Cooperatively Minded Cryptocurrencies

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Source: What would a Co-op Coin ICO look like?

Compiled by Oliver Sylvester-Bradley:

  • RChain co-operative is is building a platform for ‘scalable blockchain applications’. The Co-op is the organisation that develops the open-source RChain platform software, whilst RChain Holdings is a for-profit entity whose mission is to grow the ecosystem around the RChain platform.
  • Colu Local Network is a blockchain based payment network that allows communities to issue their own currency and use it to incentivise merchants and consumers for buying and selling with fiat currency.
  • Steem is an incentivised, blockchain based, public content platform. Their first app, Steemit, is a blogging platform featuring tokens which are distributed to content creators and curators daily as rewards, based on community voting.
  • Slightly more on topic, Boyd Cohen is working on an ICO for the Collabor8 token with the goal of raising funding to create major platform coop infrastructure that can be used by platform cooperatives to shorten the runway to viability. The collabor8 ‘social currency’ seem particularly interesting because it includes an element of social reputation…
  • Bill Olivier also seems to cover a lot of the right ground in his doc on Co-operative Exchange Token, although he seems hampered by the belief that ICOs (as they commonly work) are not a plausible option for co-ops, whereas we believe an ICO can be designed to work ethically.
  • FairCoin is one of the more ethically minded alternative currencies, which aims to “implement fair value exchange on a global level” using a unique “proof-of-cooperation mechanism”. Again, this is a blockchain based system but one which uses “collaboratively validated nodes” (CVNs) to secure the network. It’s a clever system but one which is still prone to speculation which undoubtedly undermines their proud claim that “FairCoin now is the the most ecological and resilient cryptocurrency”! Since their “air drop” (basically, dumping a load of coins around the internet to be picked up by whoever gets there first, with some limitations on claims per person) the “value” of a Faircoin has increased hugely and the community “claims” one Faircon is now worth €1.2. These claims about Faircoins’ value must be decided at a General Assembly via “consensus reached through an open, participatory process of discussion. Not the invisible hands of the market…” and the other Fair ventures like the marketplace and their growing community of local nodes do make this a valid and vibrant economy. But since everyone involved in Faircoin obviously has a vested interest in its increasing valuation and since Faircoin can be traded on at least two exchanges it is just as prone to speculation as gold, or Bitcoin. In fact, their page on “value” includes a slightly humorous request for speculators to leave Faricoin alone: “If you just want to get rich soon and intend to “pump and bump” – please consider other AltCoins to speculate on.” Not the most robust means of securing a stable, inflation and speculation proof system!


  • Coinsence is a platform for social collaboration that aims to “empower social and ecological engagement and support [by] building a collaborative, fair and sustainable economy”. Coinsence is new and only has a small community at the moment, but they seem to have a identified a clever model via which they issue different tokens to represent community currencies, voting rights and asset shares. Tokens can then be allocated by communities to provide incentives for ‘projects’, as well as being used as a means of exchange. These ‘social currencies’ have a limited store of value (making them less prone to hoarding and speculation) since they include high demurrage and transaction fees. The fees can be democratically re-invested into selected community projects. It’s not entirely clear how Coinsence secures the transactions, or if their technology is at all scalable but their model includes a lot of the right ingredients for a vibrant co-operative economy.
  • Duniter is a crypto currency software system, which means it provides the ability to create currencies. Again, it’s blockchain based but its’ currency code includes a Universal Dividend (for currency creation and distribution) and is based on a clever concept; a Web of Trust via which each member is recognised (its identity is trusted – not its actions) if they satisfy the WoT rules which require the members to have enough signatures (links) from other members. These signatures (links) expire over time so the WoT is a clever way to ensure that people are who they say they are via social validation."


The Holochain is the most promising project so far

Oliver Sylvester-Bradley:

"Of all the current crypto currency options Holo stands out because it based on the Holochain (a more efficient way of encoding transitions) and it’s currency is not only going to be based on “mutual credit” but its also going to backed by computer processing power. It’s well worth watching this great video from Philip Beadle to get an idea of how blockchain works and the differences between Bitcoin, Etherium and Holochain – especially from an app building point of view.

Holo are just concluding a very successful crowdfunder which aims to provide the ‘bridging technology’ to bring holo into the mainstream. The ‘hosting boxes’ (holo ports) people have bought through the crowdfunder will allow non-technically minded people to simply plug a spare hard drive in to their router to provide storage capacity and processing power on the Holo network.

The Holo network is nothing short of true peer-to-peer. Meaning that users can access each others computers directly, without the need to go via Google’s or Amazon’s servers. In fact, they can host and runs applications on the Holo network, in much the same way as BitTorrent works. This provides incredible opportunities for scaling (as more peers join the network, everyone benefits from ‘the network effect’) and, equally as importantly, the opportunity to re-define how the applications that run on the network are designed to work; it solves the entire “net neutrality” issue completely. Holo, and the people behind it, have designed the Holo network to work in a more “user centric” way than the way the web works today.

The Holo ICO is a very HOT topic. Art Brock, one of the founders of the project, has written about building responsible crypto currencies and agrees that

- “Cryptocurrencies do not have to be gambling tokens created from nothing. They can be responsibly connected to assets, promises, or real-world value. They don’t have to re-create all the speculative money problems that they were supposed to be solving”.

Currencies can be optimised to be a useful means of exchange, or a useful store of value, but rarely work well when trying to be both at the same time. “Holo fuel” (also known as HOT, or Holo Tokens) are designed to provide a medium of exchange on the Holo network. Their ICO requires users to buy HOT with ETH (another crypto currency).

Given that buying in to the Holo ICO with ETH will be at a specific price, we were keen to understand how the value of HOT has been calculated, how it hopes to avoid being linked in value to ETH and other crypto currency prices in the future, and how HOT will avoid suffering from speculation?

We put the question to Jean Russell, project lead for the Holo ICO, who answered as follows:

- HOT is set as 10k x ETH for the launch. But that is just the initial set. Once the network starts, then 1 HOT = 1 Holo fuel. And Holo fuel is about the value of hosting in Holo.

Surely there will arise an exchange that will convert ETH to Holo fuel, so they will be relational in some way. However, even if the Ethereum system collapses, Holo can continue and the value should not be negatively impacted. We believe that we will be much more than 10,000x faster/cheaper than Ethereum (mostly because that system in some ways was designed to be difficult and slow as part of the security). Our system is designed for scalability and resilience (DHT) so it should get better as it scales. Anti-fragile in fact.

The initial price (and the practical network value the community gives it) will be a gap that speculators can guess at. Thereafter though, it should remain fairly stable as it is really about the asset and the value of that asset in the marketplace.

I can’t give the deep philosophical explanation that Art can, but what I hear from him is that mutual credit along with asset-backing pretty much assures that it can’t be a gambling game of high stakes. Those who invest early when there is high risk of the platform getting off the ground will gain some benefit, yes. But then it should achieve a meta-stable state.

We have high hopes for Holo. With Holochain offering a viable alternative to blockchain it should, naturally, benefit from “second mover advantage” by learning a lot of lessons from its predecessor. The way it has been designed from a holographic, and sociocratic perspective seems to fit the requirements of a co-operative economy which distributes ownership and governance to the lowest possible levels.

If their ICO, which they are calling an “Initial Community Offering“, goes well it will be very interesting to see how this first major alternative to the blockchain based systems develops.

If Holo is successful and a vibrant peer to peer community emerges, perhaps the Holo Network would be the place to launch a dedicated co-op coin? Much of the hard work, in terms of underlying infrastructure, will have been done so a launching a co-op coin on holo should not be as hard as starting from scratch. The main issues would be achieving agreement between a sufficient number of stakeholders about a co-op coins parameters, mainly it’s issuance and the management of supply and demand." (