Abandon "credits" artifical metric for simple currency credits

The current system at Resonate is you buy credits.

5€/5,57$ = 4.0880 credits (!?!)
1 credit = 1.223091976516634050880626223092 € / 1.3625244618395303326810176125245 $

This makes no sense.

It’s something that’s bothered me for a while that our “credit” system, from a user perspectives, seems to have one purpose only : obfuscate the fact that they’re actually just spending regular money by “converting” this money into pretend-money so that they don’t see exactly where they’re at when they’re spending on the platform.

The only reason I can think of that we came up with this (again, from the viewpoint of “how does it make the experience better for the user?”) is that we think it will be a more stress free experience to not see actual-money credits go lower as time goes on, and so we thought it’d be “cooler” to have these fake-money credits go lower instead.

I’d argue that, first, this is infantilizing, and second, it does the opposite. People are STILL spending money on the platform, they’re still aware of it, but now they’ve lost ease of access to check exactly how much they’ve spent and how much they have left, which can be nerve-wrecking especially when there isn’t a clear conversion rate between credits and currency.

I also think that, while the credit thing creates a sort of “wall” between the direct support to the artists and the listener, removing that artifical metric would help people have a sense of :

1/ How much they’ve given to artists they like. For exemple you had 10€ this morning, you fell in love with an album you’ve listened to it a few times and now you have 8.2€ in your credits balance, instead of being like “ugh, I’ve lost 1.8 mystical resonate credits” you just know you’ve given 1.8€ to this artist/release. I personally think that’s more aligned with what people are looking for when joining Resonate.
2/ What a good service Resonate is for Discovery. You had 10€ at the begining of the week, you’ve listened to a thousand song all week but none of them really caught your ear, it was just nice background music for work. You look at your balance and you see you’ve only spent 2€. You can get confident that, while you still supported artists, if it keeps going like that you’ll end up the month having spent less than your 10€ balance which makes you realize how much of a bargain the platform is for Discovery.

All these patterns are greatly obfuscated by the pretend-money that we currently use.

They also make advertising the platform a nightmare, because everything has to be converted to “credits” to be calculated and explained to people which makes absolutely no sense and makes explaining S2O all the more difficult.

I understand that we use credits on the backend to calculate remuneration for artists, but I think it should stay in the back end because it doesn’t bring anything to user, it’s infantilizing, and it’s detrimental to the way they can control both their money and grasp the reality of their experience on the platform.

One last thing, the “buying credits” stuff is often used in Free To Play videogames, or on gamified website, but there’s a catch. First, I’m not sure we want to be assimilated to these kinds of business ventures but I do see the point of “gamifying” some of the user experience sometimes. However in our case, there’s absolutely nothing to do with the credits beyond buying them with real money. The only point of fake money is you’ve got an “in game” economy where people can resell / make profit / play to earn some of the “in-game-currency/credit” etc.

None of that applies to us (and that’s great).

If a worker of the coop wants to earn credits through working/helping the platform, I don’t see any point in giving him “credits” in a weird metric rather than just giving him “5€/$ of credits on Resonate”. This will at least make it clear to him how his work has been valued in money rather than telling him we’re giving him “4.0880 Resonate Credits”.

So my proposal is people should just buy “5€/5$” of credits, and then their balance indicates they have 5€/5$ in the credits and that’s all.

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I can agree that credits may feel like an unnecessary in-between layer. I do not necessarily agree with all your points but some. Regardless, it’s a well-written argument.

The biggest problem I can think of if we were to get rid of the credits system is the differences in currencies. Do we always charge the same rate no matter the currency? E.g. 0.1 credits today would equal 0.1 euros, or dollars, or…yen? Changing how much we charge for a play (etc.) based on which currency you have loaded would be very cumbersome and make things more complex than they are today.

Now, we could certainly just pick one real currency and then only deal with that, such as euro. If an American wanted to load money they would pick a euro amount and then pay the equivalent dollar amount (or however the payment would be processed). This system would clearly alienate non-euro people just as much as the current credit system (hypothetically) makes it complicated for everyone.

So yeah, I’m curious to hear if you have any thoughts or solutions to this problem?

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Yeah I thought about that, my 2 cents :

First the bare minimum I think would be to at least give a choice between dollars and euros, that’s what happens now already if you buy credits you can buy with dollars and euros (I think? I only see euros I’d need a VPN but I’m guessing dollars are possible?), but since so many currencies are tied to those two for neocolonial reasons anyway, and most of our early users will be coming from those backgrounds anyway, that’d be a good start.

Now on the matter of currencies this is a problem with or without the “credits” layer, if you’re in a super low income country and 5€ is worth a lot then you’re being screwed anyway and Resonate’s not a good offer for you anymore, it’s a problematic we’ve been talking about for a while and to my knowledge we don’t have a good answer for it yet.

So just start with $/€, I personally use tons of services where I’m charged in dollars and I’m so used to it as to not even notice it anymore and I’m guessing the Stripe payment system probably has something for conversion.

And then people can absolutely count in dollars/euros how much money credits they’ve got left I can assure you, because that’s an actual conversion process they’re used to and it already makes sense to them.

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Hmm okay that’s fair.

Would the cost still be the same regardless of dollars or euros? E.g. 0.1 dollar or 0.1 euros depending on what their account uses? In that case I don’t see why anyone would pick euro since you’d pay somewhere like 10-20% more than someone that uses dollars. Unless we do believe that the majority of people prioritize convenience (use same currency that they have in their bank account).

(for anyone not in the know, the way stores like online video game stores deal with it is by region-locking things and forcing people to use the currency for wherever they seem to be located)

No we’d just have two types of currencies, euros and dollars, we don’t have to treat them as euros and dollars on the backend, we just need to tell people how much they’ve spent in dollars/euros.

Right now there must be a tool on our website doing the conversion for when people buy credits right? 5€ doesn’t give me same amount of credits as 5$?

Do we think it’s impossible to have those two currencies indicated? @auggod / @Nick_M I’d love some input on this.

Yes but right now it is known how much the first play costs, and the second, and the third etc…
Are you proposing that they would vary based on the currency you’re using? Right now I can play a single song for the first time and see that I spent 0.002 credits. What would that look like with the dual-currency system?

You’d see that you’ve spent .002€ or .003$ depending on if you paid in euros and dollars ?

But they do vary already !

And that’s where I disagree, knowing “how many credits you lose” =/= “how much the first play costs”

Right okay, yeah that’s what I thought. I suppose that works. It does indeed save the user from doing any math. We’d just need to deal with currency conversions and all that entails on the back-end. I think it’s more complex than it sounds, but perhaps a future possibility.

I wonder if we couldn’t just not do the money conversion on the backend and just do it on the user’s interface ie. : if a credit is “x €” and “y $” and on the backend said user has z credits left, then it’s just a matter of multiplying the number of credits left z by x or y and then display that number to the user ?

Like, credits can be useful for us to do the accounting stuff I guess because they’re decorelated from money, but then we need to send back actual money data to users.

That unfortunately wouldn’t work well due to currency fluctuations. Don’t wanna go to bed and have $8 and wake up and come home from work the next day and have $7.90 without having played anything.

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Yeah, fair point, then it would need to be indexed on value at checkout (which suddenly becomes not as straightforward).

+1 to this - the credits not feeling real / feeling like play money I think is more of a reflection on how early on the roadmap resonate is. Once a mature artist dashboard exists, and artists can trigger their own payouts, I feel like this will be a non-issue.

The on-platform credits concept is pretty common across platforms, and it’s more honest to say that a user has credits than to say they have a government-backed currency because the reality is that they have credits. The mainstream currency only exists at checkout and payout.

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Yes. Operating cash balances on behalf of users exposes us to stringent money service business regulations. Simple utility credits (and loyalty points used as a discount against future sales) avoid these regulations.

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Yes, that it’s common across platforms doesn’t make it likeable by the way, I still think it’s pretty bad and value at checkout should be fixed at checkout and that’s that. I pay 5€, the price of a stream is this, period. And I get that we’d be limiting to a small number of currency, hell I’d prefer “dollars” over credits that says it all. If there’s a money crash we’re fucked anyway, with credits or currency, because the money still has to go out of the platform to the performers.

OK so it’s a legal issue.

Then could we peg the credits on the dollar please? 1 credit = 1$

(I find it funny by the way because operating cash balances on behalf of users is exactly what we do… like that is exactly the service we provide)

Sorry, I meant that it’s common since platforms (financial regulations aside) don’t want to turn into speculative currency markets, escrow services, or deal with money laundering schemes.

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How is it protecting us from this btw? (real question) if someone wants to create 100 accounts, buy however many credits they want, and then get them back as artists by only playing a specific number of songs a lot for example. How does credit vs dollars prevent money laundering schemes? What’s that layer doing against it?

Btw, this relates to a deeper thing about the nature of our service which is that we absolutely are a “music dedicated bank account” with a sets on laws on how the money must be spent according to our music listening patterns. Which is I guess why I don’t get a lot of the remarks because to me that’s exactly the service we’ve always provided.

I’m a conservative on this point. I look forward to developing something like credits as a means of exchange within the co-op between members and between co-ops. We may be years away but I think it would be unwise to strip this out of our current processes.

As an international service (as long as there are independent national currencies) there will always be complications around value exchange. Having its own system gives the co-op flexibility around policies of reward and patterns of practice.

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Yes, I know it’s an idea I never really liked so that’s why I think there’s a lot of going back and forth here. “Credits as a means of exchange on the platform” doesn’t sound at all enticing or desirable to me, verifiable credentials were far more interesting as a means of exchange to me for a lot of reasons.

I should add I’m fine with whatever comes up, you all seem to have very good reasons to do this, personally I really dislike it and always have for all the reasons mentionned above, but if legally, technically we can’t really do it, and if there’s no majority desire for it, I don’t mind let’s go with that.

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Your calculation is incorrect

2+4+8+16+32+64+128+256+512 = 1022

1022 / 1022 = 1$

The correct calculation is the following

5€/1,25 * 1022 = 4088

As per convention, we multiply by 1.25. It was not my decision, @peter can explain.

I think, the confusing part is how we format floating points on the player.

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Yeah I mean everything about this is confusing sincerely.