Crypto for Your Coffee

Elisabeth Rosen - July 10, 2020

One question we commonly get asked is: Why do we pay winners in Bitcoin?

Motivating players with Bitcoin incentives, rather than cash or gift cards, appealed to us because of our early interest in decentralized infrastructure. Along the way, it turned out that this could also be a marketing asset, appealing to users who might not be technical enough to mine Bitcoin or have the resources to purchase it directly.

But our interest in crypto and other forms of digital payment goes beyond buzzwords. As we launch more weekly contests outside the United States, we’re seeing firsthand how many complications surround the seemingly simple task of payment.

Our platform allows for any programmable payments, giving us the flexibility to reward winners in Bitcoin, stablecoins, and local digital wallets. This flexibility is especially useful when we go beyond the weekly Bitcoin prize offered for the top global and regional players and launch other marketing campaigns to engage and motivate users.

Seeing that players in Indonesia often submitted low-quality images in their haste to climb the leaderboard, we started a photo contest, hoping this would incentivize higher-quality submissions. Every week, players in Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya would share their best photos in the local WhatsApp group for their city. The winner would score 200,000 IDR.

The contest was a success, inspiring hundreds of enthusiastic submissions. But getting the money into the winners' wallets was more complicated.

The Warung Kopi Paper Cup Coffee Kedai Mama Noi
This week, we asked players to share their best coffee shop photos for the chance to win a bonus prize.

In the US, we could resort to solutions like prepaid debit cards or Amazon gift cards. But in Indonesia, as in many other countries in the region, the mobile payments landscape is fundamentally different.

Fewer than half of Indonesians have bank accounts, and credit/debit cards account for barely a third of the online shopping market. However, digital wallets like GrabPay and Go-Pay are the fastest-growing payment method, following increasing smartphone penetration. With just a smartphone and a digital wallet, it's possible to pay digitally for transactions, even without a bank account or credit card.

Kopi Djawa
A coffee shop in Bandung, Indonesia.

We found a solution with homegrown crypto trading platform Pintu, which we also use to pay local winners. Using Pintu, we could exchange our Bitcoin for Indonesian rupiah stablecoin and transfer the funds immediately into the photo contest winner's wallet, without paying any additional fees.

By partnering with local platforms like Pintu, we can broaden access to payments in these underbanked regions. We’re intrigued by the possibilities of cryptocurrency to make small payments more accessible, both for us as a business and for the international user communities we work with.