Creating a people for the everyday consumer to start spending Bitcoin on a daily basis is not an easy task. Such efforts will always start out in a very localised market and Fold is one of the few applications managing to use Bitcoin to pay at a major store – Starbucks. Now Fold is looking to expand their business imminently in the US.
Fold & Starbucks – The Story So Far
Bitcoin enthusiasts in the United States and Hong Kong rejoiced at the news when Fold announced it would be possible to spend BTC at any Starbucks location accepting USD currency. To make the offer itself even better, Fold users would receive a 20% discount on every purchase for the entire duration of this “trial” period.
One of the main reasons why Fold has become quite popular in a short amount of time is because it is a far better alternative compared to traditional gift cards. Most people who buy or receive a gift card never use it for the full amount, whereas Fold users can spend the full amount loaded in Bitcoin. The unspent funds will be refunded within 24 hours.
The main question regarding Fold is how the company is able to offer a whopping 20% discount on all Starbucks purchases through the application. Buying up gift cards (used or brand new) at cheap rates and then passing the discount of 20% to the Fold user is a great way to satisfy all parties involved. Gift card users will get the value for their gift card – Fold can service additional customers with a discount – and Starbucks gets paid.
Even in the case where somebody installs the Fold app on their mobile device – loads up the balance and forgets to spend it – the funds will be either used or refunded in its entirety. Gift cards have an expiration date, after which the amount on the card becomes null and void. Fold, on the other hand, will remind users about their existing balance after a period of inactivity.
So far, Fold has been used by thousands of people in various countries – including the United States, Canada, Macau, United Kingdom and Hong Kong regions. Even though most of the purchases are small (averaging US $10) frequent Starbucks visitors have taken a liking to the app and using Bitcoin to buy a drink at their favourite location.
Future Plans Include Up To 30 Major Retailers To Be Added
The team behind the Fold mobile app is quite ambitious and the success with their “Starbucks trial program” has given the company valuable information regarding their service. In addition to this, there are plans in motion to expand the Fold service to additional major retailers, in the United States at least.
Looking at it from a technical standpoint, adding new retailers to the Fold application is not all that difficult. However, there is quite the infrastructure that has to be put in place before Bitcoin payments will be possible at these locations. It is important to keep in mind that Fold in its current form is merely a prototype to gauge interest in this type of service.
If everything goes according to plan for Fold, the Android application will get support for both Target and Whole Foods during Q3 of this year. As you would come to expect, this updated version will need to go through rigorous testing first. A select group of alpha testers is receiving the updated Fold app as we speak, and the bug hunting process can begin.
Note from the Author: Even though Starbucks purchases are subject of a 20% discount, don’t expect this number to be applicable to Target or Whole Foods. Estimated discounts range between 5% and 10%, yet these numbers remain unconfirmed for the time being.
Other retailers being eyed by Fold include Walmart, Home Depot and CVS. The main focus will remain on the US retail market for the time being, yet there are plans to expand the retailer list on an international basis as well. Groceries and gas are two of the major markets Fold wants to target for the time being, as these are places where customers make purchases on a regular basis.
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Images courtesy of Fold and Shutterstock