Rewards-Based Payment App Liven Will Let You Buy Lunch With Cryptobr>
William Wong has been tech-obsessed since a young age, following the startup scene as his passion. Six years working as a commercial lawyer assisting hundreds of restaurant owners, provided in depth knowledge and unique insights into the hospitality industry. This led to his founding of Liven, a restaurant discovery and loyalty platform.
Liven rewards users for their loyalty when they visit partner restaurants and pay through the Liven app by giving them Liven Cash. The Liven Cash earned can be put towards the user’s next meal with a Liven partner, or shared with a charity. The platform has grown to boast over 125,000 users with more than 500 restaurant partners and 10 major charity partners.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What draws you to the crypto space?
WILLIAM WONG: Our business is a market leading rewards-based payment platform that currently operates with a network currency incentive system. Since 2014, we’ve been processing a large volume of payments, managing an internal ledger of rewards currency, and enabling users to passively donate funds to charities. There was an obvious technological link between the innovations in blockchain and what we were doing, and we saw a fantastic window of opportunity to tokenize our currency to amplify our existing business by enabling a richer platform of features that would otherwise be unachievable working with traditional financial technology.
Not only does a token economy perfectly fit our platform use case, but we were naturally drawn to this exciting space due to the nature of innovation and pace seen only before in some of the largest revolutions in human history. The blockchain industry is moving so fast, and only the strongest survive. This keeps us on our toes, but lets us know that what we’re doing is at the forefront of technological innovation.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Why did you decide to launch an initial coin offering (ICO)?
WILLIAM WONG: We decided to conduct a token sale first and foremost to get as many LVN tokens into the hands of potential users as possible. Our main goal is to get the most amount of people processing transactions at partner merchants, and earning LVN by doing so. We’re looking to generate noise and get people talking about Liven, so even before the next version of the product goes live, a whole lot more people know about our platform, and are out there trying it out.
There is obviously the element of fundraising, but since we are guaranteeing the value of LVN tokens as a business liability, this isn’t ‘money for nothing’. Some of the tokens sold with longer vesting periods will help us fund our international expansion into the UK, the USA, and potentially several other regions.
We’ve also raised funding from leading VC firms around the world who have given us their vote of confidence.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Can you walk us through the critical components of your platform and how it will work?
WILLIAM WONG: In short: Diners find venues (i.e. restaurants, bars, cafés) through curated and programmatic discovery via the Liven mobile app. Diners eat at the chosen venue, and use the Liven mobile payment gateway to settle their bill. When diners pay their bills with the Liven app, they are rewarded a percentage of the transaction amount (usually around 15 per cent) with LVN tokens. Diners can then use the LVN tokens to pay for their next meal, send them to a friend, hold onto them indefinitely, or, donate them to a charity.
More on how it works:
- Internal exchange rate exists which gives each LVN in circulation a set purchasing power that can be exercised in any of our network’s venues.
- Reward mechanism which dynamically adjusts the internal exchange rate based on the flow of LVN in and out of the Reward pool – set aside for rewarding users who transact on the network.
- All payments made in LVN are converted to fiat according to the internal exchange rate and merchants then receive their payments in fiat less marketing commission payable to Liven.
- Liven is not only about receiving, we allow users to give back too. A charity component is built into the platform that allows users to share their rewards with a charity of their choosing
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How does your token function within the platform?
WILLIAM WONG: LVN token is a critical part of the platform. Its primary functions are:
- To incentivise Liven app users and keep them loyal to our platform.
- To be used by our customers to consume goods and services within the network.
- To be used by our customers to donate to a cause or a charity they feel passionate about.
- To be used by third party businesses to incentivise their own employees or customers. They can purchase Liven
- tokens/ “food dollars” in bulk and give them out as valuable rewards.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the advantage and difference of Liven compared to others in the market?
WILLIAM WONG: We’re an existing product based on an already popular virtual ‘currency’. The majority of ICO’s are ‘tacked on’ to a product idea that doesn’t always require or benefit from tokenization. It’s quite common to see whitepapers discuss unproven concepts being explored by inexperienced teams. Liven is already a successful product with a proven team that has shown its scalability, and is ready to take the model global.
We’re coming out of the gate with hundreds of thousands of users, merchants, partners, and staff. We’re ready to expand operations globally, and already leading the market in tech-forward cities.
We offer more than most payment or loyalty platforms by amalgamating the most important features into the single gateway. Other similar apps are unattractive to consumers because they don’t offer any incentive to use them beyond the novelty of phone payments (which are now made available and accessible by Google and Apple. On top of this, our platform is an all-in-one solution for customers to discover new places, be incentivised to transact, and be able to spend their earned LVN, anywhere in our large network of restaurants.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How are restaurant and bar owners responding to your product?
WILLIAM WONG: One of the most attractive and important feature of the Liven network is restaurant and bar staff don’t actually have to have any prior knowledge or experience using cryptocurrencies or blockchain platforms to use Liven in their business. Liven allows businesses to simply acquire and retain new customers in exchange for paying a reward rate out to those customers. They will be paid in fiat currency, just like the system they are used to. One of the key challenges of enabling cryptocurrencies to function for the general public is reaching a large merchant network, and the major cryptocurrencies in the space have been generally prohibitive due to fluctuation, settlement time, and confusing interface. However, a number of larger brands and savvy operators have come directly to us in search of a way they can integrate cryptocurrencies with their existing business, and some of our existing partners have already expressed interest in receiving payments exclusively in LVN.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the key differentiators that separate successful from unsuccessful rewards programs?
WILLIAM WONG: The golden rule for any business or platform is that the customer experience comes first. As long as you’re thinking this way, you’re on the right track. As far as rewards programs go, your key metric for users is the level of incentive or benefit. This could be supplemented by great discovery capabilities, fun social elements, or features that play off the core loyalty mechanic, and the amount of work or time investment required to receive the best outcome. Our system is ‘hidden’ underneath a single-press mobile payment platform, so it’s often easier to pay with Liven than just giving the cashier the money. There’s no scanning, no cards, no ridiculous time parameters, and you’re rewarded with substantial credit on every single transaction.
Liven hosts a universal loyalty network, where users can earn rewards credit at one venue and spend it at another within the network. In this way restaurant partners are part of something bigger than themselves, they benefit from a powerful network effect that links them to other complementary businesses and encourages users to remain within the network indefinitely. This is in stark contrast to other loyalty programs which are short sighted, only rewarding users for dining at their venue and not allowing them to use that reward anywhere else. People seek variety and it is not realistic to expect them to eat the same food day in and day out. Restaurants need to recognize this, and work together to expand the size of the dining economy, rather than fighting each other for a shrinking market size.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How is Liven aiding the mass adoption of digital currency?
WILLIAM WONG: Looking back, the idea of currency was actually invented to enable the exchange of food between one another. We’re making cryptocurrency universally accessible for the general public. Everyone in the world transacts for or with food almost every single day. Our system brings merchants and customers together in a way that doesn’t feel ‘crypto’ at all, but takes advantage of all of the advancements made available by blockchain technology. Merchants are finally able to directly accept a cryptocurrency as payment without adjusting their business model, enabling a trillion dollar industry to be ‘activated’ for crypto users, and merchants to continue to operate, while accessing both a huge market of crypto holders, and an active user base of Liven’s own active diners.
LVN tokens will be self-stabilised by our own internal exchange rate which is governed algorithmically to guarantee the purchasing power of each LVN token in relation to the amount of users joining the platform and receiving LVN as rewards.
We’re also making a lot of small steps in the place of user experience to make it more accessible to understand and make use of cryptocurrencies. Our in-app wallet will obfuscate hash addresses and gas limits with an @handle, similar to a twitter account, so users can easily send each other LVN without fumbling with 20 digit codes, private keys, or hardware wallets.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What’s the goal for the future?
WILLIAM WONG: Our focus now is to create the world’s first blockchain-powered payment and rewards ‘digital nation’. We see a future where currencies are no longer geographically bound, but rather by the type of goods they can be exchanged for. No more national currencies used within the confines of countries, but rather decentralised currencies for food, entertainment or any other market, shared across the world.
Liven leads the vanguard of technologies that will bridge the gap between crypto and the real world to usher in a new era of mainstream crypto payment. Through our large existing network of restaurants, and our ability to simplify complexities of cryptocurrency from the user/merchant workflow, we will be able to roll-out a large network of venues which accept cryptocurrencies. This is a first step on the way to solving the “chicken and egg” problem that plagues early-stage platforms involving the interaction between two markets.