Friend.tech copycats eager to capitalize on social finance craze

Friend.tech gained viral attention following its launch back in August. This buzz did not go unnoticed, leading to a ripple effect of emerging platforms eager to capitalize on its success and harness the potential of social finance, or SocialFi.

SocialFi refers to decentralized social media platforms that integrate elements of traditional social media with features common within the decentralized finance (DeFi) space. Such projects aim to give content creators control over their own data, increase freedom of speech, and offer the ability to monetize their presence using blockchain technology.

Friend.tech, a flagship SocialFi application, enables users to buy access keys for private chat rooms connected to specific X profiles’ personalities. These keys increase exponentially in price as more are purchased based on a bonding curve. When a key is resold via the secondary market, Friend.tech and the tokenized profile’s owner each receive a 5% residual. The platform has been lucrative for some — with daily revenues currently in the hundreds of thousands.

As a result, new platforms — inspired by Friend.tech’s model — have started to spring up across various blockchains. Their growth indicates a promising start for the segment, yet the longevity of SocialFi remains an open question. Is this surge a short-lived trend fueled by Friend.tech’s initial success, or a glimpse of a more enduring future?

Hannes Feichtl remembers first looking into Friend.tech and thinking the platform’s decision to force users to deposit ether (ETH) before using the app would hinder its growth. This did not prove to be the case and, when Friend.tech’s usage exploded, Feichtl decided to create his own version. The resulting app, Star Shares, drew 20,000 daily transactions over the course of four days following its launch on Avalanche, per DappRadar.

It’s a story that has played out on other chains like Arbitrum and Solana. Adrian Anderson, partnerships lead at the Mantle-native Fan.tech, compared the phenomenon to the post-Facebook explosion of social media platforms. Anderson suggests that long-term survival will belong to platforms that carve a distinctive niche, though he acknowledges that the Friend.tech “narrative is strong.”

Like the original, many of Friend.tech’s competitors sell tokenized “keys” for access to social media personalities. But much of the new app development seems to hinge on the belief that SocialFi is a concept worth getting in on, and specifics can come later.

“Getting something out and getting some initial user base early is really proven to be good,” Feichtl, who launched Star Shares before feeling like the product was finished, said. “You have to be early right now.” 

Friend.tech’s rivals look to ensure that the perceived value of SocialFi remains once the initial buzz has faded. Feichtl remains unsure about SocialFi’s future structural components, such as bonding curves and private chats. However, he points to mainstream platforms like X, which some speculate are interested in crypto-monetization, suggesting that Friend.Tech’s trajectory might be the right path.

“I think [SocialFi] will stick around one way or another,” Fiechtl said, adding that he doesn’t see many of the currently-launching projects succeeding. “Some are just taking the hype and making money off it, which is totally fine.”

After a slowdown in late August, Friend.Tech may be gradually regaining some of its initial momentum. For the past two weeks, the platform’s daily revenue has stayed mostly above $400,000, reaching as high as $1.1 million, according to data from DeFiLlama. Currently, Arbitrum’s Post.tech appears to be leading the race as Friend.tech’s primary rival, recording 75,000 transactions in the last 24 hours, compared to Friend.tech’s 104,000.

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