Does flattr compete with bitcoin?
Flattr does not compete with bitcoin, as long as it has unique features left compared to bitcoin. So let's have a look at what flattr can offer first.
So far, flattr is actually offering a couple of services:
- An internet payment system
- A micro payment system
- A one-click payment system
- A "scalable" payment system
- A fixed sum donation distribution system
- A hub for creators and donators who want to receive and send donations on a voluntary base
- (An instant payment system)
The first one is obviously true for both flattr and bitcoin as well as many other systems.
The second one can easily be done with bitcoin as well, bitcoins are very suitable to be send in very small amounts.
For the third one using the main bitcoin client, you'll usually need some copy&pasting, a few more clicks and the typing of a number. With better integration of the [bitcoin URI scheme] it could probably be brought down to just one click as well.
For the fourth item, as Thilo has already mentioned, the current bitcoin protocol and implementation would have trouble to scale to VISA like transaction amounts. For a system with a central authority, like flattr, it is usually easier to scale. However, quite some people are positive that this could be improved when needed. Also see ['Scalibality'] in the bitcoin wiki.
With item number five I mean that you do not have to think about how much you want to donate to someone, flattr takes care of that and distributes monthly donations evenly to all people you flattred during the last month. Together with item three nearly any effort needed by the donating person's brain is removed (the next and probably final step would only be to insert a probe in your brain which determins whether you liked something and if so will click for you :) ). Such a fixed sum donation, equal distribution system is not possible with bitcoin alone yet. However the more I think about it, it should be possible to implement such a feature within the bitcoin client (or a new client which uses the [bitcoin client's json-rpc interface]), together with some additions to the bitcoin URI scheme plus browser plugins.
For the sixth item, my current impression is that it is not (easily) possible to achieve such a content index in a decentral, peer 2 peer way, the bittorrent or bitcoin way. Otherwise content indexes like torrent websites would probably already have implemented it.
The last item is something that's not possible with the current bitcoin protocol due to the time and hashing power needed to confirm a transaction and so far no way to speed this up without reducing security and keeping decentralisation has been found. However, although flattr has the possibility to instantly notice the flattring of something, they are not actually using it for a user's benefit as far as I know. Also, giving something back in return to the person just having flattred would probably be somehow contrary to flattr's philosophy, I guess.
So on the long run I only see the sixth point, the content hub, remaining a unique feature for flattr.
Despite from that nearly any feature mentioned on for instance [weusecoins.com] or the ones listed below can be features unique to bitcoin, competing with flattr if there were no / not enough unique features to flattr left in the future.
Does flattr complement bitcoin?
Today, bitcoin and flattr do complement each other. Flattr needs to receive its funds from somewhere and bitcoin can technically offer a value transfer for such a use-case at least as good as paypal or whatever. Additionally bitcoin can offer the following to flattr compared to for instance paypal:
- lower transaction fees
- easier account funding (e.g. no login required)
- resistent against blockings and censorship (against both flattr and its users)
- independance from other payment service providers
- possibility to prove correctness of transaction flows, certainity for both creators and donators that there is no fraud
- no risk of chargebacks for flattr and the content creators
- bitcoin might be the only payment possibility for most people in some countries (e.g. any country minus [these] ones for paypal? also see [here])
Whether in the future the remaining features (e.g. only the content hub/indexing?) of flattr over bitcoin would be enough to keep flattr attractive and allow a complementing relationship between flattr and bitcoin is something I cannot say yet.
Relevant Links: http://pastebin.com/E5iRbk0P
(sry, I'm new here, spam protection prevented me from posting them all)