Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
The holiday shopping season is officially underway, and the crypto “cashback” reward programs are in full swing.
Today, the San Francisco-based Fold announced that its Bitcoin-earning app is now available to the general public on iOS and Android, and its users can begin receiving up to 20 percent of their purchases back (in Bitcoin) at retailers such as Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, Sephora, and Airbnb.
Fold customers can do this by downloading the app (previously only available in beta) and purchasing prepaid cards for these and other merchants through their Bitcoin lightning wallets. Once they purchase those prepaid cards and begin shopping—whether its booking a flight through Delta or Southwest, or ordering a pizza from Dominos, they can earn rewards in bitcoin.
Fold CEO Will Reeves told Decrypt that more than 3,000 users took part in the app’s beta test. And what sets Fold apart from the various other Bitcoin-stacking apps is that Fold rewards are instant, and users retain control over their coins, Reeves explained. That means they can spend it on future purchases, save it, or withdraw it their personal wallets.
Reeves also said that Fold protects its users by shielding their identities to make it look like all purchases are being made by Fold, rather than individual shoppers. “Because merchants only see a payment from Fold rather than from the consumer, user data cannot be stolen by hackers or sold to advertisers,” he said.
As for Fold’s relationship with the retailers that its app supports, Reeves explained that it all functions as an integration into each retailer’s prepaid program. Fold approaches merchants and gains approval to offer gift cards and store credit at discounted rates. This, Fold’s CEO explained, is what allows the company to offer instant cashback as opposed to the weeks or months it can sometimes take for customers to redeem rewards from affiliate-marketing programs.
“Fold provides more value to merchants than affiliate programs because we offer merchants lower credit-card processing fees and reduced chargebacks,” he said. “Fold accomplishes this by combining payments with rewards. There is also no way for affiliate markets to protect consumer data from being collected or stolen.”
Of course, Fold is far from the only Bitcoin cashback game in town. Another prominent player is Lolli, which earned a spot on CNBC’s list of “most promising startups” of 2019 just last week. Other companies to offer similar crypto cashback programs for consumers include Pei, which provides automatic cashback in bitcoin, and Earn.com, which allows users to earn crypto by completing gigs.
Reeves insists, however, that Fold stands out from the pack precisely because it isn’t an affiliate marketer. He attributes the growing field of crypto rewards programs to a report issued by Blockchain Capital, which suggested that approximately 42 percent of people between 18 and 34 are looking to purchase cryptocurrency within the next five years.
“Merchants see giant potential to grow their consumer base through this new audience,” he said. “We will see many more crypto-focused discounts, promotional offers and ways to pay.”