Kora Network ICO Review: A comprehensive review and analysis on Kora Network ICO, which is set to democratize financial inclusion for the unbanked.
Kora network aims to build an inclusive financial infrastructure for the unbanked, facilitating the creation of community-backed, self-sustaining ecosystems. Leveraging on Blockchain technology, Kora will provide a cost-effective and universally accessible financial services solutions to the billions of people that are without access to a functioning financial system. (See also: Evolution of Cryptocurrency: The Problem With Money Today)
Kora is trying to solve 5 main problems to financial inclusion, that includes:
- High Infrastructure Costs for Financial Players: High costs of developing banking infrastructure in rural areas, which will be passed on through customers via higher banking fees
- Lack of Identification Documents: The general population of the unbanked usually lacks identification documents
- Deficiency of Trust towards Banks & Technological Barrier: Many in rural areas distrust banks and there exists a high barrier to technology adoption to facilitate wide stream adoption due to technological illiteracy
- Technological & Financial Illiteracy: With limited technological and financial literacy among the unbanked, the risks of engaging in poor decisions is rife
- Low Market Value of the Unbanked: The financial industry often overlooks the “value” of the unbanked population due to the apparent financial risks involved
(Read also: Evolution of Cryptocurrency: Replacing Modern Cash)
Kora aims to build a fully-functional financial infrastructure, focusing on 4 fundamental layers that are as follows:
- Identification System: Users can prove their identity and the validity of their activities using even the cheapest phones (aka feature phones). Kora provides a hybrid on-boarding process on a tiered KYC ramp that allows users to enter the network with any form of information they possess.
- Secure Storage: Users are assured that their funds are protected from being stolen or devalued. There are no technical details on how Kora would secure its data. We would assume – from our understanding of the white paper – that user’s identity data would be secure using Shamir’s Secret Sharing mechanism while value data will be secured using their Delegated Proof-of-Stake model.
- Marketplaces: Facilitating avenues for the exchange of goods, services and capital. Kora enables the creation of Community Value Network (CVN) that entails attesting to identity, pooling capital for lending, infrastructure investment or bulk purchases, social assistance, financial education and other services.
- Money Transfer: Users can transfer value to each other quickly and securely. Kora supports the use of eFiat in addition to its native tokens (KNT) through simply text/USSD technology from their mobile account. The receiver can convert the eFiat tokens to cash through Agents. The eFiat stakeholders include:
- User: Participants looking for access to all services on Kora Network
- Merchants: Businesses that accept eFiat as a payment method
- Provider: Entities that provide access to financial services on the network and are responsible for regulatory requirements. (Read more: Crypto ICO vs. Stock IPO: What’s the Difference?)
- Agent: Users who choose to convert between eFiat and physical cash for a commission
(See more: Coins, Tokens & Altcoins: What’s the Difference?)
Kora will be built on Ethermint, which is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) blockchain with Tendermint consensus. It is a Delegated Proof-Of-Stake (DPOS) consensus algorithm model that can support a much higher transaction capacity as compared to the Ethereum blockchain, making it a more scalable blockchain.
- Universally Lowering Barriers to Financial Access: Kora’s infrastructure facilitates the creation of a universally-inclusive financial system that addresses the financial needs of the unbanked. All that’s needed is a basic, feature phone to be part of the network.
- Modified Blockchain for Scalability: Kora has a pragmatic approach in ensuring that their network adoption is scalable, therefore leveraging on a modified Delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm built on Tendermint, which has the capacity to generate more transactions.
Kora is a dual-currency network that features its native token – Kora Network Token (KNT) – and also an additional ability to support national currencies as an electronic, cryptographically secure token (eFiat).
The usage of KNT tokens entails three obvious functions:
- Used as the staking unit for selecting block producers
- A single medium to pay for costs incurred by the Kora Network
- Voting rights for KNT holders
Since Kora uses a DPOS consensus mechanism, holders/users of KNT tokens would vote for block producers (or miners in the case of Bitcoin) using their tokens. Candidate block producers would stake their KNTs as collateral to become a block producer. A great incentive alignment is that transaction fees collected from the blocks will be divided amongst the block producers and the users that voted for them. In essence, holders of KNT stand to generate returns on their staked coins (when they vote for a block producer). This is a great incentive for holders.
Kora’s team has an impressive and diverse team with core competencies in blockchain and smart contracts programming, Artificial Intelligence, mobile technology and business development.
Advisors & Investors
Kora’s advisors include John Edge, an established expert in the field of digital security, and Dinis Guarda, a blockchain veteran with various projects under his belt, including Lifesci, Ztudium and Humaniq
Kora Network has released a beta pilot project in Nigeria. They’re partnered with a farming aggregator in Nigeria with a network of 25,000 farmers, to profitably and sustainably yield crops. Kora aims to solve the following issue:
- Inconvenience in cash collection and contribution amongst all farmers
- An absence of an accounting system
- Risks of robbery
In the pilot project, the deliverables and accomplishments are as follows:
- Deployment of cash-in, cash-out, airtime and funds transfer services
- Partnerships with various organisations that include:
- Virtual Terminal Network (VTN): One of the most innovative mobile payment operators for emerging economies
- Gricd: A full-scale agriculture-production company with a global perspective on processing, crop production and education in the area of affordable food storage methods
- Africa’s Talking: A popular mobile solutions firm with a USSD/SMS API with over 1000 active developers
Kora Network has launched a beta app on the Android app store. It is still under development and has over 100+ installations. This is a primer into what end-users can expect in terms of functionality and app layout.
Kora Network started with a seed investment on July of 2017 and the first version of the network was launched on Ethereum testnet in September, which implies a fast progression rate. However, their Github repository hasn’t been made public. They will be launching their pilot in August of 2018, which is a stable timeline comparative to other projects.
Kora has a good hardcap of USD$24 million, positioned at the lower to mid end of the general ICO market. Kora seems to have garnered great demand in the presale period, selling out its presale cap of $4 million USD within a month. That’s great news considering the market is experiencing a horrid bear market. Assuming that markets have calmed or even reversed by their main ICO period, KNT might be looking even more attractive.
Based on Kora’s token structure, the 20% reserved for Research and Development (RND) will be locked for a minimum of 2 years while the team’s allocation will be locked for a 2-year vesting period and will have a 6-month cliff. Having almost 40% locked for the medium to long-term is a good indicator of a stable schedule system.
- Interoperability Between Other Blockchains: As the Kora Network is built on Ethermint, it allows for interoperability across parallel blockchains, potentially increasing adoption within the cryptocurrency community.
- Scalability: Ethermint is a modified version of Ethereum blockchain which solves the scalability issue needed to support the adoption of functioning use cases within the Kora ecosystem, allowing for more transactions to be processed.
- Fast Developmental Rate: Kora is moving at great speed, releasing on Ethereum testnet only 2 months after conceptualization, launching on a permissioned testnet at the start of the year and also a beta app in the Appstore. This indicates great developmental speed in executing their vision.
- Diverse Team: Kora possess a rich and diverse bunch of team members, and their core competencies are exactly what the project needs, in terms of blockchain architecture and programming expertise as well as mobile technology competence.
- Good Market Potential: Over 2 billion underbanked individuals do not have access to basic financial services; Kora network is poised to gain a chunkable market share by providing the 4-layered financial infrastructure needed to solve the current barriers. Plus, it’s a project that has real-world benefits to humanity.
(Read more: A Guide To Fundamental Analysis For Cryptocurrencies)
- Viability of eFiat: Kora will support tokens backed by national currencies that are issued by “Participants”, which can be banks or non-financial entities. We question the viability of these established entities in participating in issuing eFiat, considering the high regulatory costs and barriers as well as the practicality in integrating a tokenized model within their traditional, legacy systems. Unless Kora has established credible “Participants” to prove traction, it will be inextricably hard to engage established entities to be a “Participant” in a tokenized system.
- Utility of KNT Tokens: It seems that the utility of the Kora network is focused more on it being a store of value rather than a medium of exchange. Holders are incentivized to stake to earn returns on KNT tokens, while the whitepaper admittedly mentioned that eFiat will be the currency of choice due to it possessing lower technological friction. However, the more KNT are staked will mean more coins being out of circulation and would temporarily increase KNT’s value.
- Absence of a Go-to-Market Strategy: There is no mention of Kora’s go-to-market strategy, which is a vital need especially for their eFiat function. Partnerships and collaborations must be initiated and formalized with established “Participants” to facilitate network traction.
Kora is an interesting play towards engaging the global unbanked population through the creation of a financial infrastructure that facilitates an inclusive, community-oriented ecosystem. Noting that the challenges in entering this market would be uniquely tough, we’d opined that the team has the capacity and the pragmatism needed to execute their vision.
Verdict: Good Long-Term Hold
Beneficial Resources To Get You Started
If you’re starting your journey into the complex world of cryptocurrencies, here’s a list of useful resources and guides that will get you on your way:
Trading & Exchange
- Crypto Guide 101: Choosing The Best Cryptocurrency Exchange
- Guide to Bittrex Exchange: How to Trade on Bittrex
- Guide to Binance Exchange: How to Open Binance Account and What You Should Know
- Guide to Etherdelta Exchange: How to Trade on Etherdelta
- Guide To Cryptocurrency Trading Basics: Introduction to Crypto Technical Analysis
- Cryptocurrency Trading: Understanding Cryptocurrency Trading Pairs & How it Works
- Crypto Trading Guide: 4 Common Pitfalls Every Crypto Trader Will Experience
- Guide to Cryptocurrency Wallets: Why Do You Need Wallets?
- Guide to Cryptocurrency Wallets: Opening a Bitcoin Wallet
- Guide to Cryptocurrency Wallets: Opening a MyEtherWallet (MEW)
This represents the writer’s personal opinions and does not – in any way- constitute a recommendation of an investment or financial advice. Please assume caution when investing in cryptocurrencies and do so at your own risk, as it is extremely volatile and you can lose your money.
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