I couldn’t wait for the next update on my favourite dining rewards app, Liven, so I took it upon myself to get the inside scoop.
In my most recent Blockchain Loyalty News video, I reviewed the Liven app and it’s no secret I’m a big fan of the app design, member communications and just using Liven in general.
It’s clear the Liven team are full of loyalty, marketing, UX and tech experts, and I was lucky enough to be able to interview the Founder and CEO William Wong, as well as the Growth and Marketing Manager, Linh Tran. They provided me with some really interesting answers around the blockchain loyalty approach they’re taking and why.
If you don’t have the Liven app, get started on your free food journey here… you’re welcome!
- How was the Liven idea born?
Liven is a rewards-based payment network and mobile wallet allowing Australians to earn the borderless digital currency LivenCoin (LVN) simply by spending. The vision we have now is to create a universal ecosystem for lifestyle spending, but this has evolved quite a bit since the company first started in 2014. The idea was first born out of the fragmented loyalty schemes found in most venues today, which required people to have many loyalty apps and cards, and we took the opportunity to remedy this through incentive marketing with ‘universal loyalty’, where merchant partners symbiotically share the benefits of participation with other venues in the ecosystem, and actually enjoy positive network effects as more merchants come onboard.
- As explained in my video review of Liven, one of the key strategies I love about Liven is that you focused first on building out the member and merchant network prior to integrating blockchain and transforming it into a blockchain loyalty program – can you explain the reasoning behind this process?
As you’ve pointed out, Liven is not a crypto-first or blockchain-first company. Many of us are extremely passionate about decentralised technologies, but what’s a currency if there is no one to use it and no one who accepts it as payment? We’ve focused on building our network first because it’s 100% necessary to have this first in order for the currency and ecosystem to be successful and actually provide value to both sides of the market; users and merchants.
- What was the main driver behind wanting to turn Liven into a blockchain loyalty program, and what is the unique benefit that blockchain can provide to the Liven model?
Essentially this comes down to blockchain and cryptocurrency being a solution to our unique business problems. Practical implementation of blockchain technology ultimately allows us to do two key things: scale our network, and improve the user experience for all participants involved including users, merchants & charities.
With traditional infrastructure, we’d have many financial and technical hoops to jump through for our platform to reach a wider audience, and the experience would be clunky. Blockchain is a perfect solution to this. Specifically, having the single digital currency makes the user experience as simple as possible no matter where they are. Blockchain also adds never before seen transparency to the charitable giving in our app, allowing users to see directly where their funds go. Aside from this, it opens the platform up to further tech integrations and innovation for the expansion of our offering.
- When will LivenCoin be floated on an exchange, and how do you feel members will respond to a rewards currency which fluctuates in value? Have you done much testing around this?
We are currently considering the listing of LVN on external exchanges, but this will not be taking place until after the completion of the ICO in February 2019 at the earliest.
The value of LVN internally in the Liven ecosystem and externally on markets may be different, this is due to our unique economic model which results in a dual-market effect. While the external value of LVN will be subject to the usual market forces of supply and demand, LivenCoin’s internal value is however determined by the mathematics of the reward protocol, which is a function of the flow of rewards within the network (read all about this in the Liven whitepaper). Essentially this means the purchasing power of LVN in the Liven ecosystem is somewhat insulated from the external market, such that users will always be able to buy food and goods with LVN.
Liven wrote about how anyone can arbitrage the ecosystem for more pizza in a great post here.
- You’ve brought some impressive big-name brands on board the program, who are giving a very large portion (usually 15%) back in LVN – what’s your secret to growing out such a solid network of merchants who have agreed to give back such a solid reward? Do you see this decreasing in the future?
We are proud to have on board as partners some of the biggest and well-loved brands in Australia, including Messina, 8bit, Pokéd, PappaRich and Nene Chicken. The secret sauce for our partnerships is the value we provide them and trust in our vision of a global digital ecosystem for food. Our merchants have the ability to grow their technical capabilities and a more thorough understanding of their customers using our platform, that enables them to make data-driven decisions for their businesses. Customer data gained is analysed and utilised by us and merchants to help structure their business operations and keep up to date with customer trends. Unlike other food delivery or ordering services companies in the space, we see our merchants not as revenue making channels, but as our growth partners, in which together we embrace innovative technological changes.
Crypto and blockchain are new phenomena, even for techies, and we can’t deny that it can be a challenge to onboard restaurateurs to this futuristic train. However, Liven has come in with a strong understanding of the hospitality industry, namely the pain points and how we can truly help venues gain a competitive edge by bringing them loyal, high spending customers; and our value propositions have strongly been proven to our partners. Therefore, we expect such collaborations to thrive further as we embark on a journey utilising the blockchain.
- You’re consistently upgrading and refreshing the Liven app, making it more user friendly and giving it additional features and functions. How import is it for Liven to continually evolve the program?
We are proud to be a truly user centric company and we continually listen to our user’s feedback and ask them how we could improve. The Liven team itself is comprised of experts in different areas but we are all proud customer success representatives – many of the team start in the field, directly interacting with our users and merchants to observe the experience and bring insights to the table. Only by closely observing authentic experiences do we have an idea of how we can improve features. Transparency, and establishing a meaningful & valuable connection with our users is hugely important for us – at the end of the day if they aren’t there, we aren’t.
- I am a big fan of all the Liven communications, which are so simple, clear and consistent. I feel this really sets Liven apart from other blockchain loyalty programs which are mostly run by tech companies. How hard is it to communicate quite a new and complex phenomenon in such a simple way? How involved were loyalty experts in your communications and marketing strategy?
We always take a structured and calculated approach in our communications to our users. With any new innovation, it is a challenge to communicate the value proposition without getting bogged down in the technical details. We build our communications around value creation for our users and merchants, breaking down what is in it for them in a way that makes sense. The same challenges are current for any other blockchain projects in the space, however, what many fail to do is make their content and communications down-to-earth and relatable to the everyday person – and this might be down to their audience being investors, not users.
Being the first in the world to do what we are doing, we have to make sure our comms are simple, visual and really bring out what the Liven experience could be for our users every step of the way.
- What does the 5-year vision for Liven look like?
We envision Liven as the world’s first global economy for lifestyle spending, for everyday use by everyday people. Facilitating seamless payment experiences and rewarding individuals with a powerful digital currency. We’ve started with the Food and Beverage industry, but if you’ve read through our whitepaper, you know we’ve got pretty big plans. Our vision is to be the lifestyle payment network of choice across many different verticals such as retail, travel and entertainment, and to expand geographically into new markets such as the UK, US and Asia.
To assist in this expansion we will be focusing on partnerships and software integrations that allow third parties to utilise the Liven payment network through their own platforms. In addition to solving big problems in the loyalty and payment space, we have clear aspirations of reviving the charity sector by bringing innovation, increased transparency to fund raisin and being the driving forces for societal changes.
All these answers just confirm my love for Liven and give me even more confidence in their ongoing success! Liven put the customer first, create a simple and functional loyalty program second, focus on nurturing their merchants as growth partners third and integrate blockchain as a solution to expand globally, more securely and transparently thereafter.
It’s tough, but I’ll continue earning LVN as I eat my daily banh mi, burger or ice-cream because I know it will pay off when Liven reach their 5-year goals and I’m travelling around the world solely on Liven earning more LVN.
Thanks again to William Wong and Linh Tran for taking time out of your busy days to speak with me and give us all a greater understanding of Liven.
Stacey Lyons is the Marketing Director at Loyalty & Reward Co, a leading loyalty management consulting agency based in Sydney. Stacey has years of experience within loyalty, marketing and eCommerce across multiple channels and business models. Most recently, Stacey has been managing the investor, member and retailer communications for blockchain loyalty company EZToken Rewards.