Blockchain To Be Added To Tapatalk, Large Mobile Forum Platform
Tapatalk, which bills itself as the world’s largest mobile forum platform, will be integrating blockchain into its plans, aiming to enable tokenization and peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading. The service claims an aggregate user base of 300 million (the size of Reddit or Twitter).
To further those goals, Tapatalk recently named a blockchain advisory board, appointing Jeff Atwood, Sam Kazemian and Sanjay Sabnani to support blockchain integration for the 200,000 forums on Tapatalk.
Sabnani is the head of CrowdGather, an online forum acquired by Tapatalk in 2017. He spoke with Block Tribune about the upcoming plans.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Your blockchain integration plans, one of your goals is to increase anonymity. What else?
SANJAY SABNANI: Okay, let me try to explain what our blockchain integration plans are. Anonymity is already a condition of the network. Most people that are members of these online communities or forums tend to participate in a anonymous or pseudonymous fashion, right, not using real names. And the reasons for this are varied. If you look at the cryptocurrency segment for example, when people talk on online communities, they don’t really want people to know who they are in real life. Because they may have very large token positions and be giving away otherwise information that could harm them.
This anonymity is a precursor to our network. And what the blockchain integration project is, we are basically trying to solve the issue of trust across the network, across an anonymous network. When people are in their own forums and communities they behave well because they know each other. They have a track record. As soon as they travel to other communities, everything gets resaid and behavior is not always the best that it could be because there are no consequences, there are no rewards.
We have hid a wall on forums as a software provider through Tapatalk, where we have done what we can. We are connected to the largest segment of this particular type of social media sites. However, right now what we have seen is that the pain points and the problems that we have can be solved to creating a consistent identity, an immutable reputation and a system of reward and incentive. And that’s really what our blockchain seeks to achieve.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: All right. One of the goals is also to institute peer-to-peer trading.
SANJAY SABNANI: Yes. So forums already are one of the largest unconsolidated peer-to-peer trading networks that exist. I used to own this site called PDNation Information, which is the biggest community in that segment. And hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of used goods would exchange hands. People would sell their old paintball gear, et cetera.
And so what happens is this peer-to-peer marketplace exists, but it is ad hoc. It is disorganized, it is subject to fraud. And there is really no ranking or reputation system, which is the basic expectation system you have on things like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. So towards that end, Tapatalk acquired a company last year called Panjo, P-A-N-J-O. And in Panjo, Panjo’s mission is to basically create a seamless classified experience which can be plugged into any community. So the blockchain initiative here, actually with the token, creates an incentive for more trading on this network, for people to have a greater amount of trust.
Now if somebody comes to buy your used good, you can see that they’re a member in good standing on the network. And that reputation is distributed across the blockchain, so it can’t really be manipulated.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: And how does your company make money?
SANJAY SABNANI: So Tapatalk’s model right now is we basically give them a free plug and give away a free plugin that any forum can use, in order to have their members able to use the Tapatalk mobile app. The views that come on that app are supported through advertising, which Tapatalk shares with the participating forum. So as of now, Tapatalk is the software provider with an ad-supported model.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What’s the split on the advertising revenue?
SANJAY SABNANI: You know, it tends to vary based upon the size it performs. But in general, the larger forums get the lion’s share of the revenues.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay, and what is your time frame for implementation of the blockchain?
SANJAY SABNANI: We’re in an interesting situation, because most projects are just really started from scratch. Tapatalk has had a legacy of sites that they had. They acquired some sites from my company, Cloud Gather, last year. And several of these sites have been operating for over a decade. One of them had a digital currency on it, which is now called Tapatalk Gold. Tapatalk gold has already had five, six years of usage, and over a million dollars spent on it.
So in essence what we’re doing, is we’re going to tokenize Tapatalk Gold. So we’re a little bit further ahead than most people because we have millions of members, thousands of sites, an existing ecosystem, an existing infrastructure, the majority of which is third party. So it’s not owned and operated by Tapatalk, but it’s served by Tapatalk.
So by taking our gold points, tokenizing it, we have a shorter timeframe. But right now, we’re working on the minimum viable product. Soon you will see us basically announce our advisory board, share the white paper, and then begin deployment on certain beta partners that we have better formed communities, where we will be putting out the minimum viable product and basically getting beta feedback as we deploy this to the entire network.
So my expectation is that the MVP should be ready by early of calendar 2019.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Are you funding it with existing revenue, or are you going to do an ICO, or are you soliciting investors?
SANJAY SABNANI: Tapatalk is cash flow positive and has raised venture funding as of about four years ago. And since they are cash flow neutral, they’re really not consuming that cash. So far, everything has been self-funded. There will be some strategic partners that we’ve talked to that want to be involved. But right now, we don’t have any plans for a specific ITO. It is a big project, it does require capital, but our initial focus has been on getting the R and D done, and getting to the prototype stage. So as of now, there are no current plans for any funding. But down the road, it will become necessary because this project does require capital.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do you have anything you want to tell me about I didn’t ask you about?
SANJAY SABNANI: No, I mean, other than the fact that we’re very excited because the scale of the network that is connected by Tapatalk is about 400+ million user accounts. Now not all of them use the mobile app. But if we’re successful in convincing these forums to participate in the blockchain, then all of those members, the desktop and the mobile, will be participants. And we think this is something that will help to revitalize and re-engage forum communities, because they’ve been around for a very long time and there hasn’t been anything new.
There’s been never a way to really incentivize the community. For example, the people that volunteer, that moderate these sites, the content creators. There’s never been a way to have good, accurate trust on the network for things like trading. So this blockchain helps us with a lot of existing pain points and we’re very excited to share it with you.
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