“Data is the new oil” is a well-worn adage these days. The data we generate every day through clicks, likes, and posts keeps the engines of online businesses rolling but there is an ever-increasing lack of control for the regular user over how this data is used. We get access to free services and in turn, we hand over data that informs massive digital advertising and marketing networks, but we get little else in return.
Nowhere is that truer than in ecommerce with the data given on our purchases. Ecommerce and online retailing is showing no signs of slowing down either with sales from online channels tipped to reach $4.48 trillion globally by 2021.
Repay.me, a Berlin-based startup founded in 2015, envisions doing things a little differently. It is building an open source marketplace on the blockchain where shoppers have greater control over their data and are rewarded for their purchases.
A marketplace that gives back
Repay.me subscribes to the ethos that users should own their data and benefit from how that data is monetized.
The marketplace takes its cues from the obvious examples of eBay and Amazon in how it’s designed, with both new and second-hand goods, but with one crucial difference – up to 100 percent cashback.
Users receive a small amount of money back to their repay.me account every day until they have been fully reimbursed for a purchase. The cashback feature applies to all products rather than searching for select products that qualify for coupons or discounts.
Customers also receive cashback for contributing to the growth of the marketplace by leaving reviews on products, referring new users to the platform, or taking part in surveys. Users will even have the option of donating their cashback to a charity of their choice.
Cashback programmes are employed by a number of big-name companies like Rakuten and Flipkart. Shoppers are more and more interested in finding better cashback and coupon schemes that save them money but according to repay.me, many existing cashback programmes are lackluster or too small to have a meaningful impact on the user.
The more data that the startup receives from its users, the more cash it will repay. The ability to pay this cashback is generated by the company’s advertising revenue while taking a small fee from sellers to list their goods.
Eventually, this will extend to the offline world as the company is planning on building a network of physical stores that will participate in the repay.me programme.
Introducing the REME-Coin
To make all of this possible, repay.me is creating its own cryptocurrency called the REME-Coin, which shoppers will use on the marketplace to qualify for 100 percent cashback.
It will be launching an initial coin offering to create this new cryptocurrency.
REME-Coin is a utility token – not a security – that is built on Ethereum. It will be limited to 375 billion tokens throughout the sale. Any unsold tokens after the ICO will be destroyed. Initially, REME-Coin cannot be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies but the company adds that it hopes to list the token on exchanges in the future.
Sticking to its tenet of community and fair share, the sale will include a “friendship bonus” that encourages backers to invite friends to participate in the ICO and receive a REME-Coin bonus. At the launch of the sale, one REME-Coin will be valued at $0.40.
The funds collected from the sale will be used for development of the marketplace, ahead of its mid-2018 launch, as well as sales and marketing and legal costs.
Repay.me has a long-term vision of making REME-Coin the “standard for cashback” and operational on other online marketplaces around the world.
For legal reasons, investors from the US and China will not be able to participate in the token sale. Other investors will be required to go through know-your-customer (KYC) processes to verify their identity and location.
Refining digital advertising
On the other side of the equation is advertising.
Digital advertisers have grappled with a lot of flaws. Billions of dollars have been lost by purchasing ad space that misses its target audience, sometimes only hitting about 50 percent of the intended marks.
Blockchain technology is starting to catch the attention of the digital advertising industry to make processes swifter and more efficient, whether it’s bringing more transparency to ad buying or improving the targeting of online ads.
The REME-Coin will attract advertisers to pay for more targeted ads in the marketplace with an engaged community of users.
Advertisers will benefit from an audience that’s more engaged while the users see advertisements that are actually relevant or of interest to them. These ads will include traditional display ads, sponsored products, and ads based on recommendations made by users through reviews. These ads will be much more credible and effective.
As the value of the ad space increases, so too will the value of the REME-Coin according to the company, which will lead to even more cashback opportunities for shoppers.