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Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with Momentum CEO Kees de Vos

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MobileBridge is set to change how companies and consumers interact with each other by introducing the Momentum platform, the world’s first blockchain marketing automation platform.

Momentum allows companies to engage with their audience more effectively as customers are rewarded for engaging actions (e.g sharing personal data or brand advocating) through Momentum Tokens, the platform’s official cryptocurrency, or the company’s unique token which can be created and customized on the platform.

In this approach, customers are incentivized and rewarded fairly for giving companies what they want instead of their data being shared or collected without their permission, finally giving customers 100% control over their own personal data.

momentum token logoWe recently sat down with Momentum CEO, Kees de Vos, to have a chat with him about the project as well as learning more about his thoughts and insights.

Hello there! Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about Momentum?

Hi! It’s a pleasure to be here.
MobileBridge Momentum is a global loyalty infrastructure that will disrupt the marketing and loyalty landscape. It enables companies to turn (existing) loyalty platforms into crypto-based incentive and reward schemes and use them to reward customers not only for their purchases, but for all the things they do that help their favourite brands, e.g. introducing their friends, writing a product review, or visiting the store. This allows consumers to earn more loyalty points and give companies the opportunity to market to consumers better and cheaper, as well as building a more engaged customer base. In addition, consumers can exchange their points between loyalty points and even into crypto, increasing the liquidity of their points dramatically.

Tell us about how you came up with the idea of Momentum.
Did you personally face a problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for Momentum to fill?

Last year we completed a great project with Burger King in Russia, where we used an existing loyalty program to incentivize consumers to engage with the brand and the results were stunning. On some promotions, we achieved conversion rates of 50%!

This made us accelerate our roadmap in this area, but had to confront two potential blockers; how do we ensure consumers trust companies with their data and how do we scale the distribution in a global way? In both cases, blockchain gave us an opportunity to resolve these issues. We use blockchain to make the storage and usage of consumer data more transparent and hand the user control over their own data and how it’s used. At the same time blockchain inherently offers great ledger capability to distribute value in the form of loyalty points, globally and accurately. And in both cases, the security of blockchain offers tremendous benefits.
Having arrived at this point, it allowed us to expand our proposition to address some real-world frustration around loyalty systems that exist these days, for both end-consumers and the companies that are running them.

What do you think is the biggest problem Momentum will solve and why is it important to solve?

Consumers have the overriding feeling that they can’t enough loyalty points in the loyalty programs they have joined over the years> And even if they get to the point where they do have enough points, they find it simply too hard to find the rewards that they really value. Globally around $250Bn worth of loyalty points expire every year and are simply wasted! This is not only frustrating for the consumer; the companies that run these loyalty programs simply don’t get the return on investment that they are looking for.

Using these unused points to actively build more engagement with consumers and make it easier to redeem them across not one, but multiple loyalty systems address a huge issue in the market. The hugely positive response we have received so far seems to suggest we have hit a nerve!

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Why do you think that incentivizing customers is the way forward in building brand loyalty and customer trust and is it effective?
Is the lack of incentives a root cause for the lack of customer loyalty or was it a solution that was developed as a way to overcome the problem?
Were there previous solutions that were discussed by the MobileBridge team before settling on the final idea?

The data we have gathered so far is conclusive – rewarding customers for their engagement and support for their favorite brands, not only pays off for them in a financial way, it really builds loyalty as well. In the Burger King case, we not only saw a month-on-month doubling of downloads, solely driven by consumers recommending their friends, we also saw retention rates of close to 100%! These new customers were engaged and rewarded appropriately and stuck with Burger King once they had joined the program.

I don’t think the lack of incentives is at the core of failing consumer loyalty; each brand needs to have the right product, the right service levels and the right branding and proposition to start with. To survive on those pillars alone, however, is very rare. Only companies like Apple seem to have been able to do this. Building that ongoing relationship is typically hard. What incentives can achieve is to keep the brand front of mind over a sustained period of time, create a level of personal buy-in and commitment, and keep the relationship a positive one.

As we have been improving customer engagement for clients such as Dansk Supermarked, Praxis DIY, Audi, Galbani and Pirelli over the years, we really noticed the shift when we introduced the reward element.

Let’s say that Company A creates its own token to be launched on Momentum; does the company have the ability to set their own specifications e.g the token supply/token value or is it a process where the Momentum team has to be involved with?
Can a different company’s token be used to purchase products from another company’s store?

momentum tokenYes, companies will have the tooling to create their own tokens and set their own specifications, such as the token value, the number of tokens created and the ability to exchange with none, some or all other loyalty programs on the platform, for example. The Momentum team or one of our partners will be able to assist in this process, based on our experience.

Once that has been set up, the company branded tokens can be used to earn and redeem rewards within that companies loyalty scheme, transferred to another companies loyalty scheme or exchanged for Momentum Tokens, which can be traded on the open market for Bitcoin, Ether or any other crypto-currency.

Consumer data and privacy awareness is at an all-time high due to recent unfortunate events and data leaks. What is the platform’s steps in securing the security and privacy of data?
Can users deny sharing data completely to companies or do they have to share at least some data to enjoy the benefits of the platform?

Besides the usual technologies to protect sensitive data, such as strong encryption, the Momentum Platform uses the blockchain to give users full insight into what data is stored about them and how it’s used. It is then up to them to control which companies have access to which part of their data. Of course, users can deny access to their entire data set, but that will potentially go paired with a less than optimal user experience and in the Momentum platform, potentially fewer rewards that can be earned. The great thing is that it is the consumer that controls this and companies will have to fight for their attention and ultimately, their data.

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How does Momentum help companies to market their products or services to the right customers?
Are there technologies like AI or deep-learning that helps to match companies to customers? Do users have the ability to report or comment on offers if it does not fit their needs?

One of the beautiful things of the Momentum platform is that you don’t have to rely on technology to find the right customers; we rely on consumers to recommend their friends – you simply can’t beat that with technology. For example, if a sports brand rewards a specific consumer to recommend their friends to them and they will get rewarded for that, it is most likely that that consumer is going to recommend the friends that are interested in sports. As the reward will be dependent on the quality of the referral, it will only strengthen that. So, application of AI and other technologies will be used to support this process, rather than expecting technology to be better than real-life, human connections.

The idea to reward users throughout the whole customer lifetime cycle is great and definitely interesting to the customer but is it a sustainable process for Momentum in terms of revenue and business models?
Can companies decide to choose which actions are rewarded or not rewarded with tokens?

Yes, companies are fully in control which actions they would like to reward and by how much. And the model is absolutely sustainable.

If you consider that the overall marketing spent per year exceeds 1 Trillion dollars, the amount of waste in this spending has to be phenomenal. If you just look at loyalty programs, approx. $250Bn of loyalty points expire every year and are wasted. This is not great for consumers, of course, but for companies running these programs, it means they are reserving that same amount of money on their balance sheet without getting any return for it. With Momentum, we take some of these unused points and use them to activate their customers and reward them for support their favorite brands. It’s a win-win for all involved.

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While working on the project, what’s something that you believed to be true for a long time until you found out that you were wrong, or if you don’t like the dichotomy of right versus wrong, what’s something significant that you have really changed your mind about over time?

I don’t think the project has changed my mind about anything that drastically, to be honest. Plenty of people have tried to change my mind, and I have learned a lot and adapted to changing circumstances, but I’ve stuck to my core beliefs and values. The most prominent ones being challenged were that technology is there to solve business problems and every investment needs a solid ROI. I’m glad I stuck with those.

What is the current progress on Momentum’s partners?
Are there any interesting partnerships that the team is working on?

We have been very fortunate. During the various ICO meetings, we have picked up a lot of interest from potential partners. Global brands, high growth businesses, that all would like to work with the Momentum platform as soon as it’s ready. It’s somewhat of an odd situation to not jump on the opportunity immediately, but we have to ask them to wait until the product is fully ready.

What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle Momentum will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?

As every successful business will tell you, it’s crucial to have the right people in your company. Attracting, developing and retaining the right people is tough, but if you build the right culture, your teams will help you scale, put in the extra mile when needed and help you deliver the success you’re looking for. Investing in people and culture is crucial.

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

On work days I tend to get up around 6AM, if I can, and start my day with a run or a visit to the gym; it really gets me going. If I’m in Switzerland or Holland, it’s off to the office to work with the team or meet with prospects and clients. If I’m not near the office, it’s most likely because we are visiting either blockchain events or visiting potential partners, both great ways to spend the day.

In the weekends, family life is my focus. Spending time with my wife and two kids is a welcome distraction from the hectic life in blockchain world!

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

Too many people are too focused on blockchain as a technology as some sort of miracle cure. They are convinced that as long as you use blockchain in the right way, it’s a good business. This is of course not the case; blockchain needs to be used when it is the best technology solution available to solve a real-life business problem. Blockchain is technology; make sure you use it in the right way. Just like any other technology.

Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?

Life goals? I’m trying to be a good person; be good to the planet, leave my kids with some good memories of their childhood and try to give the people I work with the best opportunities to enjoy and achieve as much as they can in their work-life. As long as I can get to the end with a smile on my face, I’d be happy!

That concludes our Interview with Kees de Vos

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