Playing with PikaPay – BTC via Twitter

Posted on June 30, 2013

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Today I’m playing with a new service called PikaPay after reading about it on Bitcoin Magazine. PikaPay lets you send BTC from your Twitter account to any other Twitter account – as well as ask for payments. Reddit users will be familiar with a similar scheme there, and other services have also tried the Twitter route, such as PayBitBackBitcoin Tipper, and the longer-running and still-there BTCTip.com. As of writing, both the last two services appear to be pretty defunct though, so we’ll have to wait and see if PikaPay can survive a bit longer.

(Added: According to the forums, PikaPay was announced at the start of May, and also has an API with source up on Github. They’re also running a vulnerability bounty program.)

Going over to the PikaPay site, the first thing to do is obviously hook your Twitter account up, just as with any other Twitter-based service. Then there are a couple of first steps worth doing while you’re there:

1. Create a password by going to the ‘Settings’ page, and following the password prompt at the top of the page. The site seems to generate a secure password for you (rather than relying on a user’s sense of security) with a good mix of alphanumeric and random characters. I saved mine to an encrypted Keepass file for later – you’ll need this.

2. Send some Bitcoins to your account, for use on Twitter. The amount to send is up to you, depending on how much you want to send, and how much you trust PikaPay. I started with 0.1 BTC to test with. No problems here, just copied the address into my Bitcoin wallet and sent some coins. (In fact, everything up to here I did on my phone.)

The PikaPay interface is pretty simple at the moment (and, I should stress, still very in beta – but mostly working):

pikapay basic screenThe buttons at the top are fairly obvious. To pay someone, just hit “Pay”, enter an amount, a username and a message. When you hit the big yellow button, you’ll be asked for your password. Hope you saved it somewhere safe.

pikapay_payI got a nice DM confirming the payment (which hits my email and my phone – my whole world lights up).

To give it a whirl, I thought I’d invite some haiku in return for a giveaway:

I sent the first 2 payments via the site as above, no problems at all. The third one I tried to send through Twitter itself, by DMing @PikaPayDev a payment instruction: “PAY 0.01 BTC to @<twittername>” – everything looked promising, except the link to confirm the payment didn’t work. Ah well, welcome to beta world. Back to the web page. Will update this if things change though.

Finalising the send-via-Twitter process will be key, I think, to PikaPay’s success. The website is good, but a) I had to sign in via Twitter a lot as it kept forgetting my session (for security), and b) using a website for a service originally designed for text messaging seems a little … weird.

I’m also itching to try out the “Request money” function – this could be a fascinating use of Bitcoin without depending on the blockchain – ie. fund your PikaPay account in advance, meet up with someone to verify goods are OK, and send/request payment in person using PikaPay as the middle man. It could also be a great way of doing in-person trades along the same lines.

On the whole, PikaPay is looking PikaPromising. Give it a whirl, and try me at @6loss if you’re looking for someone to try it out with 😉

(Added: According to the FAQ, actually withdrawing Bitcoin is requestable via email currently, but there’s no way to do this quickly and automatically. Yet. Hope it comes soon – seems like this is a bit of a killer functionality needed before people will take it seriously, IMHO.)

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