Stellar and Coinbase’s $50 giveaway program looks like a pyramid

Coinbase Earn is giving you the opportunity to get your hands on up to $50 worth of free XLM tokens. All you have to do is learn about the Stellar protocol and then get four others to do the same thing...

Coinbase Earn is giving away one billion Stellar Lumens (XLM) tokens from the Stellar Development Foundation to millions of eligible (and initially US-based) users to teach them about the Stellar protocol.

If you aren’t a Coinbase customer but want a part of the free $100 million airdrop, giveaway hunters can also sign up to a waitlist to get access to the program. To receive the first $10, users will need to complete five lessons that each unlock $2 worth of Stellar, which is calculated live based on the spot value of XLM at the time.

If, however, you want to unlock that bigger prize of $40, you need to send your referral link to four other people before you get your extra XLM tokens to potentially dump back into the Coinbase exchange for BTC or fiat.

Some people weren’t so keen to see the news about another exchange giving away a set of ‘free tokens’. DJ Booth, the creator of the Bitcoin and Lightning-based Patreon competitor Tallycoin, stated that no entity should be able to “print your own money, give it away for free, then look to profit after”.

On the other hand, Coinbase does see some intrinsic utility in the XLM token that it refers to as “Lumens”.

In a recent blog post, the exchange said: “Lumens can be used for sending money to people overseas or as a bridge currency between tokens on the Stellar network. An account must also hold a small stake of Lumens for every other Stellar token it holds. Because it’s blockchain-based, people can hold the XLM cryptocurrency locally on their laptop or phone even if they lack a bank account.”

Is it possible to make a quick buck?

At the time of writing, it is not yet known whether you need to complete KYC to be able to withdraw the free funds out in crypto or, if KYC is required, then potentially what requirements you need to fulfill before you can withdraw your funds (for example, you may require a linked fiat bank account).

If the program catches on, you could see CTO of Coinbase Balaji Srinivasan’s prophecy fulfilled, as the 38-year-old recently tweeted that he had “turned Coinbase Earn into a new way to onboard millions of users into crypto” and to the Coinbase platform.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t work, a potential ‘Loopholer‘ could develop a program to automate the process of completing the learning modules and referring users to claim a chunk of the one billion XLM tokens on offer (currently valued at $100 million).

Compared to the current overall $2 billion-plus market cap of the pre-mined crypto heavyweight, the giveaway does seem big. But just last year, the Stellar foundation dropped a similar amount of tokens free of charge to Blockchain.com wallet holders.

In reality, the constant need to pass captcha challenges will most likely thwart any attempt to steal and dump the free tokens on offer for learning. However, pyramid-shaped learning scheme or not, if the program can incentivise a few extra people to learn about the basics of blockchain, and even what it may mean to be decentralised, it may not be such a bad thing after all.

(Just don’t forget to use one of the free shill links under the official announcement to give someone else their free $10 worth of XLM too!)

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