Olliv the Above: Asking for a Friend.tech

Does it pay to have an influential social network? A new app that seeks to tokenize users' networks is trying to do just that. In other crypto news, blockchain is coming to the rescue for frustrated cheese makers who want to shut down counterfeit cheese wheels. Yes, you read that right.

These are the top crypto news stories for the week of August 21, 2023.

You got a Friend.tech in me? That’s the question the crypto community has been asking since the early-August launch of web3 social platform Friend.tech. The app presents itself as the latest foray into social tokenization and is built on Coinbase’s Ethereum-based layer 2 blockchain, Base.

The mechanics allow users who create an address on Friend.tech to bid for the opportunity to send missives under the most influential users’ handles, or possibly reap other rewards like having facetime with thought leaders in private chatrooms. Think Cameo but fewer celebs recording “happy birthday!” shoutouts to your uncle in Cincinnati and more chances to mingle with the heavy hitters of crypto’s elite online circles.

Instead of tokenizing an underlying asset such as U.S. dollars or gold bars, the app allows users to tokenize their friend network. Friend.tech reportedly boasts more than 100,000 registered users as of August 21, 2023, a mere three weeks since its launch.

Power users and influential personalities from crypto Twitter (erm, we mean X) have been among the first to jump onto the Friend.tech bandwagon. And the kicker for those users with big followings who’ve become early adopters? They’re apparently cashing out ETH in real-time based on the perceived value of their reputations. It pays to have friends in high places, it seems.

But crypto veterans and industry watchers are (rightly) pointing out that the meteoric rise in Friend.tech ETH transaction volume may be too good to be true. For starters, nobody can quite pin down the origins of the project outside of pseudonymous developers who claim responsibility for building the layer 2 scaling network. And the site doesn’t even have a privacy policy, instead leading readers who click the link to a ‘Coming Soon’ message in place of details on how users’ data will be handled if they sign up for the app. Hmm, and we thought transparency was the foundation of all good friendships...

More reading: How crypto can help you find community

Blockchain-based tech is helping protect authentic Italian Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese wheels from counterfeits. Edible microchips that are backed by blockchain data can tell whether consumers are getting the real deal wheels from Italian cheese artisans or if they reek of being imposter parmesans.

Does something smell funky, or is that just the cheese? First, it’s important to note that the microchips are teensy weensy things that break down and supposedly stop functioning when they’re, um, digested – no need for cheese mongers to worry about being tracked beyond the point of sale, in other words.

Second, although it sounds novel at first, this isn’t exactly new territory. This is basically another application of blockchain tech in a field where counterfeits of rare and valuable goods might be rampant. This is already being done in other settings with concert tickets being sold as NFTs, for example. Expect to see more real-world assets, including deeds to real estate, transacted and authenticated using the blockchain as time goes on.

Refresher: What is blockchain technology?

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