Blackbird: Revolutionizing Restaurant Loyalty Programs with Blockchain Technology

.. By Thomas Peterson

May 3, 2024

2 min read

Reading Time: Read Time 2 minutes

In a quiet corner of New York City’s West Village, patrons of Fairfax restaurant begin their mornings not with the usual swipe of a credit card, but with a tap of their phones, using a blockchain-based app called Blackbird. This emerging technology offers a novel way for diners to engage with their favorite eateries through a loyalty program that leverages the power of NFTs and cryptocurrency.

The Blackbird Experience
Blackbird, founded by Resy co-founder Ben Leventhal, is designed to modernize the concept of restaurant loyalty programs. It allows customers to earn FLY tokens for activities such as checking into restaurants or settling their bills. These tokens, which are shared equally between the diner and the restaurant, can be used for perks like free appetizers. The app also facilitates unique membership opportunities, such as the Breakfast Club, which offers members free coffee for a year at select locations.

Membership and Blockchain Integration
For $60, the Blackbird Breakfast Club membership provides daily coffee until 11 am ET at participating locations. This membership is represented by an NFT minted on the Base layer-2 blockchain, stored in a non-custodial wallet by Privy. The integration of blockchain technology allows for a seamless and secure method of accruing and redeeming loyalty rewards, with most of Blackbird’s crypto functionalities operating behind the scenes to enhance user experience without overwhelming them with technical complexities.

User Perspectives and Benefits
Members have quickly seen the value in their investment in the Breakfast Club. One member, William Patterson from Third Earth Capital, discussed how he maximizes his FLY tokens to enhance his visits, emphasizing that the real benefit for restaurants lies in the ability to attract new customers inexpensively through the token system. Another member, Sam Rahim, noted that despite not being a cryptocurrency enthusiast, the value proposition of free coffee was enough to draw him into the program.

Venture Capital Interest and Future Outlook
In October, Blackbird secured $24 million in Series A funding led by a16z, signaling strong investor confidence in the app’s business model and its potential to reshape the restaurant industry. The platform’s innovative use of blockchain technology points to a broader trend of integrating digital currencies and NFTs into everyday consumer experiences, making them more accessible and practical.

A Model for Future Crypto Applications
Blackbird exemplifies how blockchain and cryptocurrency can be effectively incorporated into consumer apps, providing real-world benefits while keeping the technical aspects user-friendly. The success of Blackbird’s Breakfast Club and its acceptance among New Yorkers highlight the potential for similar models to be adopted in other industries, potentially transforming how businesses engage with and retain customers through technological innovation.