Tuesday, 16 January 2018 22:47

UNSW ‘world first’ cryptocurrency student trial Featured

Ethereum cryptocurrency, main rival to Bitcoin Ethereum cryptocurrency, main rival to Bitcoin

University of NSW students have been earning cryptocurrency for shopping with retailers, restaurants and cafes in a “world-first" trial.

Sydney start-up LoyaltyX has been working with UNSW on the trial, with backing from the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Programme, which has seen 170 staff and students rewarded with the cryptocurrency "ether” — the main rival to Bitcoin — for making their day-to-day purchases.

LoyaltyX says more than a dozen on-campus retailers, including well-known retailers IGA and Boost, and a range of local eateries, participated in the trial which saw 83% of participants changing their spending in order to earn more cryptocurrency.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills and Small Business John Barilaro said the research project — the results of which are now in — was supported with a $14,996 TechVoucher grant from the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Programme.

“The Boosting Business Innovation Programme is providing $18 million to the state’s 11 universities — including $1.5 million to UNSW — and the CSIRO to work with businesses to support innovation.

“The Boost program brings business and research brains together in one place to develop new ideas and opportunities, including through Techvoucher supported research projects.”

LoyaltyX chief executive Philip Shelper said participants in the UNSW trial earned a digital stamp for each purchase, with 10 stamps converting to $10 worth of ether.

“The research results have been extremely positive with students excited by being rewarded with cryptocurrency that can grow in value, providing a major opportunity to re-invent loyalty programmes,” he said.

“Ether is a floating currency, and over the course of the trial participants saw their Ether balance increase in value by 30 per cent. Those that chose to keep their Ether rather than cash it in have seen a gain of over 450%. Cryptocurrencies could provide the first major advancement in loyalty program design since frequent flyer programs were launched in the early 80s.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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