Ted Livingston

Kin launches own blockchain

The Kin Ecosystem Foundation, the nonprofit governance body for the cryptocurrency Kin, today announced it will build its own blockchain based on Stellar. The decision to develop a blockchain evolves the foundation’s earlier plan for a hybrid blockchain infrastructure to support the Kin Ecosystem. Under the new approach, the foundation will continue to leverage the Ethereum blockchain for security and liquidity to holders of the Kin token. The Kin blockchain will provide highly scalable functionality and accessibility to unlock consumer-facing experiences with no fees.

“Most crypto projects to date have been technology-driven first and product-driven second. Kin has always been the opposite,” said Ted Livingston, founder and CEO of Kin and Kik. “After working heads down alongside the best minds in the industry we came to the conclusion that a hybrid solution of Ethereum and our own fork of Stellar would benefit the Kin Ecosystem both short and long-term. Our goal is for Kin to be the most used cryptocurrency in the world, and this will help get us there sooner.”

The foundation has been working closely with Stellar, and during preliminary tests, the platform has driven faster and more scalable transactions for digital services than Kin’s initial blockchain Ethereum. Due to its open source roots and the collaborative nature of the industry, Kin will be able to fork Stellar and create its own blockchain. The foundation’s goal is to eliminate transaction fees to accelate consumer and developer adoption of Kin, with plans to create a unified currency over two networks while maintaining the integrity of the allocation schedule outlined in the Kin whitepaper.

Statement from Kin

Kin Blockchain — Taking fate into our own hands

Kin’s mission is not simply to make the digital world better, but to actually make it good. What would this look like? It would be a place that is fair, transparent, accessible, and that privileges co-creation and experience, over competition and possession. This is not just a fundamental shift in how we think about our digital lives, but also in how we imagine cryptocurrencies will be used.

Ted Livingston

Rather than seeing crypto as an investment vehicle, or something to be held, we are creating a new model in which crypto is something to be used as much and as frequently as possible. That means rethinking how the digital world is built — which is why creating the right blockchain strategy is so important to achieving our goals. Current blockchains aren’t set up to handle the level of transactions we are working to create, so we’ve decided to take things into our own hands and build our own.

When I think of where we started and where we are now, I couldn’t have predicted the decisions that have moved down this path to date. It’s like we are in the blockchain jungle trying to find our way through a thick forest without a compass or map. Since no one has tread this path before, there is no one to follow. We need to move step by step, learn as we go, and adapt to the challenges that we find along the way. This is exactly what we have done over the past several months.

A short recap

The last several months have been an amazing journey with a lot of important learning. At the end of last year we had the IPLV2 project that allowed users to purchase stickers within the Kik app using Kin. The experience was built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.

As you may have already read, one of the the main learnings from IPLV2 was that Ethereum will not be able to serve our needs in its current state. While there are several reasons for this, scaling and unpredictable fee rates were two of the main issues that lead to the conclusion that we need to look for an alternative blockchain.

We researched alternative blockchains and ended up choosing Stellar as the best candidate because it solved the issues around scale and fee predictability that we encountered on Ethereum. As we started to create the migration plan from Ethereum to Stellar, we came to understand that while Stellar solves some of the key problems that we encountered on top of Ethereum, it still has its limitations around liquidity.

These experiences led us to form a multi-blockchain strategy. We decided to have the best of both worlds and have Kin on multiple blockchains. Kin would be on Ethereum to take advantage of liquidity options, and on Stellar in order to serve consumers and take advantage of scalability.

New learnings, new challenges

Once the multi-blockchain strategy was formed, we started to work on several tracks in parallel:

  • Building the Kin Core SDKs on top of Stellar
  • Performing technical scaling tests for Stellar infrastructure
  • Planning the partial migration plan for Kin on top of Stellar in which Kin2 would be issued on top of Stellar while continue to have Kin1 on Ethereum

This phase also brought forward a number of important new learnings. From a technical perspective the most important was that Stellar will be able to — at least initially — scale for our needs. From a business perspective, we also learned about new challenges that we will need to overcome regarding subsidies of the network. The main issues we encountered with regard to MainNet (Stellar’s production environment) were how to handle subsidizing the fees of new accounts and transactions on Stellar, as well as the churn of users that stopped using the app after a wallet was already created.

Deciding on next steps

In response to the new learning and challenges we encountered with Stellar, we arrived at several options for how to move forward. We could use Stellar MainNet; we could start small on the Stellar Public TestNet environment and migrating to the MainNet at a later phase; or we could even create our own Private Test Net for a better maintained infrastructure.

After considering the alternatives we decided that any solution that would eventually force us to go back to Stellar’s MainNet would have the same business scale issues. What we need in the long run — and we are in it for the long run — is our own solution that eliminates business scale issues and can be customized to our own needs. In light of this, we decided to build our own blockchain — the Kin Blockchain.

Building the Kin Blockchain

When you look at the crypto industry, something you notice is that most of the current projects think about the technology first and the products after.

Kin is different. We started by working on a product with a real use case and then started finding ways to meet the technology needs for this use case. Working this way allows us to make sure we aren’t building technology for the sake of technology, but rather technology that truly serves our product needs.

After all of the experience we had in the past months, we came to the conclusion that in order to take us to the next step and become the most used cryptocurrency in the world, we would need to take fate into our own hands to create a solution that can fit our needs.

One of the great things about the crypto field is that everything is open source, which enables developers to customize solutions for their own use cases. When you look at the current top 10 coins in the market, you’ll notice that many of them are a fork of another blockchain project.

Forking Stellar allows us to customize it for our own needs, which will improve the user experience of the Kin SDK and eliminate any fee subsidy issues that might slow us down as we move forward. This decision supports permissionless innovation and empowers developers to more easily contribute and improve the Kin ecosystem tools and infrastructure, enabling them to build custom use cases that otherwise would never exist. Moreover, digital services that join our journey will be able to operate part of the network and have a bigger influence on their future.

Continuing with our strategy partnerships

An important part of the Kin project is to have rapid iterations and deliveries which enable learning. We believe these learnings are key for success and, as always, help us make the right decisions to move forward toward our goals. When we started to work with Stellar — who have been really supportive and helpful throughout the process — we wouldn’t have guessed that the path would lead to forking their blockchain. As we develop our Stellar fork, we will continue to work with them to strengthen the partnership and share our learnings from the journey.

The other part of our partnership equation is Orbs, with whom we work closely and have a strong alliance to bring crypto into the mainstream. Orbs is an ambitious, long term project that is still in its early stages. While we are strong believers in their project, Kin needs to scale fast and have rapid user growth in the short term.

Taking fate into our own hands by building our own solution will enable us to reach our goal of becoming the most used cryptocurrency in the digital world. Our cooperation with Orbs will definitely continue, and when the time is right we will look at our product needs and learnings to decide on the best path forward… just as we always do!

Controlling our destiny

Building our own blockchain isn’t something we take lightly. This is an important decision that we could only make due to the fast pace of learning that has become a central part of Kin’s culture.

As we continue to progress down our as yet untrodden path, we will continue to learn and adapt our technology needs according to the new requirements as they arise.

Walking a new path frequently requires a new approach and always requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing needs. This is even more true, when the path your walking is towards something as ambitious as using crypto to put experience at the center of the digital world. We believe that building our own blockchain is the right decision on our path towards becoming the most used cryptocurrency in the world, and our greater goal of making the digital world a more fair place for everyone.

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