This week, news emerged that thirty million social media users in Latin America will be given unprecedented access to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. IOVLabs, the company behind Bitcoin-based smart contract platform RSK, has acquired the Latin American social media app Taringa. With a presence in every Spanish-speaking country, Taringa is the biggest Spanish social media app in the world. The move is likely to see a significant boost in adoption of RSK-based dApps.
Taringa – One of the Early Crypto Adopters
Many outside of Latin America are unlikely to be familiar with Taringa. However, the company has long had a reputation of being crypto-friendly, having taken steps to bring Bitcoin to its user base in the region.
All the way back in 2015, Taringa had established a partnership with Xapo for the provision of Bitcoin wallet services to its users. Millions of Taringa users had a wallet opened for them automatically, enabling them to receive Bitcoin payments for their content creation on the social platform. At the time, Bitcoin was a popular choice in Argentina for those who wanted to change money without running into the country’s strict currency controls.
Even back in 2012, Wired ran a story about foreign social media sites that are bigger than Facebook, featuring Taringa for its Argentinian user base.
A Savvy Move
All things considered, the acquisition looks like a significant step forward for RSK. It has long been a promising project, bringing smart contract functionality to the Bitcoin network. Many other projects have focused on building their own blockchains, each of which promises to be bigger, better, and faster than the last, while often spending years in development.
Meanwhile, RSK is already achieving transaction speeds into the hundreds per second. By adopting a merge-mining model with Bitcoin, the platform has also gained 45 percent of Bitcoin’s hash rate, making it one of the most secure platforms in the world.
Since being acquired by IOV Labs last year, the company has been developing out RSK’s features. It has launched the “RIF Name Service” with the aim of achieving interoperability between blockchains, and the Lumino Network for micropayments, similar to the Lightning Network.
However, RSK hasn’t yet achieved the same level of developer adoption as competitor Ethereum. Therefore, it seems likely that the Taringa acquisition will be a suitable springboard to encourage the social media platform’s 30 million users to adopt dApps developed on RSK. For example, Lumino could be used for tipping or incentives to post regular unique content.
Can Social Media and Crypto Ever Be Lawfully Wedded?
The Taringa acquisition comes on the crest of a 2019 news wave centered around social media and cryptocurrency. Straight after EOS announced its plans to implement a social media network called Voice, the entire global news space was abuzz once Facebook unveiled its Libra plans.
However, on the flip side, Kik recently announced it was closing down its messaging app, due to a regulatory wrangle with the SEC over its Kin cryptocurrency. It’s also not yet clear how Facebook plans to navigate the heavy regulatory scrutiny surrounding Libra, assuming the ambitious project ever gets past lawmakers. France and Germany have already stated they will never accept the marriage of Facebook and cryptocurrency.
So, it will be interesting to see the future direction for RSK and Taringa. Even more so, should they decide to break out of Latin America and into other markets already hostile to Libra.