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At last, a kosher cryptocurrency: BitCoen

Have we reached peak blockchain yet?

Viacheslav Semenchuk, a Russian entrepreneur, has just launched a cryptocurrency for Jews.

Similar in concept to Bitcoin, it is called BitCoen, "the first Kosher cryptocurrency," as described on the company's Russian website. In the US, Coen and its variant Cohen are common surnames in the Jewish community; in Hebrew, they mean priest.

Semenchuk, according to RT, has invested $500,000 in the project and hopes to raise as much as $20m through an initial coin offering that aims to sell 100m BitCoen digital tokens to investors.

With that much market capitalization, BitCoen would rank at about 115th among the more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies tracked by Bitcoin's current market cap is about $55bn.

The company began a pre-sale through its website on Wednesday, offering 300,000 BitCoen (under the abbreviation BEN) at a price of $0.75 per token. It expects to launch a wider offering in October.

"Our team came to the conclusion that the Jewish community is the world's only community within the framework of which a full-fledged and self-sufficient cryptocurrency can be created and recognized by the whole community," said Angelika Sheshunova, COO of BitCoen, in an email to The Register.

"We expect that the cryptocurrency will cover all Jewish communities around the world. And the main guarantor of stability here is that the keys from the management of the cryptocurrency will be in the hands of the most respected members of the community."

Sheshunova said there's no way to guarantee that only members of the Jewish community will use BitCoen. "However, the functionality of the system and the inherent features are most appealing to the members of the Jewish community," she said.

Said features include a plan to give 10 per cent of released coins to Jewish organizations as "tzedakah," or charity, and governance by a six-person community council.

Sheshunova explained, "Important decisions in the system are made by the 'council of six.' Each of them is well-respected in the Jewish community, and will represent their preferred course [in] business, politics, finance, technology, public service, [and] culture."

BitCoen will be "a completely new blockchain with its own architecture, its own security and special functionality," according an emailed quote that Sheshunova attributed to Andrei Nedobyolsky, CTO of the project.

That name returned no results in Google, Bing, or Yandex. The Register asked if BitCoen could provide more details about Nedobyolsky's technical qualifications, but has not heard back.

Sharing code

According to Sheshunova, BitCoen plans to make some of its code available, eventually. "In accordance with the ideology of blockchain, we plan to share some of the code that is critical for system users, with requirement specifications of security, transparency and functionality," she said. "However, this will be done after the launch of the main elements of the system."

BitCoen's lack of technical clarity appears to be matched by its muddled public communication. On Wednesday, the firm published a post in Russian on Medium to dispel what it characterized as a fiction about its project.

The post states that BitCoen is still negotiating with the Chief Rabbi of Russia (there are apparently two at present) and Jewish community leaders about potential involvement with the project. It also suggests that the currency will be controlled by those participating in the community and not just Jews.

"All media statements that 'the currency is controlled by the Jews' – we consider unconcrete and far-fetched in order to increase the readability and popularity of articles and materials, where these statements are applied," the post says, as rendered by Google Translate. ®

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