Paying it forward with karmacoin

Friday 25 July 2014

"Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results." ― Sakyong Mipham

Thinking about karma can often conjure up the idea of retribution, but when referring to cryptocurrency, Karma is not about seeking revenge; in fact karmacoin draws upon the ancient Eastern values, aiming to provide people with an easy way to promote, reward and incentivize kindness and positive change in the world. 

Buddha sculptureKarma

The word karma as taught in the Buddhist tradition comes from the Pali word “kamma” which literally means “actions” and refers to the intention of a person when doing something. In the West, it has come to be used mainly to refer to the results of actions. The general idea is that everything a person says and does can have far reaching, and often unintended consequences. This notion of actions and their consequences comes from Indian belief systems which became integral parts of Hinduism, Buddhism and other major religions. However, similar ideas can be found in Judeo-Christian religions as well as Confucianism. Perhaps a modern English way to describe it is to simply say that your actions are important because they will have consequences.


What is Karma the Currency?

Karma is a digital currency launched in early 2014, formerly known as Karmacoin. A new group stepped up to run things after the original group gave up on it. The leadership team is led by Tony Sorel, Director of Karmashares, LLC, the operating arm of Karma. They have incorporated in Wyoming as Karmashares LLC which is unusual for an crypto currency.

Tony Sorel explained the attention-getting move recently in an interview with, saying Karma is a coin currently switching from using Scrypt to a X11 PoW algorithm, and using the Kimoto Gravity Well algorithm for difficulty adjustment. Difficulty is re-targeted every 240 blocks. with 10,000 coins as base block reward plus a sliding scale bonus. Currently the chain has nearly 340,000 blocks, and miners issue 10,000 coins + 25,000 bonus for each block. That bonus amount will drop to 10,000 coins as the chain reaches the 400k block mark.


Karmashares is using a novel approach called Proof-of-Coin (PoC). Not all Karmacoin holders will participate in Karmashares, but those who do will be rewarded on a quarterly basis with a share of the profits. Profit is allocated for all possible 92 billion coins, but since only some participate only they will split the proceeds. The Karma blog site KarmaWire describes KarmaShares as follows:

The fundamental purpose of the Karmashares LLC is to function as an ecosystem for karma itself, while generating profits to be paid out to it’s shareholders on a quarterly basis.

Karmashares' PoC model allows them to to grow the internal economy, fund future projects, and offer investors a chance to be part of this incubator for Karmashares' various endeavors.

Good Karma

We caught up with Shawn Leary, General Manager for Karma, who told us about recent goodwill endeavors, including their recent campaign around the World Cup:

The recent Karma World Cup pool was setup to support a charity called Street Child World Cup. During the World Cup 2014, this group brought homeless kids from many nations to Brazil, the host country, to play in their own competition. Their goal is to bring attention to the huge disparities between the “haves” and “have nots” in our world.

karmacoin worldcup

The campaign was a success, due largely to a gorgeous website setup by the team member who goes by the name javijavier. They setup a betting pool where 20% of the proceeds went to this charity. The model should be applicable to all major sporting competitions - keep an eye out before the next Olympic Games. The Karma crew also seized on an opportunity they saw recently when Girl Scouts in Rancho Cucamonga were tricked by a counterfeiter. Fraudsters bought $200 worth of those tasty cookies using fake $50 bills, leaving the young girls and the local community in shock. A fund was quickly setup to raise $200 to give to the victims from the generosity of the Karmacoin community. As Tony Sorel pointed out afterward, "it’s ironic that a digital currency would come to rescue these victims of a fake currency scam. But it’s a fine example of how a coin can push an agenda of social justice in the world."

KarmaShares Projects

Many projects are springing forth from Karmashares. Most recently there was an announcement of an offer to buy their search engine, at for a hefty $6.2 million price. This search engine site was designed to be a search competitor where users search web and get Karma from engaging with sponsored content. Much excitement was generated when terms of the sale offer were announced on Reddit this past week. There are plenty of other projects under development too, albeit with less public attention at the moment. FABRI₭ is one such project. It’s an online store selling Karma-branded t-shirts, caps, aprons and more. Then there is, a social networking site, similar in many ways to Facebook but without the testing, advertising and disdain for user privacy. It also lacks even a tiny fraction of the Facebook user base at the moment, but these are still early days for the social site. Also deserving a mention is @tipkarma, a twitter tipbot much like @tipdoge and others. This will allow goodwill tipping of small amounts on twitter, by simply sending a tweet addressed to @tipkarma and indicating the recipient and the amount to send, denominated in Karma.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

And so it starts, with these small examples. But the folks behind Karma have much bigger aspirations than this. Karma is engaging with a world in dire need of more kindness. But they do so with a sustainable plan - organized and strategic. Next time you visit your favorite exchange, take a small portion of your funds and buy some Karma. That’s not investment advice, that’s life advice.

Preview Buddha sculpture: Mikael Häggström. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Mike Ward

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