If there’s one word you can’t describe Qiibee, it’s ordinary.

The loyalty provider Qiibee started in 2017 as an idea between two brothers, Gabriele and Gianluca Giancola.

When they first saw blockchain technology, they believed the world had changed forever. Since then, they’ve positioned Qiibee as a focused venture in the intersection between loyalty and blockchain technology to find the benefits this can bring to brands.

Gabriele Giancola spoke with Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson during a “Loyalty Live” session about their utilization of blockchain in the loyalty sector and ideas to improve loyalty in the future.

“What we’re creating is a global decentralized loyalty ecosystem where brands can connect their loyalty programs through blockchain technology and empower customers to exchange rewards with each other,” says Gabriele Giancola, co-founder and CEO of Qiibee. “Of course, [it will be] in a very controlled and selective way so brands decide who they want to work with.”

With the general concept explained, Giancola says the team’s focus now is experimenting with and understanding the technology more because blockchain is in an early stage, and its potential for the loyalty market is still being explored.

He then shows another opportunity the blockchain provides: non-fungible token, or NFTs. While acknowledging the “hype” around these NFTs that sometimes sell for over $20 million, he realizes not everything can sell for this much profit. NFTs are unique on the blockchain, so customers have complete ownership of the digital product, he says.

The opportunities with NFTs are vast, such as letting customers use points to buy service NFT’s, like a “Skip the Line” NFT. Beyond that, he envisions expansion towards children, who are now glued to games and phones.

Noting this trend, Giancola suggests that in the future, creating a digital collectible they can have on their phones and trade with others is something worth building towards in the market.

In fact, Giancola focuses quite a bit on the opportunities within the younger generation.

“If you look at younger generations that are 15, 20, or 25 years old, those are future leaders, and they will have spending power,” says Giancola. “You as a brand need to prepare for those kids. If you don’t understand those kids today, you won’t understand them in 5-10 years.”

He believes that brands need to adapt and go as far as overthinking their customer loyalty strategy. By opening their minds and seeing what’s in front of them, they’d realize that kids now are already interacting with “rewards programs” via gaming. The more they level up in the game, the better perks and advantages they have at their disposal.

His two words of advice to brands wanting to improve their customer experience and loyalty programs? Open up.
Giancola sees the world as dependent on technology, citing the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp crashes earlier this month as moments that proved we rely on bigger ecosystems that provide freedom and information. He uses this idea to demonstrate what loyalty should strive to be: not forcing someone into a narrow relationship but giving freedom and being open by partnering with other brands. It is this very mindset that makes up the core of Qiibee.

Another technological trend he believes brands need is artificial intelligence (AI). To him, it’s a “no brainer” to take AI and use it to continuously analyze and learn from a brand’s data. By opening up and using AI technology rather than research companies, brands can capture better insights into their customer base.

And for brands who want to reimagine their loyalty programs, Giancola has some tough words of wisdom: start from scratch. While he doesn’t recommend putting away everything, such as current customer data, he believes everybody needs to let go of their preconceived notions of what customer loyalty programs can be and go hands-on into the customer experience.

“Let’s be honest, how many leaders of loyalty programs touched a game in the last 5 years, like a PlayStation?” Giancola says. “If you don’t have that kind of interaction, how do you want to design a loyalty program that makes sense for your target group?”

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