Feb 05, 2020 01:38 AM | James Gong


Li Ziqi is a Chinese blogger who is famous for her videos about food. Her videos are mostly shot in the Chinese countryside, and feature tranquil rural scenery, delicate handicrafts and cooking. She has been well-known in China since 2017, but last year her popularity began spreading around the world. Just her account on YouTube, which is blocked in China, has over 8 million subscribers. She is truly a Chinese cultural export.

She is also a very successful businesswoman. YouTubers can earn profits based on the number of advertisements served via their content. Ad rates vary, but based on a very conservative estimate of US$1 earned per 1000 video views, Li Ziqi’s YouTube account has earned her nearly $1.1 million to date. And of course, that’s just one of many potential revenue streams.

Based on data from her YouTube channel over 2019, Li has global appeal ⁠— or at least, major appeal to the global Chinese diaspora. ⁠Viewers on her channel came from Vietnam (19.2%), India ( 15.3%), Indonesia (8.1%), United States (7.0%), Thailand (6.8%), Taiwan (3.3%), Philippines (2.8%), Cambodia (2.5%), Malaysia (2.3%) and Bangladesh (2.0 %), among other countries. 

Li’s story is one of many, many successful examples of user-generated content breaking out and crossing borders. It’s also a major opportunity for cryptocurrency.

What Crypto Can Do

While major players like Li can make bank simply by posting a video, most users will struggle to monetize their work solely from YouTube’s advertising payments. Plus, YouTube takes a major cut of the earnings from the ads it sells, and it could change its policies at any time. For these reasons (and others), many users monetize their channels in other ways, like asking for donations via Patreon or Paypal, or by selling merchandise.

This internet video industry is only likely to grow as the roll-out of 5G across the world makes video content even more instantly-accessible. YouTube, which had 1.8 billion total users as of 2018 and which certainly has more than that today, isn’t likely to stop growing, and similar platforms like TikTok present new opportunities for entrepreneurial video creators.

This is a great opportunity for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. On video platforms, anyone can pay users, but accepting cross-border payments isn’t easy, and transfer and currency conversion fees add up fast. Cryptocurrency, whether it is Bitcoin or Ether or a stablecoin like USDT, provides a way for fans to pay their favorite content creators faster, with lower costs. Video platforms could even issue their own tokens to create a token economy for that purpose.

And of course, the traditional advantages of blockchain would apply — all payments would be secure, trustless, and recorded forever in the chain. That gives all of the involved parties peace of mind, and it also may present creators an opportunity for further monetization. If they can show advertisers an immutable blockchain record proving that their fans have the money to pay them, that could make their channels more attractive to advertisers and bump up the rates they can earn from ads. Or they could use that record to raise money from investors.

There are also unique opportunities presented by the specific features available on some blockchains. Content creators might be able to use the blockchain to crowdfund money from fans, running contests with smart contracts, or even launching their own tokens.

Today, videos can travel around the world in the blink of an eye. Accepting payments from all over the world should be just as easy as watching videos, and blockchain technology could help make that possible.

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