Super Apps Unlock Creative Possibilities for Crypto, Loyalty Programs

The crypto market may be taking a beating as of late, but Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael isn’t too concerned.

“I we think we’re past that inflection point of whether a company should have a crypto strategy,” said Michael, whose company’s digital wallet handles digital assets from cryptocurrency and gift cards to loyalty point and in-game assets.

“We believe crypto has proven it’s here to stay,” he said. “Consumers remain very interested in cryptocurrency and other digital assets. And that interest is really not waning.”

Which is why he argues that companies of all sizes should now “be evaluating what their crypto strategy should be, based on their unique customer makeup and pain points.”

Indeed, the consumer-facing “super app” wallet is only one part of what Bakkt does, according to Michael.

The company, which spun off from New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange — better known as ICE — six months ago for its own NYSE listing, is primarily a B2B2C platform, he said.

It is focused, he said, on the “next hundred million” consumers at “the intersection of crypto, payments, and loyalty.” Consumers who are, Michael claimed, using the digital assets that are the “connective tissue in the new economy” that they power on a daily basis.

Some of that means expanding consumer-focused offerings, such as letting Wyndham Rewards members spend the loyalty points earned by staying at its hotels whenever they use Apple Pay or Google Pay. Bakkt is also looking at adding support for cryptocurrencies beyond the big two, bitcoin and ethereum’s ether, and will soon allow users to add funds to their digital wallets in real time.

Four Focuses

Michael said the company’s strategy plays out in four ways, the first being the ability to buy and sell crypto. Bakkt is looking to expand beyond bitcoin and ether, he added.

“We’re obviously very focused on payments on using digital assets in the payment flow,” he said. 

That can mean sending money to friends. Or paying with bitcoin and ether using the Bakkt virtual Visa debit card. Or with loyalty points. And it can also mean helping employers pay employees in crypto.

“This has really strong appeal to the gig economy, to the sharing economy,” where there is talent war, Michael said. A crypto payment offering, he added, is a way for employers to appeal to a younger, more crypto-savvy crowd and differentiate their companies.

The third is a crypto rewards offering that appeals to that same crypto-friendly crowd who are interested in earning rewards passively.

“Our final offering is all about powering loyalty,” Michael said. “We provide that turnkey loyalty solutions to some of the largest financial institutions and largest brands in the market … providing opportunities [for clients] to be able to use points for travel experiences, for hotel experiences, for Apple products and other merchandise.”

Michael believes crypto has proven itself and is here to stay. And companies are noting the consumer interest and want to “make sure that they’re not on the back foot — we’re helping them catch up,” he said.

Bakkt’s focus, he added, is “embedding our capability into our partners ecosystems to really bring crypto into their world. And we’re doing that with partners like MasterCard, like Fiserv Pay, like Finastra. We recently announced Global Payments. These partners are helping us scale our business quickly by embedding the capability into their core platforms — allowing their banks, their credit unions, their issuers, to be able to take advantage of those capabilities.”

Sign up here for daily updates on all of PYMNTS’ Crypto coverage.