BitTorrent grabbed headlines last week for its much-hyped token sale on the Binance Launchpad platform. In the middle of the marketing, the hype, and the criticism however there is a token, and once the ICO furor has died down, we will be left with a project that will need to be judged on its own merits. So, just what is BitTorrent token, and why is it needed?
Paying for Your Peer-to-Peer Downloads
BitTorrent is the largest peer-to-peer platform in the world, with 100 million users and popular filesharing software such as µTorrent operating under its umbrella. Peer-to-peer networks allow individuals to share files and media of all types with each other for free over a decentralized network. BitTorrent was purchased by Tron for $125 million as part of CEO Justin Sun’s ambition to “decentralize the internet”. Sun’s idea is to monetize the bandwidth used in peer-to-peer networks, initially by allowing users to pay BTT tokens for ‘full speed’ downloads and throttling the download speeds of non-paying users.
Critics have suggested that this removes the decentralized aspect of the network and have also stated that what Sun sells as ‘full speed’ or ‘speed boost’ downloads will effectively be the same as what they are getting now under the free model, thus offering no benefit but costing them money.
Decentralized Media Marketplace
Sun’s larger plan is to turn BitTorrent into the biggest decentralized platform for media creators in the world. Content creators will, in theory, use the platform as a kind of marketplace for their wares, allowing musicians, filmmakers, and the like to create and share their content and get paid for it in BTT tokens, without any middleman taking a cut. This is a grand ambition, but peer-to-peer platforms are renowned for allowing users to share pirated material, and unless Sun finds a way to ban this material he might lie open to a charge of profiting from its sale like Kim Dotcom.
Given that BitTorrent is unlikely to be flooded with new artists looking for a way to get their material out to a wider audience, the bulk of the traffic will indeed be copyrighted material, at least for the foreseeable future.
Testing Times for Tron Code
The real test will be when the project launches in mid-2019, when we will get to see how the Tron blockchain performs. It is currently one of the worst rated projects in terms of code quality and security, and many have already voiced doubts that it will be able to cope with the sudden demand put on it by BitTorrent users. At the very least therefore, the BTT token is set to give us a glimpse into whether there is anything behind Sun’s bold claims about Tron’s capabilities or if the emperor will turn out to have no clothes after all.