Blockchain Strategy Update: Introducing the Kin Federation

Matthew Hibberd
Jan 21, 2019 · 4 min read

The most recent update on our blockchain migration mentions decentralization as an important piece of our blockchain strategy. For Kin, decentralization is not a destination, but more of a spectrum. There are tradeoffs in utility depending on where the infrastructure plots on that spectrum.

One of Kin’s key strategic differentiators is our focus on the consumer experience. Our objective is to have a sufficient level of decentralization without compromising the product.

With the migration underway for a test group of apps in the ecosystem, and coming soon for Kin holders, we want to update you on our decentralization efforts and the new Kin Federation.

The Decision for a Federated Model

The Kin Blockchain is operating in a federated model. A federated blockchain is a form of permissioned consensus where validators are limited to those in the federation. Instead of allowing any person with an internet connection to participate in consensus, or allowing only one company to have full control, a set of node validators are admitted.

This type of model gives some of the benefits of a permissionless blockchain, while allowing greater adaptability as we continue improving our blockchain to meet the needs of the ecosystem. In an evolving environment where development cycles are short and everything is open, this is key to maintaining position on the bleeding edge.

There are two key advantages to running this model for the Kin Blockchain:

  • Speed and efficiency: By reducing the number of parties required for validation, we can assure that the high volume of transactions happening on the Kin Blockchain are completed quickly with limited bottlenecks.
  • Agility and flexibility: If a change on the blockchain is required, we only need to work with a core group of trusted entities to implement the software upgrade, allowing us to iterate faster.

With these considerations in mind, we believe a federated model provides the scale and performance that consumer app developers expect, while creating a secure chain and infrastructure to facilitate these transactions.

Identifying Members for the Kin Federation

There are several reasons why companies decide to run blockchain nodes. Our initial node validators, however, have been identified for a very simple one: Their vested interest in Kin and the success of the ecosystem.

Our existing and, potentially, future members of the Kin Federation are apps currently building Kin-powered experiences, or they intend to integrate Kin in the near future. Members are incentivized to ensure the nodes they operate are in good health, as each node contributes to the Kin Blockchain running smoothly, which in turn impacts the user experience within their respective app. Down the road, other trusted members of the ecosystem, like wallet services and exchanges, will also be able to operate nodes on the Kin Blockchain.

Outside of a guaranteed commitment to the ecosystem, our node validators are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Resources: We don’t take this task lightly, and thus, node validators must have sufficient time and personnel to fulfill their obligations to the Kin Ecosystem.
  • Location: Having a group of nodes distributed throughout the world minimizes many of the risks that could occur when all validators are condensed to one geographical region.
  • Experience: Teams must have the expertise required to operate, moderate, and troubleshoot a node. So far, we’ve found that the teams that have scaled consumer facing applications have the back-end/cloud expertise required to operate a node.

For us, it is important to evaluate potential federation members based on merit, not just size. By taking this approach, we’ve created an exciting opportunity for apps of all sizes to participate in the Kin Ecosystem and the maintenance of the blockchain. The first wave of node validators is live, and additional members will be on-boarded in the future.

Maintaining a Healthy Network

As the federation grows, enabling federation members to maintain a node effectively is critical to the overall health of the network. We work closely with our node operators to provide the training and tools to monitor their nodes health, ensuring that it is available 99 percent of the time, follows security best practices, and is up-to-date with the latest software upgrades.

Looking Ahead

Initially, the Kin Federation will remain comprised of a handful of validators, and we’ll roll out several waves of new federation members over the course of the year. This allows us to continuously iterate and optimize the overall experience for Kin Federation members, as we incorporate learnings from each wave.

In the future, and once additional node operators are on-boarded, developers and, potentially, other parties interested in the ecosystem may be able to join the network as node owners. These parties will be able to select the node operators that they trust, giving them autonomy over their transaction validators. Additionally, self-governance mechanisms will be established for developers, reducing Kin’s involvement in the network’s reconfiguration.

By gradually adding additional validators and releasing control of the network to ecosystem developers, the Kin Blockchain will become fully decentralized for all ecosystem participants.

Kin Blog

Kin is money. Earn, spend, and transfer value across an ecosystem of apps and services. Get paid for developing engaging user experiences with Kin.

Matthew Hibberd

Written by

Director of Corporate & Business Development, Kin

Kin Blog

Kin Blog

Kin is money. Earn, spend, and transfer value across an ecosystem of apps and services. Get paid for developing engaging user experiences with Kin.

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