In a blog post published on February 7, IOTA wrote of the commencement of “a platform to house the community of developers, startups, hobbyists and initiatives all over the world working towards the distributed and decentralized future we all aspire to create.” The platform is known as the ‘IOTA Ecosystem’, which the post also compared to developers.google.com, “but for open-source DLT applications built on the IOTA core protocol.”
While some token holders may shrug their shoulders at such an initiative, it’s important to note that, technology and token value are inseparable for any cryptocurrency’s long-term value trajectory. While the advent of the IOTA Ecosystem probably won’t bring any short-term spikes in the value of IOTA, the fact that the IOTA Foundation is continuing to take steps to engage with and grow a global community of developers is a positive sign that the IOTA network could be adopted for real-world use more quickly.
Intended as a Self-Governing Community for Collaborating, Teaching, and Learning
Among other things, educational resources, ‘matchmaking’ for organizations and startups with IOTA developers, hackathons and philanthropic initiatives are slated to be parts of the system. It will also implement a reputation system that community members will use to determine the value of individual contributions as well as the trustworthiness of other developers in the ecosystem.
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It will be financed by the Ecosystem Development Fund, which was seeded with the donation of 21.7 TI (TI are large units of IOTA tokens). At the time, the TI were worth just over $200,000; now, they are valued at more than $37 million.
IOTA originally announced an effort to foster its development community with the May 2017 launch of the IOTA Ecosystem Fund, another source of funding for community projects that seems to be a slightly diluted version of the Ecosystem. At the time, the Ecosystem Fund was valued around $10 million, and was intended to “[foster] the growth of IOTA through incentivizing participation in expanding and shaping the ecosystem.” Developers can still apply for financing through this iteration of the Ecosystem Fund.
New Collaborations and Growing Pains
The last several months have been eventful for IOTA. IOTA announced the launch of an IoT data marketplace with more than twenty participants (including Microsoft and Fujitsu), although there was some initial confusion as to what role participants played in the marketplace. IOTA also announced a partnership with the International Transport Innovation Center (ITIC) to create a network of testbeds for developing IoT tools in the automotive sector.
IOTA has also been forced to respond to the theft of $4 million worth of IOTA by criminals that used a fraudulent website that created and stole private keys for the IOTA wallet. The wallet has been criticized for being too technical for the average token holder; a new, more user-friendly wallet is currently being developed.