Earlier this year, during the Mobile World Congress, Jon Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation, made a compelling argument for the use of bitcoin in mobile payment applications.
Mobile payments have not made the traction many expected they would — but bitcoin could neatly circumvents all of the obstacles that have held them back, Matonis explained.
“The holy trifecta in mobile payments includes governments, banks, and operators — each trying desperately to secure their own piece of the coveted payments pie, exerting maximum influence along the way,” he wrote.
Bitcoin is nonpolitical in nature and doesn’t require an intermediary for issuance, authorization, clearing and settlement functions, on the other hand. Nor does it require user bank accounts and card networks. Instead, it can run as a standalone app on smartphones via QR codes, Matonis said.
The Indisputable Appeal of Bitcoin for App Devs
The use of bitcoin could speed payments and lower transaction costs for mobile app developers who use the digital currency themselves. These are considerations that surely would inspire app developers.
It appears one mobile ad startup has caught on to this. Vungle has added bitcoin as a payment option for app developers, noted Silicon Angle’s Saroj Kar.
Adding bitcoin gives the app developers “flexibility to keep more of what they earn because of the virtual currency’s lower transaction costs. In addition, bitcoin exchanges are faster as compared to other transactions, as developers don’t have to go through a financial institution.”
Other Ways and Means
It remains to be seen whether bitcoin becomes a staple in mobile app developers’ offerings, although I am guessing it is a trend that will catch on rapidly given bitcoin’s popularity and its geek appeal.
The larger story line is equally compelling: Vungle’s move highlights a problem for the multitude of mobile app ad platforms and providers — that is, how to get developers to focus on them? Speedy payment and lower transaction costs are clearly a no-brainer.
However, other tactics work well too.
Technology and a new audience. Partnerships and the use of better technology are dangled in front of mobile app developers with the goal of helping them “maximize their revenue.” This was part of the case Airpush and OpenX made last month as they launched AirX, a new private mobile ad exchange that features real time bidding exchange technology.
New pricing models. When Facebook announced its new mobile-video ad unit last October, it unveiled a new mobile ad type — a cost-per-action mobile app install ad to join its cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing. The model would save mobile app marketers some 20 percent of install costs, Facebook said, solidifying its appeal as a site for app developers to onboard new users.
Marketing Assist. Mobile app developers are painfully aware of the math that is working against them: Even if they focus on the most lucrative platform — which currently remains Apple’s iOS — they have to compete against hundreds of thousands of other apps also focusing on the same lucrative platform. There are more than 28,000 apps submitted to Apple a month, according to app metrics firm 148apps.biz. One company targeting this issue is PreApps.com, which launched a platform last year that provides mobile app developers the tools to promote their apps before they go live on the respective app stores. Using PreApps.com, developers can generate pre-release buzz; user feedback; opted-in user downloads upon release; and study tips and tricks to app submission.
The Prestige Factor. Remember the buzz that was generated when IBM’s Watson technology beat the Jeopardy! champions in 2011? Now imagine the buzz associated with the mobile app developer that writes a winning mobile app based on Watson. That is what IBM is doing with its Watson Mobile Developer Challenge currently under way. The winning app developers — there will be three — will receive seed money for their operations and no small amount of tech prestige. IBM, in return, builds momentum for the idea of apps based on Watson’s data-driven platform.