Decoding the buzz around Pi Network, the cryptocurrency adopted by 35 million people across 230 countries and regions, ahead of its public launch.

PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE GONE viral on social media of a sweetmeat shop near Alwar in Rajasthan and a meat shop in Assam accepting Pi coins for their goods. So have selfies from a meeting of the so-called “Pi Community” in Delhi and a colourful celebration in the city by a few Pi enthusiasts with a portrait of Pi Network’s founder Nicolas Kokkalis in the background. Kokkalis has a halo around his head in that picture, like those of Indian gods in posters printed in Yiwu, China. “There is tremendous buzz about Pi Network now in India, too, ahead of its open mainnet expected later this year or early 2023, and the value it may acquire when it happens,” says crypto influencer and author Sapna Singh about the trend, which, she adds, has gained further momentum after Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume of trade, recently placed Pi on its crypto watchlist.

Mainnet stands for an open/live blockchain network—a digitally distributed, decentralised, public ledger—that is up and running.

The “buzz”—the favourite term in conversations around Pi—here is a reflection of a worldwide craze for what is feted as the world’s most widely distributed cryptocurrency. It isn’t yet traded on any crypto exchange but it will soon be, and that explains the enthusiasm ahead of what many ‘Pi’oneers believe will likely be the crypto equivalent of a new iPhone launch—the kind that used to happen in Steve Jobs’ time with mile-long queues outside Apple stores.

Three months after a global crypto bloodbath that saw prices of crypto coins plummeting to record lows, there are ads across social media of wares, including cars, washing machines, smartphone and hotel bookings, for sale in exchange for Pi—from Nigerian towns to cities in Vietnam to villages of Taiwan to interior China and Ghana to Guatemala in central America apart from major economies in the West.

With speculations rife among ‘Pi’oneers around the value of Pi touching monumental levels once it gets listed on crypto exchanges, businesses are betting big. Sample this promotion by Apollonia Casino Hotel & Spa, in North Macedonia: it says that one can book a hotel room with breakfast and spa included for a day at 0.0002228 Pi. When Open contacted the hotel at Gevgelija, they confirmed that payments could be made in

Pi. Amidst such excitement the world over, more and more people are invariably scouting social media and messaging platforms for barter deals and peer-to-peer transactions through Pi. Nearly 4.5 million transactions have happened amongst KYC-ed ‘Pi’oneers since the start of enclosed mainnet two months ago. ‘Pi’oneers, both individuals and traders, are exchanging goods, livestock, vegetables and services for mutually agreed upon consensus value (CV), which ranges from low decimals to unrealistic six figures in dollars. Many ‘Pi’oneers believe Pi has the potential to either match or surpass established cryptos.

The question now is: What explains this Pi fad?

First, is its spread.

Pi Network, launched on March 14, 2019, by Stanford graduates Nicolas Kokkalis and Chengdiao Fan, whose main goal was to ensure that the common man could access and benefit from crypto and blockchain technology, has more than 35 million active members, also known as ‘Pi’oneers, as of May this year across 230 countries and regions, which are home to 93 per cent of the global population. At the moment, the network is in an enclosed mainnet stage, allowing KYC-ed ‘Pi’oneers to move their mined coins to their respective wallets (ready to trade amongst KYC-ed ‘Pi’oneers) and to allow as many non-KYC-ed ‘Pi’oneers to migrate to the blockchain. Enclosed mainnet period is also the time to test the resilience of the network and to fine-tune it before open mainnet.

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