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BitTorrent’s Master Plan to Bring a Tron-Powered Crypto Token to the Masses

This weekend, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao lauded Tron on Twitter for bringing a crypto-powered business model to the storied file-sharing software it bought last summer, BitTorrent.

Zhao, who topped CoinDesk’s Most Influential list for 2018, wrote:

“The grandfather of Dapp[s] finally finds its decentralized currency and business model. Should be a very interesting case study.”

Zhao’s tweet yielded over 100 retweets and over 500 likes, and a decent thread of comments following what he had to say. Many responders seemed to jump to the conclusion that Tron would make BitTorrent a paid service. Instead, it’s giving users an option to spend some crypto – the new BitTorrent Token (BTT), to be precise – to improve their user experience.

The BTT white paper (PDF) promises a broad universe of possibilities, according to a review by CoinDesk. “By introducing a mechanism for value storage and exchange we aim to greatly broaden the universe of possible participants – either service requesters, service providers or both,” the document reads.

As for whether BitTorrent would move to a paid model, the white paper addresses this directly: “Participation in the BTT transactions is required to be both fully disclosed and optional for end users.”

The more substantive critiques of the move generally argued that BitTorrent wasn’t anything but a decentralized exchange for pirated material. The BTT white paper, however, argues that the protocol could find more uses with a token:

“Optimizing the existing BitTorrent protocol is an obvious first step in the introduction of a cryptographic token but it barely scratches the surface of what is rapidly becoming possible.”

The entities behind BTT – Tron and the BitTorrent Foundation – envision three core business lines that could potentially be decentralized via BitTorrent if a value instrument were to be built into it: content delivery, file storage and privacy-protecting proxy serv...

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