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The latest crypto PR craze: ‘Airdropping’ free coins into your wallet

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Token​ ​​airdrops​​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​thing​ ​in​ ​crypto​ ​PR​ ​right​ ​now.​ ​An​ ​airdrop​ ​is​ ​basically​ ​when​ ​a​ ​blockchain project ​decides​ ​to​ ​distribute​ ​free​ ​tokens,​ ​or​ ​coins,​ ​to​ ​the​ ​community. This​ ​happens​ ​after​ the project has completed its ​ICO​ ​​and​ ​the​ ​token​ ​has​ ​become​ ​tradeable​ ​on​ ​the​ ​open​ ​market.

In​ ​most​ ​cases,​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​recipient​ ​of​ ​an​ ​airdrop​ ​the​ ​only​ ​requirement​ ​is​ ​that​ ​you​ ​have​ ​some​ coins from the relevant blockchain stored​ ​in​ ​your​ ​wallet — ie, if the company doing the airdrop is based on Ethereum, you need to have some ETH; if it’s based on Bitcoin or Ripple, you need to own some BTC or XRP.​ ​You​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​keeping​ ​your​ ​coins​ ​somewhere​ ​that​ ​has​ ​you​ ​in​ ​control​ ​of​ ​your​ ​own private​ ​keys,​ ​i.e.​ ​not​ ​on​ ​an​ ​exchange​ ​(where you really shouldn’t be storing your coins anyway, unless​ ​you’re​ ​using​ ​them ​for​ ​trading).

The​ ​format​ ​of​ ​these​ ​giveaways​ ​is​ ​usually​ ​like​ ​this:​ ​At​ ​a​ ​pre-announced​ ​time​ ​the​ ​project​ ​behind the​ ​event​ ​will​ ​take​ ​a​ ​”snapshot” ​of​ ​the​ ​blockchain,​ ​and​ ​anyone​ ​holding​ ​Ether​ ​at​ ​that​ ​point​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​a certain number​ ​of​ ​free​ ​tokens.​ ​

One​ ​company​ ​with​ ​an​ ​upcoming​ ​airdrop,​ ​is​ ​​Omise​​ ​(which ​became​ ​​the​ ​first​ ​Ethereum​ ​unicorn,​ ​with​ ​a market​ ​cap​ ​of​ ​$1​ ​billion​​ last ​week).​ ​This​ ​week​ ​they​ ​will​ ​be​ ​giving​ ​away​ ​5​ ​percent​ ​of​ ​the​ ​total​ ​amount​ ​of their​ ​token,​ ​OmiseGO.​ ​Any​ ​wallet​ ​address​ ​that​ ​held​ ​a​ ​balance​ ​over​ ​a​ ​minimum​ ​threshold​ ​of​ ​0.1​ ​Ether​ ​at the​ ​point​ ​of​ ​their​ ​snapshot,​ ​which​ ​was​ ​over​ ​450,000​ ​addresses,​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​a​ ​share​ ​of​ ​this​ ​5​ ​percent​ ​that is​ ​proportionate​ ​to​ ​their​ ​share​ ​of​ ​Ether.

Blockchain projects SingularDTV and Golem have announced they will re-airdrop the OmiseGO tokens, meaning they will distribute the tokens back to their respective token holders. We will probably see more companies doing the same.

There​ ​are​ ​also​ ​organizations,​ ​like​ ​the​ ​​Blockchain​ ​Education​ ​Network​,​ that ​organize​ ​​airdrop​ ​events​​ ​to raise​ ​awareness​ ​of ​cryptocurrencies​ ​in​ ​general.​ ​Events​ ​like​ ​this​ ​are​ ​a​ ​great​ ​way​ ​to​ ​increase​ ​adoption​ ​and introduce​ ​new​ ​people​ ​to​ ​the​ ​concept​ ​of​ ​cryptocurrencies,​ ​whereas​ ​the​ ​Omise​ ​approach​ ​works​ ​for companies​ ​and​ ​projects​ that ​want​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​distribution​ ​of​ ​their​ ​coins,​ ​among​ ​people​ ​already​ ​”in the​ ​know.”​ ​Omise​ ​said​ ​this​ ​is​ its ​way​ ​of​ ​”rewarding​ ​participants​ ​and​ ​supporters​ ​and​ ​increasing​ ​the usage​ ​of​ ​​ERC20​​ ​tokens​ ​which​ ​will​ ​further​ ​reinforce​ ​trust​ ​between​ ​investors,​ ​developers,​ ​and​ ​miners.” (ERC20 is a standard for tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.)

The​ ​mood​ ​I’m​ ​picking​ ​up​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Ethereum​ ​community​ ​is​ ​that​ ​the​ ​gesture​ ​is​ ​appreciated​ ​and​ ​a​ ​nice way​ ​to​ ​say​ ​thank​ ​you​ ​to​ ​all​ ​those​ ​​investors​​ ​speculators​ ​who​ ​couldn’t​ ​get​ ​in​ ​on​ Omise’s ​ICO.

When​ ​something​ ​is​ ​free​ ​you’re​ ​the​ ​product

Now,​ ​companies​ ​obviously​ ​don’t​ ​do​ ​airdrops​ ​just​ ​because​ ​they’re​ ​such​ ​nice​ ​guys.​ ​It’s​ ​all​ ​part​ ​of​ ​an elegant​ ​PR​ ​plan,​ ​which​ ​ultimately​ ​will​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​an​ ​increase​ ​in​ ​token​ ​value.​ ​In​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​an​ ​airdrop​ ​being free​ ​advertising,​ ​it​ ​connects​ ​people​ ​already​ ​in​ ​the​ ​crypto​ ​community​ ​to​ ​your​ ​project​ ​and​ ​gives everyone​ ​the​ ​same​ ​incentive​:​ ​token​ ​price​ ​appreciation.

The​ ​​endowment​ ​effect​​ ​suggests​ ​that​ ​individuals​ ​value​ ​something​ ​higher​ ​if​ ​they​ ​own​ ​it.​ ​In​ ​the case​ ​of​ ​OmiseGO,​ ​there​ ​will​ ​suddenly​ ​be​ ​half​ ​a​ ​milion​ ​people​ ​who​ ​see​ ​OmiseGO​ ​as​ ​more​ ​valuable​ ​than other​ ​tokens​ ​simply​ ​because​ ​it​ ​was​ ​dropped​ ​into​ ​their​ ​wallets.​ ​Many​ ​will​ ​also​ ​keep​ ​on​ ​accumulating​ the currency ​now that​ ​they​ ​already​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​investors.​ ​Basic​ ​tendencies​ ​towards​ ​risk​ ​aversion,​ ​hoarding​, ​and​ ​completionism probably​ ​also​ ​comes​ ​into​ ​play,​ ​with​ ​some​ ​being​ ​tempted​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​more​ ​OmiseGO​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​round numbers,​ ​and​ ​increasing​ ​their​ ​current​ ​stack​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​diversifying​ ​further​ ​with​ ​new​ ​tokens​ ​they​ ​don’t know​ ​and​ ​thus​ ​consider​ ​to​ ​have​ ​higher​ ​risk.

Looking​ ​forward,​ ​possible​ ​airdrop​ ​developments​ ​could​ ​be​ ​projects​ ​starting​ ​to​ ​gift​ ​tokens​ ​to​ ​users​ ​who hold​ ​tokens​ ​in​ ​projects​ ​that​ ​overlap​ ​or​ ​have​ ​some​ ​synergy​ ​with​ ​their​ ​own.​ ​We​ ​could​ ​also​ ​see​ ​projects encouraging​ ​other​ ​projects​ ​to​ ​airdrop​ ​to​ ​their​ ​token​ ​owners​ ​and​ ​receiving​ ​some​ ​benefit​ ​in​ ​return.

If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​an​ ​investor​ ​holding​ ​a​ ​diverse​ ​portfolio​ ​of​ ​coins​ ​you​ ​are​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​be​ ​receiving​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more free​ ​money​ ​as​ ​this​ ​concept​ ​keeps​ ​gaining​ ​popularity.

And​ ​as​ ​always​ ​when​ ​venturing​ ​into​ ​cryptoland,​ ​beware​ ​of​ ​scam​ ​airdrops​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​steal​ ​your​ ​coins.​ ​Never give​ ​out​ ​your​ ​private​ ​keys​ ​or​ ​wallet​ ​file​ ​or​ ​click​ ​suspicious​ ​links.

Now​ ​go​ ​check​ ​your​ ​wallets,​ ​there​ ​might​ ​be​ ​some​ ​coins​ ​there​ ​you​ ​didn’t​ ​know​ ​about​ ​from​ ​a​ ​previous airdrop.

Trond Vidar Bjorøy is head of product development and implementation – Nordics at travel management company ATPI.

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