Interview with Yves Benchimol, CEO & Co-founder of Universal Reward Protocol

After my recent blog article where I outlined the Universal Reward Protocol proposition, I engaged with their CEO and Co-founder, Yves Benchimol, asking him to answer a few questions.  

Have you already established a participating retailer network and if so, how broad is it (across total retailer numbers, different categories, etc)

Universal Reward Protocol was launched and designed by Occi, a retail marketing technology company working with some of the largest retailer and brands worldwide, including Carrefour, Auchan and Nestlé. The Occi in-store behaviour intelligence layer, which is the result of three years of R&D, is already live in over 100,000 square meters of retail space in stores operated by some of the world’s largest retailers, and will be this first URP-compliant oracle, focusing on in-store behaviour.

While there are no retailers or brands publicly announced as part of the network yet, URP is backed by an impressive board of advisors, including Francois Poupard, former Head of Innovation at Auchan Retail and member of the Auchan founding family, and Samuel Baroukh, head of e-business at Nestlé France.

Universal Reward Protocol is currently on-boarding retailers and brands who want to be the first to use the technology and launch campaigns on the platform.

What are your plans for educating retailers on the importance of using data to send personalised offers and how quickly do you see retailers embracing the platform?

Retailers have always been data-focused, especially with transactional data within their loyalty programs. Retail has become omni-channel, and the shopping experience is now not only taking place in the point of sale but also on social media, marketplaces and of course on e-commerce websites. We still consider that the in-store behaviour is an essential part of the consumer journey, and that many other forms of interactions can be rewarded.

In order to educate retailers, we are planning to launch pilots in order to showcase the benefit of the solution, in term of marketing cost and shopping experience. Since the URP solution is completely performance-based, demonstrating its ROI will be simple, and then we can scale each pilot accordingly.

What are your customer acquisition strategies?

Currently we are planning a B2B airdrop as part of our strategy. Every retailer and brand that join the network will have a special allocation of URP coin in order to run their first campaigns. We believe that it’s one of the most innovative way to gain traction and scale quickly on the retail market.

Moreover, URP is working hard on the UX/UI of the solution to hide all the complex component related to blockchain technology. We believe today one of the major bottlenecks to cryptocurrency adoption is the lack of an easy-to-use interface for “average” people (meaning people who are not crypto-savvy).

URP is about delivering a concrete use case of cryptocurrencies and blockchain to shoppers, without any required knowledge about the technology behind it. Our ambition is to make blockchain mainstream by offering a simple application to billions of shoppers around the world.

What is your volume forecast for the demand of the URP token within the first 12 months of operation? 

2019 will be one of the most important year for URP with the launch of the solution. We are targeting millions of shoppers and we hope to be able to announce such a number at the end of next year.

Are you planning on overlaying a consumer loyalty program over the top of the business, to boost consumer engagement even further? 

Universal Reward Protocol is sometimes compared to a loyalty program, but it is not. URP’s ambition is to become the common rewarding decentralized infrastructure for all interactions between shoppers and retailers or brands. Generally speaking, loyalty programs only focus on purchases to retain existing customers, while URP provides retailers with the opportunity to reward any behavior they deem relevant to either better target existing customers or attract new ones.

Nevertheless, we will convince retailers and brands to offer shoppers the opportunity to redeem their URP coin against traditional loyalty program. It will be a way for shopper to add liquidity and for retailer to attract loyal consumer in their own ecosystem, while allowing retailers to have continuity in the way they manage engagement of existing customers.


Max Savransky is Loyalty Director of Loyalty & Reward Co, a leading loyalty consulting firm based in Sydney. He has 10 years’ experience within the loyalty industry including roles at Mastercard Loyalty (Pinpoint), Silverneedle (Next & Sage Hotels) and Pureprofile. As Loyalty & CRM Manager at HOYTS, he launched the highly successful partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer, including a world-first Qantas Points in-store redemption proposition. He is an active cryptocurrency trader.

Max regularly contributes to www.blockchainloyalty.io, a global resource centre for everything blockchain loyalty.
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