The explosion of the crypto space over the past couple of years has been massively beneficial for the industry and life changing for many of its legacy members. However, that’s not to say it was unilaterally good: veteran participants will often cite the loss of charm, wholesomeness, and support as the community grew and drifted from its roots as an inclusive, genuine, generous environment.
In the early days of crypto, back when institutions couldn’t care less for the technology and participants rarely invested more than their lunch money, the crypto community was a bountiful resource for anyone with an inclination for blockchain and a desire to see it succeed. Before Bitcointalk was overran by bots and spammers, before ICOs became the norm, and before governments funded blockchain incubators, cryptocurrency was a vastly different environment.
Tipping and giveaways were the norm. Any online casino or other service that utilized Bitcoin gave free coins to anyone who would test out the site. Altcoins held airdrops on launch before the term was even popularized. Good comments on any subreddit were often awarded with satoshis from tipbots. Most importantly, anyone and everyone who, at any level, contributed their time and enthusiasm to the betterment of the space were compensated by the other members. The idea of making it big with a crypto explosion was a distant pipe dream, and most of the conversation instead focused on promoting real world adoption.
Of course, this landscape is wildly different from the crypto space of today. This is to be expected, the global “pay-it-forward” approach of the community certainly could not scale to the current size of the space. But for those who themselves were incubated by this community, it can be unsettling to see this environment abolished.
Or has it been abolished? By digging deeper and getting passed the popular topics, one can still find such a community across different niches in the space. Perhaps the best example of this is Banano (BAN) and it’s dedicated community. The values of this lighthearted NANO fork coincide substantially with that of early crypto, and its community reflects it perfectly.
The central hub of the Banano community lies in its public Discord. The channel is situated across numerous channels, both in English and many other languages, where members can discuss the project, share memes, trade BAN and NANO, participate in contests, and even work with one another on community development projects, such as online games and network upgrades.
And with every interaction comes a likelihood of sending or receiving some amount of BAN. The development team offers a very generous giveaway fund, which encourages participation in contests, lotteries, content creation, and more. When community members create services that implement BAN, such as custom Minecraft servers, they receive healthy Banano pools to incentivize the community to interact with the service. Rains and giveaways happen 24/7, where all members of the community receive BAN just for hanging around.
At surface level, this seems like a recipe to cripple growth. Why would the many community members not just dump their Banano as they receive it? The opposite has been the case. In less than a year, BAN has grown to a commendable US$6 million without any coin sale or private funding whatsoever. The community also reps an impressive 15,000 members. Backed by more than memes, Banano’s unorthodoxed approach has attributed to speedy development. Among interesting developments includes a system that illustrates public keys into unique monkeys, known as monKeys.
As many projects are withering away through an inability to differentiate themselves from the competition, it’ll be interesting to see if more coins adopt a similar approach to what seems to have been successful for Banano.