Mobile Commerce

Bitcoin Crowdfunding Site Lighthouse Goes Public

Similar to how Kickstarter revolutionized crowdsourcing projects through e-payments, Lighthouse hopes to move that into the undertapped Bitcoin sphere of influence starting yesterday (Jan. 21), when the site went public on Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Conceived by creator Mike Hearn, with a huge investment from noted Bitcoin entrepreneur Oliver Janssens, Lighthouse hopes to create a “specialized wallet” for decentralized crowdfunding using the blockchain that has made Bitcoin so attractive.

Like Kickstarter, Lighthouse allows people to donate to causes they believe in by pledging a certain dollar (or bitcoin) figure to the project. This amount is released to the project’s organizers once the specific target has been reached using a transparent system of reporting. Unlike Kickstarter, however, donors can cancel their smart contracts at any point up until the funding target or deadline, giving donors more control and discretion over what their bitcoins are going toward.

In addition, Lighthouse doesn’t charge processing fees for donations, which is the main revenue stream for Kickstarter. According to Hearn, Lighthouse is meant to “move money around” the way bitcoins are, rather than the “peer-to-peer” interactions of Kickstarter. With decentralized project “galleries” being planned for participants looking to use the system, the digital wallets (which are required for users to set up) will allow users to move funds with relative ease, and retract them as quickly.

The maturation of Lighthouse as a mainstream crowdfunding site will take time, Hearn admits. Bitcoin is still a highly niche market that has taken a beating from the recent price volatility. Lighthouse’s overarching goal is to “build a case” for Bitcoin that will attract more people to the cryptocurrency and the potential it can bring to startups looking for an easy way to crowdsource their projects.

As crowdfunding becomes increasingly digitized, Hearn believes that Lighthouse’s ease of use and low costs to entry, as well as rules regarding the feasibility of listed projects will enable Lighthouse to serve as the gateway for the less tech-savvy to explore Bitcoin as a feasible currency, despite the volatility. There is still a loyal base of support for the cryptocurrency, and having a decentralized way of fundraising using bitcoins that is safe and dependable could grow the currency’s base, if Hearn’s Lighthouse shines the way.

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