With the ongoing growth of eCommerce giants Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart, Asos and eBay, it is no surprise to hear the size of the online market is increasing rapidly year on year. Jeff Bozos has now been placed firmly into the number one spot of the 2018 Forbes Billionaire list and Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba within the top 20. With this in mind, it may come as more of a surprise that 90% of total transactions are still made offline within traditional retail stores. In addition to this, 3 in 4 shopping carts are abandoned and 86% of people search online and then follow up with a purchase offline.
This brings us nicely onto the ICO in hand.
RainCheck focuses on the o2o industry. Don't worry if you've not heard of that term before, we hadn't either. o2o is an acronym for 'online to offline' commerce, a term used to describe the strategy of bringing online customers to bricks and mortar, 'real-world' shopping locations. The most common example that you may be familiar with is Groupon, however we’re now seeing market leaders such as Amazon, Tesla and Alibaba begin to pioneer new o2o strategies. The goal is to provide a seamless transition from online to offline, usually with the incentive of a discount, added service or some sort of enhanced shopping experience for the customer.
Product & Vision
Based out of offices within Sydney, Australia and London, UK, the core goal of RainCheck is to become a bridge between online and offline commerce. The RainCheck app aids the offline shopping experience by alerting shoppers when they are near items they have previously browsed online, rewarding them with RAIN tokens through debit / credit card linking when a purchase is made.
The RainCheck platform provides an alternative to store loyalty cards and online cash back services. Crucially their patent pending intellectual property states they are able to link at brand level, rather than store level. Using product SKUs they are able to provide loyalty points or cashback opportunities linked directly to brands, rather than using the merchant as the initial entry for the discount / reward.
To interact with the service, customers use the Google web extension or mobile app to discover and save items to wish lists online by ‘RainChecking’ favourite products. Later, when navigating the high street, the mobile app uses the GPS technology to inform users that the item on their ‘Raincheck list’ is available from a nearby store. If the shopper then decides to make a purchase with their linked payment card, they are rewarded loyalty points in the form of RAIN tokens.
Currently the app, which is available on Google Play, downloadable via the App store and available as a Chrome and Safari extension, is in a primitive beta form. On Android the app has around 500 downloads with functionality currently limited to Australian residence. We had a brief look through the beta version on a Galaxy Note 8 and were generally impressed with the UI, which looks clean and is easy to use. Nonetheless the application is missing a large amount of functionality and contains mostly sample data that cannot be interacted with.
Established almost 4 years ago (November 2014), the company already has footprint within the industry, albeit a relatively small sized foot. They have completed a successful pilot phase, where impressively their existing cloud based platform has landed 2 global awards: The Visa Everywhere Initiative Award and the The Millennial Shopper Accenture Consumer Tech Award.
Looking forward to 2018 the companies’ roadmap is now focused around 7 milestones. Though a Roadmap does exist, it is disappointing to see anymore further details than the info-graphic below.
Value of project - Use Case
- 70% of global shoppers belong to loyalty programs, however most people forget to use them or never accumulate enough store points for them to be of value.
- Loyalty programs and unspent points can cause problems with company accounts – Unspent point are seen as liabilities on balance sheets.
- Shoppers are often enrolled in multiple loyalty programs but many only apply for them because of initial free products or discounts. Small percentages go on to actively participate following the initial reward.
For the customer, the RainCheck platform provides an enhanced usability experience. The user can browse a number of brands from the comfort of their home, save a list of items that they are interested in and then when the opportunity arises on the high street, be instructed on where to make an offline purchase via an alert. Through the use of micro-payments, RainCheck allows points to be awarded in real-time when a consumer makes a purchase, updating them with the exact source of the reward and the value of points received immediately after purchase.
Using smart contracts on the Stellar blockchain, users will then be able to manage and assign their loyalty rewards across a number of schemes within the app. The decentralised model allows for the tokenisation of loyalty points, allowing RAIN tokens to be exchanged and redistributed across the network accordingly. This means instead of having points for just one store, the RAIN token will act as a utility to exchange rewards and discounts across a number of different loyalty schemes.
The ability to combine RAIN tokens from merchants collectively is a clear advance from the current physical system. Instead of limiting loyalty card systems to single retailers, customers can now aggregate loyalty points by making purchases from a multitude of stores.
If successful, RainCheck will have real advantages for the money-conscious consumer. It means there will be no requirement to register for loyalts programs in store and no need to carry multiple store cards. Whilst this is an outstanding use case and a definite USP for RainCheck, the light paper actually states ‘in the future, this may also include allowing the sharing of loyalty and rewards at unique values using smart contracts from any organisation.' This sounds incredibly promising albeit at this time it is currently only a speculative feature. Unfortunately the whitepaper lacks any technical detail of how this will actually be implemented.
For companies the value of RainCheck will be their ability to reach all points within the online to offline shopping experience. The platform will bring all aspects of the shopping process into one loop. Linking brands, banks, merchants, loyalty schemes and payment methods through a blockchain network. Combined these points will form indisputable records that pinpoint the individual shopping habits of each user. From a big data perspective a user’s choices can be traced across each sage of their shopping journey, providing a more personalised and deeper customer insight of online to offline shopping behaviour than has ever been seen before.
Similarly to the KIN ICO or more recently Mobius, the RAIN token steps away from industry norm and chooses the Stellar platform over Ethereum. The reasoning behind this is due to the Stellar network being designed specifically for use within the financial sector. The Stellar network allows payments to be sent quicker and at lower cost than Ethereum, making it more suited to a loyalty rewards system.
The RainCheck main sale begins Q4 November 2018 for a total of just 4 weeks. The pre-sale is currently active, having started 18th August. Varying bonuses of up to 30% have been provided for early investors, this bonus will gradually decrease in size as the sale proceeds – An important factor to note if considering an investment.
The cost of each RAIN token is four cents with a large total token supply of two billion RAIN tokens; this is toward the high end but makes sense because of the nature of the project and the potential amount of tokens that will be required to be in circulation. RainCheck targets a six million dollar soft cap with an ambitious twenty-eight million dollar hard cap.
Looking at token distribution important factors to note are that 5% of the tokens are awarded to employees and management, 2% of the allocation is awarded to ICO advisers and an additional 3% of the allocation is awarded as an option pool for the team, (details of which are not explained in the whitepaper). Importantly these tokens are frozen for six months and will be gradually vested over a twenty four month period.
Leading from the front CEO and co-Founder Cameron Wall is serial entrepreneur with a wealth of experience running start-up businesses and founding web & mobile development projects. Over the past 25 years Cameron has set up six start-ups most recently RainCheck in 2014. Cameron also has experience with larger scale businesses having headed the mobile division at APAC in 2014.
Co-Founder & CTO William Lin has 20 years’ experience as a Software Engineer, building experience within cloud based back-end and front-end development of web and mobile applications. William is particularly experienced in mobile development having been a Senior Mobile Developer for 8 separate companies that include Motorola. William lacks any prior experience with Blockchain projects until co-founding RainCheck.
Further down the list we see Peter Bremner: Chief Partnerships & Strategy Officer and David Henderson: Project Delivery Manager. Peter has had a successful career in ICT at Director level having built valuable relationships with the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Cisco over the last 27 years. David, although not listed as currently working for RainCheck has previously managed a number of large ICT organisations, most recently working for the Department of Justice in Australia.
Developer wise we see a somewhat experienced team of 4, all originating from China with varying levels of competence, 3 of which come primarily from a mobile development background. Android & IOS developer Wei Wang has an impressive background as a Software Manager and Technical Specialist with the Alibaba Group and Telecommunications Company BORQS. Similarly to the CTO, Fang Yeng has 17+ years as a software engineer, specialising in Android development over the last 10 years, following 5 years’ experience with Motorola.
Notably Bin Wang has extensive experience in the development of public and private Blockchain systems however this claim cannot be substantiated from his LinkedIn account details. Another member of the team Shiseng Yang is listed as a supposed expert on deep learning, however lacks any commercial experience as he comes straight out of university to the project.
As a whole the team comes from a background well suited to mobile app development. The vast majority of the members and advisory team we researched on LinkedIn display RainCheck on their profiles. Weaknesses come from the team and the 12 advisors lacking any extensive experience of bringing successful blockchain projects to market and could be criticised for having a team balanced heavier on the tech side, rather than marketing. This shows in their lack of substantial blog posts and minimal social media presence.
On a positive note the CEO’s past entrepreneurial experience, the length of time the business has been operating for and the aforementioned awards work to reinforce confidence in this team’s ability to deliver.
RainCheck is a project beginning to gather traction and awareness in the ICO community, but has yet to receive the visibility it deserves. At the time of writing their presence on Facebook and Twitter is minimal, having only tweeted 3 times in 2018 and posted only 5 times on their Facebook profile. Their Telegram community currently has just 250 members and although their Instagram account in the past has received a lot of engagement, the last upload was made 6 months ago.
Whilst many external sources have reviewed the project favourably, the lack of presence from their own marketing team and efforts maintaining their social accounts is limiting their engagement. Case in point: Whilst their content and blog posts are of a high quality, their visibility is restricted by the limited volume of posts and the minimal shares over social media. For a team of 12, we’d definitely like to hear a lot more regarding the projects progress.