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A new cryptocurrency is set to be launched by influencer platform indaHash, allowing brands to pay social media stars in virtual tokens rather than cash.
The platform announced the arrival of the indaHash Coin this week, with the pre-ICO (initial coin offering) set for November 8 and running for a week.
IndaHash has around 300,000 social media users in 70 countries, and the platform matches relevant brands to them. The influencer creates a social media post, mentioning the brand, which is then checked by moderators before being published. IndaHash says it has worked with some of the world's largest advertisers on campaigns including Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal and Coca-Cola.
Barbara Soltysinska, co-founder of indaHash.com, said in an emailed statement that it "makes perfect sense" for the digital business to launch a cryptocurrency. "With the introduction of indaHash Coin, we want to tokenize the influencer marketing world and create a revolution in terms of brand cooperation and audience development, solving a wide range of issues and challenges between influencers, brands and fan bases," she said.
These challenges include the length of time it currently takes for influencers to get paid by advertisers. According to indaHash, payment terms are 30 to 60 days, but using the cryptocurrency means they get paid immediately. Businesses will still be able to pay influencers in fiat (or "real") currency, should they wish.
It won't only be businesses being able to pay social media users with virtual coins: the influencers themselves will be able to reward their followers with the tokens. For example, if a follower shares, subscribes or comments on a post, the influencer can issue its own coins to them under their own name. The fan can then exchange the coins for various rewards that might include exclusive content, real-life meetings with the star, or an appearance in one of their posts.
Fans will also have their own indaHash profile where they can see their balance of tokens from different influencers.
Influencers will also be able to sell their coins back to indaHash or on a crypotcurrency exchange, as well as using them to buy early access to products from brands.
Some experts are skeptical about the value of cryptocurrencies. In August, Howard Marks, founder of investment management company Oaktree, dismissed them as "nothing but an unfounded fad," while China has banned cryptocurrency exchanges. On Thursday, the value of bitcoin reached an all-time high of $5,386.23.