Why does the Factom Protocol need a token?

A common question is why does the Factom Protocol need a token? This is a fair question as many tokens out there don't need to exist. Paul Snow, CEO of Factom and the Chief Architect of the Factom Protocol said the following on Reddit:

Paul Snow said:
One of our selling points for our solutions we are building on Factom is that there is a public witness to the data we are recording on a distributed and public network that allows 3rd parties to come into play at a later time and still trust the data and the network holding the data.

We are also expecting applications to build upon other applications based on the same network of trust. So chains built by some 3rd party on Factom could be leveraged by our applications in the future. This is particularly important with some use cases such as digital identity. As different organizations and even governments begin to put identities on Factom, we will want to integrate with them. Because we will never be in a position to actually verify, validate, and provide attestations to create real world identities. That's the role of governments. But we certainly will want to use them!

Digital Identity isn't the only use case we want on Factom from "outside" our private company. We would also like a framework for trusted computing, where better, safer, automated hashes of software can be checked before we build it into our systems. We would like supply chain applications for our hardware components. For our food and medicine. Digital trading of commodities like precious metals. We are not going to be able to tackle all the use cases for Factom! But many of them will get developed by other parties, and we will be able to integrate data from those solutions into our products as well!

A private chain and private solution just can't expect to attract that kind of network effect. So it is in our interest as a private company to have a public Factom protocol to build upon.

Distributed applications have to have a token to reward a range of parties to build and support the infrastructure of the distributed protocol.