Picl is a chat app that uses the Stellar crypto-currency (Lumens or XLM) to reward users who assist one another with a problem they are stuck on (aka when they are in a pickle).
What problem is Picl addressing?
The Picl concept was inspired by the need to assist students in real-time, while considering the reality that most students across the globe are under-resourced and lack a strong support network.
Education is a community effort that goes beyond direct engagement with teachers or lecturers.
Many of us may take for granted that, growing up in urban centers, our families have at least a basic level of education and our home environments provide a positive learning environment. We also progress through our education in tandem with our peers who are also drawing off their similarly privileged backgrounds. This creates an ecosystem of excellence (or at the very least, competence).
Most students globally are not lucky enough to even have access to qualified teachers or lecturers, let alone a robust academic support network.
In this way, education is centralized around regions, as opposed to be evenly distributed across the globe. Currently, the ultimate determining factor of the probability of one’s academic success is the geo-location at which they are born. This archaic determining factor needs to be supplanted by ability and determination. It is Picl’s goal to bring about this change by decentralizing education.
What does Picl enable users to do?
Picl has been developed with a social mandate in mind by addressing global educational inequality. However, the platform is not limited to this application. Picl allows any user to post a pic of a problem that they are struggling with, which displays in a chat thread. This streams into the threads of a number of users as a public picl, or can be sent to a specific user as a direct picl. Any one of the targeted users can accept the picl and begin helping the OP. When the OP accepts the response, after having engaged with the assisting user within the chat thread, the XLM transaction completes.
Additionally, Picl can be used as a wallet to transfer Lumens directly to another Picl user, or to an off-platform Steller account.
Why is Picl valuable for Stellar?
One of XLM’s challenges is adoption (as for all crypto-currencies).
To stimulate uptake, Picl would provide each new user with a small amount of free XLM upon registration, and subsequent XLM ‘airdrops’ for high engagement accounts.
A closed earning/spending system, such as Picl, can facilitate adoption by providing both the source of and need for XLM (a closed one to one system).
Once such a system has reached a critical mass of users, their spending power can be directed towards other platforms. This paves the way for a new or existing XLM pay-gate that can link that system’s spending power to other platforms, such as Amazon.
At this point, the pay-gate becomes the central driver of adoption, by opening up a many to many network of value exchange, while the original system (Picl in this case) becomes one of the platforms (no longer a closed system) for the utilization of XLM.
How does your project utilize Stellar?
Stellar Lumens provide a medium for value exchange within and out of the Picl platform. Without such a medium, the platform would have to either run on its own internal currency, which would deny the user the ability to utilize their realized value in a wider context, or it would have to be based on altruism alone, which would slow adoption and response times.
Picl could have been built on a fiat currency system, but that would mean slower transaction times, global exchange control issues and many millions of unbanked students being denied access to the platform (not to mention that Stellar transactions are just more pleasant from a UX perspective).
Preamble: Picl’s goals outline a heavy focus on adoption at universities and the promoting of an active XLM economy among on-campus students. The reason for this approach is to promote a strong and self-sustaining community of educated and engaged tutors, before unleashing Picl on the wider global educational context, most notably under-performing secondary school environments. This strategy can be thought of as a work around to the chicken-egg scenario (or in this case student-tutor scenario) that Picl must overcome to create a global educational support network.
• Approach the student representative councils at various universities (as listed below) to establish a monthly meetup among students to promote the use of Picl. Lumen giveaways and food & drink for sale (in XLM only) will be run at such events. The message to all attending students will be that either instant help is available on Picl, or that tutors can earn XLM by providing help on Picl. ‘Anchor students’ will be nominated to provide a standby tutoring presence in return for bonus Lumens. Institutions will be approached in the following order, based on existing affiliations and the need to evenly distribute engagement internationally:
o University of Cape Town
o Stanford University
o Universities in Kenya (Uni of Nairobi), Rwanda (Uni of Rwanda) & Zimbabwe (Uni of Zimbabwe).
o Remaining 9 of the top 10 universities in South Africa
• At each university, once a self-sustaining Picl presence has been established, the various on-campus food and equipment stores will be approached to accept Lumens as a form of payment. It will not be expected of these stores to trade out their Lumens on an exchange to convert back to fiat, but rather that they will have a merchant account with Picl. With this account, they will be able to send their Lumens to a Picl admin address and have their local fiat currency reimbursed to them. FOOT NOTE: The on-campus exchange rate offered to merchants will be based on the prevailing major-support rate for XLM, lowering the chance that Picl will have to pay in more than the prevailing XLM rate. In the event that this does occur, the premium that Picl would have gained while trading above this major-support rate would smooth out any sudden drop below this rate.
• At this point the establishment of an economically active on-campus student userbase will mean that Picl can begin turning its attention towards secondary schools. The on-campus students will now form the tutor userbase that can assist secondary school students. In this way, the setting up of an on-campus student userbase can be thought of as the pre-requisite engine for driving Picl and XLM adoption.
• The next step would be to extend XLM payments using Picl into off-campus retail outlets that are near each campus. The aim of this would be to continue entrenching XLM value perception.
• Once off-campus adoption has succeeded, Picl would either be extended to an online pay-gate plugin or partner with an existing Stellar pay-gate plugin to make a case for connecting online retailers to the now burgeoning Student-Lumen market.
• At this stage Picl enters a ‘rinse & repeat’ phase whereby increasing online spending promotes value at universities and visa-versa. By continuing to increase campus-based value in this way, the wider adoption of Picl and XLM continues to be supported for further global expansion.
• Picl will have done its bit for providing one of the pieces for Stellar’s launch pad while supporting its own social mandate of creating a global education support network.
Why is Cape Town a good starting point for Picl?
Sub-Saharan Africa, with about 300 million unbanked adults, accounts for approx. 17 percent of the global total. Ref: https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/
South Africa is often leveraged as a starting point for operations conducted throughout the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is due to its relatively high GDP and greater instance of tech adoption. Within South Africa, Cape Town is the tech center. It can be thought of as the Silicon Valley of South Africa, and indeed is also home to the Silicon Cape initiative. The success of any tech innovation in Cape Town provides it with a strong platform for launch to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Bringing this back to Stellar’s social mandate, the launch of Picl in Cape Town would provide a necessary and powerful starting point for the fulfillment of exposure to 17 percent of the very audience that Stellar has as one of its goals to reach.
Picl has a simple info page that can be visited here (not much to see at the moment, but the video may provide some entertainment).
The Picl app is currently available as a beta version on the Google Play Store.
Access is currently only set for the USA, UK and South Africa, with a maximum of 1000 downloads allowed.
Upon installing Picl, you will find a few bits of info within the app to give you some context, however the below terminology will further assist you in finding your way around the app:
Picl: The app.
picl: the user’s problem or the chat room they create to get help.
OP (student): “Original Poster”. The person in a pickle. They create a picl.
Assistant (tutor): The person who helps the OP. They accept the picl.
NOTE: a user can switch between being an OP or assistant on one profile.
Accepting a picl: This is either done by the assistant to start helping the OP, or by the OP to accept the assistant’s help.
Rejecting a picl: This is either done by the assistant to dismiss a picl (before they have started helping), or by the OP to reject the help that an assistant has given.
• Picl Stream (assistant): This is where an assistant can view all picls available for them to accept or reject (both public and direct picls).
• Active picls (OP and assistant): For OPs this is where the picls they have created and the ones that have been accepted by the assistant are displayed. For assistants, this is where the picls that they have accepted are displayed.
• Archive (OP and assistant): For OPs, this is where picls they have accepted are displayed. For assistants, this is where picls that they helped with that have either been accepted or rejected, are displayed.
Public picl: A picl that everyone can see. The first assistant to accept it gets to help the OP. It has a standard rate of 1 Lumen (in the beta version) and if an OP doesn’t accept an assistant’s help, it will be relaunched automatically for the next assistant to accept.
Direct picl: A picl that is sent to a specific assistant and is charged at that assistant’s picl rate. If it is rejected by the OP, it will not automatically be reposted, and the OP will only get a 50% refund of the assistant’s rate. The OP may choose to relaunch a direct picl after they have rejected it. However, this will need to be paid for in addition to any Lumens already spent.
Direct picl rate: The rate that an assistant sets in their wallet that is charged to OPs when they send them a direct picl.
Direct picl code: Every user has a unique code displayed in their wallet. This is given to other users so that they can send them a direct picl. The user can also choose to have this code displayed in the summary of public picls that they assist OPs with.
NOTE: Lumens can also be transferred from one account to another by using a user’s direct code.
Star rating: This is a rating out of 5. Only public picls that you assist with contribute to this.
Tags: In Picl, you will see the use of tags when creating your picl. They are used to target a more specific subset of assistants when releasing a public picl. They are purely decorative for direct picls.
Notifications: Sent for transactions, message received in public or direct picls and for when a direct picl is received. You will not be notified when public picls appear in your picl stream.