Jun 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

CoinDesk's social token hook

Illustration of a fishing hook with a speared multi-colored cube

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

There was an invisible force at Digital Currency Group CoinDesk's crypto festival in Austin last week: its resurrected social token, DESK. Color us obsessed.

Why it matters: Nearly nine-in-10 Americans have heard of crypto, according to a Pew Research study published in November, but far fewer have ever actually invested in, traded or used them.

  • The barriers to entry to using digital wallets appear to be a threshold only men of a certain age can hurdle.
  • The demographic most represented in crypto are men ages 18-29.

What they're saying: "The big idea is to use tokenomics to build a loyal, engaged community by providing the audience with incentives to interact with CoinDesk’s content — and with one another," according to CoinDesk.

Flashback: CoinDesk beta-tested the coin during their virtual event last year and it was considered a hit.

  • We'd be interested in knowing if user engagement jumped this year given the spotty WiFi.

How it works: No actual money is exchanged for DESK. The coin can only be used within the confines of the CoinDesk ecosystem, on festival grounds and its extension.

  • We observed gaggles of DESK helpers donning gold t-shirts.
  • This reporter struggled. The steps were easy and clear enough, but again, WiFi, and the urgency of quests to complete made the onboarding experience stressful.
  • Thank you to the many DESK helpers, random passers-by and Discord channel community for the technical support.

Context: In effect the DESK tokens offer insight into the world of crypto via interaction.

  • Setting up a wallet takes work, but the steps taken are necessary in that it immerses the user in the ecosystem. Then, you start getting the jokes.
  • In order to start collecting DESK, one has to set up a wallet and manually enter into the Polygon network as well as claim an emailed NFT.
  • Then, set up accounts on CoinDesk to vote and get a heads up on so-called quests to earn tokens.

Earning tokens can become an obsession.

  • To earn DESK tokens one must take a selfie or attend a panel or make a half-court shot and then upload them to channels on the Discord server to prove that these quests were completed.
  • This reporter found these quests fun, but also silly — and did them anyway to earn coin. Result: 704 DESK and new friends.

Spending tokens in real life is not a thing; you just buy into the ecosystem.

  • There were many taco trucks, coffee houses, bbq joints right around festival grounds that absolutely do not take anything but USD.
  • I never did end up spending any of my precious tokens on beer/tacos/NFTs as I intended. What if there was a bigger prize for more DESK at the next conference?

The bottom line: DESK tokens offer a taste of what it's like to be part of the community, discord and all.

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