NYC Startup Banks on Virtual ‘Kurrenci’ (Jan. 4, 2013)
Jan. 4, 2013
New York City-based startup Kurrenci has developed a virtual currency it says will help online retailers earn and retain customers by using a unique discounting method. Kurrenci’s platform is based on the company’s eponymous virtual currency, which can be purchased or earned online by users, and then exchanged for goods at participating online retailers. Merchants are allowed to set their own exchange rates to give Kurrenci-using customers a discount. For instance, a merchant could set a rate of $1.50 for every Kurrenci unit, which would enable a Kurrenci user to buy a $90 item for only 60 Kurrenci. If a retailer opts to raise its exchange rate, it pays Kurrenci a percentage of the difference. This method enables merchants to drive traffic without what Kurrenci calls “the stigma associated with discounting.”
Another distinct feature of Kurrenci’s model is that it doesn’t charge merchants a processing fee. “With today’s technology, it shouldn’t cost anything to move money from point A to point B,” says Mosheh Poltorak, Kurrenci’s vice president of marketing and business development. “That’s why we decided to offer payments for free and build our business on providing an added value in the form of customer acquisition and customer retention.”
Thus far, Kurrenci has partnered with 50 small to midsize online retailers for a beta launch, including American Apparel, BabyBot and SkinCareHeaven. Partner retailers are featured on Kurrenci’s Website and marketing channels, and the company recently developed a “share the rate” button that enables customers to share a given retailer’s Kurrenci rate via social media.
Kurrenci said it is also expanding the methods by which members can earn the virtual cash, which currently can be bought with a credit card or bank account, foreign currency exchange or with cash at any U.S. MoneyGram location. Users also can earn Kurrenci as a reward for performing various actions on the Web.