ZeroBlock, the first Bitcoin news aggregator, was launched in May and, according to the founders of the service, the Bitcoin community is loving this new service. ZeroBlock is the first cross-platform that shows real time Bitcoin market data and an updated news feed, all in the same place.
As the service keeps growing, it’s now time to get an Android version. 99Bitcoins talked with Dan Held, one of ZeroBlock’s founders to know more about the platform and the idea behind it.
When did you first hear about Bitcoin?
Dan Held – My co-founder and I first heard about Bitcoin back in 2011. We were mostly drawn to the protocol, and the idea of a digital currency that wasn’t backed by a government. We never got into mining, as we found the complexities of payoff unreliable.
Then, you chose another path. Was that why you decided to start Zeroblock?
I was having trouble keeping up with Bitcoin price and news when I was away from my computer. In April, when the price spiked, I was literally refreshing the Preev ticker in my iPhone’s Safari every couple minutes. There were no mobile apps that had real time market data, beautiful charts or a news feed. So one night I sat down and created the news feed in Photoshop, I showed it to Kevin and we decided to build it.
ZeroBlock gathers different types of information in the same place. Was this the initial project or the features were added along the way?
We wanted to create a data feed from a wide variety of sources so that the users would have granularity of options. We originally started with just the real time US dollar price and a small set of scraped news sources. Then we added features slowly as we realized what information was the most important to users. We now scrape over 80 sources, have multiple currencies, pull blockchain data, and allow users to set price push notifications, personal holdings calculator. We are currently deployed on iOS and web, and will be rolling out Android soon. We didn’t want to make our users pay for functionality, and we will never bug them with ads. We instead have a “Support Us” In App Purchase, in which the user can support us with $5, and we recognize that support by giving them color charts and indicators.
BitWall is now managing your payments, making it easier for userd to adopt ZeroBlock’s services. Do you expect a customer increase?
We will be implementing a very unique version of a micropaywall. We will not be putting up a straight paywall, as we find this might be too difficult for our users to adapt to. We will have multiple means for our users to frictionlessly access content for free. For instance, the media content is free, but we will be charging $0,01 if you want to view the article without ads. We then take that revenue and re-distribute 80% of that back to the original content creators. We aren’t sure what the impact will be to our customer base, but we are in tune with their needs and will be actively monitoring sentiment as we roll out this functionality. We hope to be the first successful micropaywall news aggregator.
How’s the general feedback from the users and the community?
Just check out our reviews in the App Store. In the three months ZeroBlock has been around, we’ve gotten 37 five-star reviews out of a total of 40. And we’ve gotten a deluge of fan e-mail, we always like to hear feedback from our users. Feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected]. We reply to every message that we get.
How do you see the future of Bitcoin?
Our slogan is “In crypto we trust” as we are cryptocurrency agnostic. We think Bitcoin has some hurdles that it needs to overcome before it can go mainstream, but we are confident that Bitcoin will overcome these challenges. However, the question remains, is Bitcoin Myspace or Facebook?