Bitcoin is Shaking Up the Online Economy in A Way You'd Never Think

Bitcoins are driving a completely new online economy, but probably not the one you think.

The virtual currency launched in 2009 is being used by homeless people in Pensacola, Florida in unexpected ways. Instead of begging for change, Jesse Angle, a homeless man, grabs his morning snack and coffee and makes his way to a nearby park with Wi-Fi access. Angle watches YouTube videos in exchange for bitcoins. For every video he watches, Angle gets 0.0004 bitcoins, amounting to about 5 cents, through the service BitcoinGet. The service drives artificial traffic to specific online clips. Jesse has a limit of 12 videos per day, meaning he can earn 60 cents daily.

This may not seem like much, but Jesse, who is on food stamps, has generated about $500 to $630 of supplemental income in three or four months. As Jesse put it, “We’re kind of the homeless geeks. We all got laptops and smartphones.”

Bitcoin remains under intense scrutiny because it is not supported by a legal system or governmental body, but this small example reveals how it has already provided significant economic value to many communities.

Read more via Wired magazine.