In 2017, anonymity-focused instant messenger, Kik, launched a cryptocurrency, named Kin.
Kik has long caught headlines for allowing users to use the service without providing any details. The lack of details is a beacon for young people, particularly teenagers. So, how has Kin fared in the world of crypto?
Kik, Kin, and Anonymity
At its 2016 peak, Kik had over 300 million registered users, of which there were 15 million active monthly users. At the time of writing, in January 2019, official user stats are harder to come by, but a July 2018 Statista chart shows 8.35 million monthly users. However, while there is no update to Kik usage stats, development of the Kin cryptocurrency platform and ecosystem is well underway.
The key statistic for Kik, however, wasn’t always the overall number of users. There are several instant messaging services with much larger userbases. No, the key draw for Kik was the demographics of those users. Some estimates in 2017 put the number of US teenagers using Kik between 30-40 percent, while some 57 percent of the active userbase fell into the 13-to-24-year-old bracket.
Kik appeals directly to teenagers for a few reasons, but the most important is its anonymity. You can register for Kik using a fake email address, a fake name, and any birthdate showing an age over 13. Select your username, and you’re good to go. Kik doesn’t require a cell phone number, tying your identity to a single device.
Also, Kik cannot (or refuses to) locate accounts using just a first and last name. The Kik Guide for Law Enforcement states that a “Kik username is the only unique identifier in our system, and the only way we can identify a unique Kik account.” In addition, data is only held for 90 days, unless someone makes a legitimate request to hold the data for longer.
Kik Points and Cryptocurrency
One major challenge facing Kik was the question of monetization. How do you monetize a platform your users are using freely. The obvious and most frequent answer is advertising, and Kik already has those. Of course, the Facebook privacy-destroying model also exists, but that isn’t the right option for an instant messaging service built on anonymity.
In 2016, Kik took a gamble on the introduction of an internal virtual currency, called Kik Points. Users could earn Kik Points by watching short targeting advertisements or playing a branded game. Users could spend Kik Points on special emojis and stickers, unique to the Kik platform.
The success of Kik Points seems to have spurred Kik onto greater things. So much so that in early 2017, they announced the development of a new cryptocurrency: Kin.
“If we can make this work, we can build one of the largest, most adopted cryptocurrencies in the world, just by integrating this into Kik, and putting Kik Points on the blockchain.”
What Is Kin?
Enter: Kin, a “cryptocurrency for the digital world.”
You might gather the intentions of the Kin Foundation—that’s Kin’s development team—and what they envisage for the cryptocurrency. The Kin Foundation want Kin to become as ubiquitous as sending USD through PayPal. As you know, that is easier said than done. Yet, after nearly two years of operation Kin remains within the top 10 most active cryptocurrencies, according to blockchain activity tracker, Blocktivity.
Kin has a broad mission statement, but focuses around one central theme: creating a sustainable decentralized “alternative ecosystem of digital services for our daily lives.”
In other words, the Kin Foundation wants to, and in fact, is nurturing a system of digital services that use Kin as its main currency.
Kin Switches From Ethereum to Stellar
Like many burgeoning crypto-projects, Kin initially launched using the Ethereum blockchain, as an ERC20 token. However, they met some fairly instant roadblocks. Specifically, issues with scaling the proposed Kin network to cope with demand and high transaction processing fees.
At the same time as Kin hit the Ethereum network, blockchain-game CryptoKitties was making waves and dominating Ethereum blockchain traffic. The game slowed blockchain transactions to a crawl, and the Kin Foundation began looking for alternatives. The issues facing the Ethereum blockchain moved Kik CEO Ted Livingston to refer to Ethereum as “the dial-up era of blockchain” in a live YouTube question and answer session. (You can see the Q&A session in full below.)
Initially, the Kin Foundation split Kin into two equal parts: Ethereum for security, and the Stellar blockchain for transaction speed. Users could switch back and forth between the blockchains depending on user requirements, using an atomic swap. (An atomic swap allows a transaction of one cryptocurrency to another without using a centralized intermediary, such as an exchange.)
However, a few months later, in May 2018, the Kin Foundation decided that the Stellar blockchain wasn’t up to the task, announcing that they would fork the Stellar blockchain to launch an independent Kin blockchain, retaining the bi-direction atomic swap feature.
One Kin, One Blockchain
Then, in November 2018, another change. The Kin Foundation announced they would do away with Ethereum ERC20 token support. Kin will focus on its independent blockchain which “eliminates the complexity of swaps, removes the confusion created by having two types of Kin tokens, and simplifies the integration process with both exchanges and consumer applications.”
Already hodling Kin? If you have Kin ERC20 Ethereum tokens, don’t fret. The Kin Foundation will release “an easy way for you to migrate your Kin to the Kin Blockchain.”
How Does Kin Work?
The Kin Foundation want users to send, receive, and spend Kin as they would regular currency. That much is clear. In mid-2018, the Kin Foundation announced the Kin Developer Program, a financed app-developer incentive program that offered up to 25 developers a shot at part of the $3 million development fund. Successful developers would receive up to $140,000 in combined fiat and Kin currency, with access to the Kin Ecosystem.
The Kin Foundation ended up allowing 40 developers into the Developer Program from over 200 eventual applicants.
The result is a fairly bustling-yet-primitive Kin-focused app ecosystem with plenty more development in the pipeline.
The Kin Rewards Engine
Central to the success and ongoing expansion of Kin and the Kin Ecosystem is the Kin Rewards System. The Kin Rewards System is a core ecosystem concept whereby businesses, developers, and other digital services using the Kin Ecosystem receive period rewards for their support. Incentives will assist with ongoing development, in turn aiding the cryptocurrencies expansion and adding value.
The proportion of Kin distributed to services will relate to their utilization of the cryptocurrency, using the following formula:
Ri = TDR ⋅ SSEi ∕ TSE
Where i represents a digital service, Ri represents the daily reward for any given day, TDR is the Total Daily Reward, SSE is the Size of the Service Economy, and TSE is the Total Size of the Economy.
Where Can You Use Kin?
The scope of apps currently varies between those that integrate Kin as a currency and those that offer Kin as a payment method for answering marketing questions or taking short quizzes. Kik is an obvious place where you can use Kin. But where else?
For instance, I took the Kin Foundations Kinit app for a spin.
The Kinit app features four options: Trivia, This or That, Survey, and Images. Trivia offers questions relating to a broad range of subjects, and you receive 4 Kin for each correct answer. (Mine got stuck on American Football for a few days, so I wasn’t earning much!)
This and That, Survey, and Images are all market research tools where you answer questions or select between different images and receive Kin at the end of the process.
The Kinny app is under development by the Kin Foundation Reddit community and is, in its current guise, a tip-bot-come-market research app. Once you sign up for Kinny, you can complete market research questionnaires to earn Kin, within the Kinny app. Then, you can transfer your earnings to your Kinny tip wallet and use the tip-bot to send people small bits of Kin.
Currently, you can use Kinny on Reddit, Twitter, and in the official Kin Foundation Discord server, though wider Discord support is coming soon.
Download: Kinny for Android | iOS coming soon
The number of apps using and integrating Kin is expanding. As you would expect, the Kik instant messaging app features at the top of the board. In its current guise, Kin suits instant messaging and social media platforms. Those types of apps and experiences dominate the Top 10.
One surprising “breakout” Kin application is Perfect365. The augmented reality beauty platform integrated Kin into their payment and tipping system to great success and has introduced Kin (and potentially, cryptocurrencies in general) to a predominantly female marketplace.
You can check out the full Kin Ecosystem Activity Board, which updates daily and contains every app currently using Kin.
Will Your Teenager Use Kin?
The idea of a cryptocurrency essentially marketed towards teenagers is interesting. At least, before the introduction of the Kin Foundation Development Program, Kik was the focal point for the new cryptocurrency. Since then, the focus of Kin has changed. The Kik instant messaging app still tops the Kin Activity Board (see above), but it isn’t the be-all and end-all for the Foundation.
Teenagers using Kik will use Kin. Kin integrates with the app.
The real question is what purpose does this serve the teenagers and young adults meant to use it?
Well, the Kin Foundation envisages Kin as the monetization method of choice for popular Kik users. Celebrities can create exclusive VIP hangouts, using Kin as the payment entry method. Also, popular accounts can accept Kin in return for a far-reaching product shout-out, or a single message can be pinned to the top of a chat for a certain amount of time.
Another key early use concept is service payment and tipping. Kik is already jampacked with bots, with over 150,000 active bots providing a huge range of services. Kin can replace traditional fiat currency in these transactions, as well as being sent as a tip, too. (As you have seen with the Kinny tip-bot.)
Kin Is Here to Stay
The Kin Foundation are pressing forward with development in every area. If you have teenagers using the Kik platform, it might be worth asking them if they’ve encountered Kin, what they make of it, and how they think it will continue. As one of the focal markets, they’ve great insight into the fledgling cryptocurrency.
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