As the world watched the ICO boom of 2017 and the proliferation of some interesting and many non-interesting tokens, many folks sat up and took notice. What people noticed the most were the huge price swings, the vast sums of money raised through these tokens long before anything was actually built, the proliferation of the words “token” and “blockchain” permeating throughout society, and a lot of warranted skepticism. Though, some of us, especially at ShapeShift, noticed something else. It wasn’t just the trading volumes, speculative price appreciation, and new fundraising model that was so interesting. What was far more interesting was what this Cambrian explosion of tokens made possible.
Since the birth of Bitcoin, the world has been watching a new asset class start to crawl and walk (we aren’t running just yet). Bitcoin grew from nothing to show the world that the mechanism behind how blockchain consensus works is pragmatically valuable and technically sound. What we thought was that a new type of money — and eventually a store of value — could exist electronically, powered entirely by sophisticated technology and the earned belief of its users. This exposed some of the magic underpinnings of how “money” and financial “value” works for many to see, who did not fully realize yet. But this wasn’t just a new type of money. It was a new asset class that broke many previously held definitions.
A New Era for Crypto
As Bitcoin continued to mature, we saw the token explosion of 2017. For those who were paying attention, this was the continuing evolution of that magic spark that bitcoin lit. The explosion exposed the further magic (not just the underpinnings) of what we call “money” and demonstrated that this technology could allow for the creation of a plethora of entirely new, category-breaking assets called “tokens”.
That token explosion of 2017 created a snowball, rolling downhill towards the creation of previously impossible asset types and entirely new business engagement models. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible; with each development, the snowball has grown a little larger. In the vast scale of things, it’s still pretty small. There’s much more ahead to explore as it tumbles forward and gains further mass.
At ShapeShift, we started exploring some of these concepts in our very early days. Since 2014 we’ve maintained our thesis and philosophy that there would be many different, interesting blockchain assets in addition to Bitcoin and the world needed an easy way to convert from one to another. This thesis drove us to create the original ShapeShift conversion service. In 2016 we started exploring the idea internally of a ShapeShift token that would allow us to further explore the crypto frontier in ways impossible pre-token. The momentum of 2017 was a validation of this thesis, despite the excesses and misguided projects that came and went.
We watched and we waited, and through many internal discussions our potential token took many forms, culminating in what we are distributing to the world for the first time today: FOX Token.
ShapeShift’s FOX Token
The FOX Token is ShapeShift’s biggest leap into the frontier since the original creation of our service, though this will not be obvious immediately. We intend to push the limits of what is possible and what the world has come to understand regarding blockchain tokens. At its genesis, FOX will act in some ways like a loyalty token. Earn FOX by interacting with ShapeShift by actively trading (and other promotions over time). The more FOX accumulated the more benefits endowed to the users who hold them.
Loyalty tokens and programs are not a new concept, they exist all over the world in different forms: airline miles, cash back on a credit card, points at the supermarket or your favorite restaurant — and they, of course, exist in many forms already in the crypto world.
Blockchain Tech in Loyalty Programs
What is new, however, is the way tokens let us approach the concept of a loyalty-based program. In particular, the FOX token will be one of the world’s first loyalty tokens that is a perpetual asset. What we mean by that is that unlike the vast majority of utility tokens currently out there, FOX will not require you to consume or spend it in order to receive its value. You get value simply by holding the asset. Starting at launch, this value is $10 of zero-commission trading per FOX every 30 days, and every user who joins our platform starts with 100 free FOX. This is not some nominal promotional value, this is perpetual and important value that the FOX holder receives; the ability to continually trade for free every month. This value does not disappear after using it, free trading replenishes on a rolling 30 day basis simply by continuing to hold FOX. It will do so as long as you hold FOX or until you transfer it somewhere else outside of your ShapeShift Platform account.
You Can Now Trade Crypto for Free with ShapeShift
The Perpetual Nature of FOX
We think this perpetual nature of FOX is one of the key pieces that allows us to push the token frontier forward and explore yet another category-breaking asset class, that the world hasn’t quite seen before. FOX as a digital perpetual asset is not just a loyalty program, it’s not just a membership, it’s not just an exchange token, it’s all of these things, none of these things, and it sets a basic foundation for customer engagement that will evolve alongside our company.
One of the magic pieces of tokens is that they can take on a life of their own. All of their utility and use cases are not just determined by the creator and issuer, but by the community that forms around them and directly engages with them. Imagine if your Amazon Prime membership was a token that you could sell off to another person when you no longer wanted it, or airline miles were far easier to transfer among a marketplace, or a Costco membership that didn’t need to be renewed every year — but had perpetual value if you acquired it and could be traded among your friends. These are the types of use cases and situations that the advent of perpetual tokens makes possible.
In some ways, the difference between consumable and perpetual assets can be thought of in the context of renting or buying an apartment. When you are renting, you get the use of the place as long as you pay for it every month. At the end of your lease, the apartment goes back to its owner and you don’t get any of your money back. If you buy an apartment instead, it’s yours and you get the benefit of living there. If you don’t want to live there anymore, you can sell it to someone else who wants to buy it (or even rent it to someone if you want to keep it). The apartment may have gone up or down in value, but it’s yours and you get some value back by selling it.
The majority of tokens that have been seen in the blockchain world allow for some new way to explore this rent concept, like buying a token to get lower exchange fees (but you pay upfront and then it's gone). With FOX and the evolution of perpetual tokens, we allow for something much closer to really buying and owning something. When you own FOX, you truly own it and it does not need to be burned, consumed, or sacrificed to receive value from it.
Many current models can be changed or looked at differently though this perpetual lense and it can be a push away from “rent-seeking” behavior, towards more experimentation with “ownership-seeking” behavior. This use case can be extended to many places and a single asset can end up having many uses. The important facet is that a new frontier of interesting perpetual utility assets can be opened up and explored. Bitcoin planted this seed, and we are further exploring one little branch of it. Our intention is for the FOX token to further demonstrate what’s possible.
A Token Evolution
We envision a whole world and a plethora of new tokens with perpetual natures and varied use cases. We think FOX can be one of the first examples given to the world of a perpetual utility token that can represent these various use cases. It doesn’t require an ICO, or speculative fervor or anything like that to create value. Instead, its value comes from the attributes it can endow its user simply by holding it (almost like a magical sword in a video game where you can upgrade and stack the powers it gives you). In my view, this is a form of magic and a type of magic the world will find endlessly fascinating.
With the creation and distribution of the FOX token, we peel back and expose a little more of the underlying magic of tokenized value creation. Perhaps this concept will resonate in the minds of other entrepreneurs, creators, and communities, highlighting what is possible in the evolution of new digital assets and tokens.