Kin: The Reader’s Digest Version
We all know that Kin is a unique digital currency, that it has value and utility, and that the Kin Ecosystem, currently in development, is going to be big — very big. But let’s look back for a moment. In order to see the scope of what’s happening, and where we’re going, it might be useful to look back, at where we’ve been.
Kin was started by the good folks at KIK Messenger. As Facebook and Google grew to gargantuan proportions, it became obvious to all that the old-school model of advertisement placement for monetization was becoming untenable for anyone other than the biggest and most entrenched of companies. Yes, the Facebooks and Googles of the world were doing just fine with monetization via ad placement; they were also busily scalping data from their users in a feeding frenzy to capitalize on the one asset they could sell… those users’ attentions.
While most users thought Facebook was designed to give the social media platform as the product, and that the users themselves were the customers (I admit I believed this at first), the truth is that the advertisers are the customers, and the platform’s users attentions are the product. This sounds a bit like the Matrix, isn’t it? We, the users, are fed an incredibly addictive social media “mental pudding,” and in return we give Facebook hours and hours of our attention… And it is that attention that Facebook sells to the advertisers.
Understandably, this realization came as a shock. It is traumatic thing to finally understand that your social media platform is actually using — and selling — you. Those who were able to see and understand this revelation are in the minority. Many users still do not grasp the reality of the situation, and are happily, mindlessly eating that tasty, addictive SM pudding.
Leaving aside the distasteful mental image this business model give us, it created a problem for up-and-coming, and smaller but established social media companies. The smaller SM operations were left in a bit of a financial quandary. Advertisers were loathe to spend on smaller platforms, because the reach of the giant platforms was so large and all inclusive. The remainder of the SM platforms were left to fight for the leftover crumbs on the floor.
From this basic problem… and the ensuing economic reality… came the idea for Kin.
Monetization is a concept that no one really enjoys talking about. For most of us, we’ve come to accept that involuntary ad placement is a necessary evil that we submit to in order to receive content; at this point most of us simply grit our teeth and press on. No, I’m never ever going to buy that silly spray to cover up the smell of your poo, but go ahead, play the damned video ad… again. I digress.
But what if there was a way to change the dynamic so that the SM platform user’s attention was no longer the product that got sold to monetize the operation? What if the user could sell his or her OWN attention, and be rewarded thusly? And what if there was a way to compensate developers and businesses who work in the ecosystem for this activity as well?
What if the user actually became a rewarded participant in the engine that generated income? And was even able to generate income for themselves in the process? What if a system was designed to reward users, developers and investors, all at the same time?
This is the basic premise of Kin.
THE GENESIS of KIN
In 2009, Kik Interactive was formed by a group of college students at the University of Waterloo, Canada, in order to create applications for mobile devices and smartphones. Soon thereafter, the Kik Messenger was launched. In it’s first fifteen days, Kik enrolled over one million users. Over the years, Kik has solidified itself as a strong niche player in the messaging app world.
Initially, Kik monetized itself by placing advertisements, but realized over time that ad revenue might not be the best way to keep Kik in solvent.
After several years of struggle, Kik embarked on an experiment and instituted a program called “Kik Points.” This program allowed Kik users to participate in a very basic, very limited “earn and spend” program. The users would answer surveys or watch videos in order to “earn” Kik Points… which they could then spend on in-app programs like sticker packs or emojis. What the Kik folks saw was an incredibly enthusiastic, large group of people working to earn and then spend Kik Points, at a transactional rate and density that dwarfs that of every cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin.
Kik then knew it was onto something. The team got to work, and after years of design, Kin was born. The Kin token was introduced into the crypto universe through an ICO (initial coin offering).
The Basics of Kin
Kin is the first cryptocurrency designed for mass-adoption and utility. It was engineered, specifically, to act as a currency to be used in millions of daily small and micro-transactions. In other words, it was a coin designed to be “spent” by the masses, not held by speculators.
Kin is designed to reward people for using the coin. The Kin Rewards Engine (KRE) pays Kin to users and developers who contribute to the ecosystem. This does “inflate” the circulating supply of the coin, which in turn keeps the value of the individual coins in check, but in reality this is a core design component of Kin. Kin is designed to grow in value, but is designed to grow more slowly because of the extreme volatility witnessed in the growth of other coins. This kind of volatility would destroy Kin’s ability to be used as a true currency. The KRE serves two purposes, then; to reward those who boost the ecosystem thought their efforts, and to moderate the extreme peaks and valleys that have plagued cryptocurrency since the invention of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, for example, has morphed into a “store of wealth” rather than an actual usable currency. It is “deflationary” in nature; in other words, the scarcity of it is the sole driver of it’s value. The high cost of Bitcoin transactions, extreme value fluctuations and slow processing speed all hinder its use as a true currency. Additionally, why would someone spend Bitcoin when it may appreciate significantly in a short period of time? We all have heard the story about the two pizzas that were bought with 40,000 BTC… which would make those two pizzas worth over $300 million dollars today. And why would a merchant accept a currency that might lose a large percentage of it’s value very quickly? With a deflationary, speculative currency like Bitcoin, swings of plus or minus 30 to 50% within a few days are not uncommon.
Kin, on the other hand, is designed to be used and spent by millions of users. It’s value will also grow significantly, but that growth will be relatively stable, with few of the huge peaks and valleys we’ve all seen in other cryptocurrencies. This is directly due to the large initial supply of Kin tokens (756 billion) the large maximum supply (10 trillion) and the design of the KRE. Most people with any crypto experience see that 10 trillion figure (the maximum circulating supply of Kin) to be a huge detriment at first blush. This is because they haven’t grasped the need for that many tokens. Looking at it from the perspective of other crypto, 10T coins is a ludicrous, astronomical number of coins. And with any other coin, it would make no sense.
But Kin is unique. It’s a true currency, not a store of wealth. It is designed to create value growth through usage, not through speculative buying, selling and holding. When Kin reaches mass adoption, the larger supply of coins will keep the price of the coin relatively stable while it grows in value, and will significantly reduce volatility.
Notice that I did not say that the large supply will reduce appreciation; it won’t. That’s because while Kin is designed to be an inexpensive coin, and should never experience the volatility of Bitcoin, that doesn’t mean it won’t gain and accumulate value. It most definitely will. There are no limits to that appreciation, and those who buy Kin now, while the price is well below 1/100ths of a cent, will see significant return on their investment. That opportunity, as significant as it is, is not going to last much longer, and will not be available again.
Kin is designed to go against the “normal” crypto path of pump and dump. It is not designed for arbitrage trading. Again, it is designed for utility, to be earned and spent, unlike most cryptocurrencies.
Kin is designed to be an inflationary coin, not a deflationary coin. In that, I mean that Kin, through the KRE, injects liquidity into the ecosystem and does not appreciate solely due to its scarcity. The KRE rewards those who have significant positive effect on the ecosystem by awarding Kin to those entities or people. If you develop an app that captures people’s imaginations and is wildly successful (think PokemonGo), and you’re using Kin to monetize that app, that effect on the Kin Ecosystem will be greatly rewarded with equivalent Kin. By injecting this liquidity into the ecosystem, the KRE rewards those who make the ecosystem work. This also tends to have an inflationary effect that slows the growth of the coin into a manageable upward trajectory, versus a hyperbolic, exponential increase.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is deflationary… which means that no new BTC will be brought into the BTC system, and its value is based solely on that perceived scarcity. Since it has no mass adoption or real utility, and it’s value can rise and fall very quickly in large amounts. People buy Bitcoin for two reasons only today; speculation, and movement of fiat currencies into other cryptocurrencies. Speculation is the reason most people get into cryptocurrencies; with the advent of Kin, that will no longer be the case. Once Kin begins mass adoption, the majority of people in cryptocurrencies will be in Kin, and will be using, earning and spending Kin without buying the coin on an exchange. They will not be speculators, they will be users.
Speculation has been the name of the crypto game in the past, of course, but that is about to change. Speculation on crypto will become the minority use case, not the majority. Bitcoin will always have a place, obviously, but can you buy groceries with it? Can you pay your electric bill? Can you go out to eat using Bitcoin? No. Bitcoin will always be the first cryptocurrency, but it is not a mass-adoptable currency with any single, strong use case in its current form. Kin was designed with Bitcoin’s failings in mind.
The question comes up: Will Kin ever be a truly valuable coin, even with a ten trillion coin supply? The answer is an emphatic YES, it will. It will never be a short-term investment; there will be no 10x tomorrow, or 100x next week. But for the patient, the growth is coming. For the long term HODLer, the rewards will be significant indeed.
Let me explain why the Kin Foundation, in designing Kin, chose to make the circulating supply 10 trillion Kin tokens.
Why are there 10 Trillion Kin?
- To be a true currency with mass adoption, used by millions of people, there needs to be a large amount of Kin available. Otherwise, in very short order, people would be using Kin in decimals. It was decided that people would rather earn and spend multiples of Kin (i.e., 1000 Kin or 500 Kin) versus decimals of Kin (i.e., 0.0001 Kin or 0.0005 Kin), as is now necessary with Bitcoin, Ethereum and many others. Note that Kin can also be used in decimal divisions, so that in the future, the value of Kin will never be limited by an inability to be used by the decimal.
- In order to tamp down the extremely volatile nature of many cryptocurrencies, a larger circulating and available supply is necessary. A balance was found at 10T where the supply is large enough to meet the needs of the millions of users, but was small enough to not interfere with the growth of value in the coin. The Kin Rewards Engine (KRE) is key to this balance. By injecting Kin liquidity into the ecosystem, it rewards those who enable and grow the system, but it also minimizes volatility and keeps value growth down to a sustainable, non-hyperbolic/non-exponential growth curve. In this, it both creates opportunity and eases fears of volatility, for users, developers and merchants alike.
- There are currently 756 billion Kin tokens in circulation; most of the remainder are held by the Kin Foundation for their own use, and for rewarding those who enable the ecosystem via the KRE. The KRE is schedule to begin operation in Q3 2018. As the value of Kin appreciates, the number of Kin injected via the KRE will change, though the total value will not. For this reason, the KRE stands to be in operation, injecting liquidity, rewarding innovation and ecosystem enhancement and controlling volatility for many, many years to come.
- In the end, 10 trillion coins will not be enough to satisfy the long term needs and desires of the masses. If 50 million people are using Kin, this works out to only 200,000 Kin available per user. Most early adopter/capitalists in the ecosystem hold many, many more than that. This eventual scarcity will drive the value of Kin up significantly; I won’t prognosticate how high. There is, however, no limiting factor. I am very bullish at this prospect… because of the last item, number 5.
- Metcalfe's Law shows the correlation between the usage of a telecommunications system, the size of it’s network, and its value. As the number of users grow, this law shows us that there is a direct correlation between the supply, the number of transactions per day, and the approximate value of that coin. This law follows closely the movement of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrency systems, and shows that Kin will benefit from mass adoption and millions of daily transactions from tens or hundreds of millions of users. Without a large supply, this would not be possible.
The design of Kin requires 10 Trillion coins to be available to execute the plan. And the plan is to allow users, developers and investors to all reap the benefits of a vibrant and growing ecosystem. When there are hundreds of millions of users in the ecosystem, the value of Kin will be greater than most people can imagine. It’s an exciting time, to be sure!
So we’ve looked at why the circulating supply is important, and why it’s different from other currencies. Let’s look at the center of why this works, the KRE.
The Kin Rewards Engine: How it will disrupt Social Media monetization
How often do you log onto YouTube, or Facebook, or any other Social Media site, and click on a video you’d like to see? Pretty often, right? But before the video starts, you are forced to watch an advertisement… maybe it’s something you want to know more about, but more often than not, it isn’t.
What if someone was reading your chat messages and saw you were talking about buying new running shoes, and there’s the ad for that, placed right in your face. Currently, the harvesting (I call it scalping) of your personal and private conversations is real and ongoing. Putting that aside (and this is a wholly different problem that Kin solves), someone is making money by scraping your personal data off of your private communications and browsing histories, then creating ads that target your interests and then forcing you to watch those advertisements. A ‘bot is reading your data, intuiting your thoughts, and someone profiting off of you.
George Orwell’s “1984” called this person “Big Brother.”
The KRE puts an end to this exploitative monetization model. The advertiser compensates you directly for viewing that advertisement, or answering that ad, or for playing that game. You can then spend your Kin on spend opportunities like branded Gift Cards from hundreds of big named merchants like Amazon, McDonalds, and Best Buy, or the user can take their Kin to an exchange and sell it for the fiat currency of their choice, US Dollars, Euros, GBP or Yen. You can use your Kin to buy music, to view curated content, or to tip a content provider. Paywalls for online journalism will become a thing of the past.
The KRE will reward the developer or person or company who placed the ad and contributed to the ecosystem. The user is allowed to contribute financially to content they value; instead of having their personal information sold to an advertiser. The user also can benefit financially for their own intellectual efforts and content creation.
Businesses and developers will be able to easily move their Kin to exchanges to trade for fiat currency; this enables them to pay bills and salaries, and reinvest in other parts of their business. This also creates liquidity for exchange trading, which is an important part of the Kin Ecosystem.
In this way, the KRE will rewards users, developers and investors who participate by adding value to the ecosystem. It will be an “open” ecosystem, allowing people to choose their use of Kin, whether it be purchases within apps, soft monetization via giftcards, or hard monetization via exchange trading for fiat currency. It may also become an option for game fans, hobby coders and enthusiasts to produce a living income via Kin.
Why are there two types of Kin?
Initially, Kin was designed to exist on a single blockchain infrastructure, the Ethereum Blockchain. Kin’s ICO was performed on the ETH Blockchain, and all Kin currently available to buy on exchanges are ERC20 tokens, built around Ethereum.
Last year, Ethereum experienced significant delays in transaction times because of a game that had been built on the platform, called “CryptoKitties.” This game became very popular very quickly with Crypto fans, and in their exuberance, their usage crashed the Ethereum platform.
The Kin Foundation realized that Ethereum, in its current form, was neither fast enough nor robust enough to support the millions of users of Kin. Something had to be done.
The Foundation decided to seek another blockchain for Kin. Something faster, stronger, and secure enough for the millions of users of Kin to have near instantaneous, secure transactions, no matter what. A couple of solutions were found: The Stellar Lumens blockchain (XLM) was chosen because of it’s transaction speed, utility and robust nature, and the Orbs blockchain, which can stand as a replacement if there is a problem with Stellar down the road.
But what about exchanges? Kin on Ethereum can expect to be on many exchanges, and that access to liquidity that is essential to the success of the project. Kin on Lumens or on Orbs wouldn’t have widespread access to exchanges. This was a dilemma, The solution was to create the first ever two-blockchain cryptocurrency.
All Kin bought and sold on exchanges is on the Ethereum blockchain. Kin to be used in the KRE, the Kik app and the Kinit app, and in the remainder of the Kin Ecosystem, will be based on the Stellar Lumens blockchain. The two types of Kin will be functionally identical in value, and freely interchangeable between the two blockchains.
Basically, users will earn and spend Kin (XLM) in the Kin Ecosytem, due to Stellar’s robust design and fast transaction speed, but when they wish to move their Kin to an exchange, their Kin (XLM) will be exchanged for Kin (ETH) on a 1 for 1 basis prior to moving the Kin to the exchange of their choice for trading purposes.
In this way, the needs of all Kin users will be met. And should Stellar be someday unable to meet the demands of mass adoption, the Orbs Blockchain, and others, are available for later development. In any event, this dichotomy of Kin will be mostly transparent to the user, and will not impact the value or the utility of the currency.
The Kin Foundation has developed this dual-blockchain technology so that Kin can become the first mass-adopted, widely used cryptocurrency in the world.
So how much will Kin be worth?
This is a big question. Many naysayers don’t believe Kin will appreciate significantly because of the large supply. This is based on their past experiences with Cryptos that don’t have utility and are simply speculative in nature. That’s not the case with Kin.
To be completely honest, no one knows how much appreciation Kin will experience, or when it will reach a certain value. Here’s what we do know:
Kin is positioned to be the first mass-adoption cryptocurrency in the world. Today, less than six million people worldwide own or use and cryptocurrency… this is an astonishingly low number. Kik, the messaging app behind Kin, has over 300 million registered users. Kin will be introduced first on the Kik app; Kik app users will have their first opportunities to earn and spend Kin before the end of 2018.
So basically, once Kin is introduced on the Kik app later this year, the number of people using cryptocurrency worldwide will multiply many times. In one day. Kik will introduce crypto to tens of millions of users by the end of the year.
As mentioned before, Metcalfe’s Law shows the relationship between a cryptocurrency value and the usage or transactions conducted by that coin, and the circulating supply. With current supply at 756 billion, and assuming transaction numbers in the 1 million per day range, Kin should be trading well above $0.01 per coin. Remember, however, that the KRE will be raising the circulating supply, and it may take some time to get to 1 million transactions per day. The value of Kin hinges on these use numbers. In this, the beginning of the ecosystem, there is no foolproof way to estimate the value of Kin on any certain day.
That said, there is no limit to the value of the coin, over time. None. Not circulating supply, or market capitalization, or anything else. No limit. In a decade, after the ecosystem has matured and is operating solidly, Kin could be worth…. Well, you fill in your own numbers. I have my opinions, and they are not limited by the number of coins, the market cap or anything else designed into the coin. For me, it all hinges on mass adoption and usage.
Kin has inked a number of partnerships that are exciting and will stand the ecosystem well into the future. Two recently announced partnerships are UNITY and BLACKHAWK NETWORK.
Unity is the ultimate game development platform. It brings together developers and technical assets in ways that allow the creation of some of the world’s most popular digital games. There were 5 billion downloads of games made with Unity in Q3 2016 alone. Today, games that were made with Unity exist on 2.5 billion unique mobile devices.
App and game developers will be able to insert Kin’s “5 minute SDK” (Software Development Kit) into the code of their app or game, and be monetizing their efforts with Kin in minutes. This “plug and play” approach makes the Kin Ecosystem and its rewards accessible to almost every developer, without the expense, time and research of developing a cryptocurrency. It truly is bringing cryptocurrency to the masses.
Simply plug the “5 minute SDK” into your code, launch/update it, and within minutes, you’re creating revenue. Your users will also have earn/spend opportunities, and your game/app usage will grow dramatically. No more sharing your revenue with the Apple App Store, or with Google Play Store. This is a huge increase in revenue for developers.
Blackhawk Networks is the leading gift card supplier. Simply put, if you’ve ever used a gift card, it most probably came from Blackhawk Networks; that’s how deep their market goes. Over 250 different branded gift cards will be available for developers to choose from for their users to select, based on their personal knowledge of the demographic. Is your app a traffic or mapping app? Perhaps your users would appreciate being able to earn Kin to buy a Dunkin Donuts cash card. Because, coffee. Is your app a fitness app? Perhaps a Nike gift card is more appropriate. Is it a game geared towards younger users? There’s always McDonalds. A dating app? How about a card for flower delivery?
You can see that the options are endless. And don’t forget, the user AND the developer can choose to move their kin to other apps for other options, or to large cryptocurrency exchanges, where they can exchange their Kin for dollars, euros, etc.
In this way, the ecosystem is enhanced, the cycle begins again, and the KRE continues to reward.
One of the things that first got me excited about Kin was learning that Kik and Kin were heavily invested in by Tencent, the Chinese behemoth company behind WeChat. I travel extensively to China for my day job, and it was an incredible realization to see that most Chinese don’t carry paper currency anymore. Hundreds of millions of Chinese use WeChat every day to purchase everyday things like food, movies, clothing and the like. WeChat connects to the user’s bank account, and instantaneously debits the accounts when the user makes a purchase. Many retail outlets and vending machines in China no longer accept credit cards, and fiat purchases are dwindling in number.
Tencent’s interest in Kin is significant. Imagine Kik, using Kin, evolving into something similar… with hundreds of millions of people using Kin to conduct a significant amount of the economic transactions in their daily life! The adoption and utility numbers are mind boggling.
Additionally, there are a number of heavy hitters in the Crypto space investment community. Union Square Ventures (USV) is an investment fund that has bet heavily on Kik, and thereby, on Kin. Other investments from USV include CoinBase, Koko, DuckDuckGo, CodeAcademy, DuoLingo, Wattpad, SoundCloud, Foresquare, Kickstarter, Meetup, Etsy, Disqus, Tumblr, Twitter and Zynga. As you can see, Kin is extremely well positioned, and the monetization opportunity Kin represents for these companies is being explored.
Wrapping it all up in a big red bow…
The TL;DR version is this: Kin is poised to become the most used cryptocurrency in existence in 2018. As the KRE comes online, Kin is introduced to the Kik Community, the discrete Kin app (Kinit App) is released, the 5-minute SDK is finalized, more partnerships come online, more and major exchanges offer Kin trading, and word spreads, expect the value of Kin to begin growing significantly.
Kin currently sits near the bottom of the top 100 cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization, but the expectation is that Kin will rise towards the top of the top 100 in short order. As the value increases, so does market cap. Don’t make the mistake of thinking market capitalization limits the growth of Kin in any way; it will be the usage and mass adoption that will grow the value.
As the crypto market recovers from the last few months, look for Kin to accelerate its growth as more partnerships and exchanges are announced. Once the KRE begins operations, the value of Kin will grow more quickly. I do not expect Kin ever be worth less than it is right now.
The future for Kin is extremely bright. The Kin Foundation has much work left to do, but they are up to the task. Stay informed, and make sure your portfolio has Kin in it!