The news came that Kodak is poised to enter the cryptocurrrency race with ‘KODAKCoin’. An enigmatic move if ever you saw one. But also a stroke of genius if their soaring share price is anything to go by.
Kodak’s recent history has been somewhat chequered. The once giant in photographic film – established in 1888 – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012. While the business came out the other side, it was held up in the same vein as Blockbuster as a lesson in what can happen when you fail to innovate and adapt to changing consumer trends.
However, KODAKCoin suggests a promising new future. The alt-coin is being billed as a ‘photo-centric cryptocurrency’ designed to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.
The currency aims to offer a secure platform to help the snap-happy protect their work – letting them register their photos using a service called KODAKOne – then license them with transactions conducted using the KODAKCoin.
How KODAKCoin fares is hard to guess, but it’s a bold and commendable move by the brand.
It also begs the question as to the opportunity for other brands to get in on the digital currency act.
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There are now more than 1,300 cryptocurrencies around today – with new Bitcoin alternatives being launched every day. Barriers to entry are, by all accounts, pretty low. The biggest challenge is arguably one of building trust – to attract a community of people willing to transact using your alt-coins. And that’s where brands can play their part.
Surely it’s just a matter of time before we see the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) get in on the act. There’s already speculation that new developments in Apple Pay are serving as a test bed for a new currency.
But then there’s surely opportunities for other brands: Where could Expedia Coins take you? How long before Salesforce Coins become the de facto currency for buying and selling cloud-based software? Or Cisco Coins become the accepted currency for the IoT industry.
There will certainly be winners and losers in this new gold rush. However, as Kodak well knows the biggest risk could well be failing to ignore it.