crypto strategy

These blockchain experts are transforming loyalty, one NFT at a time

When Ross Basri met up with his old college friend John Timoney during his lunch break in Manhattan last fall, the 28-year-old quickly struck up a conversation about their shared passion for cryptocurrency and blockchain. They were so fascinated by the subject that they skipped their afternoon plans and spent hours on a park bench pondering a new venture.

What has most fascinated Columbia University alumni is the potential of Web3 – a new iteration of the internet that uses blockchain technology – to create a crypto-based economy based on user ownership. individual instead of large platforms. Realizing that small brands face challenges in developing successful loyalty programs, they believed an NFT-based loyalty program would be a killer use case that could drive the technology. It would be a way for customers to connect directly with the brands they care about while creating more utility in NFTwhich were mainly used as collectibles.

“We were excited to explore a new use case for Web3 that people could incorporate into their daily lives,” says Timoney. Basri left his role as blockchain engineer and Timoney left his blockchain research role at PayPal in January to start up there – the name refers to a high five.

“High fives are always free, but they make you feel good,” says Basri.

Uptop founders Ross Basri, left, and John Timoney. (Photo courtesy of Uptop)

Encouraging consumers to sign up for loyalty programs has long been at the heart of brand marketing, but it’s proving increasingly expensive and tricky to build the personalized customer relationships needed to retain customers, especially for small businesses with fewer resources.

On top of that, struggling with multiple loyalty programs can be frustrating for consumers as they scour emails for discount codes, clog their smartphones with branded apps, and stuff their purses with loyalty cards. dented.

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

“Loyalty is extremely powerful for top traders,” says Basri, a former Goldman Sachs trader. “We’re basically trying to democratize this digital strategy for every trader.”

Their idea quickly attracted the venture capital needed to launch their startup, and they began recruiting a small remote team to put their platform into beta mode. Now the pair are hoping to sign up for the Mastercard Start Path Crypto The Startup Engagement Program will give Uptop a boost by gathering insights from industry mentors and pitching its Web3 concept to marketers.

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

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

John Timoney

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Brands can use NFTs to unlock access to special live events, subscriptions or memberships. Using them as raffle tickets is another way to engage customers.

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

With the world’s biggest brands already launching their Web3 strategies, Timoney and Basri hope to give small businesses the opportunity to hit the NFTs that can help them get closer to their customers.

For example, they are launching a new loyalty campaign with Brooklyn’s Three Brewing, with the aim of getting customers to taste more of the brewer’s flavors. Threes Brewing is adding QR codes to the sides of their cans, which people can scan to claim a free NFT. Trying out different flavor combinations unlocks NFT achievements, and top collectors will appear on a digital leaderboard. Reaching the top of the leaderboard unlocks a unique NFT that grants Threes Brewing perks and discounts in perpetuity – and keeps those customers coming back.

The duo are betting that the decentralized economy is starting to attract more users as it rapidly revolutionizes the way we shop, live and work.

“What we’re building gives people something they can touch, feel and own, just with an internet connection,” says Timoney. “It is really this critical infrastructure – the picks and shovels – that will enable the next billion users to adopt NFTs and cryptography.”

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