Cryptocurrency is coming to the Mall of America.
Flexa, a startup making it easier to use crypto for purchases in the real world, will be an advisory participant in a new demonstration store at America’s largest mall, which is located outside Minneapolis, Minn.
The store, meant to showcase new brands and technologies for enhancing the retail experience, is being organized by management consulting firm McKinsey.
“The big thing for us is showing that cryptocurrency is an extremely legitimate if not the best form of digital payment,” Flexa CEO Tyler Spalding told CoinDesk in an interview, adding:
“This is going to show the legitimacy of how this stuff works.”
The store – called Modern Retail Collective – will test out retail technology under real conditions. Starting Friday morning, the goal will be to help retailers understand which new technologies really add value. With some 8,000 U.S. brick-and-mortar stores closing this year alone, according to a press release from McKinsey, the question of generating value has taken on a new sense of urgency.
“Through this project, we’ll produce cutting-edge data and analytics to help retailers define their own vision for their store of the future,” McKinsey’s Praveen Adhi said in a statement.
Crypto at the mall
Flexa’s Spalding noted that McKinsey advises companies large enough that very modest cost savings can turn into real money across large chains.
“We’re able to have a solution that makes the consumer experience better and it achieves that kind of goal right out of the gate,” Spalding said.
Other non-crypto technologies will also be demonstrated in the store, including FaceCake (augmented reality), Chatter Research (conversational AI) and ComQi (digital signage). Square will also be participating in the store as a payments system, but without using its bitcoin technology, a spokesperson confirmed to CoinDesk.
The Flexa payment app, SPEDN, allows for instant payment with cryptocurrency because every transaction is guaranteed by a stake in Flexa’s FXC token. Flexa is backed by Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.
Flexa created this functionality so that other wallets could set themselves up as payment apps using Flexa’s technology, too. As those partners come online, they will also be able to make purchases at the demo store.
Spalding said that Flexa will have a significant footprint at the store, with staff there trained to show people how to use the SPEDN app and get cryptocurrency onto it. Spalding expects some of the retailers to offer small discounts for using crypto for payments because it offers them certain advantages.
“Zero fraud,” Spalding promised. “No chargebacks.”
Discounts or no, SPEDN will be one of the payment options on offer at every retailer in the collective, Spalding told us.
The store will be open at least through the holidays, Spalding said.
After the demonstration closes, Flexa looks forward to the data McKinsey plans to publish.
“We’ll be able to document all this and we’ll be able to participate in the research that McKinsey is really known for,” Spalding said, adding:
“We can really nail down: here’s what a transaction costs, here’s what the timing is.”