The tumultuous and fast-paced world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency hit the news with the insane rise and decline of BitCoin over the past several months. Then last week, when The Long Island Iced Tea Corp. renamed itself Long Blockchain Corp. its stocks soared by 200%.
Those key words scream “invest in me now” and often many do. But to what end?
Several companies are poised to use the technology to address some longstanding problems in digital journalism: loss of revenue and the struggle to monetize content, as well as tackling fake news that undermines the work of credible outlets.
Last week, Nasdaq.com wrote about the Smart Media Tokens (SMT) protocol, a new form of cryptocurrency being developed by 2016 startup Steemit. Steemit launched the popular social media platform Steemit.com, known for its ability to monetize the work of content creators with hundreds of dollars in payment for a post.
On the Steemit website, bloggers post Reddit-style stories. The writer earns Steem Dollars, based on how well a story is received by the audience. Additionally, readers on the site are rewarded with Steem Dollars for engaging with the content. The higher a story’s ranking goes, the more money the writer earns.
Writers are encouraged to hold on to their cryptocurrency because their votes are valued higher, based on their holdings.
Next, the company wants to utilize its cryptocurrency, ranked 32nd among 1,358 currencies followed by CoinMarketCap, to help publishers determine how to make the digital arena profitable for both the companies and the writers.
With the introduction of Smart Media Tokens, similar to Steem Dollars and designed to run on the Steem blockchain, Steemit will offer its currency to any media outlet that wants to participate. The potential of the cryptocurrency is believed by Steem to liberate websites and blogs by backing up content and user participation with SMT, rather than or in addition to traditional forms of revenue.
Meanwhile, 360 Blockchain Inc. is hoping to undermine fake news with the introduction of its platform Pressland, powered by blockchain technology with its own cryptocurrency. The company’s expects to issue its token in the second quarter of 2018.
Pressland believes it can fight the spread of fake news by incentivizing platform participants to contribute “intelligence, insights and other verifiable data about media outlets and media figures,” to the community.
“This data will then power a suite of tools designed to debunk fake news on other platforms, such as Facebook," stated Jeff Koyen, 360’s Strategic Advisor.
360 has several streams of proposed revenue for Pressland, including premium memberships and services for media, public relations and marketing professionals. There are also “products that can be licensed to Facebook, Twitter and other social-media platforms, giving them reliable turnkey solutions for debunking fake news and verifying news sources.”
Will cryptocurrency and blockchain technology breathe new life and trust into digital media and dubious social media practices?
The novel approach made by each of these companies does provide a vision for how publishers can navigate new ways of survival via tech.