“Distributing all coins freely and as fair and as widely as possible while growing organically is not a common thing in the crypto world.”Bantano, Banano community leader, 27 November 2019
This article was funded by bounty. To learn more see here.
Recently I have been preoccupied with thoughts regarding what makes a crypto-currency successful? I dicotimized the thought in a twitter poll offering a choice between Tech Innovation or Community Engagement.
I fully admit it’s a crude over-simplification of a larger picture in which both engagement and innovation are required for success. But if forced to choose one, which would it be?
This is perhaps a good starting-point to talk about meme coins. These are coins which fork from a famous parent whilst embracing a meme. These coins thrive from community engagement. While many projects duke it out with new features and other tech advancements, for meme coins it is the size and activity of its community which is the measure of its success.
This is not to say that meme coins cannot offer up tech innovations. Dogecoin, the original meme coin and fork of Litecoin, introduced an infinite supply by allowing an annual inflation of 5 billion coins each year, forever. For many economists this is a more realistic emission model for a currency. Yet the affable dog is not the subject of this article.
Banano and Nano
Banano is a code fork of Nano. Formerly RaiBlocks, Nano’s creator Colin LeMahieu introduced a radical new twist on blockchain called block-lattice.
Nano offers almost instant transactions and a much higher transaction per second count than most crypto-currencies. Every wallet has its own blockchain and the architecture of the protocol centers around DAG technology.
Nano and Banano do not have transaction fees and all sends are free. Users must wait a few seconds for their wallets to complete a small proof-of-work before sending funds in order to prevent spamming.
No PoW mining meant Nano was freely distributed to people through a faucet for solving a CAPTCHA. There was no ICO for Nano, and neither was there one for Banano. Banano is similarly distributing its much larger supply in airdrops for NANO and Dogecoin holders, creative games and faucets, and more.
Nano’s supply is fully emitted, while Banano’s could take several more years. And as it turns out Colin has given the meme coin his blessing. “I think meme coins are hilarious. We have Banano, I like those guys.”
It is my contention that this slow method of distributing coins, often in creative ways, is the reason Banano is the most vibrrant and active communities I have yet encountered. The discord channel alone is busier than the other thirty channels I follow put together.
BANANO: a Feeless, Instant, Rich in Potassium Cryptocurrency Powered by DAG Technology Disrupting the Meme Economy is the title of the Banano Yellow paper published by Banoshi Nakanano on August 16, 2019.
The paper has this to say about distribution:
In addition to rains and tips at our discord server and lots of tips also through tipbots at our subreddit, twitter account and telegram groups (Figure 12), lots of often innovative events have been running in order to continue the free and fair ongoing distribution, including various contests & giveaways focusing on fun and creativity. Of note, both official and unofficial contests and games are an integral part of the BANANO ecosystem.
Finally, several new faucets and faucet games have been developed, tested, and are meanwhile running permanently or intermittently! Here’s a brief, incomplete insight about some current faucets at the time of writing. Please make sure to visit our website at banano.cc for an updated overview.
The faucet games made by the Banano community are unrivaled in the crypto space for their creativity and humor.
Earn Banano by picking the odd monkey out
Win Banano for describing and evaluating others’ descriptions of memes
Earn Banano for solving captchas and playing “minigames” such as ‘Monkey Match’ or ‘Catch the Monkey’
Another game mentioned in the paper but since discontinued thanks to bot abuse is BANANO Runner
The legendary BANANO Runner game (Figure 11) with its first round in April 2018 was a huge success and an unprecedented form of airdropping a new cryptocurrency to its community.
This distribution model invites a different audience into cryoto-currency. There is no barrier to entry save having an Internet connection and a device with which to participate in community airdrops and other activities.
Take Venezuela. These South Americans thronged around Nano faucets and now they throng in Banano. Why? Quoting form this Forbes piece:
Venezuela’s economy has collapsed… An important element that mirrors the economy’s collapse is Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar. It is not trustworthy…Indeed, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate at the end of 2018 was 80,000%.
Not only Venezuelans, but people form all over the world form the Banano community. Many come from countries like Venezuela, that have been similarly devastated by economic crisis.
Bitcoin was made to stand against these economic failures, yet for many buying or mining Bitcoin is an impossibility. CAPTCHA coins like Banano provide an on-ramp.
The inherent qualities of the Banano currency, like zero transaction fees and lightweight wallets, lends itself to a simpler user experience. Transaction fees in Bitcoin are prohibitively high for making small transactions and sending little tips. Bitcoin’s Lightning network can theoretically reduce these fees dramatically, but there is still a cost.
Eco-friendliness is another appeeling characteristic of this currency. As with its progenitor, Banano relies on its users delegating their coins to representatives (similar to proof-of-stake). These representatives validate transactions and protect against double-spends, therefor performing some of the duties of bitcoin miners, but with exponentially less electricity. We’re talking the power generated by a single wind turbine powering the network:
the cost of 12 Bitcoin transactions (3MWh) can power the Nano network for an hour at 7000tps.
Such sensitivity to power consumption complements a country whose power mostly comes from one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world, Guri Dam in Bolívar State.
The Banano community has the most active discord I have ever seen. Pauses of over a couple minutes are uncommon and the chatter flows more or less continuously. The Jungle is the name of the #general channel, and the Spanish channel, La Jungla, is just as active.
Banano demographics are much more diverse than most crypto-currency communities. In an informal twitter poll I carried out, only half of the respondents claimed to be from North America or Europe. 48% of respondents said they were from Asia, Australia or South America.
Diversity and popularity are further evidenced checking YouTube and the volume of videos uploaded showing people playing faucet games and the like, many of which are uploaded in Spanish. Interest from Venezuela and Colombia can also be shown when searching Google Trends for banano crypto and banano coin.
Not just Spanish, but French and Russian and many other languages are spoken and written in the Banano community. Thanks to the pro-activeness of the Bananoans this article will be translated to French and Spanish.
“BANANO is running on the same technological base as NANO, although some parameters like PoW threshold and units were tweaked. The biggest difference is the governance, with BANANO being a meme coin with more fun, freedom and creative experiments.”
The above quote from a reddit FAQ begins to describe the differences between Nano and Banano. In addition to the decentralized community-driven and governance and 30x total supply (3.4 billion) there are a surprising number of other innovations offered up by Banano.
Kalium is a lightweight wallet for Android and iOS originally developed for Banano. It became so popular that it was forked and a Nano client was later released.
Serving as BANANO’s privacy layer, CAMO at its current stage is a way for two people to share a seed. To share it securely they put it in the blockchain, that’s essentially it!
Of note, CAMO BANANO Phase 1 as described here and currently being available allows for confidential transactions, but not for real privacy yet. Ongoing development will include the requirement of adding a new block type to the BANANO protocol and subsequently allow for sum-of-squares private transactions.
Banano’s privacy solution is at an early stage of development, but that Banano has a solution at all is commendable. As with Kalium, CAMO reflects the meme coin’s independent tech innovation.
CAMO provides private reversible and irreversible transactions with its inventive method for sharing seeds and public keys using blockchain steganography.
P2P messaging is another Banano achievement (still proof-of-concept), and has been rolled into a “self-sustaining faucet”. As the Banano yellow paper details:
MonkeyTalks is a proof-of-concept application showing how versatile BANANO can be, and how easy it can be used in new contexts. MonkeyTalks is a combination of a self-sustaining BANANO faucet and an on-chain messaging platform. First it’s a faucet because for sending a message you’ll need to pay a small fee in BANANO. Second, it’s self-sustaining since your payment in turn refills the faucet. And finally, it’s on-chain because any message sent through MonkeyTalks it’s engraved into the transaction’s RAW: this means that all of the messages are publicly visible and basically immutable because they were written into the BANANO blockchain. MonkeyTalks is basically a proof-of-concept website that combines a faucet giving out free BANANO with an actual application BANANO can be used for.
Banano is ripe with creativity and inventiveness and MonKeys illustrate this perfectly. These monkey avatars are generated from a public key and are all unique.
Each monKey has a unique combination of fur and eye colour, and can have additional accessories in varying styles, such as hats, glasses, shirts, pants, mouth types, tail decorations, and more! The value of the accessories is classified into 3 categories: basic, rare, and premium. The rarity ranges from 1/2 to 1/32 and 1/1024 monKeys, respectively. There are hundreds of billions of possible monKey combinations.
MonKeys are currently used in the MonkeyTalk messaging application to identify users.
Although MonKeys are as unique as QR codes they are not currently used for scanning addresses. The yellow paper describes the utility of monKeys “to identify users while protecting the privacy of the account holders”. Perhaps address scanning was not the intent, although it would be a great fun scanning monkeys instead of QR codes.
Cryptocurrency wallet addresses are typically long strings of characters that can be nearly indistinguishable from each other. monKeys solve this long-standing problem through the creation of unique, monkey-shaped avatars from a hash value based on a user’s public key. These visual representations of wallet addresses serve to identify users while protecting the privacy of the account holders
You’re probably thinking, “You said there was no mining”, and you’d be right.
The coin doesn’t need miners to function, but since there are coins that need distributing, why should miners be left out? BANANO Powerplant is a CPU mining pool faucet that mines a range of different altcoins and pays out with BANANO.
More appealing to many miners is BANANO Miner. By contributing bandwidth to Folding@Home
BANANO Miner is not really a miner. Instead of running arbitrary calculations to “mine” a cryptocurrency, your computer runs protein folding simulations through Folding@Home, which helps researchers fight Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Cancer, Alzheimer’s and many more genetic diseases, and infectious diseases. Then, we send BANANO to your wallet based on the size of your computational contribution
Bantano, a Banano community leader, agreed to answer what I hoped would be thought-provoking questions. Bantano was extremely diligent in making sure the answers were accurate and precise. So much so, the answers were prepared with the help of renesq, one of Banano’s two anonymous co-founders. Here is what they had to say.
Can you tell us the story of how Banano started?
Back then, I wasn’t involved in the project yet, but when the rebrand from Raiblocks to NANO was announced in early 2018, it didn’t take long until the first memes popped up, mocking the new name. Immediately, a group of designers, coders and other enthusiasts formed to actually make this spin-off happen. Since the novice block-lattice technology has never been forked before, the waters were tested through excessive tipping on a makeshift testnet, before migrating to the mainnet which was launched on April 1st, 2018. An airdrop to the NANO community followed shortly after, and more importantly the launch of BANANO’s first faucet game, the “BANANO Runner”, which received great reception because it made faucets fun again. Video of the gameplay:
While starting as a joke and memecoin, the idea behind was to create a cryptocurrency that makes use of instant, feeless NANO tech while being distributed free and fair to everyone in a fun atmosphere. Since the early days, BANANO follows a gamification approach and strives to also get into the hands of people who have never interacted with crypto before, similar to what dogecoin achieved. Given its (apparently) silly and potassium-rich nature, BANANO is friendly and somewhat forgiving to new users. Main aims of BANANO comprise the establishment of an an easy-to-get and easy-to-use coin for the tipping economy. We believe that BANANO ultimately helps educating everyone to handle crypto assets in general in a responsible way while also offering a playground for tech enthusiasts.
All news since the early days are linked at https://banano.how/news/
The community is large, diverse and very active. Can you tell us more about the Banano community, and the relationship with the Nano community?
Since the early days there has been a big overlap between the NANO and BANANO community, and both communities still are friendly connected. Also, NANO’s currently most popular mobile wallet Natrium was built by members of the BANANO dev team based on our previously released BANANO mobile wallet Kalium.
The BANANO community as I personally see it is a unique, lovely mix of lots of quite different people being passionate about crypto. The BANANO community is multi-cultural and quite active due to BANANO’s fun atmosphere and its ongoing free and fair distribution. Everyone who wants can actually get involved! We have contests and giveaways running all the time on different social media platforms and succeeded to get more and more people engaged over time. Since education and helping each other is key for adoption and community growth, we have quite many volunteers and moderators who do an awesome job to engage with the community and welcome new members with help, answers, and BANANO tips.
Please talk about the emission and distribution of Banano, and for how much longer it will continue. Who holds the keys to these BAN?
As mentioned, our key aim is to distribute all coins freely and as fair as possible. As you might imagine, there are always people who are motivated enough to try to exploit any faucet we created so far, which is part of the reason why we have changed our distribution and its structure from time to time, and also why our initial Banano Runner game had to be discontinued after a few rounds. However, we have succeeded to create different faucet types over time that resisted those cheating attempts. Summaries of past and present distribution events can be found here: https://banano.how/status/
At the time of this interview, around 30% of all existing coins have been distributed (currently valued around 600–700k USD), and the remaining coins will be distributed as well. The keys to most yet undistributed Banano funds are with our co-founders, renesq and CFC. Of course, we have a multitude of plans and ideas how we can further streamline distribution to a growing, active community, amongst those are more faucets, more airdrops and at some point also real-life airdrops through paper vouchers. However, we are currently hesitant to publish accurate plans of how much BANANO actually would be allocated to which method within which timeframe due to different reasons. After all, this decision is surely dependent on development and growth of our community, the general crypto market and sentiment, and the availability of respective faucets. We want to avoid making any promises timewise that we might have to adjust later, and not give too much information to potential cheaters upfront. The team however agrees that we should not rush distribution unnecessarily, we’re here for the long run.
How will Banano maintain community engagement and involvement after all the BAN are distributed? Has keeping a yearly inflation (like DOGE) been discussed, and the advantageousness of ongoing distribution been considered?
We are currently not promising any timelines for when distribution would end since there are numerous factors influencing this, as outlined above. Also, we’re not in a hurry to get things done just to push the price, we’re building a sustainable ecosphere that is here for the long term. I’d estimate that it will take several years to distribute the vast majority of funds. We’re aiming to distribute Banano as widely as possible and as fair as possible, which will happen through multiple channels and in innovative, engaging ways.
Since there is a finite amount of Banano there will never be any inflation. And yes, we see ongoing distribution as big advantage over many other crypto projects, and it’s one of the reasons our community is constantly active and supportive, many of them being involved and shaping the project as we go forward.
“BANANO is running on the same technological base as NANO, although some parameters like PoW threshold and units were tweaked. The biggest difference is the governance, with BANANO being a meme coin with more fun, freedom and creative experiments.” (reddit FAQ)
Please describe the governance of Banano and how decisions about its future will be made? Has delegating to representative nodes been used as a decentralized voting mechanism?
When it comes to governance, most of the key decision making in the BANANO project is rather centralized at the moment to ensure the whole project is going forward stably and reliably. Naturally there’s a set group of people to maintain the code base, social media and projects related to distribution, however the team is open for anyone to participate. Unlike other projects, we specifically do not ask for KYC — only skills and attitude matter. Also, there’s a large number of independent regional community managers who help building up communities in different languages and countries. Later on, there are going to be steps to further decentralize decision making, coin distribution and securing the network. Distributing all coins freely and as fair and as widely as possible while growing organically is not a common thing in the crypto world.
What can we expect from Banano in the coming months, and what are your personal thoughts on the project?
There’s lots of things going on. The biggest ongoing undertaking surely is to streamline ongoing free BANANO distribution in a responsible way, i.e. create and run faucets and faucet games, exclude potential exploits and avoid that people from third-world countries start relying on BANANO faucets as main source of income, for example. Also, we have plans for an easy-to-integrate discord tipbot for third party servers, and new airdrops.
Overall, many people join BANANO for the fun and memes and stay for the tech and community. BANANO’s heavy use as tipping coin in thousands of daily transactions coupled with its educational character and ongoing free distribution is unique in the crypto space. This has impressed me from the start and has shaped a compelling ecosphere and community I wouldn’t want to miss anymore personally.
I would recommend everyone not knowing the project to read our interactive, meme-rich yellowpaper. As usual crypto whitepapers it also includes some (potentially boring) tech details but also aims to transfer knowledge about key aspects of BANANO to the average, not-tech-savvy crypto-noob in an entertaining and educational way. I’d say it’s a very nice start to get an overview. To get in contact with the community, the next logical step is then to join our always-active discord server (https://chat.banano.cc). It’s easy to find answers and other crypto enthusiasts there, everyone is highly welcome in our channel #the-jungle.
There is so much to like about Banano. The elegant energy-efficient tech matched with a vibrant community. The creativity and the innovations. The distribution which engages its community with unparalleled results.
For such a low-cap coin the engagement levels are stupendous. The Banano community is larger and more active than crypto-currencies with market caps hundreds of times bigger. The amount of transactions on Banano, with all the tipping and faucets, exceeds the transaction count of some Top 50 coins.
It is beautiful to see a crypto being used in this way. Feeless transactions provide perfect synergy with Banano’s utility as a micro-payment system.
Shocking perhaps, but also true that Banano’s community is busier and more active than the Nano community. The explanation lies in Banano’s ongoing distribution versus Nano’s, which has completed.
Many people do not have the resources to buy or mine crypto. Banano provides inventive ways for those without resources to get into crypto. What is more, many of these people know the fragility of fiat systems, and the true value of crypto.
What makes a crypto successful? People using the tech. Adoption.
Banano is innovative but is not defined by its innovation. Banano is defined by its community.
Thanks to bantano and renesq for taking time to answer questions.
Thanks to the Banano community for being bananas.