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This new token-powered social media network wants to end the scepticism around cryptocurrency in India | EXCLUSIVE

‘Hopefully, we can make a small dent in making people more comfortable with the idea of crypto.’

Taki
Taki is web-only at the moment. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Taki is like Twitter or Facebook, until it isn’t. This new social media platform, like others, wants to empower creators, give them a platform where they can showcase their craft and (also) make money. Like others, it wants to give casual users a feed full of fun and lively content, thought-provoking posts, or just plain chit-chatter to stay engaged, entertained, or simply pass time, too. The similarities end there.

You see, even though Taki is technically “social media”, it’s unlike any other social media platform you’ve seen before. It seems squarely targeted at crypto enthusiasts and its “SOL” purpose is, rewarding them. You don’t have to be a creator or a paying subscriber to get rewarded on Taki. Anybody can earn a crypto token—called $TAKI—on the platform by simply commenting on or liking posts. The platform also supports user-generated coins—called $UCOIN—that you’re free to trade with others on Taki. Going forward, the social network plans to allow users to move coins to their custodial wallet or to any exchange account.

Taki is incubated at Web3 venture studio SuperLayer and has received a USD 2.5M fund from Solana Foundations to onboard content creators (the platform is built on Solana Blockchain). It’s launching first in India today, March 31, and will be invite-only initially. Public access is “coming soon.”

In an exclusive interview with Financial Express Online’s Saurabh Singh, Taki co-founder Sakina Arsiwala takes us through the nitty-gritties of the new social media network and how the team plans to make a dent in a market where crypto remains a polarising asset in dire need for more clarity and optimism. Excerpts.

— Right out of the gate, who is this platform for—crypto enthusiasts?

Our vision is to onboard the next hundred million users. We want the product to be very accessible, so it’s really designed for someone who has never used crypto, too. You don’t need a crypto wallet to sign up for this product, you just need your Gmail or phone number. Just the way you would go to any social networking site, you’d basically enter your credentials, and you’d sign up and start earning crypto [or not] from day one on Taki, you don’t even have to bring in any money into the system.

Taki
Anybody can earn a crypto token on Taki. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

You could be a casual user who’s occasionally commenting [on posts]. Simple things like inviting a friend onto the platform will give you Taki coins that will reside in your Taki wallet. But you don’t really have to go ahead and create interesting content constantly or you don’t have to do anything beyond being a casual user to use the platform.

— Could you talk a little bit about Taki wallet, what integration is going on in this?

Taki wallet is simply an account. It will be your account details including daily rewards which even casual users can get (you don’t have to be a mega content creator for the rewards, you can get them just by commenting on people’s posts, liking posts, giving gold Taki) which is later stored in the wallet. If you want to take the value out, which is something that’s coming soon, it’s when you can transfer Taki to your custodial wallet or you can move to any exchange account in the future.

— What are the kinds of cryptocurrency the platform will be accepting?

So, right now, you don’t have to bring in any cryptocurrency at all. Taki is the base currency of the platform. We are built on Solana, and we will be supporting “SOL”. But I think the idea here is that you spend a lot of time on other social networks, you spend time here doing what you would normally do, and you automatically start acquiring crypto tokens.

— How do you plan to navigate in a market like India where there’s a sense of uncertainty around crypto? 

Navigating the crypto ecosystem is tricky but with everything, whether it’s paradigm shifting technologies or economic models, there’s generally a lot of worry and there is also a lot of good actors-bad actors initially. There’s a lot of understanding and education that needs to happen at every level. I am very hopeful of India, because if you look at the cryptocurrency market itself, the adoption is encouraging and with the recent legislation coming [taxing income from digital assets are out and things] there is some openness to explore and understand what crypto could mean to just regular users. I strongly believe that platforms like Taki which are backed by well-known investors and come with very credible teams will be able to make a mark.

We have Bollywood and cricket and all that in India, but even at a smaller level, people are creating and embracing social media and if we can provide a stage to kind of get more economic sustainability for these people, then it’s really a win-win across the board.

By making it super easy and safe, we want to create understanding of crypto which as you rightly pointed out, there’s a lot of scepticism around. Hopefully, we can make a small dent in making people more comfortable with the idea of crypto, so that would be a great milestone for us to achieve.

— Would you require any sort of government approval in any of this?

Based on what we’ve seen so far, we don’t. We don’t believe we need anything as of now, but we will work with them if anything comes up in the near future.

— How do you plan to beat Twitter and local platforms like Koo?

It’s a crowded market but each platform [Twitter, Koo, others] has a very specific way of engaging with their audiences and with Taki, we’re not competing directly with any of these social media providers because we are a token network that presents a unique feature set that has not been done before.

— What other markets are you looking to tap with the product aside from India?

It’s a global platform. Taki is going to be available in several markets. India is a key market because there’s an appetite for crypto and social media here. I think we will get good adoption in India and so that’s where we’re starting but we’re open to most of Asia, so our strategy is more pan-Asia focused. We will be onboarding users from multiple countries over the next few months.

— Is there any specific user number you are chasing initially before opening the platform further?

The beauty of Taki is that we really don’t need large numbers in terms of users. What we really need is engaged users who are getting a lot of value from the platform, and so, we’ve not set any targets. Internally, we have thought if we hit this milestone, we would think about monetisation. In this Alpha and the next Beta phase, we are just looking to learn.

— What is the engagement metric you are looking at?

The way we are defining this right now is people participating in the rewards. The second metric would be how actively they are supporting the creators that they are fans of, and they follow.

— Could you talk a little bit about the brains behind this product? What are your expansion plans?

The team behind it is like the core superhero team. We have all worked in either social media or crypto space for many years. The idea was to empower users to create value and we thought can we use crypto to enable those kinds of interactions. A social media platform became an obvious thing to do since that’s something everybody understands and then we set out to redesign it for the new era, making it crypto-first, token-first.

We are in this learning and discovery phase. We want to thoughtfully expand the team and make sure that we are hiring for what the product and the company needs at any given time, but we absolutely want to expand in India.

How are you looking to monetise the platform, eventually?

At this point we aren’t really focused on that. We have some great backing. We’re incubated at SuperLayer and Solana has given us a grant for creator’s fund. We’re inventing something new so we really want to learn and understand how users are using our platform and how we can better serve them first. As soon as we are in a stable state, we will start experimenting with different monetisation paradigms. We don’t believe in the traditional monetisation [ways] where platforms take all the value that is created by the users and run ads and then keep hundred percent of the revenue for themselves. We don’t want to go that route. We want to experiment and see what can be the new monetisation models that we can unlock based on the interactions on the platform.

What are your future plans—where do you see Taki going from here?

The space is evolving so fast, and you know we’re at the cutting edge. We’re very true to this vision that creators should own their own economies, and for that, we would like the user points to be portable so they can take it to any other network they choose to go to. We would love to collaborate with developers and other people who can use the creator coin in their own systems and their own platforms. Imagine a world where when a creators create Taki coins, they basically own them.

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