The makers of cryptocurrency and blockchain probably never thought much about kitties. But that didn’t stop the newest craze on the blockchain block, CryptoKitties, a San Francisco-based blockchain start-up, from capitalizing on the public’s desire to “catch ’em all”.
For starters, you can’t buy these kitties with Benjamins. The only way to get a CryptoKitty is via Ether (and we’re not talking about Aether, the “Reality” Stone from the Thor movies), the currency of the Ethereum network, which is currently valued at about $70 billion. Some kitties are limited edition felines that are one-of-a-kind in terms of their whisker aesthetic, color palette, and fur type. These highly desirable kitties are the sort that collectors pay through the roof to get their hands on. Through trading, one owner managed to make thousands in real currency — check out #23 here.
Just how popular is CryptoKitties? There are estimated to be over 200,000 kitty collectors. Reddit alone has a whole subreddit (r/CryptoKitties) dedicated to the 7000-odd CryptoKitties lovers. Imagine a comic con gathering for CryptoKitties — a KittyCon, if you will. You could probably fill an entire football stadium with CryptoKitties collectors alone.
The Technical Bits from the WhitePapurr
The issues revolving around digital collectibles are three folds: central issuing authority, provider dependency, and lack of function. CryptoKitties has partially, but not fully, addressed all of these problems.
For starters, Blockchain effectively solves the central issuing authority problem via decentralization. Imagine if the POTUS Donald Trump was able to print large amounts of dollars whenever he wanted just because he wanted more cash for the American people. What would happen to the value of your cash? Your perceived cash value would probably drop significantly based on how much the POTUS printed, significantly weakening the dollar. CryptoKitties addresses this problem by allowing the cat collectors to breed kitties on their own (except for the first generation of CryptoKitties, there is no centralized kitty incubator that generates all of the kitties).
CryptoKitties, however, is unable to truly achieve provider independency. Without the company, we think that there will be no CryptoKitties. Lack of function is an interesting concept, because the function itself is defined subjectively from person to person. You might ask a CryptoKitties collector whether the ownership of these virtual beings bring them joy — and your answer would probably be yes. In the digital age of blockchain and cryptocurrency, we think the question that techies should be asking is “What is the value?”
Potential Application to IoT
Although these digital felines are entirely virtual at the current point in time (unlike your vintage Beanie Babies), real kittens with real pedigrees may soon be getting their very own crypto presence in the near future. With mature real-time location system (RTLS) technology, real kitties in the physical world can be tagged with a smart collar to create a virtual kitty avatar on the web. Before we know it, the IoT will soon become the Internet of Kitties (IoK). Cat ladies across the globe will soon be able to share their real kitties’ activities via online avatars. The most popular of digital kittens might even be co-owned by countless owners across the vast internet. While your cat is at home sleeping, its crypto avatar might very well be duelling with another cat in a different time zone in the digital world. Popular avatars might elevate real kittens to influencer levels of fame, while the the owners reap the benefit of their pets’ newfound popularity.
If you thought your cat had nine lives, think again — crypto might very well be giving them a tenth. As for the canine lovers out there — anyone fancy a CryptoDoge? #cryptodoge