On March 8, 2018, Stellar Lumens announced their partnership with Keybase, as a beneficiary of the Stellar Partnership Grant Program (SDF). Under the SDF, organizations that develop projects on the Stellar Network that are determined to be of high value to the Stellar Lumens ecosystem are eligible to receive up to $2M USD in lumens (XLM) per grant, depending on the price of lumens at the time the grant is awarded to the company.
According to their website, Keybase has created a communication and content-sharing platform similar to Slack, that is end-to-end encrypted across all devices. Slack has been widely adopted, particularly by software developers and other tech companies, proving that there is a business need for a platform that brings coworkers together with searchable messaging, calls, file-sharing, apps and automation. If Keybase is successful in bringing similar functionality to the market that also provides better data security, at a possibly lower cost, they may capture market share from Slack.
In the ICO landscape, Keybase’s partnership with Stellar raises the bar, and their functionality puts them in league with the Telegram ICO, which has reportedly raised over $2 billion in private funding. Telegram is a working, popular communications platform that is also similar to Slack. Their ICO has generated a tremendous amount of interest, given that Telegram is the communications platform of choice that is on just about every successful ICO website. The problem of course, is that the Telegram ICO may not be open to most people who want to buy in, leaving hungry investors looking for a new home. Enter Keybase.
With the right marketing play, Keybase may be able to tap into the audience that the Telegram ICO has already cultivated. Regardless, Keybase is looking to tie strong cryptography to real-world identity, a unique and valuable component of their model. For example, you would be able to send XLM to a friend via Keybase, knowing only a Twitter or Reddit handle. If achievable, this is ground-breaking fintech that will tie social interactions with financial transactions.
As a condition of the partnership, Keybase will deliver a number of products built around Stellar technology. They’re keeping most of this quiet, but we can expect to see announcements in the coming months. One thing is for certain: Keybase is heavy on privacy and decentralization. They believe, understandably, that releasing some sort of back-door to encryption that governments can utilize is a horrible idea. This forthright attitude about privacy rights, combined with a pragmatic approach to encryption suggests that they are indeed interested in putting data security at the top of their list of priorities when developing the Keybase ecosystem.
At present, Keybase already has about 200,000 users. While this is nowhere near the total of three million Slack users, let alone the total of 100 million people who use Telegram, it is certainly a formidable base that may continue to grow, and if their technology proves superior to other options, there are at least 103 million people who may consider migrating to the next shiny object.