Do Millennials like loyalty programs? Doubters and disruptors want cryptocurrency in the mix of redemption options.
But will allowing drivers to pay for vehicle rentals with bitcoin, for instance, entice younger brand ambassadors? Inspire future-forward rewards? Help traditionalists clear miles off their books?
'Brands will want to tread lightly'
A program that issues another currency only gets value if there's a tie-in between its program and the crypto-economy, says Dave Van de Walle, managing principal at Metacoin, a marketing and communications consultancy specializing in Bitcoin, crypto and blockchain..
Take Walgreens, for instance. "I get points for shopping there, and that’s great," Van de Walle says. "When the time comes for me to cash in those points for money at the point of purchase, I’m rather giddy to turn $5 in credits into $5 in whatever I’m buying that day.
"If I’m given the option to toss that into a Bitcoin wallet, that could be compelling," he continues. The brand partnership could make sense, and the 1-to-1 currency exchange is easy for consumers to understand. "And that doesn’t sound too dissimilar from those apps that round up your purchase and throw it into an investment account."
'My antennae are buzzing'
While Millennial men may like cryptocurrency more than magazine subscriptions, the concept of moving miles off liability balance sheets necessarily involves the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and all sorts of legal teams, Van de Walle says.
Brands with miles and points to burn need to cautiously decide whether to enable crypto trades, understanding the choice likely would command the immediate purview of a dozen agencies, Van de Walle says. That is, if the decision made it past the CFO and corporate counsel.
The government's trying in real time to define cryptocurrency.