Kim Dotcom could be building bitcoin’s killer app

Grabbing the opportunity.
Grabbing the opportunity.
Image: Reuters/Nigel Marple
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Bitcoin’s price has been soaring, and if entrepreneur and provocateur Kim Dotcom’s latest scheme takes off, it’ll rocket even higher. The founder of Megaupload, who the US government has called a fugitive from copyright infringement charges, is creating a payments platform called Bitcache, which will let people get paid for digital content with bitcoin.

Dotcom tweeted a video showing a demo of the Bitcache system today. A user can upload any file or video stream and charge others to download it, setting the price himself. The uploader then gets paid in “Bits,” which can be converted into bitcoin. Precise details of how the Bitcache system works remains scarce, although he told Quartz the system will be available in about six months.

Micropayments for content is one of bitcoin’s most talked about uses. The Aspen Institute’s Walter Isaacson has called it journalism’s “savior,” while the creator of Javascript, Brendan Eich, is building a variety of technologies to turn it into a reality. The thinking is that bitcoin provides a low-cost way to send tiny amounts of value over the internet, free of the fees levied by the “antiquated banking system,” as Isaacson put it.

Kim Dotcom’s idea is to allow any publisher on the web to easily charge readers tiny amounts for content with “one line of code” on their website. This service would eventually extend beyond individual files or streams to entire websites, he says in his demo video.

The odds are stacked against Kim Dotcom’s new venture. He’s launching Bitcache as a service for a rebooted version of his original enterprise Megaupload, which allowed users to upload large files, and others to download them for free, or pay a fee as a member for quicker speeds. Consumers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to free, or paid, options for sharing large files—just look at Dropbox or any other cloud storage service. The internet landscape today is nothing like 2005, when Megaupload was founded.

But if Kim Dotcom can get his new service to the scale of the 150 million users he amassed with Megaupload, he could be the one to unlock bitcoin’s potential as a payments layer for digital goods of all kinds.