We are working on GBRL, Mitali Bansal, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Zagg Network said as we introduced ourselves at a Blockchain meetup. I’ll be honest, I didn’t ask what GBRL was as I understood from the conversation that the company was working into loyalty rewards and benefits.
Two days later I was sitting in Zagg’s office in Madhapur, Hyderabad with Mitali and Amit Mehta, the CMO of the company. The conversation started with the forgotten acronym ‘GBRL’ which stands for Gift Cards | Benefits | Rewards | Loyalty Industry. Oh, that’s what it stands for, I thought to myself and angry that I didn’t come prepared.
It was later that I learnt that Google will not give any results for GBRL because it was a term coined by Zagg Network for their upcoming Blockchain Project. But one thing caught my eye on Google, Over 100 Billion Loyalty Points are unclaimed in the US alone.
What is Zagg Network?
Zagg Network is a custom blockchain project to disrupt, the GBRL industry. Zagg is backed by Zaggle, a payment company in India that caters to corporates in services like loyalty rewards, gift cards, cashbacks, analytics. Zaggle has tasted success in the past 7 years in operations generating over $100 Million in revenue. Now, they are entering the blockchain space with Zagg Network.
Speaking of Zaggle, Amit Mehta shared some Zaggle co-branded cards and handed them over to me. One of them was with Yes bank and another with RBL bank.
We then got to talk about Zagg Network.
What is the deal with GBRL?
“We coined the term”, says Mehta.
Zagg Network is focusing on all the areas that serve us individuals in points/rewards instead of actual cash. A few examples that I personally use would be Sodexo Meal Cards, Citibank Reward Points, Jet Airways JPMiles, Starbucks points, etc. So GBRL – the acronym to club them all. Gift cards, Benefits, Rewards and Loyalty.
He continues to explain the final product to me with an example that I can understand best. Food.
“Suppose you have a McDonalds Gift card but you’re standing near a KFC and want to buy a burger there, can you use the McD gift card?”
At the fear of drooling I decided to keep quite and nodded my head horizontally, the world wide sign for no or Tsk Tsk Tsk.
He continues, “With Zagg you can”.
But this is an example of one gift card converted to another. Mehta then gave me an example of a cross platform acceptance. “You have JP Miles of Jet airways, you can use it to buy food, stay at a hotel, anything”, he said.
At this point I had a lot of questions, one being, I can do it even now, but we will get there in a minute.
What Zagg Network Offers
Without dwelling into the very fine details from the Light Paper, let me explain this:
- You have a set of points from one company. You can convert it to any other set of points by paying a nominal fee over the Zagg Network. A Custom Blockchain Solution.
- The Fees will be paid in Zagg Coins, the coin for the aforementioned blockchain.
- Secondly, the merchant partners like banks and organisations can actually start giving their loyalty benefits in Zagg coins to be used on other merchant sites as well.
- You can even convert the Zagg Coins to your own currency or transfer the coins to someone else as a P2P transaction.
Then there are other plans like building IoT devices for merchants to facilitate purchases using the Zagg coins.
Zagg is a blockchain network where businesses can launch their own loyalty token (Branded Points) on the Zagg Blockchain. So I can launch a CCI points token on Zagg network and give it to all my readers.
Overall, the idea is to bring everyone on one blockchain to spend anything into anything, a very ambitious thought.
What’s in it for ZAGG?
After more casual discussions, Amit Mehta asked Mitali if we can meet Raj N Phani, the founder of Zaggle and Zagg Network. While this was being arranged, I had a few questions of my own.
“I can still convert my JP Miles to Hotel Points, why do I need Zagg?”, I asked the CMO. Had to mention it takes about a 24-72 hours for the conversion. Mehta caught my drift and replied, Zagg will do it quickly.
“Why would McDonalds want to allow conversion of their gift points to KFC?, that’s just losing a customer”, I was still wondering.
Later in the day, Phani explained it to me with a different example, “If you have JP miles and you convert it to something else, we are buying those points from you. For the merchant such as JP miles, we are buying these points but of course at a discount”.
In other words, if Jet Airways is selling One JP Mile at 1 USD, Zagg will buy my JP Miles and pay the money to Jet Airways, but only 80 cents per JP Mile.
This way Zagg makes money, Jet Airways receives cash for their unused miles and I as a customer can convert my loyalty points to something useful.
Zagg will also then be paid by the second merchant, the points which I converted to. The second merchant will pay Zagg an acquisition fee.
“Why blockchain?”, I asked.
“How else would you do it? How else will you get the trust element?”, Mehta answers
“Custom Blockchain will help us convert any points within minutes”, Phani added.
About the Blockchain and Token Sale
Blockchain, especially a public network requires incentives for adoption. Bitcoin runs because miners are confirming transactions. Miners are running because they get Bitcoin in return.
Zagg’s Blockchain plans are still a work in progress. The company is developing a custom solution and consensus algorithm. The white paper hasn’t been published yet.
Zagg is planning to raise 38 Million USD with its Token sale. The ERC 20 Compatible token ZAGG will be sold at USD 0.1 base price. According to the light paper, a private sale is in progress and a public pre sale will go live on Sep 10.
Total Token supply is 1 Billion and the tokens for sale count is 500 Million.
RBI’s decision on Virtual Currencies
Zagg Network is actually registered in Singapore and the token sale will be conducted from the Singaporean entity. The network can be used by anyone because of the tokens that are used on it for rewards and not actual money, according to Mehta.
Phani, the founder of Zagg Network says,
“It is a question of they (RBI) not being able to understand it(Cryptocurrency)… As a government (body)… they are answerable to public and they want to protect them. In the absence of knowledge in the think tank… They have taken a very harsh decision… A Classic case of indecisiveness”
Phani believes that thought leaders should reason with the finance minister and RBI and explain the benefits of Blockchain as well as crypto, and help them create regulations.
Coin Crunch India View
Zagg Network is consolidating the entire industry of loyalty and rewards into one. Once the White Paper is published, we can further dwell into the technology used and understand it better. The idea however, is brilliant.
I personally face challenges with losing tiny amounts of loyalty points here and there or never being able to utilise it. If Zagg delivers what is promises, I will be first to sign up. Zagg is backed by Zaggle which is good name in the loyalty industry.
Before making a concrete judgment, I would prefer waiting till the public sale is closer, that’s when we can make a better assessment.
Update: The name of the founder of Zagg Network was corrected. Advisor and office information were corrected after an update from the company.