The qiibee ecosystem allows a customer to exchange one loyalty token for the other and vice versa, for example, a customer could earn loyalty tokens in a store and then exchange them for tokens in another store within the ecosystem. Another option is to exchange the loyalty token earned to another cryptocurrency or fiat currency, which brings additional flexibility and value to the qiibee ecosystem – says Gabriele Giancola, Co-founder and CEO at qiibee, in Bithub.pl’s #SundayInterview.
You aim to create a decentralized loyalty ecosystem. What’s bad about the centralized one?
Gabriele Giancola: The benefits of a decentralized blockchain loyalty program are far greater than traditional processes, bringing loyalty and rewards into the future. Centralization is not working as the current market is highly fragmented, according to the 2015 Colloquy Loyalty Consensus the average American household is registered to 29 loyalty programs, spread among the retail, financial services, travel and various other economic sectors, but are only active in 12 of them. Loyalty program owners at present struggle with operational inefficiencies as users tend to show less account activity and reward redemption due to the vast amount of loyalty programs they utilize. Data centralization increases the risk of system failure and potential data manipulation as sensitive customer data is owned by program owners and stored on one central database.
Will qiibee enable medium and small companies to create loyalty programs on their own in an easy way?
GG: Our focus in 2018 is to integrate companies with an existing loyalty program and a developer team or at least an agency to help them with the technology. This strategy will help us at the beginning by building an awareness around the project and creating a certain pull effect to attract more brands. By starting with these companies, we have the opportunity to test our platform and wallet.
With these results, we are able to optimize our technology, so that we are ready for 2019, where our focus will shift towards small to medium companies. Our approach is to offer a whitelabel solution, where the retailer or service provider will simply need to brand the application and then it is ready for to be utilized by customers. For small to medium businesses with limited resources, we will provide a loyalty application, similar to our initial prototype which they can join, enabling them to reward their customers within a few minutes.
You’ve created a qiibee. How can you earn it and use it?
GG: The qiibee token is an ERC20 based token. The token can be earned by participating in the qiibee seed round or crowdsale, by making purchases in the qiibee ecosystem or completing other activities that a loyalty application owner wants to reward their customers for. Also, the QBX can be spent on all the products and services, within the qiibee ecosystem.
You’ve already tested qiibee in the Swiss market. What are the results?
GG: We have been developing qiibee for the past two years, working on our initial prototype, an off-chain loyalty application. Our prototype yielded great traction by gaining approximately 100,000 users, and attracting over 900 brands such as Subway, Burger King, and the Swiss Federal Railways. Furthermore, we saw our users build over 6 million online interactions with brands on the qiibee platform and produced over 35 million datasets.
As we began to develop and acquire brands, our prototype helped us gain a better understanding of the inefficiencies and challenges that need to be addressed within the market. Following the generation of a significant amount of data, we began to evaluate the long-term security of the data, the risk of getting hacked and the risk of consumer data manipulation. With this in mind, we were inspired by the blockchain, it began to make a lot of sense to utilize this technology, particularly when it came to issues regarding security.
By utilizing the blockchain, you can store sensitive data that is protected in the ledger system, which alleviates the risk of data being hacked or manipulated. In 2017, we saw some loyalty programs suffer from a hacking scandal, for example in the UK, KFC’s loyalty program was hacked, similarly in the US, hackers were allegedly attempting to breach the accounts of Toys 'R’ Us rewards program members.
Similarly, we began to realize that by having our own loyalty application we were competing with the many different applications in particular the global loyalty programs. We began to identify a recurring problem that all of these applications and programs were not compatible nor were they collaborating to find better solutions for the customer.
In addition to this we noted that people were forgetting to use their loyalty points and subsequently were not redeeming them. This is only natural with the business of people’s lives today. At qiibee, we envisaged a better way to incentivize customers to utilize their points, by offering them real value.
The qiibee ecosystem allows a customer to exchange one loyalty token for the other and vice versa, for example, a customer could earn loyalty tokens in a store and then exchange them for tokens in another store within the ecosystem. Another option is to exchange the loyalty token earned to another cryptocurrency or fiat currency, which brings additional flexibility and value to the qiibee ecosystem. The qiibee wallet also enables customers to have a complete overview of all loyalty tokens collected thus, enabling them to exchange these tokens anytime and incentivizes the customers to utilize their tokens.
What companies have managed to build loyalty systems using your platform and what are the effects?
GG: At present, we are in the process of signing brands in different retail markets, from beverage and food to credit card companies to entire shopping malls. What we see is that these brands want to take advantage of blockchain technology but do not know where to start.
That is why their marketing agencies are happy to work with qiibee, we offer an insight to the loyalty market and can demonstrate solutions for their brands. We see these collaborations as not only valuable to grow our ecosystem but also to learn about what different markets need and how they work. The point of sale strategy and processes behind the sale of a prepaid credit card are completely different to buying a sandwich in a fast food restaurant. As a result of this, it is important we learn from as many brands as possible to help understand the brand and their customer’s needs.
Interview by Przemyslaw Cwik