Hey, parents of children ages six and up! Have you recently awoken in a cold sweat, thinking that physical money and the existing global financial order are coming to a swift end and you need to turn your little family into a “micro-financing network?” Have you thought to yourself over morning coffee, “Gee, I wish my impressionable child’s financial education could be tied up in a volatile market for digital tokens?”
Well your wait is over thanks to Pigzbe, an adorable cryptocurrency hardware wallet and interactive app, powered by a “family-friendly” token called Wollo. It will also teach families “cryptocurrency values” such as “volatility,” according to the white paper. It’s the latest project by designer Filippo Yacob and his team, whose previous company Primo Toys released a wood block set designed to teach young children to code. Pigzbe is based in Switzerland and the UK.
Pigzbe’s raison d’etre is to educate children and families about saving and spending money like a regular piggy bank, except that it plugs your child and family into the economy of Wollo, a token based on Stellar (a payment protocol similar in concept to Ripple) that’s designed to interact with the Pigzbe device. As Yacob told me over the phone, “It allows an adult to create a micro-financing family network around the child.”
Pigzbe is not a piggy bank so much as, according to the white paper, “a frictionless gateway for the sale, purchase, and transfer of Wollo.” Purchase of a Pigzbe device allots a certain amount of “earnable tokens,” which are released when the family refers others to the service, and Wollo tokens will also be purchasable on an exchange. Families can also apply for a spending card to use their Wollo with participating retailers.
Yacob said that Pigzbe decided to launch its own token rather than using, say, Ethereum or Bitcoin, because these virtual currencies have fees that are too high to make it worthwhile to send a child a few cents. Of course, Wollo also stands to make Pigzbe a bunch of money.
Wollo tokens will have a fixed supply and will eventually be traded on an exchange, meaning their value will go up (or down) based on market dynamics. Pigzbe (the startup) will be keeping around 30 percent of the tokens for itself, so if token prices increase thanks to people buying tokens or indirectly by hustling Wollo to their friends, Pigzbe will have created a pot of virtual wealth for itself where there was none before. Fourteen percent of the tokens will be "distributed amongst founders and team members," according to the white paper. When asked about the possibility of Wollo prices skyrocketing, Yacob said, “Who wouldn’t want that?” but insisted it’s not the focus of the product.
Pigzbe is also running an Initial Coin Offering starting in June, a crowd sale of Ethereum-based tokens that will be transferred into Stellar-based Wollo tokens for those who buy and finance the startup at the same time. It is not open to US citizens, because, as Yacob told me over the phone, “All tokens under US law are a security, so it’s against the law.” When I pointed out that it’s only illegal if you don't register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and follow its rules, Yacob said, “You know, I think we would rather not invite any controversy here."
None of this is out of step with how many cryptocurrency crowd sales operate, but most products meant for families and young children don’t come with such a complicated financing structure.
Teaching a child about saving and spending doesn’t require cryptocurrency, and even learning about cryptocurrency doesn’t require actually participating in a real economy. Just like how teaching kids to code can be accomplished with wood blocks instead of normal computers, many cryptocurrencies have “test networks” that have all of the functionality of the real thing, but it’s funny money. But according to Yacob, it “encourages a different type of responsibility when you create something real.”
Still, the white paper really says it all. For all the talk of empowering kids via cryptocurrency, it looks to be the other way around: “Our goal is to accelerate the uptake of cryptocurrencies globally with a token, and a product, designed to empower the young and young at heart.”
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