You are probably familiar with traditional rewards programs as a customer. Sign up for the program, shop using your rewards account number (or rewards credit card), and earn rewards, which may come in the form of points you can use toward other purchases, a small gift after spending a certain amount of money or specific number of purchases, or digital currency that is redeemable by purchasing more from the company offering the program.
Regardless of the structure, loyalty rewards programs create two levels of incentives:
customer acquisition–get customers to sign up and spend with that business, and
customer retention–get them to come back and spend more.
It seems pretty straightforward, but for the companies that offer rewards programs, tracking and managing them, as well as avoiding fraud, can be quite complicated.
But blockchain technology is introducing a whole new way of managing loyalty rewards programs. For businesses, this technology holds great promise for removing inefficiencies. On the customer front, blockchain rewards programs can make it easier to collect and use loyalty points.
How Blockchain Rewards Work
Traditional loyalty programs, outside of the small individual business, probably look something like the following where you:
Sign up with a credit card company or company offering a rewards program
Collect points by making eligible purchases with your credit card or directly from the retailer (or maybe both)
Log onto the company’s website or use a mobile app to find redemption options
Redeem your rewards
On the back end, your reward points often move through various systems to be redeemed. System management may be complex, requiring a great deal of back and forth between multiple systems to redeem your points, take them off the company’s ledger, make sure they are applied properly, etc.
Blockchain loyalty programs work a little differently. Instead of having rewards flow down through the loyalty network and sending information back and forth through intermediaries to verify points, everything happens in real-time.
Each company, even if they are under a parent company, is kept on the same information level and can see customer data when it comes to the points they have, and where they are collecting and spending points as it happens. It can be a frictionless experience that further cements the relationship with the businesses’ most loyal customers.
Pros and Cons of Blockchain Rewards Programs
What does all of this mean for customers who join blockchain loyalty systems?
Customer information updated instantly
Easier way to earn and use points
Keep all points in their digital wallets
Safer data storage
Pushes out those who don’t or can’t use technology
Rewards given in crypto can fluctuate in value
For businesses the pros stay pretty much the same, though there can be significant cost savings over time. There are some additional downsides, including that you must:
Coordinate with different companies and get them to work together
Invest in educating customers so they have a good customer experience
It is also worth noting that while upfront costs are high, overall costs tend to be lower. And they will likely decrease over time as the ecosystem evolves.
What to Look for in Blockchain Rewards
Outside of credit card companies, there aren’t many companies in the US using blockchain reward programs yet. A few, such as Rauketen, Chanticleer Holdings, and American Express in a partnership with Boxed, have announced blockchain rewards. Loyyal is one company bringing proprietary blockchain and smart contract technology to loyalty platforms. Still, overall, this is an emerging area of opportunity. And Lolli is an app that allows you to shop from multiple retailers online and earn rewards paid in bitcoin.
However, your best bet when it comes to earning blockchain rewards is programs offered by financial services companies. There are a number of credit cards offering cryptocurrency rewards, and crypto runs on blockchain.
Blockchain Credit Card Rewards
When it comes to credit cards, crypto is where blockchain meets rewards.
If you want crypto rewards, you can choose among debit, prepaid, and credit cards that offer crypto rewards in lieu of cash-back rewards, or perhaps as one option.
How to Choose the Right Blockchain Credit Card for You
While blockchain credit cards might not be everywhere right now, there is no doubt there will be more popping up in the future. As they do, there are some things you will want to think about before signing-up:
Where can I use these rewards?
How much can I earn?
How do my spending patterns align with their eligible spend categories?
What are the associated fees and interest rates?
Also keep in mind that credit cards come with superior fraud protection when compared to debit or prepaid cards. If your credit card is lost or stolen, the most you will be responsible for is the first $50 in fraudulent activity and rarely do you have to pay that. Debit and prepaid cards protections are not as strong.
If you want to check out some credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards that give crypto rewards, here are a few to check out:
dash.fi card: The dash.fi card is perhaps the only business cryptocurrency rewards credit card (we couldn’t find any others when writing this article). With dash.fi, you can redeem rewards in flexible ways, including statement credits and cryptocurrencies. Earn bonus rewards for online advertising purchases and a competitive percentage back everywhere else.
Wirex Visa Debit Card
The Wirex Visa debit card allows you to open a Wirex account, load it with crypto, then spend in retail stores or online. Your crypto is automatically converted to U.S. Dollars. Earn up to 8% Cryptoback™ on eligible purchases. You receive the crypto back in X-points, which are a Wirex loyalty token that can then be used to redeem other types of crypto.
Crypto.com Visa Prepaid Debit Card
The Crypto.com Visa prepaid debit card requires you to stake specific amounts of CRO to unlock various reward levels ranging from 1-8% in CRO rewards. Along with the CRO rewards, you can also earn reimbursements for certain subscriptions such as Netflix. The rewards program is somewhat complex, and higher levels of rewards require higher levels of staking.
Blockfi Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card
This is a personal credit card, so expect a credit check. It offers 3.5% back in rewards for your first 90 days, capped at $100 in bitcoin. After that you can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back in bitcoin. If you spend over $50,000 in one year, you get a 2% rewards rate on the amount you spend over $50,000.
Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Upgrade card is tied to a line of credit. It allows you to earn 1.5% back in Bitcoin on eligible purchases when you pay them back. Plus if you open an Upgrade rewards checking account and make three eligible purchases with your card, you can get an extra $200 sign-up bonus. Currently, you can only redeem bitcoin you earn as a statement credit.
SoFi Credit Card
You earn 2 points for every dollar spent using your SoFi credit card. Each point is worth one cent and the points can be used to add crypto to your SoFi Invest account. Note that you must have a SoFi Invest® account and a SoFi crypto account to redeem rewards points into cryptocurrency. Currently cryptocurrency choices are limited to Bitcoin and Ethereum. A minimum balance of 500 rewards points (worth $5) is required before you can redeem for cryptocurrency.