Incent - a blockchain loyalty project that was one of the first initiatives to crowdfund and release their token on the Waves platform - is launching its new toolbar, representing the first step in a major drive to bring crypto to mass-market consumers.

Download the Incent toolbar and get paid for browsing by visiting incentloyalty.com and clicking 'Get Incent'!

Anyone who has ever been handed a loyalty card in a store and discovered it again months later, gathering dust, will already have come to the same conclusion that Incent did back in 2015: traditional loyalty schemes don't work. They just don't offer customers enough value. Reward points aren't transferable, they often expire without warning and they have all kinds of other conditions attached to them that mean they're just not worth the trouble to use.

Links to future product prototypes:

Affiliates prototype

Mobile version

So what if you had a loyalty currency that was genuinely worth something? One that you could send to friends and family, sell on the open market, or spend with any participating store - not just the one that issued it to you? That was the vision behind Incent, which was funded by the first token sale on the Waves platform back in October and November 2016. Having spent 2017 developing their core platform, the project is now launching its flagship app with a Chrome toolbar designed to make it incredibly easy for anyone to get paid crypto rewards.

The Incent journey

Incent grew out of BitScan, the world's largest directory of bitcoin merchants and a marketplace that enabled stores to get set up to accept bitcoin quickly and easily. But along the way, it became clear that crypto could serve a more pressing need for merchants: how to incentivise repeat custom. With traditional loyalty schemes proving inefficient and ineffective, as well as expensive to administrate, BitScan realised there was a killer use case for blockchain here.

Back in those days, BitScan was just a tiny team of people who included founder and CEO Rob Wilson, based in Sydney Australia, plus Guy (Cassius), a crypto writer closely involved with the Nxt community at the time. Over a period of two years they knocked around ideas about a blockchain loyalty product, but the technical infrastructure necessary to take the idea to market was not yet available.

Finally, in 2016, the pieces came together. The new Waves platform offered the ideal infrastructure for a blockchain loyalty token, with its promise of high throughput, low-cost transactions and user-friendly interface - plus the all-important DEX. Not only that, but as 'blockchain for the people', Waves was the perfect fit for the vision of putting crypto into the hands of hundreds of thousands of everyday consumers.

Instead of issuing IOU-style tokens, merchants would buy Incent (as it was ultimately named) off the open market and send it to their customers using a configurable percentage of the purchase price. When points were redeemed, they would simply be sold on the open market. Amongst other things, that meant there was no 'forward liability': no risk that a merchant would have to accept a large amount of points at their own cost and take an unexpected financial hit. The consumer, meanwhile, would be rewarded with a tangible form of value that would actually grow as Incent became more widely adopted: a far cry from the worthless reward points of most loyalty schemes.

To crowdfund the venture, Rob enlisted a couple of other long-term members of the Waves community, Cyrille (KarlKarlsson) and Lootz, as well as Freya, a crypto marketing expert. It was Waves' first ICO (in fact, Waves' custom token functionality was only launched after the ICO started), pulling in just over $1 million in BTC and WAVES.

The product

2017 was a busy year, with the tech and concept going through several iterations and the company grappling with unexpected technical challenges. By the end of the year, though, things were a world apart from their humble beginnings at the end of 2016. Thanks to the dramatic rise in value of BTC and WAVES, Incent had a war-chest that enabled them to hire a dozen new employees. Front- and back-end devs, a compliance officer, UX experts, mobile app specialists, business developers: the operation had transformed into one of Australia's foremost crypto companies and was ticking all the boxes to bring crypto to the masses in a way that was smart, scalable and - in a climate of huge regulatory scrutiny - absolutely compliant. It wasn't long before they outgrew their shared offices in a tech hub and rented their own space in downtown Sydney.

The soft launch for the product was scheduled for Australia Day: 26 January 2018. The idea was to launch the Incent toolbar to just a handful of crypto users to begin with, gradually scaling up to push into some big markets over the course of the year.

The toolbar itself is designed to be a low-friction way to get anyone started with Incent - meeting the desire the team was seeing all around of people who wanted to get into crypto, but unsure of how to go about doing it. The user experience is super simple: download the toolbar, register your email and get paid small amounts of Incent just for browsing. Once KYC (on its way soon) has been implemented, the user can withdraw their Incent from the toolbar to a local wallet or, in the future, spend it with participating stores.

As a solution ready for 'Joe Public', Incent uses a hosted wallet - since there is a balance to be struck between leveraging the benefits of a peer-to-peer infrastructure, on the one hand, and the user experience and technical impact of creating hundreds of thousands of new wallets, on the other. Funds moved between Incent accounts therefore do not show up on the blockchain. However, the business model requires that Incent is purchased/sold on the open market every time it is distributed to customers or redeemed with merchants, which does require a blockchain transaction. Settlement on the secondary market is conducted on available and reliable exchanges, including Bittrex and the Waves DEX. Much like a regular exchange, real economic activity - financial inflows and outflows - go on the blockchain, whilst internal balance shuffling is kept off the blockchain to avoid unnecessary complexity, costs and bloat.

The current toolbar is just stage one, a means to grow the userbase and iron out any bugs ahead of a wider campaign. The goal at this point is to attract 5,000 users, all of whom will be paid with Incent bought off the open market for their role in refining the app and testing it in the field.

Affiliate marketing

Stage two is the release of an online marketplace, which leverages affiliate marketing infrastructure to reward online purchases with Incent. Affiliate marketing networks are plentiful and their model is to reward 'publishers' for funnelling traffic to the website of 'advertisers' and securing sales. Incent's proposition is simple: split those commissions with the user, and pay them in Incent - again, bought off the open market with a proportion of the referral fees. The customer acquires crypto cashback just for going about their ordinary online shopping, whilst Incent gains valuable revenues and stimulates demand for their token.

Work on the affiliates platform is well under way, and the results are looking very good. You can see the desktop prototype and the mobile version. The user journey is designed to be clean and elegant: there's no more friction than is absolutely necessary. The idea is to make it easier than anyone ever has before for consumers to get their hands on crypto.

Once that's up and running, the goal in the second half of the end of the year is even more ambitious: direct merchant integration for clicks and mortar merchants up to the enterprise level. Incent are already seeing significant interest from businesses who intuitively grasp the power of their proposition and are desperate to use blockchain to gain an edge in a competitive market, where every hard-won customer counts.

You can find out more about Incent at incentoyalty.com, join the Incent Slack or trade INCNT on the Waves DEX (id: FLbGXzrpqkvucZqsHDcNxePTkh2ChmEi4GdBfDRRJVof) or Bittrex. Or you can just get started by clicking 'Get Incent'!

This post was first published on medium