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$3 Million Fund to Create 25 Marketplaces for Kik Messenger's Token

People might just pay money for digital stickers and photos, if it were easier that is.

It’s a contrarian view, but it’s the central idea behind one of last year’s largest initial coin offerings (ICOs), which raised $98 million selling ethereum-based tokens created specifically for the messaging app company Kik.

To jumpstart a digital market around its code, the company announced Tuesday that it’s committing up to $3 million in fiat and crypto to enlist developers in creating up to 25 marketplaces that only use kin, a cryptocurrency valued at roughly $100 million. These marketplaces could be anything from places to buy access to live video chats with a influential YouTubers t0 very rare sticker packs they can use in chats.

As long as its all digital, that’s the kind of market kin wants to foster.

But while the Kik app is a natural place to host such markets, projects don’t have to be built there per se, according to the newly released terms of the Kin Developer Program.

The initiative “financially incentivizes developers to create natively with kin, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming the most used cryptocurrency in the world,” Ted Livingston, CEO of Kik, said in a press release.

Developers have a chance to earn as much as $115,000 provided they meet three key milestones for their app by April 2019. (They have until October 2 to build an app approved to run on its software development kit (SDK), until January to grow it to 10,000 monthly active wallets (MAWs) and until April to grow to 50,000 MAWs).

Each milestone comes with its own reward, with the full amount awarded to projects that hit all three.

Speed of crypto

The fund’s roadmap is slated to move ahead just as quickly.

According to the Kin Ecosystem Foundation, the non-profit that oversees kin, the deadline for developers to apply to participate is August 10. (The organization has committed to notifying applicants of its decision by August 15.)

A spokesman for the foundation confirmed that these payments will be in lieu of payments from the Kin Rewards Engine (KRE), which is not yet live. (In the original vision for the cryptocurrency, developers would create marketplaces, and smart contracts would reward them periodically in newly released kin tokens based on the amount of activity that took place).

Rather than wait for the KRE to be ready, though, the foundation is providing a different incentive system in the meantime, though it’s arguably just as in line with the project’s vision.

During a conference for the token in April, Livingston described a vision for an ecosystem of marketplaces for purely digital goods in which regular people could both earn and spend kin without ever thinking about converting it fiat.

At the time, he said he saw it as the only viable way forward for his company as Facebook and Google consumed the ad-driven app market, adding: “Our new plan was to develop a new economy around a new currency.”

Still, Livingston has repeatedly said kin needs to achieve three things to succeed. First, it needed a scaleable blockchain (which it believes it has built by forking Stellar) to integrate the Kik app with kin (which it announced late last month). Next, it needed to grow its ecosystem.

This effort to recruit independent developers fits into that last goal. The foundation has promised to mentor and support developers throughout the six-month process.

Marbles via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Kindred Spirits: Why Hardcore Early Adopters Are Dead-Set on Kik's ICO

“I’m long-term bullish and short term I have no idea.”

That’s how Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures and one of the most widely respected VCs working today, answered a question about the crypto market in general and specifically his outlook for Kin, the soon-to-be launched token created by the messaging app, Kik.

Wilson made the comment in a small event space on Prince Street in Manhattan, sitting in front of 28 people that Kik had flown in from 13 countries (including Japan, India and Australia), and all of whom seemed to be holders of Kik’s ethereum and stellar token.

Kik had brought them together to serve as the first wave of ambassadors for the new token, serving on Reddit, Telegram, Kik groups and anywhere people might want to talk about it.

So, when Wilson expressed that mix of confidence and uncertainty, he wasn’t just giving the latest market’s hot take; he aligned himself with a prevailing sentiment in the room, hope mixed with some confusion. A part of his role there seemed to be to induct Kik’s guests into an ever-widening circle of the true believers backing the new model for monetizing digital experiences enabled by kin.

“I wouldn’t say it was my idea, but I would way I was one of a group of people who collaborated on coming up with it,” Wilson told the room. “Obviously, I think it’s a great idea.”

Wilson spoke during the last fireside chat of the day, in conversation with CoinFund CEO Jake Brukhman.

CoinDesk had been invited to the event to interview Kik CEO Ted Livingston as the the two day event opened. During that conversation, Livingston described himself as a wreck two years ago, as the company lost marketshare to Facebook-owned products.

In Wilson’s telling, he helped bring his fellow investors in the company around to a crypto-led strategy, so that now Livingston could say:

“Our investors are very supportive, but it took us a while to get there.”

Faced with what he saw as the impossibility of monetizing a messaging app with ads amidst the Facebook-Google advertising duopoly, Livingston elaborated, “Our new plan was to develop a new economy around a new currency.”

An economy is, of course, one form a community takes, which helps to explain why Kik has invested in forging bonds between its early advocates, expanding the cadre from that early circle that sold the Kik board to a larger one that can sell lots of people using services online.

Here’s the funny thing about it’s early advocates, though: by and large, they don’t use Kik. During our interview with Livingston, we asked the crowd whether or not they were big Kik users before Kin came along. Only five or six raised their hand.

It’s remarkable because when Kik first unveiled this idea, many people viewed its existing audience as its unfair advantage over potential social crypto competitors.

Livingston volunteered, “Our users of Kik are largely unaware.”

Crypto Summer Camp

Arriving at the gathering on Prince Street felt a little like coming back to summer camp, with lots of people chatting with that peculiar spirit of reunion. Only it wasn’t a reunion – these people hadn’t met face-to-face before, they had spent a lot of time talking online.

And it was clear that certain levels of rapport had been established. This particular hit home during the (not really necessary) ice-breaking round when one community member in particular introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Dillon,” Baltimore’s Dillon King said. Everyone broke into applause. “And I don’t actually look like Yoda.”

Later we would learn that King is one of the most active voices on kin’s Telegram and Reddit channels. “I kind of play the role of the educator,” he told CoinDesk.

King was dressed like a lot of the guys at the gathering (it was very nearly all men), in a purple t-shirt and a black-zippered hoodie, apparently in tribute to Livingston, who wears those two things nearly every day. He said was glad to finally get to meet people from the Kik staff in a setting where they didn’t have to constantly speak as if cameras were rolling he said.

“In general I just wanted to meet everybody,” he explained.

We have known for a long time that people can build real bonds and relationships online as well as offline, but there’s other ways in which online life is not as much like the real world as it could be. And that’s the impetus behind kin: deepening digital reality.

“We want mainstream consumers to use cryptocurrency and we think the hardest problem with that is setting up a system, setting up an economy, in a place where they would actually use it,” Livingston told the room. That place is the internet, buying and selling for purely digital goods and services.

Livingston said they had focused on picking ambassadors who understood that there was a real opportunity in creating entirely digital markets. In fact, he took it so far that he said he hopes to see such robust digital markets that people quit thinking in kin-dollar or kin-yen terms, and instead thinking fiat terms in real life and kin terms online.

Just like people don’t think about exchange rates when they buy lunch from the corner burrito place.

As we spoke to ambassadors on the floor, it was clear that they still had questions about how a stable economy could rest on unstable crypto. “There’s things I don’t understand,” Australia’s Will Gikandi told CoinDesk.

Gikandi took advantage of every Q&A to pepper each speaker with questions. It was clear that he wants to believe it could all work, but he still doesn’t quite see how.

The money

Probably the biggest applause line of the whole day came when Livingston said:

“I’m not in this for a money, though I do think kin is going to be very valuable.”

It helps here to step back and revisit what Livingston believes is so big about the kin idea. He saw himself surrounded by peer companies that had successfully built communities but couldn’t make money. The idea of kin is to create a way for all those companies to monetize without ads or user fees.

Livingston describes that economy as having two pieces: a cryptocurrency and a software platform that can reward developers for creating active markets for that cryptocurrency.

The strangest part of this whole kin idea is that second part, called the Kin Rewards Engine (KRE), controlled by the non-profit Kin Foundation. The idea is that developers will try to build apps that encourage users to exchange kin with each other.

“We don’t want developers to charge consumers,” Livingston said. “We want to set up is what we call a consumer-to-consumer economy.”

So, someone might build an app where users send artists photos and pay them in kin to make drawings of them. The artist would keep all her earnings, but the KRE (which holds 60 percent of the kin that will ever be created) would pay the app’s developer every day relative to the amount of economic activity it created within the whole kin economy.

Wilson said that there’s lots of companies in his portfolio who would probably benefit from jumping on the KRE once its built, but he thinks there’s more opportunity with developers just having their first glimmer of an app idea now.

That said, USV is so convinced that in the future tech companies will earn so much in tokens that its begun negotiating what it calls “token exchange agreements” with the companies it backs. In these agreements, it would have the option to exchange its equity for tokens a company has earned from doing business (not what they generated by issuing them in an ICO).

One member of the audience wanted to know when developers could begin building business models around the KRE?

Livingston wouldn’t commit, but he did give his interlocutor a standard by which to hold him accountable. There’s three ways Kik has to lead, he argued. It has to have a blockchain that can support a million users, it has to have lots of regular consumers actually earning and spending in crypto and it has to have a functional incentives system (like the KRE).

If any other company starts to show traction in any of those three areas, that’s when kin backers should start getting angry.

“Who’s in first place. We have no idea. Nobody knows,” Livingston said, concluding:

“The race hasn’t even started yet.”

Photo of Ted Livingston welcoming kin supporters courtesy of Kik.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Stellar (XLM) and Kin Foundation Partnership talking about the Future

Stellar Lumens and Kin Foundation have developed a very talked-about partnership in the crypto-sphere and accordingly as asked by many, both of them came together for a night-talk on a Subreddit platform to answer various questions from the viewers. The AMA session was run by Tomer – Stellar Engineer, Boris – Stellar Partnerships and Gadi – Kin Technical Dev Leader.

The ask/me/anything session started with Kin’s technical Dev leader talking about all the results and tests that were run by Kin on Stellar’s network, which details will be published on a post by Ory. When it comes to the lightning network, Gadi added that as it is still not completed, nothing can be added on the matter.

When asked about Stellar’s future partnerships that might benefit the Kin product like the IBM, Stripe, Keybase, etc; Gadi says, identity is a real challenge, however, it’s still early to understand the actual needs and requirements for digital service. Regarding other technological cooperation’s, they don’t have any planned yet.

Gadi explained how Kin and Stellar will take care of the funding in the initial phase as they would like to learn from the real-world use cases. The KRE reward is designed to allow digital services to maintain themselves including any infrastructure costs that would incur.

The issue here is born in the case of creating a large account with the target to maliciously spam the process of account creation. The solution is found in the first phase, users that are approaching and registering will be set under-radar and accordingly, accounts that are on status – spam identified – will not be funded.

There is still much to be cleared out of the blurred image when it comes to what tokens will Kin use. Many question if Kin will have its own token or use the Stellar Lumens to get things going. Currently, there is another token called ‘KIN’ in the Stellar network.

“We are happy to have KIN use Stellar as it will be one of the first mainstream companies to use cryptocurrency in production. The fact that Kin is using Stellar to power their ecosystem of digital services will be a positive sign to other large companies considering launching their own token-based economies.”

Stellar was shown to have 95% of all lumens in the top 100 wallets and the Stellar Development Foundation’s mandate is to distribute 95% of lumens over time through various programs. ‘It’s not supposed to happen overnight’, they say.

On the discussion post, the hosts added that the beauty of Stellar lies in its simplicity:

“Other chains can try to be all things to all people, but we stay focused on what we do well – facilitating fast, cheap and scalable payments. Importantly, we’ve been doing this in production for several years now, whereas many of the up and coming chains, at least at this point, are still just words on a page.”

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Game Giant Unity to Work With Kik's ICO Token

The Kin Foundation wants video game developers to help take the kin cryptocurrency mainstream – and it has just scored the assistance of industry giant Unity Technologies.

Unity is the maker of a popular game engine that can be used by other developers. Popular games built on Unity include Cuphead, Pokémon Go and Kerbal Space Program, among numerous others.

The company is the first participant in kin’s “decentralized ecosystem for digital services and applications.” Created by messaging app firm Kik, the initial coin offering of the kin token garnered $98 million last year.

The foundation will work with Unity to develop a gaming-specific software development kit (SDK) that will allow millions of Unity developers to integrate kin – hosted on both the ethereum and stellar blockchains – into their designs, it announced on Thursday.

“The SDK will allow all game developers to design with kin and blockchain technology at the core,” Dany Fishel, EVP of Partnerships at Kin, told CoinDesk in an interview.

In practical terms, this means that the team will introduce a wallet and a marketplace for developers, Fishel explained. After emerging from its beta stage, the SDK will be open sourced and available in the Unity Asset store, as well as shared on GitHub.

The foundation intends for the kit to “bring monetization tools to developers,” and will facilitate three particular use cases – the first of which is peer-to-peer value exchange in mobile games. For example, Fishel said, players could “reward one another for the knowledge they can share” about unlocking game levels or other features.

Gamer push

The SDK is also intended to enable developers to reward users for “being good citizens of the apps” by reporting bugs or providing feedback.

Likewise, the kit would provide another means of monetization by allowing brands to interact with players by rewarding them for completing surveys.

Fishel also spoke to why the foundation sees the gaming industry as an ideal foundational participant for the kin ecosystem.

“Gamers in general already have a strong understanding of digital currency to being with,” he explained. “Game developers are the first ones to adopt technologies, they are the first ones to adopt innovation. So we see them specifically as a very natural audience to endorse a cryptocurrency.”

Fishel added that that the integration of kin into the gaming world is just the beginning of the creation of a larger ecosystem. While developers will provide the cryptocurrency within the context of a game, users will eventually be able to spend it outside the game as more partners come onboard.

Although Fishel was unable to reveal who the next partners will be, he told CoinDesk to anticipate collaborations with “community-driven apps that will provide great ways to earn and spend for users,” to be announced within the coming weeks.

Kik app image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Stellar Lumens Chosen by Kin Foundation as the Ideal Platform

Kin Foundation has just announced a new relationship signed down with Stellar Lumens, cementing XLM’s growth continuation even stronger:

“We are excited to share more info on this huge step forward for Kin’s functionality and accessibility.”

The decision to go for Stellar was concluded with the argument of reaching an ideal asset for real-time and real-life world use u need high-scale blockchain and high speed, which both are delivered by Stellar. Welcoming the platform to the team of Kin Foundation is going to make a major positive impact on its access for digital features, functionality and most importantly its infrastructure.

Kin Foundation continued:

“All the Kin transactions previously were taking place on Ethereum (ERC20), stepping forward, and the transactions will happen on Ethereum or Stellar. The two blockchains will support Kin in different ways with services operating on the blockchain that is best suited to their needs, as Ted discussed in a recent AMA.”

For the time being, for the Kin holder the platform of Ethereum does give enough liquidity but fr day-to-day consumer use the loading times and fees are not very supportive. Adding Stellar as a cherry on top of the cake will open gates for more efficient and faster foundation with lower fees.

Both blockchains will run parallel so its not much of an update but more of an addition, meaning that individuals are not required to move the tokens if they do not wish to.

The change will simply create a more frictionless experience for using Kin as per the two-phase plan. The Kin Ecosystem participants will use the same Kin token irrespective of Ethereum or Stellar Lumens.

Per time of writing, March 24 – the whole market and Stellar [XLM] accordingly is feeling and acting very bullish, recovering 3.56% in the last 24-hours reaching the level of $0.2394. TRON with 35.98% is the highest gaining crypto in the top-20, followed by DASH with 11.48%.