What is Bitcoin’s most effective application? That is not an uncommon question in the cryptocurrency space, with people often looking for “killer apps.” I once saw a presentation for someone whose blockchain project was titled, literally, “killer app.” Was it an abstract art project, or a new and revolutionary blockchain tech?
A killer app is used colloquially to mean a few different things. In the context of this article, “killer app” sticks with the traditional definition: “a feature, function, or application of a new technology or product that is virtually indispensable or much superior to rival products.”
Further, we touch not only on Bitcoin-specific startups or techs, but also on those which apply a version of bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain.
Top 10 Bitcoin Killer Apps
Noel Lovisa refers to his company Code Valley as Bitcoin’s killer app. Code Valley says it makes lets developers repeatedly trade their specialist design expertise for bitcoin. It dubs itself “the world’s first free automated market for software.”
Developers create a vendor account to trade in the Code Valley marketplace. Vendors act as “automated assist and intellectual property guardians.”
“This technology dispenses with formal runtime interfaces and uses no glue-logic whatsoever, making it the first development process of its kind capable of approaching optimal software solutions,” the company states. “Current methods will find it difficult to not only keep up on the productivity front, but will be hopelessly outclassed on a technical front as well, making this technology very competitive indeed.”
The marketplace sees itself as a bitcoin vertical. “When Bitcoin vendors enter the marketplace, any other developer in the world can contract them to integrate Bitcoin functionality seamlessly (and natively) into their own applications.”
“…This technology will have become the world’s first decentralised peer-to-peer software development system, a system underpinned by the world’s first peer-to-peer decentralised currency; Bitcoin’s killer app,” the company states.
This is an open source web browser founded by a co-founder of the Mozilla Project, Brendan Eich. Brave’s mission is popular among Bitcoin enthusiasts: to block website trackers and rid the internet of intrusive advertising. By sharing less data with advertising customers, Brave plans to curate its own ads, keeping 15% for itself and paying content publishers 55%. Ad partners get 15% and 15% goes to browser users. The Brave browser also plans to incorporate Bitcoin micropayments.
Decentralized Social Media
Decentralized social media has been a goal for Bitcoin entrepreneurs for years now. However, the most successful project to date actually has nothing to do with Bitcoin — other than that it uses a blockchain-based cryptocurrency to monetize content.
Steemit has made waves in the blockchain space. Published in a March 2016 white paper, the idea behind Steemit is similar to other blogging websites or social news sites like Reddit. The text content – and here’s the twist – is saved on the steemit blockchain.
Members upvote good content, and contributors receive monetary rewards in the Steem crypto-currency. There are also two tokens called Steem Dollars and Steem Power. Some users boast they’ve made thousands of dollars using Steemit, but not all of that is tradeable today for money outside the Steemit system.
Although the system does not use Bitcoin, one day a similar system could deploy the digital currency Satoshi Nakamoto created in 2008.
OpenBazaar, which has an integration with I2P on its roadmap, is an open source project designed to create a decentralized network for peer-to-peer commerce online with Bitcoin. OB is a generally functional alternative to services like eBay, Amazon and other big companies. It links buyers and sellers through a distributed application that has more in common with BitTorrent. Moreover, the company boasts no fees and no restrictions.
Arcade City is one of the most headlined Bitcoin applications on the market, especially in recent weeks with the launch of the Arcade City application.
The app connects drivers with riders via Facebook, and users pay for rides with bitcoin. Founder Christopher David is adamant his service is not just another Uber or Lyft, but rather, a “ridesharing 2.0 application.”
Counterparty is a much celebrated blockchain technology that has largely flown under the radar since its release. It’s nonetheless powered many inspiring blockchain projects.
Counterparty is a peer-to-peer financial platform for financial applications, on top of the bitcoin blockchain. The technology is open source and has its own native token, which is deflationary. The project envisages itself as a decentralized digital currency exchange that allows individuals to create their own virtual assets, issue dividends, create price feeds, bets and contracts for difference.
Spells of Genesis
Bitcoin has implications for the gaming industry, many of which remain unexplored. EverdreamSoft, the online gaming company, recreates digital game cards in Spells of Genesis on the Bitcoin blockchain. It allows players to easily transfer and keep track of in-game assets.
Cryptocurrencies in gaming will be an important and increasing trend. Quarkcoin has been integrated, for instance, in Shaq Fu: The Legend Reborn. BitCrystals is SoG’s native currency.
This escrow service and online marketplace might be the best reason to use bitcoin these days. The site matches bitcoin buyers with spenders looking to purchase online items.
As the website explains: “If you want, for example, to buy $100 worth of items at a 15% discount, you’d offer $85 worth of bitcoins to the buyer who orders your wish list.”
Coinbase is right in the thick of cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular. It’s an application which first brought Bitcoin to users in a manner similar to popular e-payment sites like PayPal.
The San Francisco-based startup allows users to buy and sell bitcoins and store them in its online or offline wallets. Additionally, it offers a crypto-currency exchange soon to offer Coinbase, Litecoin and Ethereum. It seems Coinbase wants to become the centralized NASDAQ for cryptocurrencies, making it a contender for bitcoin’s most killer app.
The Developing World
2.5 billion people lack a bank account, and many believe the developing world itself is bitcoin’s killer app. O’Reilly, worldwide purveyor of diverse conferences, even held a discussion called “The Developing World, Bitcoin’s Killer App.”
Thousands of people already work to bring bitcoin technology to the developing world. That doesn’t just include those in underdeveloped nations, but also those in the de-developing west. The US-based Unsung, for example, seeks to bring aid to the homeless.
Of the companies noted above, Purse, Coinbase, and Counterparty have the longest tenure.
It may be that none of the abovementioned companies becomes Bitcoin’s killer app. In fact, there may be no Bitcoin killer app. Perhaps Bitcoin is even the killer app itself. But one thing is for sure: Bitcoiners do not believe the digital currency has reached its potential, and the world has yet to see what it’s capable of accomplishing. It promises better payments and money far beyond other options available now.
What do you think? Are there other killer apps that should have made it on the list?
Cover image via Shutterstock.
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