Can you live on virtual currency? The founder of Dibspace, Dominic Canterbury, says yes. Canterbury is trying to prove that he can live his life (from rent, to food, to the clothes on his back) with just virtual currency for an entire year. This is of course a huge publicity ploy for his online marketplace but it got my attention.
“It’s a way for me to push the site to a new level and to dramatize how this economy all fits together,” says Canterbury.
Dibspace.com calls itself an “Overstock.com” for local services that trades in (yes, you guessed it) “Dibits.” One Dibit is worth one dollar but you can never cash out for real dollars. Businesses, like a local inn or a yoga studio, who have excess availability/products can post their wares/services on Dibspace. Interested consumers call “Dibs,” and then the vendor selects a consumer and invoices when the service/product has been rendered. There are multiple advantages from the small business perspective: vendors can use their credit for services from other businesses (like catering, web design) and it’s another way to bring in new clients.
“With cash and clients in short supply, many are finding this new barter currency just might save them and their businesses from becoming another casualty of the economy,” says Canterbury.
Meanwhile, private consumers can also post goods and services and receive Dibits for those transactions. You get 10 Dibits when you open an account, 10 Dibits for referring friends (30 if you refer a business), and 10 Dibits for posting an offer (up to 5), there is also an option to buy credits at different points throughout the year. The site is still relatively small, with just 4,000 users, but there should be enough on Dibspace for Canterbury’s venture. There are 1,500 offers on the site and roughly half-a-million dollars in goods and services have been traded (currently, the site is focused in the Puget Sound/Seattle area).
Canterbury will embark on his virtual currency journey in 42 days. In the meantime, he’s preparing for the campaign by recruiting new businesses that will make it all possible. For example, he says he’s very close to getting developers on board that will let users pay for rent with Dibits.