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BitWine Detaches Itself from Skype, Pursues Partnership Strategy

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BitWine started off in late 2006 as a place where people could find experts to answer their questions over Skype for a consulting fee.

The company has since realized that not everyone in its target market, the United States, has installed Skype or even owns a microphone. So it has taken steps to liberate itself from Skype while still providing the Skype plugin as an option.

Users can now engage experts through a browser-based instant messaging application built from the ground up by BitWine. This app not only makes it easier for consulting dialogs to start; it also keeps track of the time that has passed in a given session. Experts can charge their clients either by the minute or a simple flat fee. Clients pay by PayPal and the money gets sent to experts as soon as the sessions end.

BitWine has also integrated Jajah so that experts can answer questions over the phone if that makes more sense than instant messaging. Sessions generally start over IM but as soon as the decision is made to switch over to a phone call, the client enters their phone number into a special prompt and Jajah connects the two parties by phone without sharing anyone’s phone number.

The same meter can be used to track how much time has passed during a phone conversation. At any point, the expert can pause the session if someone needs to step out for a second. And clients have the option to put an upper limit on how much they get charged.

Apart from these new technological developments, BitWine has also been developing partnerships with other websites that want to use its service as a co-branded solution. One of the company’s biggest partners is Tecchannel.de, a German IT administrator community. With BitWine integration, community members can now share their IT expertise and get paid for it. Commissions are split between the experts, BitWine, and the partner site.

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