Last week, Bunz , a social bartering platform formally launched #PayPeopleNotPlatforms , paying users with a stablecoin, BTZ (pronounced bits), for watching in-app advertisements or participating in branded surveys. Social media and digital platforms like Google and Facebook that exploit your personal data for their own purposes and profit be warned, this is one of the first ripples of a much larger consumer wave that is coming.
O ver $325 Billion was spent on advertising globally last year. Bunz believes that people should own the value of their personal data and that brands will pay people for access to that data. Welcome to the sharing economy where data is the new oil - what Airbnb did for accommodation, and Uber did for transportation, Bunz is doing for your personal data and time – rewarding you with BTZ for your attention and contribution to a networked community.
Bunz first launched as a social platform allowing users to trade stuff with each other - my lamp for your carpet. A cashless barter transaction between humans is on the right side of the planet’s sustainable agenda when it comes to reusing “our stuff” and generating less waste and landfill. Founded in 2016, ironically as a secret Facebook community, the Bunz app has now completed over one million trades and can be found in every major city across Canada, as well as in growing pockets around the world - including Australia, the UK, the US, and Japan.
In 2018 Bunz launched BTZ, a payment token, that is earned and spent with other platform users or redeemed at local retail shops. With a growing user base of 300,000 users, 200 retail shops, 3.5 million transactions in BTZ and over 80,000 wallets holding BTZ, Bunz is poised to take off.
“Bunz has been a leading innovator that is trying to use new economic mechanisms to change the power dynamics of the digital economy and our broader society,” says Glen Weyl founder of RadicalxChange , a global social movement, “they were a winner of our ProjectxChange competition for the best start-ups in this space.”
Sascha Mojtahedi , the CEO and co-founder of the Bunz app, is a man on a mission. The Bunz roadmap has been developed with its users (consumers) and partners (businesses) at the heart of its proposition. Rewarding Bunz users with BTZ for their data and participation in branded surveys and advertising is all part of the grand plan.
Since the January 2019 beta launch of #PayPeopleNotPlatforms , businesses such as Lyft , Wealthsimple , and KOHO have sponsored Bunz surveys and collected valuable data related to their business, with over two million survey insights generated to date. Most importantly, advertisers directly compensate every Bunz app user who chooses to participate in the surveys.
“We were excited to partner with Bunz as we're always looking to explore new, innovative ways to reach consumers. What really appealed to us about the Bunz platform is how transparent it is - users know exactly what information they're providing, and to whom,” said Kate Chippindale , Partnerships Lead at Wealthsimple.
I caught up with Sascha to get the backstory on Bunz, an introduction to BTZ, how the token works, why it is so popular with consumers, and where BTZ and Bunz are heading in the future.
Lawrence Wintermeyer: How did the idea for Bunz come about and when did you realize that a token could transform the consumer proposition and experience?
Sascha Mojtahedi: Bunz came about because we all have too much stuff - it is a simple and fun way to post something you aren’t using anymore and get something you need in return while meeting some amazing people locally. As the number of barter trades approached one million in 2018, we realized we would need a currency to solve the classical economic issues that prevent bartering from scaling, the “ double coincidence of wants ”.
BTZ solved these issues by ensuring people can transact even if they don’t have what the other person wants and has unlocked a greater potential for our marketplace. The Bunz community has done over 3.5 million transactions in BTZ already.
The thing that makes BTZ special is that people can’t buy it - they earn it for their data, attention, and contribution to the Bunz community. The current social contract with platforms like Facebook is broken – you use their platform for free while they monetize your data for their profit. We created an alternative to traditional data monetization and advertising that serves people first.
BTZ is a digital currency backed by the demand for data and attention, we like to call it data-backed money. The transformative piece is that BTZ is a spendable form of data that acknowledges its rightful owners – people not platforms. Data is the currency of the internet and we’re democratizing so that everyone can earn and participate in its value.
Wintermeyer: What are people using BTZ for and what are the key features they like about the Bunz app and the ecosystem?
Mojtahedi: People love Bunz because it connects the...