Rally is launching a cryptocurrency dubbed Creator Coin that will help influencers, content creators, and streamers run their own virtual economies. And while it’s all virtual, Creator Coin is a new way for people with fans to make real money.
With Creator Coin, Rally will enable influencers to create their own flavor of cryptocurrency that they can use to reward fans and build engagement. This sounds familiar to me because it fits into what I call the “Leisure Economy,” where we someday will all get paid to play games and build careers that didn’t exist before. I’m talking about folks like esports athletes, cosplayers, influencers, YouTubers, livestreamers, modders, and many other people. These are all the sort of folks that Rally is targeting, CEO Kevin Chou said in an interview with GamesBeat.
As an example, a streamer could make a Creator Coin and give it away to fans who spend a certain time watching their livestreams. The fans could in turn use that custom-branded cryptocurrency to buy virtual items in a game or purchase items from another streamer. And they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of setting up a cryptocurrency wallet or creating an account.
Rally has already set up an influencer platform, Taki, that caters to these folks and their fans. Taki’s aim is to remove the hurdles between creators and fans and generate new income streams for creators. It lets fans purchase things from creators like video interactions and prerecorded birthday wishes.
Creator Coin is in alpha testing, and creators can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to try it out.
Helping creators make money
Rally wants to make interaction between creators and fans easier, and Creator Coins are part of the grease to make it happen. As an example, one of the influencers using Creator Coins is taking payments from fans who want advice about what kind of deck to build for Blizzard’s Hearthstone game.
The cryptocurrency is based on blockchain, the secure and transparent decentralized ledger technology, and it won’t require technical know-how to use, Chou said. It uses the Ethereum platform as its foundation.
Rally worked with Chou’s other startup, the blockchain gaming company Forte, to figure out some of the foundational technology behind Creator Coins. But Forte remains a separate company from what Chou is doing at Rally. Forte generally works with large enterprise teams, while Rally is working with influencers.
“I’ve been working on this almost two years. And we’ve built a lot of deep technology,” Chou said. “It took us a long time to build the technology because of how hard it is to work with blockchain tech. But we’re excited to take the covers off, and we have had a bunch of creators just fall in love with this thing.”
The Creator Coins are a digital currency that can be custom branded to each creator. They are also the foundational building blocks in an easy-to-use blockchain toolkit that will allow creators to unlock better engagement and monetization models in their communities.
Rally’s team of execs from Twitch, YouTube, Disney, Kabam, and Facebook aims to make it easier to make a living as a streamer. Right now, it can be an exhausting struggle for people who aren’t superstars.
If it works, Chou said creators will no longer be beholden to the changing value schemes of big social media platforms, which currently keep a lot of the proceeds generated by a creator. The creator won’t be subject to the rules of the social platform’s advertising/partner programs, platform soft currencies, and subscription programs. Any value built up in a Creator Coin economy is owned by creators and their communities and completely independent of big tech platforms, Chou said.
And creators have control. In addition to removing platform gatekeepers and only allowing payment processing fees and transaction fees the creators set for themselves (Rally takes no fees), creators no longer have to contend with the usual fears around demonetization, deplatforming, and censorship when it comes to their Creator Coin economy.
And with blockchain behind it, the creator gets the transparency of knowing who holds coins in the community, transaction verification, and scarcity control.
With traditional social platforms, creators earn money via a small percentage of revenue from advertising, subscriptions, or sponsored posts. In Rally’s vision for the future, creators will be able to grow their audiences and earn revenue by building their own digital economy fueled by their own currency, where they’ll be able to offer customized rewards and benefits, personalized digital item collection and trading, and methods and incentives for their fans to support them with donations, all while keeping 100% of the profits.
Creators are already using it
Twitch streamer OneNightStanz has been trying out Creator Coin. OneNightStanz’s community drove more than 200 transactions of his coin in the first five days of his launch by primarily playing games with him.
“We’ve had a ton of usage, and it’s just amazing to see the community is gravitating towards Creator Coins,” Chou said. “Their communities are just super engaged with it. And so that’s been super fun to watch.”
Fans can obtain Creator Coins by heading to Rally’s website and purchasing via credit card. Additionally, creators can buy their own Creator Coin and award it to fans as a type of cashback loyalty program. For example, some Twitch streamers are giving Creator Coins to fans who subscribe to a higher subscription tier on Twitch (i.e. tier 2 and tier 3 subs).
Users can transfer Creator Coins to the creator directly in the form of a tip or donation (no chargebacks), or they can send Creator Coins to other users. Over time, there will be other ways for users to spend Creator Coin.
Many users will want to simply hold Creator Coin as a collectible asset, as it represents their support of and loyalty to a creator. Additionally, savvy creators will use Creator Coin as a flexible loyalty tool, using them to identify top coin holders and offer them valuable benefits and rewards. For example, one of the early music creators on Creator Coin, ChewieMelodies, is offering top holders a custom song request on Twitch.
Fans often help creators with moderation, video editing, art/graphics production, and other valuable community services. Creators can use Creator Coin to reward loyal subscribers for past or future support, and in the future, there will be more automatic ways creators can set up earnable programs.
Rally launched the first Creator Coin on July 29. There were more than 500 sign-ups in the first five days (July 29- August 2). As of August 5, 11 different Creator Coins have launched with plans to double that number by the end of the month. One Twitch channel, DownToQuest, generated more than $15,000 of DTQ coin purchases, leading to a circulating supply of approximately 140,000 and a current price of 80 cents per coin.
Longer term, Rally will roll out additional tools for creators to manage and monetize their Creator Coin economies, as well as more ways for fans to spend and redeem their Creator Coin. Creator Coin is platform agnostic. While Rally is starting with creators on Twitch, the coins will travel across all platforms.
How it works
One of the things Rally did was enable a coin to be instantly purchasable, even if there wasn’t an instantly available seller. You don’t have to wait or go through a long process of hunting down a buyer who will sell at a certain price. For a creator who is just getting started, they might have 100 fans. If you want to buy, someone might not want to sell.
Creator Coin uses something called “token bonding curve” that creates an automated way to buy and sell. You do the transaction with a smart contract (a program on the blockchain) on Ethereum. The coins are in the smart contract, and the smart contract serves as the counter-party so that a fan can purchase coins. “There’s always a market, and I don’t have to wait for somebody else to sell,” Chou said.
Rally also created the coins so that each creator can brand their own coin. “In our vision, over the next 10 years, every person in the world will just have their own token,” Chou said. “It’s a way for you to encapsulate your digital brand — or the value of your business or brand or economy or just your financial reputation — onto a public blockchain. And we think that’s really important.”
You could use that virtual currency on any social network, whether it’s Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, or Discord. “It’s on the public blockchain,” he said. “It’s not a thing stuck in an Amazon server or a YouTube server. It’s literally the creator’s own thing. You get the keys to your own smart contract.”
For the users, owning Creator Coins will be simple, Chou said. You won’t have to set up a wallet or connect the account to a source of funds like a credit card or a bank account. That’s one of the things that has held back cryptocurrencies from going mainstream. You authenticate for now with your Twitch account and that creates the crypto wallet. You can earn tokens or buy tokens with a credit card in seconds. As for the price? That’s up to supply and demand. As a creator, you sell your Creator Coins for the price that fans are willing to pay. That sorts itself out over time.
Each creator generates a genesis token or block. They work with Rally to get maybe 50,000 tokens. At the outset, this price might might be two cents per token. The creator starts giving it out to fans and figures out ways for fans to earn the coins. At some point, once the boundaries of the economy are clear, then people will be able to cash out the coins for U.S. dollars or other cryptocurrencies, Chou said.
The streamer could make himself or herself the only holder of their own custom coin with their name on it. It can’t be counterfeited, as it has blockchain to establish ownership. The streamer can give out the coin to loyal followers and then those followers can use the coins to get VIP benefits.
They could, for instance, use the coins to get special access to a Discord channel, public shoutouts, and game requests. People could also buy the coins and trade them for a higher value as the streamer’s brand grows more and more prominent. The streamer could cash out the coins for real money or put them back in the hands of followers who earn rewards. That could enable the streamer to make a significant income.
The streamer could get people excited by launching limited-run collectible items in the form of digital trading cards through Rally. The rarity of these cards could be verified on Rally’s blockchain and could only be obtained by depositing the streamer’s coins. A marketplace could form around the streamer’s personal brand.
The long game
Chou realizes a lot of people have been scammed in cryptocurrency startups and projects. And he doesn’t want the same to happen here. Rally will set up rules so the creators don’t run into any regulatory problems with the coins. But Rally itself won’t be issuing the coins, and so it won’t need to worry about running afoul of regulators, Chou said.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the regulatory front and on a compliance front,” Chou said. “We are focused on providing utility. We are making sure that this is something that the creators are using themselves. We’re not hiring a celebrity to say ‘go buy this token.’ This is not that. This is us providing a toolkit. It’s a little like WordPress for creating webpages — we give it to the creator, and they use it for cool things like creating limited edition digital autographs.”
At the moment, Rally is building a community rather than charging fees. Rally wants to be trusted, and so it is setting up rules for the creators so they can also avoid getting in any trouble with fans or regulators.
“The creators themselves cannot abuse the system and run this to do nefarious things. One of the reasons why we also use blockchain technology is that it creates a very transparent system,” Chou said.
In the long term, Chou doesn’t see himself as building a company. Indeed, he still refers to Rally as a project. “In five years, we want to see a very strong community and it’s decentralized. We want to be able to do for creators and their fans, where no one will change the rules on them or kick them off a platform,” Chou said. “This is truly your thing. It doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want on it. It means the community itself sets the rules. We all want the network to be successful. We all want it to be used by billions of people. And if that happens, everyone’s going to do well.”