Pi Project: revolutionary blockchain or a 3.14 power social experiment?

What is that PI that everyone talks about?

Not a day goes by without a thousand and one crypto discussion spaces being assailed by promotional posts, more or less intrusive, presenting a mysterious “Pi Project” with an enthusiasm sometimes bordering on to fanaticism.

Often the result of newcomers to the industry (older guys having tanned their skin on more than one scam and having a tendency to view any new disruptive project with some caution), Pi is preferably presented under the angle of its free, aspect which nourishes the classic “well well, there is no risk, lol! “.

A zest of FOMO incentive on top of it all (“You have to take advantage now before everyone knows”) and you have the perfect cocktail that will make a newly reunited community lose everything. sense of discernment (and potentially much more).

If it is not useless to take this opportunity to recall that the peremptory assertion that gratuity = harmlessness is anything but exact, the opportunity is now offered to study the object a little more in depth.

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A little surprisingly, if the approach chosen by the team – anonymous for a long time before revealing itself in recent days – in terms of communication may not represent the best tactical choice, Project Pi could still embody a relevant value proposition.

So Pi, new Bitcoin or umpteenth shitcoin? 

Pi Story

History and value proposition

The PI project was launched in December 2018 , but only really revealed itself since last March. The tone is classically set from the home page:

“Mining is complicated, investing is risky, most of us are left out by the blockchain revolution . The first digital currency that you can mine on your phone. Start earning cryptocurrency today with our free, energy efficient mobile app. “

The atmosphere is set, it is therefore a question of mining a crypto , without energy expenditure and, icing on the hashrate , for free !

I wouldn’t insult you by hitting you with the haunting “If it’s free, you’re the product” (even if I just did) , but in today’s world in general, and in the ruthless field of crypto in particular, such a promise should be carefully weighed, in order to thoroughly verify its sincerity.


Will see it a little later in detail, the Pi project aims above all at the end of the year to set up a blockchain architecture allowing the execution of dApps (decentralized applications) and smart contract , like Ethereum . In addition, a marketplace and an AppStore-like are mentioned, as well as the “attention time monetization”.

But we are not there yet. The main objective of the Pi Project for the time being is to bring together a large community, which aims to guarantee a user base of the future currency, while offering it an important network effect. This fairly classic posture is far from stupid, especially since the Pi project squarely bases its blockchain and the cohesion of its system on social interaction and the notion of “circle of security” .

Indeed, Pi Project makes you the following promise: in exchange for some regular interactions with the system and by encouraging you to recruit others members, you will be rewarded with PI  tokens and an upgrade of your status . The more members you recruit, the higher your status and the more your mining power increases, multiplying the number of tokens.

Interaction with the app and sponsorship at the heart of Pi’s “mining”

Basically, the Pi project comes down to at the moment to a mobile application running on iOS and Android. Rather well done, we find on this App, in addition to the mining system and the Pi count obtained, a discussion module, a forum and various sections. The whole is rather clean and exudes solidity, even if the amount of information displayed tends to make the result sometimes a little messy.

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Registration link

As soon as you register (only possible if you have the invitation of a sponsor), you start to “mine Pi” which are stored on your ” wallet ”, the count being visible in real time on a counter. The “mining power” is expressed in number of Pi /hour. As the community grows and reaches milestones (10,000, 100,000, 1 million users), “halvings” occur, which is halving this yield.

You may notice that I use a lot of quotes . Indeed, this precaution is necessary because if the vocabulary used is specific to the blockchain and well known to the community, all these operations are actually executed “for fake”, at least for the moment, the application simply running a counter and not being connected as is to any blockchain.

However, this state of affairs does not constitute a revelation and is not in the least obscured by the developers, as we will see a little further on.

The teachings of the White Paper

You will find the White Paper of the project here . If the document opens with a number of generalities that it is unnecessary to postpone further, the emphasis is mainly on the deficiencies of Bitcoin and term of speed of transactions and the incredible energy expenditure required by the Proof-of-work model (PoW) . In very large widths, the following points should be noted:

  • Pi Network will work on Stellar blockchain and use the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) as a consensus algorithm , designed by David Mazières , professor of computer science at Stanford and chief scientist at the Stellar Development Foundation,
  • Consequently, the future Pi blockchain will operate under a consensus of the Federated Byzantine Agreement (FBA) type, presented as low in energy, is quite similar to what exists for NEO and Ripple (XRP),
  • the network users will have 4 statuses : Pioneer, Contributor, Ambassador, Node,
  • Node software is in alpha status
  • In a way, the whole project is currently conceptual . It will be open source and built on Stellar Core
  • No tokenomic as such. It is mentioned that Pi will be issued (quantity not specified) to the first 100 million users. To these tokens will be added sponsorship bonuses and a ratio intended for developers (also not specified),
  • the purpose would ultimately be “ monetize our time online” via a dedicated marketplace. The possibility of setting up virtual shops and offering dApps is also mentioned.


Social networks

Surprisingly enough for a virality-based approach, classic social networks are not really taken by storm by Pi Project (I am not talking about the initiatives of the community presenting the project and taking the opportunity to retrieve affiliates.

We will also note the absence of a dedicated thread on the specialized forum Bitcointalk , a little more annoying deficiency as not being present on this emblematic platform is unforgivable for a blockchain project (this topic or this (i don’t think this is official thread) were however spontaneously opened by members , but these again are mostly driven by the desire to share an affiliate link).

In search of flags red

As my fictional grandmother might have said “If the cake looks too good, it might be plastic” . These are wise words. In accordance with the founding principle that when it comes to crypto, we do our own research, let’s take a look a little deeper to make sure that the story we are told is solid and consistent.

Digital identity

The Whois teaches us that the domain was bought on December 3, 2018 . A quick tour of the ScamAdvisor site ne does not report much worrying (we note for the anecdote that the domain name has been verified more than 3900 times, which shows that the initiative is intriguing!).

Using the WayBack Machine shows that behind Pi, is the social marketing agency SocialChain. We discover Pi’s first attempts at design.

Another great classic: with tens of thousands of tokens of all kinds, hundreds of blockchain start-ups who tokenize the perimeter everywhere, it is starting to be difficult to find a name for your super new token that is not already taken!

This is most likely the case for the Pi token.

A Pi token is already listed on CoinMarketCap . This token is associated with a project from early 2017, which everything indicates that it is in a state of brain death (www.picoin.club returns to an error page ).

If it seems that this PiCoin is quite separate from this project , we may however find disturbing the similarity with certain fundamentals ( No ICO ;, Win Free Pi every day …).

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A lingering aftertaste of MLM

Featured in detail by a Reddit user on a dedicated thread , the project It did not take long to attract some disturbing questions regarding its business model, as the project was initially based, as we have seen, on a sponsorship-based virality, the specter of MLM  (Multi Level Marketing) was quick to show up. 

However, we will admit that despite appearances, Pi Project does not have much to do with MLM, if only because of the existence of a single level of sponsorship (in other words, you do not get anything from the recruitments that your downline will make in turn, this which would convulse any good self-respecting “networker” ). Hope this lasts.

The first crypto mining phone app … Really?

Not really a red flag, but more of a perhaps a little rushed assertion. Indeed, Pi is not the first crypto that mines with a smartphone: what about  Electroneum?

Team behind the Project Pi and what stage of development is it?

The team: better late than never!

It was not long before the elements concerning the team were mentioned in the category above, precisely because until recently … no information was available! However, in this matter the equation is simple: no team = no trust (and “the Nakamoto argument” is not valid, especially if you are asked for money!).

However, perhaps aware of this situation, the humans behind the project have agreed to start showing their real faces and they have obviously done well, as they bring credibility to the whole!

Vincent McPhillip holds the position of Community Manager . He worksa at the California University of Stanford (to which the project is intrinsically linked). He is the most visible member of the Pi project, he is currently increasing the number of videos in order to keep the community informed. It is also active within the Stanford’s BlockchainCollective project .

Dr. Chendiao Fan , product manager, doctoral student at Stanford also. 

Dr. Nicolas Kokkalis  Head of blockchain technology. The person’s CV ( available on the Stanford website ) is rather impressive and materializes his research on Applications within the framework of decentralized networks.

Amalric Lombard de Buffières  is associated with the Pi project as developer but also works for the communication agency Socialchain , mentioned earlier in the article.

Below you will find an interview with Amalric who agreed to answer a few questions.

The progress of the Pi Project

The team recently informed its community that the number of subscribers and users of the ‘application had reached 13 million people .

This is a significant figure , even considering that registration is free and does not involve complex procedures, apart from the rapid verification of an email and ” a valid phone number.

As we have seen, halving mechanics apply when levels are reached:  13 million participants having joined the network, the number of Pi obtained has already been halved multiple times.

We can see it, we are still far from it. According to the ambitions of the developers, the 4th quarter of 2021 (postponed multiple times, that’s true) is designated as the period when the Pi network will really be launched . In fact, at the time of this launch, the Pi balances held for the moment virtually, will be credited and the dedicated blockchain will become operational.

Ah, and as this is clearly one of the recurring questions: the conditions will then be met for the Pi to be officially listed, acquire potential value and be tradable on a exchange.

Warnings on dealing with data

This is probably the most critical point of the Pi Project

Not a day goes by without the news reminds us: personal data is a particularly coveted treasure and many malicious actors are ready to deploy very elaborate strategies to access it!

It is thus with this reading grid that we should understand the Pi Project. Indeed, the start-up of which we have ignored virtually everything from a regulatory and legal point of view , is at this very moment in the process of aggregating an incredible war chest, requesting from each new registrant:

  • a valid email address,
  • a valid phone number (depending on the country),
  • an IP address,
  • metadata relevant (the circle of trust: friends and relatives very often)

All this for a community which, we will recall, is by default:

  • crypto enthusiast (therefore 95% user of online exchange or wallet services),
  • rather unsuspecting , when it comes to communicating iinformation without asking too many questions.

In short, an exceptional ultra-specific database for which it is absolutely impossible to know for what purposes it could be useful. This database, presumably stored on a server at Stanford or at SocialChain premises under unknown conditions, represents the holy grail for any hacker wanting to have fun at test the solidity of your digital security or to practice social engineering under the most favorable conditions possible.

Indeed, the official site is exempt from any legal information, nor the Mobile mining application. Where are the data stored? What are the conditions of their conservation?

And for European users, is Pi GDPR compliant? (I put forward a spoiler: probably not ).


(The question asked at the beginning of the file was rhetorical: the world does NOT need a new Bitcoin!)

This point being clarified , the Pi Project presented a suspicious profile initially (no social media, contradictory messages across various communication chanels), unforgivable inaccuracies, a team initially absent..

But , as the investigations progress, a project emerges which, if it does not promise to be revolutionary in spite of great lyrical flights (the classic “a currency for, and by the people” ), presents despite all of the potential.

Choosing Stellar is also elegant and the fact that the team operates in the ecosystem of a university as reputable as Stanford is more likely to give confidence.

However, for the time being there are still many uncertainties about the real purpose of the company. Indeed Pi Project could ultimately represent only a social experiment intended to draw lessons for a whole other use (the degree of credulity or acceptance of a given population to which a new crypto is submitted for example).

If the project fails and disappears (like 90% of blockchain initiatives, keep in mind), in any case be sure of one thing: you will not have made money, but someone will have your personal data.

Nevertheless, let us hope that the motivations that drive the team behind Project Pi are sincere . Indeed, the crypto sector needs major unifying projects, likely to energize the industry and catalyze the interest of the general public. Perhaps Pi will be one of them.


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