How Blockchain Is Beginning to Increase Customer Loyalty

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic and many of the biggest brands are turning to blockchain technology. Now some of the biggest airlines are replacing Airmiles with crypto.

According to Forrester Research, most online retailers invest around 80% of their online marketing budgets on acquiring new customers. However, most people reading this already know that it costs five times more to secure a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic, and an increasing number of companies are turning to blockchain to finally disrupt and bring the loyalty business into the 21st century.

Although it could be described as the epitome of first world problems, many of us don’t want to download an app on our smartphone for every airline we travel on. We have unwittingly created a never-ending list of exchanging points from a myriad of program partners and it’s cumbersome at best, and it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, there seems to be a wind of change in the air and blockchain technology is already beginning to prove it’s much more than another buzzword.

Airline Loyalty Programs Go Crypto

When thinking of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, you could be forgiven for thinking of pie in the sky projects built on empty promises that never come to fruition. But, maybe we should be thinking differently, especially now that Singapore Airlines is introducing a blockchain-based loyalty program and even replacing its air miles with cryptocurrency.

It seems that we are moving into a phase of real-world adoption and although this technology is still in its infancy. We are looking at the radical transformation of traditional loyalty programs as we know them. The current system does not work and is leaving many people with a strong sense of loyalty program fatigue.

What if Blockchain could provide a frictionless system that was both cost-effective for both brands and customers. It would be much easier to increase engagement if you could store all of your collected points in a singular digital wallet. The good news is that this could be one of the many reasons why some of the worlds most prominent airlines are replacing air miles with crypto.

In July, Singapore airlines launched KrisPay and proudly declared that it was the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet. The technology behind the new system was developed in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft.

“By creating a miles-based digital wallet which integrates the use of miles into their daily lives, KrisFlyer members have yet another way to use miles instantly on everyday transactions.”
—Singapore Airlines CEO, Mr. Goh Choon Phong.

The Blockchain Loyalty Platform Happy Hour

Elsewhere, qiibee, the decentralized blockchain-based loyalty ecosystem, is aiming to provide a loyalty platform and developer interface on which every loyalty application can be tokenized. But, it is attempting to revolutionize the loyalty industry and refreshingly not with promises of technological innovations, but with partnerships and real-world adoption.

Germany´s leading cocktail bar and restaurant chain, Sausalitos is already on board rolling out a new loyalty program. Elsewhere in Europe, Swiss coffee brand Lattesso is also releasing a blockchain-powered loyalty program on the qiibee ecosystem, but this is just the beginning.

Italian Retail Association Confimprese recently formed a strategic partnership that will bring together relationships with some of the world’s most renowned brands across multiple industries. Confimprese’s members include KFC, Disney, Pandora, and petrol station network Agip, with over 6,000 points of sale in Italy.

Although it’s unclear at the moment at which brands will be taking part, the Swiss loyalty token protocol is already helping brands around the world run their loyalty programs on the blockchain. But, this is just a handful of examples of how customer loyalty programs are on course for inevitable transformation.

“Customers worldwide are familiar with air mile programs and loyalty points, and although these are important practices for retailers and brands, customers are limited and restricted in how they can utilize their points and rewards. Now Lattesso customers will be able to exchange their loyalty points for cryptocurrencies from their smartphones.”
—Gabriele Giancola, Co-founder, and CEO of qiibee.

There are many more examples of how the worlds biggest brands are beginning to rethink customer loyalty using blockchain. Now that we all know that it’s merely a decentralized ledger that is unchangeable and fully transparent, maybe the buzzword itself can be retired so that the tech can become invisible.

By providing greater transparency to consumers and more control over their loyalty programs to improve the customer experience. Early indicators suggest that loyalty points will eventually be replaced by tokens that enable users to transfer between friends or redeem for purchases.

It will take several years for this technology to truly enter the mainstream, but with the world’s biggest airlines already embracing it, maybe the future is much closer than any of us realize.

How AI and Blockchain Will Transform Marketing, Just Like the Internet Before It

In 1995, the Internet was widely considered to be a fad, but businesses that failed to evolve and adapt to a new digital world quickly disappeared. Could the combination of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cryptocurrencies be about to revolutionize marketing in the same way?

After recently watching a clip of a Bill Gates appearance on the David Letterman show in 1995, I was reminded of how our fear of technological change has altered very little in the last 28 years. As the Microsoft leader desperately tried to convey how the Internet would transform everything, both Letterman and the audience laughed and mocked the Microsoft founder.

It’s hard to imagine that in 1995, the Internet was widely considered to be a fad, but businesses that failed to evolve and adapt to a new digital world quickly disappeared. Substantial household names vanished from our lives almost overnight, but we all thought that they were too big to fail.

Here in 2018, we are witnessing the same attitudes towards artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cryptocurrencies. However, make no mistake: These technologies will continue to evolve at breakneck speed and will transform every industry including marketing.

Sure, we are in the very early stages at the moment and only just beginning to comprehend the art of the possible. But as these advances in technology continue, every aspect of our world will change forever, and those that fail to keep up with the pace will quickly experience a fate similar to Blockbuster video.

Artificial Intelligence

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang recently advised that “software is eating the world, but AI Is going to eat software.” But what does this mean for the marketing industry?

We are now living in a digital age where companies are automating how we discover products and services. Anyone who has used Spotify, Amazon, or Netflix will testify how personalized recommendations based on our engagement automatically raises their expectation levels. As a result, marketers will increasingly face pressure to tailor their product recommendations based on their consumers’ purchase history and reviews.

When I open my eyes in the morning, my first action is reaching for my phone to see how many generic emails I can delete, and I know that I am not the only one. AI solutions are already making it possible to offer hyper-personalized ads based on the individual preferences of users and serve them in the right context without being creepy, and right now, they are most relevant.

When this becomes the standard, what happens to marketers who cling to the generic campaigns from the past? Contrary to popular opinion, technology is not dehumanizing us at all; it is actually forcing marketers to treat customers as unique individuals rather than page views and clicks. This can only be a great thing, right?

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Make no mistake: Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will transform the world as we know it. But you might be thinking, how will it impact marketing? Although it will take time for businesses to adapt and use the technology, it has the potential to eradicate intermediaries.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, users will have an opportunity to determine how much personal information they reveal in a new era of social responsibility. As a result, advertisers and marketers will need to earn trust rather than take it for granted.

There are already multiple marketing and advertising startups appearing in the blockchain space.  A new approach to tokenize user behavior through a cryptocurrency and create a new credit system to unite advertisers and the consumer could completely remove the need for middlemen that provide little in terms of value.

When thinking about the art of the possible, blockchain could easily enable brands to build trust directly with their customers. Could this pave the way for businesses to be less reliant on tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook? Only time will tell.

Tech, The Problem Solver

The marketing industry has a long list of problems that emerging technology could quickly remove. Whether it is payment processing, fraud prevention, measurement, or reporting, we can expect everything to become simplified and in many cases automated.

Technology is bringing greater trust and transparency to the global marketplace across every industry. Marketing is just a small part of this huge digital transformation of everything.

Ask yourself: What are the most significant pain points in marketing? What aspects of the current ecosystem are no longer fit for a digital age? And what value are complex processes or third-parties providing your business? These are the areas that technology will eradicate over the next five years.

As consumers, we can access anything our heart desires with a few swipes of our smartphone. We are all taking these expectations into the world of B2B and demanding the same level of experience. Those that fail to make it easier to do business and remove friction points will quickly fall out of favor.  So, isn’t it time that you embraced technological change rather than fear it?

Blockchain Is Eating Commerce

Blockchain is a technology that has the potential to become a disruptive force in the ever-more digital economy. Its potential value — coupled with friends, clients and business partners asking about it — led me to publish this outline and answers to many of the questions I’ve been fielding. It’s something every Data Athlete will want to understand.

BlockchainYou may not be familiar with blockchain. Many “in-the-know” digital folks aren’t terribly familiar with blockchain; what it is, or how it works. I was surprised by how few were.

Blockchain is a technology that has the potential to become a disruptive force in the ever-more digital economy. Its potential value — coupled with friends, clients and business partners asking about it — led me to publish this outline and answers to many of the questions I’ve been fielding. It’s something every Data Athlete will want to understand.

Blockchain Starts With Bitcoin

Blockchain is essentially a distributed database, which means it’s like the database you know that lives on your server or in the cloud — except that it’s spread copies of itself around the Internet or network. A distributed database has the benefits of fault tolerance and transparency — more than one “node” on the network has a copy of the data. Blockchain also utilizes strong cryptography that prevents changes to the transactions content — they are permanent.

These characteristics were developed to support the exchange of Bitcoin, the now famous crypto-currency that is being used worldwide to facilitate a myriad of transactions.

Bitcoin is said to concern banking institutions and governments alike — as its decentralized nature means no one nation owns or controls it. Bitcoin and its underlying Blockchain are like the “MP3 of currency” in the early ’90s. Bitcoin.org summarizes the power of its decentralization:

“Sending Bitcoins across borders is as easy as sending them across the street. There are no banks to make you wait three business days, no extra fees for making an international transfer, and no special limitatons on the minimum or maximum amount you can send.”

So in order for Bitcoin to be a “free” and universal currency, it could not be centrally managed or controlled; hence, blockchain was created first — Bitcoin actually started the following year.

Furthermore, each and every Bitcoin has a copy of every transaction/exchange it was ever involved in. All of the data on that chain is distributed to every blockchain-distributed journal (or database) across the Web.

What Is Blockchain Used for Today?

Blockchain’s most prevalent usage is in Bitcoin. But remember, it’s an encrypted, distributed database. And so, blockchain technology also securely moves and stores host money, titles, deeds, music, art, scientific discoveries, intellectual property and even votes.

As a (distributed) database that is as open, borderless and secure, blockchain continues to find new uses, and has been adopted by every major technology company. IBM, for example, made an early investment in blockchain technology and IBM Blockchain.

“Blockchain technology also securely moves and stores host money, titles, deeds, music, art, scientific discoveries, intellectual property and even votes.”

Blockchain 2.0 — Triggered, Programmatic Transactions

Blockchain 2.0 is the rapid evolution of blockchain, and where blockchain offers the potential for transformation of the way we engage in commerce and business at an Internet scale.

Remember, blockchain is a distributed, cryptographically secured database. It makes sense that an evolution would allow programming code, or chain code, to manipulate the transactions in a blockchain — and that’s exactly what has happened.

In one example, SAP is using blockchain software to let patients share electronic medical records with doctors or drug makers for a specific time period, such as during medical care or a study.

In another example, they designed a system for farmers’ weather insurance. It pulls rainfall data from sensors in the field, then automatically informs insurers if there’s a drought that would trigger a payout.