BitTorrent launches cryptocurrency that users can trade for faster downloads via uTorrent
Pivot to blockchain coincides with former CEO’s departure from parent company Tron six months after the $126m acquisition
Peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent will launch its own cryptocurrency with the aim of creating an economy around networking, bandwidth and storage.
Crypto tokens, dubbed BitTorrent (BTT), will be added to the company's widely-used Windows client uTorrent, and an update will give users the option to earn and trade these tokens for faster download speeds.
The platform's indulgence in blockchain technology follows its acquisition by Tron, a project which aims to establish a decentralised internet, and serves as a prospective rival to similar peer-to-peer ledger-based crypto networks such as Ethereum and Blockchain.
"BitTorrent token is the first in a series of steps to support a decentralised internet," TRON found and BitTorrent CEO Justin Sun wrote in a blog post.
"In one giant leap, the BitTorrent client can introduce blockchain to hundreds of millions of users around the world and empower a new generation of content creators with the tools to distribute their content directly to others on the web."
The token is in-part being introduced to incentivise 'seeding', the process of users keeping a file on their device once a download is complete so as to make the file available to others in the platform's peer-to-peer nature.
BTT will be available to non-US account holders on launch and can be accessed via the token sale platform Binance Launchpad. It'll also be compatible with Tron's own cryptocurrency, dubbed TRX.
BitTorrent's decisive pivot towards cryptocurrency also coincides with its former CEO Rogelio Choy leaving the company altogether, six months after the $126 million Tron acquisition. He had initially moved to serve as Tron's head of storage business unit following the acquisition.
There are no official reasons for Choy's exit, and Choy himself hasn't publicly commented, but it centres on disagreements about the direction of BitTorrent, according to a source close to the company speaking with Variety.
Detractors, meanwhile, have branded Tron's technology "just garbage", namely cryptocurrency pioneer Jed McCaleb, who left Ripple to focus on another blockchain-based currency, dubbed Stellar.
"90% of these projects are BS," he told Yahoo Finance in an interview. "I'm looking forward to that changing.
"Things like Tron, it's just garbage. But people dump tons of money into it, these things that just do not technically work.
"In a lot of cases it just needs to be some sort of digital payment and you might as well use Stellar or Bitcoin. You don't need a separate type of payment for cannabis."
Bitcoin, meanwhile, recently marked its tenth birthday, but is now valued at under $4,000, a far cry from its position this time last year when it was valued at more than $14,000.
It's a dramatic fluctuation that underlines just how fallible the cryptocurrency market can be, and how far away society might be from such tokens being stable and prevalent enough to replace legacy currencies.