Our Multi-Year Blockchain Strategy for Kin

Our vision for Kin is a digital sharing economy of equal opportunity. The Kin Ecosystem will compensate developers and app users for the value of their time, attention, and ideas — ultimately creating new ways to monetize digital services or pay people for their expertise.

Fulfilling our vision to its fullest will take years. Research estimates the total number of active cryptocurrency users in 2017 to be just under 6 million. This number is humbling, as it shows how much further the industry has to grow before cryptocurrencies are in widespread use.

There are dozens of challenges to overcome when working toward this goal: from scalability issues to governance; dealing with regulatory uncertainty like tax implications of earning tokens; safeguarding user privacy while allowing regulators to audit for anti-money laundering (AML); user experience and productizing the process in a way that not only the tech savvy will be able to operate a cryptocurrency wallet; and many others.

Blockchain infrastructure plays an essential role in this vision. It is one of the technological foundations cryptocurrencies like Kin are built upon. When planning the long term Kin roadmap, we must prepare a multi-year strategy that will carry us through the challenges ahead.

As the industry matures, we’ve grown to understand that this vision will be built on more than one blockchain. Complex decentralized applications like Kin will eventually span multiple technology infrastructures. As different types of blockchains specialize in solving different aspects of the problem, it becomes clear that no single blockchain will just “win” on all accounts.

We’ve seen this with the Kin launch on Ethereum. We’ve realized that while the Ethereum blockchain is a great platform for fundraising, trading and exchange, it fails to meet our requirements regarding scale — long confirmation times, low transaction throughput and high fees prevent us from bringing Kin to millions of users inside digital services.

This does not mean that Kin will stop using Ethereum. The ERC20 standard for tokens has been wildly successful in creating an ecosystem around Ethereum-based tokens. With a streamlined integration to all tokens implementing this standard, powerful tools emerged such as third-party wallets for the management of ERC20 tokens, hardware wallets for secure cold storage of high value assets and out-of-the box integration to a multitude of exchanges and trade platforms. These tools are essential for asset management by professionals in the Kin ecosystem, such as developers of digital services earning large amounts of KIN from the KRE.

To deal with the next phase of our pressing scale requirements within the bounds of digital services, we are planning to expand in parallel to another blockchain infrastructure. We are working closely with Stellar for this purpose.

The Stellar blockchain resolves digital services’ basic needs for scale, quicker confirmation times, and lower transaction fees. Other critical benefits of Stellar are its years long stability in production — which we view as the best production environment today — and their team, who has been great to work with throughout this whole process. While emerging blockchains may show promise, we prefer to avoid unproven solutions for the next critical growth period in Kin, as it becomes integrated inside digital services other than Kik.

Looking further into the future, we foresee several complex problems that off the shelf solutions will not be able to accommodate. Blockchain solutions like Ethereum or Stellar were not designed specifically for the Kin use case. As such, we will reach challenges that they were not built to overcome.

To handle those, we plan to invest efforts in customizing a blockchain solution for our needs. We are doing this via a long term collaboration with Orbs. By collaborating with the Orbs blockchain and co-locating our engineering team with the Orbs team, we will help design a blockchain from scratch that will accommodate our future needs as they evolve.

Enabling a new digital sharing economy is an ambitious goal. As we progress with the Kin roadmap, we will gradually expand the Kin Ecosystem to rely on all three blockchains: Ethereum for general liquidity, and Stellar and Orbs for digital services. We believe that only a combination of the unique value proposition of each solution will help us realize our vision.