Fintech Meets Fashion: Millennial Shopping Gets a Crypto Twist (Thanks to Retailer-Backed Digital Currency)
In fashion where ‘one day you’re in, next day you’re out,’ brands are finding that there’s a need to fearlessly adopt new technologies
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
With millennials in Asia expected to collectively possess $6 trillion in disposable income by 2020, as stated in this 2016 Accenture report, it goes without saying that for a brand to thrive in this day and age, it pays to adapt more quickly to the shifting retail reality that defines the millennial customer experience.
Jeremy Khoo, e-commerce industry veteran and CEO of fashion and lifestyle conglomerate iFashion Group, reckons that ensuring success in the future retail space requires enterprises to “fearlessly adopt new technologies.” Instead of wrestling with meeting consumer demands and overcoming integration challenges, Khoo points out that “a bottom-up movement with millennials at heart — both online and offline — is the way forward.”
With the millennial generation being markedly attention-deficit, Khoo says it has become tremendously challenging for retailers as they not only have to compete with other brands but with the smartphone itself.
How, then, is Khoo’s iFashion Group making itself relevant to the capricious millennial mind? By trying to speak to these digital natives through their own language: technology.
Says Khoo, “We saw that, at the end of the day, millennials are very influenced by hype and movement. We looked around and we saw an opportunity to create a movement around cryptocurrency — we asked ourselves how do we marry the best parts of cryptocurrency and blockchain with what we are doing now, and how can it serve to help the retail industry as a whole?”
The answer materialized in the form of its recently launched digital token, MegaX, which went on sale last October 17 and ended its pre-sale round this November at over USD$2 million. As mobile-first millennials drive an increasingly demanding market for products, MegaX enables retailers of wide-ranging scale to develop omnichannel payment capability to deliver a seamless shopping experience across platforms.
The Cryptocurrency Conundrum
While there has been a lot of euphoria surrounding cryptocurrency in the trading market, Khoo relates that ultimately, for a digital token to be successful, it needs to have utility. Success, he says, is when MegaX reaches mass adoption. “It may be simplistic in terms of what we are trying to introduce here, but when you unpack it, you will realize that it is rather radical and the business of mass adoption is not an easy business. There needs to be a lot of credibility behind the brands and the businesses pushing it,” asserts Khoo.
In an exclusive interview with Inc. Southeast Asia, Khoo reveals iFashion’s three milestones that will pave the way for MegaX’s mass adoption.
1. Launching the MegaX-only online mall
With the iFashion Group’s established network of over 1,400 independent brands whose combined reach is currently at two million consumers, MegaX immediately addresses one of the primary issues surrounding cryptocurrency: spendability in real life.
This is set to get a boost with the Q4 2017 launch of the MegaX-only mall, which Khoo reveals will have more than 1,000 brands participating on Day 1. “The end state here is we want more than 10,000 brands in the market because ultimately, our addressable market are the millennials and they want to be spoilt for choice,” says Khoo, adding that the mall will be very curated. “The thing with approaching the millennial generation is you cannot appeal to everyone if you want to get them — you have to be very trendy, and the brand needs to be exclusive.”
2. Developing the MegaX iOs and Android app
For mass adoption to take place, Khoo says that it is imperative to make buying MegaX tokens easily accessible. This is why iFashion chose MC Payment as the technology partner behind the project. “If we’re serious about mass adoption, one of the factors that it requires is good infrastructure,” says Khoo.
Founded in Singapore in 2005, MC Payment is a leading innovative fintech company whose technology entails both retail to online payments, and mobile to distributed ledger technology. “MegaX fuses technology with retail to take a big step forward in payments processing. MC Payment is proud to be the technology partner behind this groundbreaking initiative by iFashion. The ecosystem will be a natural by-product from the aggregation of millennial individuals, driving desire for the products on sale, and fueling demand for MGX. The nascent adoption of digital tokens in the retail space bodes a strong movement among millennials, which will revolutionize the retail landscape,” says Anthony Koh, group CEO, MC Payment.
Expected to be completed between the last quarter of 2017 to early 2018, Khoo says that the MegaX-powered app will initially start with similar features as an e-wallet, but it will “go beyond a basic wallet.”
3. Staging massive MegaX-only retail events
If Retail 1.0 (brick and mortar) and Retail 2.0 (omnichannel and experiential) are all about how brands present themselves to the customer, Khoo says Retail 3.0 will be about how customers present themselves to brands. “Some challenges that retailers will grapple with include brand rejection, brand unawareness, mall blindness, fragile and fickle buying, and on-demand. In other words, brands can only react in the best ways they can and have to rely on external aggregators or enablers to support them. You can no longer just say, look I interact with millennials online, and that’s it,” he says.
Khoo says there needs to be a strong retail offline element if one wants to ride the Retail 3.0 wave — and thrive. To achieve this, Khoo reveals iFashion’s next milestone: to transform very epic retail events into MegaX-only events. “Retail 3.0 is going to be a time of enablers. People, brands, technologies need to be able to aggregate a huge amount of customers in a very short amount of time. So we’re talking the likes of INVADE’s next installation of Artbox Singapore, which can attract in excess of a million people, and transforming those into events where only MegaX tokens are accepted as payment,” says Khoo, adding that such milestone will “likely be hit next year in May.”