Are your alt coins a part of your identity?

This article was originally published on Medium by Leanne Luce with the title, "TetzelCoin — A Token for Forgiveness."

Moments ago, a token sale I’ve been working on for the past several months launched. It’s not your typical token sale… we’re not raising money for the promise of an unrealistic project, and we didn’t make a typical joke or meme coin.

TetzelCoin Coin Banner


When I was first learning about the blockchain, I was truly enamored by the possibilities that it provided. Accountability through a trustless network, global collaboration, digital nation-states… among so many practical applications, like Factom’s secure IoT devices and land registration in countries with turbulent political structures.[1] Factom’s tagline, “Making the World’s Systems Honest” highlights one of the most valuable aspects of blockchain technology: providing trust when there is none.

Excited by the potential, I began examining token sales that were raising money in this space and realized that 95% were meritless money grabs that would never provide value to the world. Another 4% or more were novelty coins, like Coinye, notable only for their ridiculousness and commentary on the token sales that proceeded them.[2] Despite their absurdity, there is something interesting about these novelty coins in what they reflect about our current culture.

Downplaying the technology, novelty coins provide an entry point to people who might not otherwise get involved in the cryptocurrency community. These coins have become access to participate. By participating, these tokens contribute not only to the hype of the blockchain but become embedded in our identities.

Particularly in fashion, people often buy products to buy into their aspirational self. You can gain access to an aspiration of being like Kanye by wearing Yeezys in the same way that you can gain access to being Ghostface Killah by participating in his Cream Capital ICO.[3] If you aspire to the status of these figures, you can have a piece of this status or the hope of gaining it by purchasing their currencies and products.

By participating, these tokens contribute not only to the hype of the blockchain, but become embedded in our identities.

Alternatively to being aspiration, these novelty coins speak to our identities in other ways. Coins like JesusCoin or others may offer nostalgia, camaraderie, being a part of something larger than ourselves, and being a part of creating history.

Amidst all this, I hadn’t yet seen an alt-coin that I could personally identify with, one that spoke to my own identity. A few months ago, I started working on a project called TetzelCoin. This is a token I identify with. Rather than exploiting the popularly of cryptocurrency only for greed, TetzelCoin raises money for a charitable cause that I consider worthwhile. It also calls to action something that I value: self-reflection.

TetzelCoin is an interactive art work to explore some of the conceptual ideas that the blockchain brings. The fast facts about the project:

  • Confess your “Sins,” pay in Ether, and receive forgiveness in the form of SIN tokens. If you’re familiar with the concept of indulgences from the Catholic Church, this is indulgences for the blockchain.[4]
  • Your sins will be recorded on the Ethereum blockchain and will be displayed on the TetzelCoin site, along with how much they’re worth. The confessions remain pseudonymous. Only the Ethereum address of the Sinner and the Recipient of the SIN tokens will be displayed.
  • You can send your SIN tokens to someone else should you wish to gift them.
  • 85% of the proceeds from this project will be sent directly, via smart contract, to RIP Medical Debt, a well-reputed non-profit that absolves medical debt.
  • It launches today, the 500th Anniversary of Reformation Day, and will be open until January 1st, 2018 at 12am.[5]
  • You can read more about the artist’s intentions in the white paper on the TetzelCoin website.
TetzelCoin Forgiveness Robot Smart Contract - the blockchain -token sale

TetzelCoin offers its users a moment to self-reflect amidst the million mile an hour world that we currently exist in. You pay for the experience, but the proceeds are largely donated directly to charity and you can confirm that’s true because you can check to watch the transactions.

TetzelCoin offers its users a moment to self-reflect amidst the million mile an hour world that we currently exist in.

My personal hope is that among this craze, we can slow down enough to think about what we’re doing, how we’re affecting people, and repent, be it religiously or otherwise, about the things we could have done better. Maybe, just maybe, taking the moment to contemplate the questions that this project poses, says more about our identity and our character than the next Coinye. In a community whose work has the potential to enable so much good and so much harm, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect.