When bitcoin was first created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, it was intended to make virtual finance accessible to all people. A decentralized cryptocurrency would allow people to make money for themselves, as one could mine pieces of bitcoin and then cash in once they acquired a whole bitcoin. Today, one bitcoin is worth $7,082.05. While it’s not worth nearly as much, the newest cryptocurrency, called Pi, takes that goal a step further.
Bitcoin has waned in popularity and in value because mining is extremely expensive and requires extensive knowledge of the mining technology, which also contributes to CO2 emissions. There are also only 21 million bitcoin to mine, and it isn’t clear if or when more will be created. So not only is bitcoin exclusive, but it’s also harmful to the Earth.
Luckily, the rise of bitcoin led to the development of other cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins. Most of these, such as Litecoin, Dogecoin and Ethereum, are more accessible than bitcoin but still follow the same basic model and algorithm.
For example, Litecoin has 84 million coins to be mined, which is over four times more than its predecessor. The code is also easier to learn, but this comes at a cost. To keep any one user or group from dominating the market, Litecoin’s scrypt makes it harder to generate coins, and as a result, Litecoin requires much more time and money to attain a solid investment. At this point, the crypto game is simply a “pick your poison” ordeal.
The newest cryptocurrency promises to change all of that. Pi is officially known as a “social currency,” backed by everyday people. Instead of using costly and complicated machines to mine, users simply mine using their smartphones. The basic idea is to get 100 million regular people to download the mobile app and be active miners, then Pi will have enough users backing it that it’ll become a legitimate cryptocurrency. It’s because of these founding principles that Pi ensures it will be everything bitcoin is not: inclusive, practical and eco-friendly. But to understand how the network came to fruition, one only need look to Palo Alto, California.
Launched in March 2019, the Pi Network was created by three Stanford Ph.D. graduates: Dr. Nicolas Kokkalis, Dr. Chengdiao Fan and Vincent McPhillip. Dr. Kokkalis is a computer engineering Ph.D. and teaches Decentralized Applications of Blockchain at Stanford. He’s been working with blockchains since he began his early Ph.D., designing several social apps that have garnered over 20 million active users. That list includes Gameyola, the online gaming platform. He also helped found StartX, a Palo Alto startup designed to help entrepreneurs perfect their business models. With an extensive background in computer engineering and software, Dr. Kokkalis mainly focuses on the Pi Network’s scrypt and code design.
Dr. Chengdiao Fan has been studying interactions between humans and computers for years. She is fascinated by the impact that recent technological advances have had on both individuals and society as a whole. Some of her research has involved developing software to monitor productivity, as well as improve social capital. For those who don’t know, social capital is essentially networks that serve a functional purpose in society.
Dr. Fan graduated from Stanford with a Ph.D. in computational anthropology, and her work for the Pi Network is focused on social computing, envisioning how virtual currency can not only spark financial transactions, but also cultural exchanges. Dr. Fan explains, “I believe their [cryptocurrencies] potential is far beyond the realm of finance, and will create values that have otherwise not been created or captured on individual, societal and global levels. My hope for Pi is the establishment of an inclusive economy for global citizens to unleash and capture their own value, and in turn, create value for society and the world.”
Vincent McPhillip earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Yale University. He spent time working for a Nongovernmental Organization called Bridgespan, distributing millions of dollars to communities across the United States to help develop their schools and local workforces. It was this work that cultivated his keen interest in the distribution of wealth, particularly as it’s related to upward mobility. This led him to enroll in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he discovered the power of cryptocurrencies.
What fascinated him about digital currency the most was its potential to help people find previously unattainable levels of wealth and prosperity. His official title at the Pi Network is “social movement builder,” as the majority of his duties involve managing Pi’s ability to empower everyday citizens with a tool to redistribute wealth and create a more financially literate populace.
The three founders all met at Stanford, and their individual interests resulted in the creation of the Pi Network and the currency known as Pi. What makes Pi different is its status as a social currency, which means the power of Pi lies in its capability to create its own security through people’s social networks. When users join Pi, they not only mine for it, they also create “security circles,” which indicates that users are trustworthy and validates transactions involving Pi.
To incentivize users to grow their security circles, the system is designed to allow users to mine at a higher rate as more people join their network. The basic mining rate is 0.20 Pi per hour, but someone with two others in their security circle mines at 0.27 Pi per hour. That may not seem like a huge difference, but it adds up over a 24 hour cycle.
If you’d like to invest in Pi, it’s best to download the app and start mining immediately. Once the crypto reaches 100 million users, it will become a real currency and can be used in transaction. At that point, the standard mining rate will go down to around 0.1 Pi per hour. For now, higher rates are spurring the growth the app needs in order for Pi to become legitimate. The same can be said of the exchange rate, which is currently estimated at $200 per Pi. However, this is bound to change as the Network grows in numbers. It will likely remain high, as most crypto rates are.
To start mining, download the Pi Network app and set up an account. You have to open the app and hit the “Mine” button once every 24 hours, but you don’t have to keep it open. It won’t use up much battery either. You can also use the app to invite people to your security circle, see a breakdown of your mining rate and even chat with a Pi Team Member if you have any questions.
With an extremely helpful app and revolutionary technology, the Pi Network hopes to transform global finance by creating a unified community focused on creating their own net worth and expanding opportunities for everyone.