Tonality Records saw an immediate increase in its sales after starting to accept payments in BTZ, a cryptocurrency launched by the online market Bunz Inc., just over a month ago.
Only five minutes after a notification was sent through the Bunz app, alerting users that Toronto's West End record store was accepting "bits", customers were coming through the door.
Unfortunately for the shop owner, Julian Seth-Wong, the advantage – which amounted to about $ 700 in sales in the first month alone – was short-lived. Earlier this week, Bunz suddenly announced that he would no longer offer the service to merchants other than those selling coffee and food. The change, he said in an e-mail that came out on September 10th, was immediately effective.
"It was a pretty shocking shot that they just interrupted," Seth-Wong said. "We have worked hard to work with them to prepare everything," he added.
In an online post the following day, Bunz's managing director, Sascha Mojtahedi, apologized for the inconvenience and stated that the change had to be made at short notice for "sustainability reasons". He claimed that the Toronto-based company had also left 15.
"The reality we face is that it is expensive to build and maintain a platform that hundreds of thousands of people use every day," reads the post. "It becomes more expensive when you try to guarantee these people the material benefits of using them. Reducing the list of merchants was necessary to continue Bunz and BTZ for the community."
Mojtahedi, which joined Bunz in 2014, said the company intended to use BTZ for small daily purchases rather than for savings or larger items. He also offered his "deepest excuses" to interested entrepreneurs.
"We will do our best to make sure we learn from this and move forward in a way that ensures both the future of our community and this new type of profit sharing network," said Mojtahedi in an e-mail.
Bunz was founded in 2013 by fashion designer Emily Bitze, who was struggling financially and could not afford the sauce for her spaghetti dinner. He created a private Facebook group where people could exchange unused items with each other and quickly grew to reach thousands of users in multiple cities.
Since then, Bunz has turned into a business, attracting supporters such as Fidelity Investments and attracting users from their Facebook page and mobile app while looking for ways to monetize its enormous following. In April last year, Bunz entered the virtual currency space creating BTZ, pronounced "bit". Cryptocurrencies, which include bitcoins and ether, are digital tokens that allow users to make transactions directly between them, without the need for third parties like a bank.
The merchants were not the only ones left in difficulty after Bunz's announcement. Many site users had saved their BTZ for bicycle repairs, registrations and other large purchases and were stunned to learn that the tokens were now redeemable only in restaurants and bars.
When Elizabeth Joyce, who is administrator of several Bunz-related Facebook groups, heard the news, "it looked like a punch to the stomach," the Toronto resident said.
Mrs. Joyce had accumulated BTZ worth about $ 600, largely dedicating herself voluntarily to her staff at the Bunz stand at various events. He treated his escort as a kind of safety net, in case he ran out of money and needed to buy something for his two-year-old son.
"Now it's useless," said Joyce. "He doesn't drink coffee."
Like many other Bunz users and administrators, Ms. Joyce believes that the barter-based online market has moved away from its anti-capitalist roots in recent years.
"It wasn't supposed to be about making money," said Joyce, who is part of a group of Bunz administrators and users who separated from the company, renaming themselves PALZ. The group hopes to bring the community back to its roots as a barter system.
Tonality Records, meanwhile, is still waiting to receive $ 700 due for BTZ purchases.
Seth-Wong said that, although he is disappointed with the development, he is confident that customers who have learned the Tonality Records via the Bunz app will return to the store.
"We are still around," said Seth-Wong, "we still accept regular money."