- Kik Interactive, developer of the Kik messaging app that has 15 million monthly average users, is creating its own digital currency. The cryptocurrency, called “Kin,” is built on Ethereum technology and will become the main payment method for transactions on Kik, according to a statement by the company.
- The technology lets users earn the currency in various ways, including interacting with chatbots and services backed by brands, publishers or other companies, according to Adweek. People can be rewarded for interacting with a brand itself or for mentioning it in a post. They can also spend their Kin on chatbots or tips. The token sale will take place later this summer, Kik said.
- Kik previously tested a form of digital currency called Kik Points, which it took out of service in March. These points were earned by visiting websites, playing games, taking surveys or signing up for services from an advertiser. Users could redeem the points for limited-edition stickers and emoticons to use in the service's messaging app.
As part of an effort to take on Google's and Facebook’s dominance in the online marketplace, Kik wants to push for the adoption of Kin by gifting a certain amount of the cryptocurrency to its users with its Kin Rewards Engine. Because the digital money can be used to buy games, watch video streams or obtain other digital products, the idea behind Kin's model early on is that its value would grow from a network effect, where additional users make it valuable as a medium of exchange.
The launch of Kin also points to how, as consumers spend more time online, there is an opportunity for marketers to drive engagements through digital-only rewards. For example, marketers could used Kin to reward Kik and other app users for posting about a brand or engaging with a chatbot.
The surging prices for bitcoin and other virtual currencies have raised awareness of their potential for online transactions. Kik’s “initial coin offering” (ICO) for Kin may get more people interested in cryptocurrencies and virtual fundraising. ICOs give people the chance to invest in a company early on, similar to when privately owned companies become publicly traded with an IPO.
Cryptocurrency doesn't come without risks. So far, mainstream adoption has been generally slow due to the anonymity of all transactions — leading to concerns that it could be used for illegal black market trading — and lack of government agency to lend credence to the alternative currency.