The Blockchain and Customer Loyalty: A Conversation With Qiibee’s Gabriele Giancolabr>
As current loyalty and customer engagement programs continue to face major challenges, ranging from high fragmentation and operational inefficiencies to concerns with centralization and data ownership, major industry players are turning to the blockchain to revolutionize an outdated market.
One such option is qiibee, which operates a loyalty program that, since its 2016 launch, has embraced 900 local, national and international brands and has more than 100,000 users in Switzerland.
The company is in the middle of an initial coin offering (ICO) that is concluding January 29 to create its initial developer kits and pilot applications, which the Zug, Switzerland entity will use to allow brands and companies to tokenize loyalty programs.
qiibee co-founder and CEO Gabriele Giancola talked with Block Tribune about the company and its plans
BLOCK TRIBUNE: There are several blockchain loyalty programs on the market. Because of that proliferation, it seems like we’re building the same problem all over again using different technology. Loyalty programs are hard to track. Therefore, if you want to be a part of them, you’ll have to use several blockchains which obviates the benefits. Your response?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: If every loyalty program decided to build its own platform or protocol on the blockchain, we would again be faced with the same problem of high fragmentation. This is primarily why we believe that all loyalty programs should use the same foundation and the same ecosystem, providing the greatest choice and flexibility for consumers. By using the qiibee platform, all of these loyalty programs will benefit from a highly connected ecosystem, increased efficiencies, and the removal of a central data authority.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: I take it these are utility tokens that will be traded within your ecosystem?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: Yes, QBX will be the underlying token within the ecosystem. All loyalty program owners can create their own loyalty token out of the QBX and then use QBX to pay the transaction costs through a smart contract. These loyalty tokens can then be used to redeem products and services, as well as enabling them to exchange the tokens within the ecosystem itself or they can be transferred back to QBX.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Should everyone tokenize their loyalty offerings? Why or why not?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: There are many advantages of tokenizing loyalty offerings, as there are no liabilities connected to unredeemed loyalty points. Brands will benefit from increased security, and the blockchain enables them to provide customers with instant liquidity through the exchange of loyalty tokens. Brands should be encouraged to decentralize and tokenize their loyalty application as when they have a plug and play solution, like qiibee, it enables loyalty programs worldwide to join and benefit from one decentralized and tokenized loyalty ecosystem.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the considerations for a company that wants to tokenize? For example, should they be worried about who will manage the system?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: When considering the qiibee ecosystem, a company’s key considerations are the application and integration of the loyalty program into the qiibee ecosystem, through the developer kit and platform. qiibee will manage the development and growth of the whole ecosystem and the blockchain manages itself, which is one of the greatest advantages of blockchain, since it is very difficult to control.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What is your criteria for which companies you bring on board?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: We have developed a two-step approach, targeting two markets. The first target market is the established and trusted loyalty programs which reach a large customer base. We want to understand their needs and the needs of their customers. On the other hand, we will also focus on the second target market, start-ups and SME’s that see the advantages of decentralizing and tokenizing their applications. Through this approach, we can test our platform and grow our ecosystem through network effects. The second step will be building a white label and application solution which can be utilized by companies that do not have the resources to develop their own application. In taking these two steps, we are able to connect with the whole market and observe the different use cases. Going forward, we have identified different markets with great potential such as retail, travel, telecoms, and insurance.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Will every brand eventually have a token?
GABRIELE GIANCOLA: The beauty of our platform is that you can build different applications and programs. A brand can develop their own loyalty program, where they will have their own branded token. Also, big coalitions such as Miles & More can integrate their program onto our platform. The brands participating in these coalitions will use the coalition token. This enables brands to decide for themselves if they want to be part of an existing coalition, or if they want to create their own loyalty program.