DEFINITION of 'Kin (Cryptocurrency)'

While standalone cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have paved the way for the industry, more existing companies are venturing into the digital currency space with their own offerings. One of those companies is Kik, the popular messenger service. Kik's cryptocurrency is called Kin.

As with many other company-specific digital currencies, Kin has special uses within the Kik messenger platform. Users are able to earn Kin for making contributions to the broader Kik community; they can also spend Kin on various goods and services within the Kik platform.

BREAKING DOWN 'Kin (Cryptocurrency)'

Kin was first launched in September of 2017. (See more: Popular Kik Messaging App to Launch Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency.)

It was launched via an ICO that raised roughly $100 million in investor funds over a period of about two weeks. Upon its launch, the founders of Kin described the Kin Ecosystem as "designed specifically to bring people together in a new shared economy," with the cryptocurrency itself acting as a "foundation for a decentralized ecosystem of digital services." (See more: Kik Initial Coin Offering Aims for $125 Million.)

While most companies that launch their own cryptocurrency have a ready-made user base, Kik had an important advantage over its competitors in this regard. Kik already enjoyed millions of active users through its messaging platform. As such, the platform could drive mainstream consumer adoption of the Kin cryptocurrency. The Kik app was also able to house many of the traditionally third-party services and features for the currency, including the Kin wallet.

Kin Rewards Engine

Perhaps even more notable about the launch of Kin has been the Kin Rewards Engine. Through this mechanism, "Kin will be introduced into circulation as a daily reward, to be distributed among stakeholders by an algorithm that reflects each community's contribution to the overall ecosystem."

This is one of many ways that the makers of Kin have worked to incentivize the use of the cryptocurrency by the broader Kik community. Apps are still able to offer Kin to consumers in exchange for watching advertisements and providing feedback, as most cryptocurrencies operating in a similar fashion already do.

Besides this, though, consumers are able to engage in a much wider variety of activities in exchange for Kin tokens. The Kin development team assumes that consumers don't enjoy having to watch ads in order to be rewarded in cryptocurrency, no matter how much they might like the reward. For that reason, it's possible for Kik users to amass Kin tokens without ever having to watch advertisements.

Kik CEO and founder Ted Livingston has suggested that the Kin token is an opportunity to distribute value amongst developers. The idea is that Kik will give away value, incentivizing developers to "build an open and decentralized ecosystem of apps" on the Kik platform.

The Kin Foundation is a "manifestation of a not-for-profit governance organization that will ultimately be decentralized and autonomous," helping to steer the development of the broader ecosystem, according to ETHnews. The ecosystem will not be based around advertising, as many social media platforms are, but rather on users being able to provide value to themselves and one another, and on those users then being rewarded for that contribution.

Besides being a digital currency, the Kin website describes the token as "different from other digital currencies because it is a cryptocurrency." Kin is similar to bitcoin in that it makes use of the public blockchain and has monetary value. The fact that Kin is part of a blockchain allows its developers to control the creation and flow of tokens to prevent a surge. Blockchain support also allows a token to be guaranteed over the long term.

While many cryptocurrencies reward powerful mining operations and encourage users to stockpile tokens, Kin's setup prompts Kik users to earn and spend their currency within the platform. Kin is seamlessly integrated into apps, with Kin-supported apps in the Kik platform set apart with a small "K" icon. Those icons link apps with the Kin Marketplace, where users can find many different opportunities to both earn and spend their tokens.

This is also the hub where developers are able to create and distribute content for Kin rewards. In these ways, Kik's developers have worked to integrate the cryptocurrency into the app experience, assuring that customers do not have to go out of their way in order to become involved in the Kin economy.

Although Kin was only officially launched late in 2017, it comes on the heels of a large experimental campaign. Over a period of close to three years, Kik ran a project called Kik Points. This was very similar to Kin in that it offered Kik users the chance to earn and spend points within the app itself. At its highest levels, Kik Points reached transaction volumes equal to three times more than bitcoin. If Kin is able to achieve the same levels of interest and activity, the results could be phenomenal.

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