Coin Rivet recently spoke with Flubit co-founder Bertie Stephens while attending the CoinFest UK event in Manchester.
Flubit is currently the largest UK-owned online marketplace. To use Bertie’s own words, “I started Flubit with my co-founder in a walk-in wardrobe” back in 2011. Flash forward to 2018 and Flubit was acquired by MonetaryUnit, the creator of the MUE cryptocurrency.
When speaking with Bertie, he revealed some fascinating insights into the struggles of running an e-commerce business that accepts crypto, his future plans for Flubit, and the bitter truth about the average person’s take on cryptocurrency.
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How to ‘make a currency’ out of cryptocurrency
In 2018, the Flubit team realised that to “make a currency” out of cryptocurrency, they needed to provide people with real-world experiences. Fundamentally, people need to be given the chance to use crypto in the same way they use fiat.
To put into perspective the significance of Flubit entering the crypto space, the UK is the world’s third-largest market for online shopping. To have an e-commerce giant based in the UK accepting crypto is a large step towards providing the average Joe with tangible use cases for cryptocurrency.
Consequently, Flubit’s goal is to “give non-crypto users the ability to easily spend and get on board with cryptocurrency”, which does not come without challenges.
However, the bitter truth to swallow for the crypto space is that the average person “doesn’t really care about the blockchain or the technology behind it – all the user cares about is why am I using this tool”.
The end goal is, and always has been, user convenience and satisfaction.
Previously, Flubit had tried to market itself as a site that accepts crypto, only to discover this method was extremely challenging without widespread adoption.
“Now when you go on the website there is little mention of crypto – it is more about savings and why you would even bother doing this,” comments Bertie.
What happens now is that users will place an order in fiat and be offered a cashback of 50 MUE – all the user needs to do is download the wallet.
In effect, MUE acts as loyalty points on the site. So far, this has been a successful method for Flubit, which has seen a remarkable 875% surge in wallet downloads for MonetaryUnit since Flubit began “enabling” its users.
— Flubit.com (@flubitweet) April 2, 2019
‘We made a mistake with the crypto angle’
Bertie openly admits: “We made a mistake with the crypto angle – people don’t care about the crypto, they care about what crypto is going to give them.”
These days, Flubit and MonetaryUnit are able to sell MUE without the often tedious photo identification uploads required by exchanges.
They still take Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer checks seriously, but they aren’t bound by the same restraints exchanges are, which in turn enables their users to effortlessly buy crypto directly from their app using debit or credit cards. This once again reduces the barriers that prevent non-crypto users from entering the space.
Commenting on the 2018 bear market, Bertie revealed that ultimately a bear market does not affect Flubit. Investors and traders may look to make a quick buck in a bear market, but in the end, Flubit’s customers will value the crypto at the price they purchase it at and what they buy with it.
They can spend the MUE straight away, and in this sense crypto doesn’t need to replace fiat, but rather “it needs to find its own angle”.
The struggles of running a business that accepts crypto
Perhaps the most interesting of Bertie’s insights was his views on the struggles an e-commerce business faces when accepting crypto.
He claims when a refund is required on your credit card, the company who took the payment can hit a button to automatically refund the transaction.
“You can’t do that with crypto – you need to understand the receive address, you need to double-check they sent you the right receive address, and that is not a great user experience,” reveals Bertie.
This is one prominent issue that serves to undermine what Flubit seeks to achieve.
He states: “Getting a user experience where you don’t need to copy and paste a string of characters is one area, and trust is another. You know if you place an order with your credit card, the bank can refund you if it’s fraudulent.
“Customers need to trust Flubit if something goes wrong. Luckily our users do, but our new users need to learn about us and trust us.”
Interestingly, when Flubit signed up to multiple services to conduct tests during the early days, “no one had a refund solution”.
This point serves to illustrate the complexities behind running a business that accepts crypto. With crypto still being relatively young, there are still a plethora of issues left to be chartered.
During the CoinFest UK event, MonetaryUnit and Flubit announced that from April, they will be providing 25% off fiat prices when you pay with MUE.
This will allow Flubit to remain competitive while bringing in more and more non-crypto users.
To continue “enabling” non-crypto users, Bertie also revealed to Coin Rivet Flubit’s plans to build a crypto web wallet where users will not need a mobile app or any other wallet to store MUE.
The MUE will all be held on the site to continue providing users with an easy, fluid experience.