Dutch mobility-as-a-service start-up MobiFi plans to offer crypto rewards for more sustainable travel behaviours via its app.
Travellers will receive crypto tokens and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for options such as taking the bus, choosing off-street over on-street parking, using shared micromobility, and walking. They will be able to trade and sell NFTs that they don’t use – such as vouchers for free rides. People can also use their tokens to upgrade membership and earn more rewards, or swap them for stablecoins and cash out.
While some mobility providers launch one-off or temporary offers, Yudi Xu, MobiFi’s CEO, says this is not financially sustainable long-term for private companies or public transport operators.
“The difference is our whole system is built on web 3 – cryptocurrency and blockchain technology – we actually provide the financial incentive to change how people travel and choose more sustainable mobility.
“And that’s also the missing part — the financial incentives which the current mobility business model doesn’t have.”
The platform uses a ‘dual token’ system, meaning two separate tokens for fundraising and utility. This means mobility partners don’t need to handle any cryptocurrency, and aims to make the app user-friendly for people who are unfamiliar with the underlying technologies.
“You don’t even need to know what crypto is to use the app,” Xu says.
It may seem a surprising time to launch such a venture during what is being called a ‘crypto winter’ as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have plunged in value in recent months.
But Xu said there’s no risk for mobility partners and users because they’re not investing in cryptocurrency.
For users, “it’s free money,” he said. “Small amounts but free money.”
On the investor side, he acknowledged that risk is inherent – he is a crypto investor himself – but commented: “Don’t think about the crash. It’s the economic situation, inflation, it’s inevitable. Think longer term. This is a new kind of business model that Web 3 introduces.”
“A lot of community members believe MobiFi is doing something good for society,” he added.
Rather than a service fee, MobiFi’s revenue model is based on taking a small cut from the token and NFT trading.
Who is onboard?
The idea for MobiFi grew out of the Dutch mobility hackaton that Xu’s team won in 2019.
There will be different levels of rewards in the app, set by MobiFi and based on a comparison of how sustainable each mode of transport is.
So far MobiFi has partnered in the Netherlands with ParkBee, which offers off-street parking, and a government corporation for on-street parking.
Xu said the company also has a contract with a national public transport provider in the Netherlands which will be announced soon.
“[Public transport companies] don’t have enough customers after COVID so they really want people like us to have new ideas and new ways of selling tickets,” he commented.
Parking may seem like an unexpected place to start if you want to drive sustainable travel, but according to Xu: “We provide options. [Most people] never think about why you should park indoors instead of on the street. We show you can be rewarded for giving space back to the city, and maybe the municipality can build a bicycle lane there instead of parking for the cars. We raise awareness for those drivers.”
MobiFi is working to sign up more partners that offer various types of mobility services. It also plans to expand into more areas of Europe and the UK.
MobiFi uses the Polygon blockchain which claims to be greener than other networks and has pledged to become carbon negative in 2022.
Image: Paul Lievens on Unsplash
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