
Content creators can provide payment points to Flattr users by adding Twitter-like widgets or QR codes to their website. Alternatively, the Flattr mobile app can present, and scan QR codes for users to Flattr each other.
Users will have to opt-in to bitcoin payments by selecting bitcoin on the "Add funds" page. As mentioned, though, there is yet no option to withdraw funds in BTC, but Flattr has asked user for feedback on this point.
When asked why BIPS had been a suitable bitcoin payment partner, Flattr responded by saying that the process was easy and they were responsive.