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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Pop the stamp! to complete the payment. A Close Look at the "Digital Currency" Demonstration Experiment by Resona Bank, GIFTY, and BUZZPORT

The Kobe Open Accelerator Program was jointly run by the city of Kobe, "a city with an innovation ecosystem," and Creww. The program curates entry-level companies and startups to create new businesses within the city of Kobe. In 2018, one year after the program began, one new business model was born. The digital local currency project "Traveling Fukubukuro" was created by Resona Bank, GIFTY Corporation, and BUZZPORT Corporation. Traveling Fukubukuro" is a "digitalized gift certificate. Although it is still in the experimental stage, the cute taste and simplified UI show the potential for wide acceptance. In this issue, we report on a demonstration experiment conducted in Nada-Gogo, one of Japan's representative sake breweries.
*This article is reprinted from an article published in CREW MAGAZINE on March 12, 2018.

Local currency" is often introduced as a unique local culture. However, there are still few successful examples. The reasons for this are their low circulation due to the fact that they are not convertible to legal tender, and the low level of satisfaction of the user experience, which leads people to believe that they "don't need to bother to use them.

This project, conducted by Resona Bank, Gifty, and BUZZPORT, brings a new wind to such local currencies. Traveling Fukubukuro" offers an enjoyable UX by combining "Fukubukuro" and "Stamps". It is a service with "added value" that could become a reason to use "local currency.

A startup and a major bank. This unique match was made possible by the "Kobe Startup Accelerator" organized by Creww. In this issue, we will report on the "digital currency" demonstration experiment conducted at Kobe's Shushinkan and Kikumasamune Sake Brewery.

Stamp Pong! to complete the payment. What is the UX that makes you want to buy?

Sample of "Traveling Fukubukuro" usage screen

The 100 pairs of 200 people who participated in this demonstration experiment were given 20,000 yen worth of digital currency. Using this currency, which is stored in a special electronic wallet page, the participants can visit 10 stores in Nada-Gogo and purchase various fukubukuro (gift bags).

Users can fill in the amount to be spent and select the fukubukuro they wish to purchase. Sake-shinkan offers two types of fukubukuro: "2,000 yen" and "3,000 yen," and users can select the fukubukuro of their choice.

After selecting the amount of the grab bag, a screen for stamping appears. The clerk stamps the...

A character imitating Ebisu-sama appears on the screen and "payment completed.

Fun and memorable UX is the hallmark of "Traveling Fukubukuro. The stamp technology is based on the "Welcome! STAMP, a venture company whose strength lies in gift services using IT technology. STAMP" is a digital gift certificate "Shimatoku Currency" that can be used in the Goto Islands in Nagasaki.

The service is expected to increase the enthusiasm of communities with core fans like "sake," said Hiroyuki Okuda, a regional officer at Resona Bank who participated in the project.

I hope that the digital currency will make the purchasing behavior of the fan community more convenient and enjoyable, thereby expanding the range of offline experiences and providing an opportunity to increase the number of fans," he said.

A UX that even those unfamiliar with IT can use with confidence; mere "purchasing behavior" becomes a memory.

The demonstration was conducted at Kobe Shu-shin-kan, which is part of Nada Gogo, one of the most famous sake brewing areas in Japan. The Junmai Ginjo "Fukuju" brewed at Kobe Shu-shin-kan became the talk of the town when it was served at the award party for Professor Shinya Yamanaka when he received the Nobel Prize.

Although the weather was unfortunately rainy on the day of the event, the restaurant was crowded with people, indicating the presence of a "core" fan base for sake. The photo shows a woman who came from Osaka. She said she decided to participate in the demonstration experiment after being recommended by a friend. We asked her what she thought of the experience.

-- How did you feel about actually using "Traveling Fukubukuro"?
The stamp system was interesting. It was very convenient because I didn't have to take out my wallet or loyalty card and the checkout was quick and easy. I was invited to participate by a friend, and it was a very enjoyable experience that my friend and I had a lot of fun.

-- Do you use electronic money on a regular basis?
I don't use it much except for IC card tickets for trains.

-- How did you feel about using electronic money as a "local currency" this time?
In a format where items can be purchased with a credit card, there was a fear of buying anything and losing control. This time, "Traveling Fukubukuro" has a set amount like a gift certificate, so there is no fear of unlimited spending. I was able to shop with peace of mind without worrying about overspending.

A Major Bank x Startup x Traditional Industry. What is the new "role of Creww" seen beyond the collaboration?

The "Traveling Fukubukuro" project was a joint effort by Resona Bank, Gifty, and BUZZPORT. A new cashless local currency was offered in Nada Gogo, one of Japan's leading sake breweries. This project was a collaboration of three different industries: "major banks," "start-ups," and "traditional industries.

What is the significance of executing this project in the midst of the trend toward "cashless" banking? We spoke with Hiroyuki Okuda, Regional Officer at Resona Bank, about what kind of future they hope to realize and their vision for the future.

Mr. Okuda pointed out that the legacy sector, which has no successor, and the start-up sector, which is mainly composed of the younger generation, may increasingly create synergies, starting with this case.

Banks Packaging Travel? Creating "fan communities" based on purchasing behavior to return money to rural areas.

-- This time, Creww's "Kobe Open Accelerator Program" decided to collaborate with GIFTY Corporation and BUZZPORT Corporation. What kind of impression did you get when you actually entered the program?
Creww has by far the largest number of registered startups, and in addition to the two companies we collaborated with, we talked with many other companies that we felt had potential. It would have taken a lot of effort to search the web on our own, so we were grateful for the opportunity to speak with a variety of business owners through Creww.

-- After talking with many startups, you decided to work with Gifty and BUZZPORT this time. What was the deciding factor?

Hiroyuki Okuda, Regional Officer, Resona Bank

The three major functions of a bank are settlement, lending, and deposits. However, in order for banks to survive in the future, it is not enough to simply improve their functions. It is not enough to satisfy customers. It is necessary to provide a high quality UX that will remain in customers' memories. This time, we decided to collaborate with two companies that we felt had the potential to provide customers with high quality and unique UX.

-- I thought "a major bank × startup" was an unusual style of collaboration. Did you encounter any difficulties in the course of the project?
The biggest difference between a startup and a large bank is the culture. The language used by the people at the bank and the people at the start-up are different, so communication was a bit difficult. Also, startups move very quickly, and the bank had a hard time keeping up with their speed. Involvement with start-ups, on the other hand, made us aware of our challenges.

-- What is the ultimate goal of this "traveling fukubukuro"?
We are not looking to apply this digital currency to everything everyday. Our goal is to "package the fan community".

For example, when working with a travel agency to create a plan for a trip to Nada-Gogo, the packaging would say, "All trains, shopping, and hotels can be paid for with stamps. We believe that one of our goals is to propose a new way to enjoy leisure time by collecting electronic stamps while traveling in a cashless manner.

-- What do you envision as the next phase?
Our first priority is to increase the number of merchants in order to promote digital currency. We need to come up with a revenue structure that allows us to increase the number of merchants with the lowest possible fees.

Creww's New Possibilities "Legacy Sector x Startup" to Boost Quality Traditional Businesses

-- In this time of involvement with local traditional industries, I believe you have seen many aspects of the industry.
Many local industries do not have management problems, but one of the major challenges is that they have a hard time moving on to the "next business". Succession problems are also serious. In the future, we aim to further collaborate with the Creww startup community, etc., and I believe that we can solve the problems of the "legacy sector" by collaborating with startups, not only in this trial.

-- So you are trying to incorporate the youthfulness of startups.
In rural areas, government agencies are also training entrepreneurs and working on business succession, but the degree of success is still not high. It would be interesting if startups could not only solve problems in the legacy sector, but also take over "boxes" of businesses that might otherwise go out of business.

-- I see. That sounds interesting.
There are many industries, especially traditional industries, where start-ups are not allowed to enter and where there are few opportunities for them to enter. It would be interesting if startups could enter such industries.

If Creww's program can spread to the rural areas, it may be able to solve such problems.

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PORT Editorial Office 
PORT" is an open innovation media for startups, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs in recovery, and companies aiming to create new businesses on the theme of social issues, operated by Creww, Inc.
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PORT Editorial Officehttps://port.creww.me/
PORT by Creww is an open innovation media for startups, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs in recovery, and companies seeking to create new businesses on the theme of social issues, operated by Creww Co.


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