Securely sell online files for bitcoin with CoinLock

CoinLock, a service using bitcoin to distribute paid web content, allows merchants to upload files and set prices.

AccessTimeIconAug 15, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 11:29 a.m. UTC

is an online service hoping to use bitcoin as a means of distributing paid content on the web. The service allows merchants to upload files and set the price. They then get a link they are free to embed anywhere. Customers following the link can then pay and download the content.

Selling files online, whether it's software, music or imagery has always involved complicated online shopping carts. However, CoinLock is hoping to solve that by hosting your encrypted files for merchants. The act of paying for a file decrypts it and sends it to the client for download.

CoinLock's Matt Branton told us more about the service:

"CoinLock aims to be the most friction-less way to sell digital content that has ever existed. We took a step back and rethought what it meant to sell paid content, and have created a service that is very easy to use, does not require an online storefront, a bank account, has no commitment or upfront costs, and provides strong assurances of privacy and anonymity. At the end of the day it is nobody's business what legal content you buy or sell."

From the merchant's point of view, Branton explained, "All a user has to do is enter an address to be paid at, the amount their content is worth, and upload a file and we take care of the rest. The link you get back can be placed directly into a blog, an existing solution, or wherever a URL can be used and people can instantly buy that content with bitcoin. A fairly powerful idea, and we hope people see the potential and help us build a strong community of users."

Branton claims that CoinLock is pro-privacy – there are no user accounts and CoinLock personnel cannot decrypt the files stored on their servers. Branton said to us, "If you were to ask me exactly what they [users] are selling, I would have to say I don't know unless they tell me."

Uploaded files are encrypted on users' browsers prior to upload, with the key being generated client side too. The decryption key is then given as part of the CoinLock URL. Branton told us that it's up to the merchant how to share that link with others. You can see a test sale we created here, of a high resolution photo of the moon.

CoinLock is a self-funded startup based in Tampa, Florida.

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