Home-rental company Airbnb has been studying a few bitcoin and blockchain startups recently in order to understand how it can leverage the technology. Airbnb is based on its ability to manage supply and demand, where such open ledger system as blockchain can really help. Finally, the company decided in favor of ChangeCoin and hired the majority of its team.
ChangeCoin is a micropayment infrastructure for the Internet. Customers had already an opportunity to appreciate its first product, ChangeTip, as a way to transform the idea of a “like” into a method of financial appreciation. ChangeTip combines payment processing with social media and changes the way people treat the value exchange of social channels.
With the help of its ChangeTip service, ChangeCoin enables people sending money, or tips, over social networks all over the world without leaving the house. ChangeTip was launched almost year ago first of all for newcomers in show business letting them attract their audience. It enables a deeper interaction between artists and fans. People now can not only comment on the content they liked but also donate to the promotion of favorite artists.
According to Kyle Kemper, head of tipping at ChangeTip: “ChangeTip offers people to reward content they really appreciate, and it will go directly to the individual, rather than to the label or to an intermediary”.
ChangeCoin has around 11-50 employees managed by ex-Yahoo engineer and noted bitcoin entrepreneur Nick Sullivan. It is said that Airbnb is mostly interested in the team itself.
Comparing to financial institutions that noticed the potential of the blockchain long ago, consumer companies have been standing aside. Now Airbnb shows interest in the sphere, with Nathan Blecharczyk, a co-founder and the company’s chief technology officer, stating that blockchain can allow Airbnb to share its user profiles with other companies. “The question is whether there’s a way to export [a user’s reputation] and allow access elsewhere to help other sharing economy models really flourish,” he said.
If Airbnb succeeds and manages to make its user profiles universally readable, they could become a trusted form of digital identity. These identities can be hugely valuable if shared with other platforms. Citing Uber as an example – the company enables its drivers to know if their next passenger comes with a history of leaving Airbnb properties damaged.
As for the summer of 2015, Airbnb’s userbase made up 17 million. The company has also created a database of reviews and ratings to allow both hosts and guests to see who they’re dealing with. “Within the context of Airbnb, your reputation is everything, and I can see it being even more so in the future, whereby you might need a certain reputation in order to have access to certain types of homes,” said Blecharczyk.