Introducing Token

Introducing Token

Today we’re announcing the developer preview of Token.

Token is a combination of a few things. It is:

  1. A private and secure messaging app
  2. A user controlled Ethereum wallet
  3. A browser for Ethereum apps

We were inspired by apps like WeChat that are driving a large volume of digital payments in China. We wanted to build something for the rest of the world that works on open protocols.

Token is architected to be similar to a web browser. It is a piece of software that runs on your device (your phone) that allows you to access an open network. Token does not host any of the apps you access, and you are always in control of your own funds.

Token also has a built in reputation system which lets you know who you can trust. Every user and app builds reputation over time as they transact with others on the platform.

An example SOFA Application being accessed through Token.

Why did we build Token?

We believe that everyone in the world should have access to financial services, and with smartphones becoming ubiquitous, digital currency can make that happen.

The Gates Foundation writes…

Worldwide, more than 2.5 billion adults do not have an account at a financial institution…Women, in particular, are largely excluded from the formal financial system…A growing body of evidence suggests that access to the right financial tools at critical moments can determine whether a poor household is able to capture an opportunity to move out of poverty or absorb a shock without being pushed deeper into debt.

And the McKinsey Global Institute states that…

Delivering financial services by mobile phone could benefit billions of people by spurring inclusive growth that adds $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies within a decade.

With this app, our long term goals are to:

  1. Provide financial services to the ~2B people in the developing world who have a cell phone, but don’t have access to a bank account.
  2. Make it dramatically easier for people to build and use Ethereum applications.
  3. Shift digital currency from being just a speculative investment to being a payment network for useful goods and services.

How does it work underneath?

Token speaks a number of protocols underneath which allow you to connect with other users and browse Ethereum applications:

  • We use the Signal Protocol from WhisperSystems to end to end encrypt chat messages. This allows you to message other users and chat with apps.
  • We use the Ethereum network as a global, open payment network.
  • The apps you access use the SOFA protocol (an open standard we developed for chat bot style financial applications). In the future we plan to support Dapps via web3.js in an integrated webview.
  • We plan to use uPort in the future as a decentralized identity system.

In the same way a web browser allows you to access web pages, Token allows you to access third party Ethereum applications.

Token is also entirely open source for those who want to review the source code.

How can I try it out?

We’re releasing the developer preview of Token today. It is still early days, and you can expect some bugs (so please be kind in your reviews). For today’s launch, we are using testnet Ethereum, so there is no real money to lose if you encounter an issue. We plan to continue shipping updates approximately every week, and move to mainnet in the coming months for a wider release.

You can install the Token app on Android and iOS today.

If you’re a developer you can read through our developer documentation.

You can also visit our main website.

If you have a question or any feedback, please post it in our discussion forum. We welcome your input.

If you are a talented engineer, designer, or product manager who finds this project interesting, please email tokenbrowser at gmail. We’re looking to grow our team.

FAQs

What inspired you to build Token?

Mobile money is growing. We were inspired by WeChat in China, PayTM in India, MPESA in Kenya, and others. Each of these has revolutionized payments in one country. We would like to bring something similar to the other ~180 countries, and also enable a global payment network based on open standards, so that every country becomes interoperable, and everyone has access to financial services.

Why is Token built on top of Ethereum instead of Bitcoin (or another digital currency)?

Right now, the transaction fees are a bit too high in Bitcoin to work for small payments. We envision a large number of small payments happening with Token, so we started with Ethereum. In the future, we may support other digital currencies, and we are not specifically tied to Ethereum. It’s still unclear which digital currency will work best for this long term.

How is Token different from Status.im?

They are similar in many ways and we are big fans of Status.im. We independently began working on this idea over the past few years, and were excited to see Status launch. Our goal is to work with others in the ecosystem to help build an open financial system.

What happens if I lose my phone? Can I recover my funds?

Our launch today only uses Ethereum testnet coins (not real money) in case this happens. However, you can recover access to your wallet by storing a backup phrase, or by choosing trusted friends (coming soon).

I’m a developer. How can I build an application?

You can read through our developer documentation. We’ve made it simple to fork and deploy an app in as little as five minutes.

I’d like to build an app during the developer preview and have a question, where can I get it answered?

You can post it in our discussion forum. We’re considering other options for developer support as well (Slack channel, etc).