Kickstarter is still pivoting to blockchain, swears it won’t be Proof-of-Work

Kickstarter announced its decentralized crowdfunding service in December but users are worried about the eco impact of blockchain.

Crowdfunding giant Kickstarter says it is opening the floor to suggestions as it looks to allay fears about its proposed blockchain-based platform, reports Engadget.

In a white paper published on its website, Kickstarter says it has “many ideas” about how a new decentralized protocol can help creators.

Kickstarter says branching out into blockchain will help the platform standardize crowdfunding campaigns while allowing creators greater power to raise money outside their networks.

The company announced plans for a decentralized crowdfunding service back in December but was met with criticism from its users.

Kickstarter has now laid out framework for developing and rolling out the new system, and promised to listen to its community along the way. The company stressed it would wait for feedback before going ahead.

Kickstarter creators were irked by the potential environmental impact of blockchain — despite early messaging indicating it would opt for Celo, a purportedly “carbon neutral” network (via offsets) which isn’t powered by Proof-of-Work.

Users also flagged reputational damage borne from associating with an industry perceived to be riddled with scams.

Kickstarter laid out four main tenets to adhere as it prepares to launch the new service:

  • No rolling out any blockchain stuff until it’s been properly tested. The company says it won’t “force this on creators and communities for whom Kickstarter is already working well.”
  • Setting up what it calls an advisory council “made up of a diverse range of Kickstarter users and participants,” which will shape what the new service will look like.
  • Keeping Kickstarter a “public benefit” corporation, saying it will “do its work out in the open, and the protocol code will be open-source and available for anyone to view.”
  • Committing to limiting environmental impact, agreeing that “offsets are not enough” and pledging not to build the protocol on a carbon-intensive blockchain.

Kickstarter has avoided outright stating whether its blockchain pivot will mean adopting cryptocurrency, whether Bitcoin, Ether, its own token, or otherwise.

Under the prompt, “Does this mean at some point in the future, you’ll only accept cryptocurrency?” Kickstarter says in its FAQ:

“No. Backers can still use normal credit or debit cards to pledge to campaigns and creators can continue to receive local currency (aka dollars, euros, pounds, etc.) to fulfil their projects. You won’t be required to back projects or accept funds in cryptocurrency.”

Kickstarter attempted to sooth outrage from users concerned about carbon emissions in its blog post.

[Read more: Kickstarter creators boycott platform over blockchain despite ‘green’ approach]

In any case, prominent Kickstarter users aren’t convinced. Protos previously reported the plight of one group of table-top game makers hellbent on leaving the platform altogether by next year.

One long-time creator, DoctorPopular said (via Mashable):

“I joined the platform 12 years ago and have run 10 campaigns since then. I have a special place in my heart for [Kickstarter], but I’m not backing another project until y’all walk this back.”

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