BitTorrent (BTT) is the native token of the world’s largest file sharing protocol that recently completed a much touted ICO earlier this year.

The ICO and token received all of this publicity because it was the first to complete a raise on the Binance Launchpad, a new funding portal. The ICO was also promoted heavily given the ownership of BitTorrent by Justin Sun of the Tron (TRX) cryptocurrency.

However, does BTT really have a future and will the hype die down?

In this BitTorrent review, I will take take a look beyond the publicity and analyse the underlying technology, roadmap and use cases. We will also take a look at the price potential for BTT and the prospect of any large scale adoption.

BitTorrent ICO

BitTorrent is by far the world’s largest file sharing protocol, with some estimates claiming over 20% of internet traffic is related to BitTorrent. That’s why it was huge news when Justin Sun of Tron bought the filesharing site for $140 million. And it was even bigger when Tron launched a TRC-10 token for BitTorrent with the BTT ticker.

That token sale, which occurred on Binance’s new Launchpad platform, ended in less than 15 minutes, raising $7.2 million for BitTorrent. And that was following a $20 million private sale. Needless to say it is one of the most successful public token sales in the past year as the bear market in cryptocurrency has extended to new coins for the most part.

BitTorrent Statistics
Some statistics for BitTorrent usage

The public sale saw demand for the BTT token to be so intense that the site couldn’t handle all the traffic and numerous investors found themselves unable to access the site and the token sale.

So far we would have to say it does continue to be successful, but bear in mind the hype surrounding the token continues, with Justin Sun of Tron continuing to pump BitTorrent and the BTT token. As of February 11 he is promoting the largest and longest airdrop in history, which began at block height 6,600,000 and will see TRX holders receiving 0.1097681177 BTT for each TRX they hold in their wallet.

After reaching an all-time high of $0.001250 on February 5, 2019 the BTT token has pulled back somewhat and is trading at $0.000847 as the massive airdrop kicks off. Of course that’s up from the $0.00012 ICO price, giving ICO investors a 7x return in roughly 2 weeks.

Now that you have the backstory on the ICO, let’s have a deeper look at BTT, BitTorrent and the potential use cases for the BTT token. And we’ll look at both the positives and negatives to get a well rounded picture.

What is the BTT Token?

BTT is a TRC-10 token created on the Tron blockchain. It was created to provide an enhancement to the BitTorrent protocol, which was launched in 2001, and was purchased by the Tron Foundation in 2018.

The two are a good fit, with Tron representing the new era of decentralized platforms and BitTorrent being one of the very first decentralized networks on the internet. BitTorrent is also one of the most popular networks, with over 100 million monthly users. This gives BTT tremendous reach right from day one.

BitTorrent Statistics
Partnership between Tron and BitTorrent. Image source: Medium

The very first use case that’s been suggested in the BitTorrent (BTT) whitepaper is to improve the efficiency of file-sharing. File-sharing on BitTorrent involves both peers and seeds, with the former being those downloading their requested file(s) in small pieces from the seeds, who are users who are sharing a full copy of the file.

Tron believes BTT can be used to make this process work better.

BitTorrent Speed Feature

One of the first features to be mentioned will be called BitTorrent Speed. It is expected to be implemented sometime in the second quarter of 2019 and is meant to increase the adoption rate of BTT.

BitTorrent Speed is designed to use financial incentives on the BitTorrent network. Peers will now be able to make payments in BTT to increase their position in download queues and speed up the download process. And seeds will benefit as the recipients of these payments, making them willing to keep their files online for seeding longer than they might otherwise.

BitTorrent Speed

The BitTorrent Speed developers feel that this type of incentivization helps to optimize the utilization of network and computing resources. There will be a bidding system implemented, which is planned to be basic and mostly automated at release, with further developments and features being added later.

According to the BTT whitepaper BitTorrent Speed:

will enable users to advertise their bids within a swarm and trade BTT in exchange for continued prioritized access to seeds. The intended result is that peers will choose to seed for longer, leading to better swarm longevity and faster download speeds for all swarm participants.

Other BTT Uses

There are already other planned uses for BTT that will be implemented in the future to improve and develop the BitTorrent ecosystem. All of the planned features are meant to allow BitTorrent users to store value by sharing small pieces in the infrastructure.

Initially there have been three primary decentralized features or services suggested:

1.     A content delivery system that will allow users to advertise their bids and pay BTT to receive content faster.

2.     A storage platform where users can pay for additional storage or get paid to offer storage.

3.     A proxy service where users with unreliable internet connectivity can pay a client to retrieve content by URL.

Eventually the BitTorrent protocol will be open-sourced to allow third-party developers to easily create new and useful application on the platform that meet the demands of users. Developers will also receive BTT as an incentive for creating applications.

The vision of the Tron Foundation and BitTorrent seems to be similar to that envisage by many blockchain projects. That is to create an economy in which micro-payments fully power the system, and the ecosystem grows organically through user engagement over time. Successfully building such an economy has proven difficult, but no other project has had a platform with the size and popularity of BitTorrent to build on.

BitTorrent Community

The community interest behind a cryptocurrency is sometimes one of the most important drivers when it comes to mass adoption. The enthusiasm behind the user base is what is able to spread awareness and hopefully encourage potential seeders to join the BitTorrent network.

Given the prior popularity of BitTorrent, they already have a pretty sizable following on social media. For example, they have over 70k users who are in their Telegram channel. They also have over 53,000 on their Twitter account and close to 650k likes on their Facebook.

These are indeed quite impressive numbers.

This even excludes the impact that the Tron community can have in driving the project forward. Given that TRX holders will get BTT airdropped to them, they are likely to also get involved in the BitTorrent ecosystem. It is well known that the Tron community can be quite passionate when it comes to the broader Tron ecosystem.

Roadmap and Development

One of the most important criteria that we use to get a sense of how much work is being done on a project is to take a look at the GitHub repositories. This is able to give a vague idea of the amount of code being pushed.

While the BitTorrent protocol has 117 public repositories, those that relate to the BTT token are all currently being worked on in private. While this is unfortunate, one would have to assume that there are specific reasons behind this.

Nevertheless, the BitTorrent team has released a roadmap which has information about what one can expect from them over the coming year. By the end of Q1 of 2019, the team hopes to conclude the following:

  • Complete on and off-chain exchange server-side development
  • Complete swarm analysis framework
  • Issue the TRC-10 BTT tokens

In Q1 and Q2 of 2019 the team hopes to complete the following milestones:

  • Launch complete Wallet User Interface to their stable client
  • Expose Wallet with on-chain/off-chain exchange to an early access group
  • Publish BEPs related to BTT and tokenization of the BitTorrent protocol
  • Add wallet support for TRX, and any TRC-10 or TRC-20 tokens.
  • Start experimenting with dApp integration into the network

These are no doubt ambitious plans for the developers and given that we are already halfway through the first quarter, it will be interesting to see whether they will be able to meet these goals. However, to date the Tron and BitTorrent developers have been meeting their objectives on time which is a good sign.

Buying & Storing BTT

If you did not partake in the BTT crowdsale and you are not due to receive them in the airdrop then you can always buy them on an open exchange. Given the star-power behind BTT, it has a head start and is available on a number of different exchanges.

Currently, there are two primary exchanges where BTT is being traded. These are on the Binance exchange and UpBit. The former is primarly for the trade of BNB token, USDT and BTC against BTT whereas the latter is a Korean exchange with KRW trading.

BTT Token Exchanges
Some exchanges to buy BTT Tokens

There is also volume for BTT on other exchanges including Huobi Global and Bittrex although this is substantially less than on Binance (for obvious reasons). For a token that has just completed an ICO to have close to $87 of daily volume is no doubt impressive. This does not mean that they are not volatile and you should still take care when trading them.

If you have already bought your BTT tokens and are looking for a place to store them then you can use any Tron wallet that has confirmed support for TRC-10 tokens. Currently Tron Wallet and Trust Wallet have both confirmed that they will be supporting BTT as well as be ready for the airdrop.

Concerns over BitTorrent (BTT)

While BitTorrent the protocol and platform are exceptionally popular and successful over nearly two decades, it remains uncertain how successful BTT will be. There have been questions about the need to add blockchain technology to BitTorrent, as well as the choice of using the Tron network as the blockchain.

One source of these doubts is a former BitTorrent executive, who resigned after Tron purchased BitTorrent, claiming the Tron blockchain is nothing more than ” a marketing machine layered on a very thin veneer of technology.” He went on to say that it would be impossible for the TRX blockchain to handle anywhere near the volume of transactions necessary for BitTorrent.

There has also been speculation within the community that the early success of the BTT token is nothing more than the hype from Tron pumping the coin, with nothing fundamental underpinning the rise in price. Some community members are skeptical that the BTT token has any real utility or practicality, claiming there’s no way BitTorrent users will pay to get faster downloads.

Finally there have been questions surrounding the legality of monetizing downloads of copyrighted material, since this would constitute piracy under U.S. laws, and the laws of many other nations.

Conclusion

BitTorrent is one of the very first decentralized networks on the internet, and it has been wildly successful, boasting over 100 million monthly users. Now Tron has control of the BitTorrent protocol and is looking to weld blockchain technology to the ecosystem, creating a self-sustaining economic model in which users are incentivized to share and download content.

While it is an ambitious idea, there are questions about whether it is actually necessary or not, not to mention the legality of incentivizing the sharing and download of copyrighted content.

There has also been some skepticism regarding the rapid rise in the price of BTT tokens, with some claiming that the increase is nothing more than the Justin Sun inspired hype, and that once he stops pushing the coin its price will collapse.

Others feel that putting this popular filesharing service is a genius move, and that this is the start of a huge success story in the blockchain industry.

If you choose to jump into the BTT token now understand it’s already increased 7x in price over two weeks. Also know that while there is great promise in this project it will be at least several months until the most basic incentives can be added to BitTorrent, and while investing at this stage could still get you in extremely early if the project succeeds, it is also an extremely risky investment given the questions surrounding the entire BTT project.

Featured Image via Fotolia & BitTorrent

Posted by Steve Walters

Steve has been writing for the financial markets for the past 7 years and during that time has developed a growing passion for cryptocurrencies.