Ching Ho has perfected his elevator pitch for Oppa, a tokenized social networking site that for nearly three years has allowed users and advertisers to use virtual currency to add a financial reward to “liking” each others content and responses to messages.

Ching Ho

“It’s Instagram with money,” says Ho, Oppa CEO and head architect of its underlying protocol. 

After quietly launching Oppa — which Ho says means “celebration, friend or term of endearment” — in the U.S. during this week’s Consensus 2018 conference in New York, Ho spoke with ThirtyK about what it takes to build community online and the opportunities for advertisers.

ThirtyK: What makes Oppa interesting in the blockchain space right now?

Ho: We have a working product, with 100,000 user wallets. There are the standard cat photos, which can be liked, but you can also super-like or “tip” users with virtual currency. To date, users have tipped over $2 million. Along with chatting for free, you can also send money to get people to chat when you’re connecting with a stranger you don’t know. We’re seeing a 50 percent reply rate.

We made the site easy to use. We have a patent around using digital currency as an API key for certain permission release protocols. We have a centralized coin, and we are preparing for a decentralized coin. But we want to build audience traction first.

ThirtyK: What about your audience is important?

Ho: Most of our users are women, a segment which has been overlooked. Two-thirds of uploads are by women. A key stratagem in social media is to “follow the women.” As the purveyors of popular culture, if you capture these early adopters you get everyone else.

“We see many ways for advertisers to engage customers: push ads, brand-to-user tipping and mass airdrops,” says Ho. “All of these are better than [traditional] banner ads, where the clickthrough rate is practically zero.”

There are 120 nations among our users. We’ve stealth-launched in the United States and we already have 40,000 users here.

ThirtyK: The consumer space in blockchain remains a work in progress. How do you think about building community?

Ho: We’re really early. But as users start coalescing around interests, we build communities around them. We have 2,000 members in a community about makeup. We have a large community around fitness. We also have 520 doctors.

Half of our users are referrals — our customer base is telling them to sign up. We also require our users to be Facebook-verified, with 100 friends in their network.

ThirtyK: The interface looks like Instagram, and users can like each others’ posts as they do on that network. How do you encourage these users to shift to tipping?

Ho: In the token economy, it’s important to offer active value and create a retentive barrier to exit. The biggest thing is to start everyone with a couple of dollars. If you have a couple of dollars, you’re going to explore. If someone tips you, we encourage users to tip back. We airdropped $3 to all new users, and our goal was getting people to $5. Most users have added in their own money. Every dollar tipped circulates through our network 16 times. That’s a big multiplier effect.

ThirtyK: How can advertisers engage consumers using these models?

Ho: We see many ways for advertisers to engage customers: push ads, brand-to-user tipping and mass airdrops. All of these are better than [traditional] banner ads, where the clickthrough rate is practically zero.

We can send users push notifications and offer guaranteed clicks. In private tests, we’re seeing 50 percent click-throughs. We offer direct brand-to-user tipping. If they want to talk to 25 people, they can spend $25 and half will reply. That saves time and money. And there’s a way for brands create their own tokens connected to our own coin value. They could airdrop $5,000 worth of tokens and get 100,000 impressions.

ThirtyK: What’s your revenue model?

Ho: In the future, for every dollar a user uploads, we see brands doing 10 times that amount in tipping. That’s exciting.

Mark Toner
Mark Toner is a Washington, D.C., writer and editor. He has covered business, technology, media, education, and healthcare for a wide range of trade and industry publications.