NFT Loyalty Programs Can Help Small Brands

NFT Loyalty Programs Can Help Small Brands

When Ross Basri ran into his old college friend John Timoney during a lunch break in Manhattan last fall, the 28-year-olds were quick to talk about their shared passion for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. They were so engrossed in the topic that they skipped their day’s plans and sat on a park bench for hours, contemplating a new business.

What attracted Columbia alumni the most was the potential of Web3 — a new version of the Internet using blockchain technology — to create a crypto-economy based on the ownership of individual users rather than large platforms. Knowing that smaller brands have difficulty developing successful loyalty programs, they thought an NFT-based loyalty program would be a killer use case that could drive the technology. This would be a way for customers to connect directly with the brands they are interested in, as well as increase the usefulness of NFTs, which were used primarily as collectibles.

“We were excited to explore a new use case for Web3 that people could incorporate into their daily lives,” says Timoney. Basri quit his job as a blockchain engineer, and Timoney left his position as a blockchain researcher at PayPal in January to found Uptop — the name is a reference to the five.

“High-five is always free, but you feel good,” Basri explains.

Uptop founders Ross Busri (left) and John Timoney. (Photo credit: Uptop)

Encouraging consumers to sign up for loyalty programs has long been a staple of brand marketing, but it’s becoming more expensive and challenging to build the personalized customer relationships needed for repeat business, especially for smaller businesses with fewer resources.

Additionally, battling multiple loyalty programs can frustrate consumers as they skim emails for discount codes, litter their smartphones with branded apps, and stuff their wallets with dog-eared loyalty cards.

So instead of signing people up for yet another traditional loyalty program, Uptop makes users claim free NFT, which acts like a digital version of the rewards account.

“Loyalty is very important for top sellers,” says Basri, a former Goldman Sachs trader. “Essentially, we are trying to democratize this digital strategy for every merchant.”

Their idea quickly raised the venture capital needed to launch their startup, and they began recruiting a small remote team to bring their platform into beta mode. The pair now hope that signing up for the Mastercard Start Path Crypto Startup Participation Program will give Uptop a boost as they gather input from industry mentors and pitch their Web3 concept to merchants.

They want Uptop’s NFT companies to be more than just collectible digital images, but instead serve as the building blocks of Web3 loyalty schemes that send discounts and offers to consumers for in-store or online use.

“It is this critical infrastructure—picks and shovels—that will enable the next billion users to adopt NFTs and cryptocurrencies.”

John Timoney

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Brands can use NFTs to open access to special live events, subscriptions or memberships. Using them as lottery tickets is another way to attract customers.

By sending NFTs directly to Uptop’s digital wallet, businesses can avoid handling sensitive customer data, while consumers can securely store NFTs of their rewards programs from multiple merchants in one place.

With the world’s biggest brands already debuting their Web3 strategies, Timoney and Basri hope to give smaller companies the opportunity to create NFTs that will help them get closer to their customers.

For example, they are launching a new loyalty campaign with Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing to encourage customers to try more of the brewery’s flavors. Threes Brewing adds QR codes to the sides of their cans that people can scan to get free NFTs. As you try different flavor combinations, you’ll unlock NFT achievements, and the best collectors will appear on a digital leaderboard. Reaching the top of the leaderboard unlocks a unique NFT that grants perks and discounts at Threes Brewing for an unlimited time – and keeps those customers coming back.

The duo are betting that the decentralized economy will start to attract more users as it will quickly change the way we shop, live and work.

“What we create is offering people something that they can touch, feel and buy just by having an Internet connection,” says Timoney. “It is this critical infrastructure—picks and shovels—that will enable the next billion users to adopt NFTs and cryptocurrencies.”

Written by khirou

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