TOKEN

An absurdist parable for crypto: Why a former banker is marketing a fake token

Quick Take

  • Former BNP Paribas banker Colin Platt is the owner and co-creator of PTK, a parody token making deliberately outrageous claims
  • But beyond the satire, Platt says his token has a serious message about the crypto community’s blind faith in ICOs and STOs
  • The banker-turned-consultant says he hopes to bring more rationalisation, scepticism, and risk awareness to the crypto space
  • Among the lessons he’s learnt are how easy it is to manipulate the market – and how deep the tribalism goes

A “grey” paper. A token “Phoundation.” A chart comparing the token to the value of the earth. A ton of fake trading. And what do you have?

PTK – the token whose value sits at $3.6 quadrillion and whose supply is owned by Colin Platt. It’s the Fyre Festival of ICOs, and intentionally ridiculous.

In a half-day’s work and at a cost of $40, Platt and his colleagues were able to create a parody token and trade it millions of times to boost its value.

“We thought about the very worst idea we possibly could for a token. And we came up with ‘PitchToken Klassic’ (PTK) – where to pitch an idea you have to pay in PTK first. And if you win the pitch, you get paid in PTK,” Platt laughed. “And the worst thing is once we’d finished, we realised it had already been created.”

The idea behind its launch is to prove how simple it is to fake tokens, and to help wake up the space.

“I’ve met a lot of people who have a very faint understanding of this technology and have blown a lot of money on it,” Platt says.

And it’s not just ICOs he wants people to be cautious of. It’s the broader naivete around tokenomics and the weak grasp of the technology.

“There’s still groups out there raising millions of dollars that can’t deliver. Whether they know that or not,” he says. “With STOs, it’s the same all over again.”

Having come from the banking world, Platt is no stranger to boardroom jingo and false promises. He was apparently a vocal critic there too, before casting his eye on the flaws of crypto; including; “wash trading, groups paying people to be active in telegrams, and token mania.”

He added: “There are also questionable levels of decentralisation. Including one that starts with an X and ends with an RP. I wish they had more risk provisions.”

To be fair to Platt however, he doesn’t think the entire space is idiotic. Indeed, he’s making a living as a cautious consultant in crypto and blockchain.

“There are interesting things, great experiments, which I’m a big fan of,” he notes, including in emerging markets. “It’s not all bullshit…But we need to question how products are useful and if so, where they’re useful.” 

The public response: a triple-edged sword

Platt’s most recent presentation of the PTK token was at the Seoul Deconomy conference.

On the whole, people enjoy the lighter side of what can be a tough pill to swallow. Among his supporters are Vitalik Buterin, who has been a vocal supporter of strong due diligence. He also finds support among large investment banks, who he says have found it hard to simply say ‘this isn’t a good project’

But not everyone enjoys the satire, with Platt splitting the ‘haters’ into two camps.

“First, there’s those that think I’m just being sulky….That’s disappointing,” he says, noting how many people have lost money at the hands of botch-ICOs.

“Second, there’s those who didn’t get this was a joke. Or who said you shouldn’t joke, people take it seriously.” He adds: “I am actually worried that people will go and try and buy it. People said, “let me help you get it on Binance.”

This simultaneous tribalism and gullibility is exactly what he’s trying to combat, and which motivate him to carry on the joke.

“I’ll continue it in some form of another, unless I get tired of telling it,” he laughs.

Until then, he can maintain his title as the richest man in the world. At least according to the PTK Phoundation.