Alex Adelman, founder of Lolli. Lolli
Fewer people own cryptocurrencies than you might think. A recent study found that only a small percentage of Americans own cryptoassets and that many people still don’t know how to go about buying them.
One startup founder, Alex Adelman, hopes to speed up Bitcoin‘s adoption process, and he’s doing it by making cryptocurrencies accessible to people who aren’t necessarily interested in going out of their way to buy it.
Adelman is the founder of Lolli, an eight-month-old New York-based startup with a single-minded mission: Put cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin into the hands of consumers, risk-free.
Lolli’s primary offering is a browser extension (it pairs with Chrome and Safari and it’s downloadable through Lolli’s website) that pairs with more than 500 online retailers. Purchase an item through one of Lolli’s online retail partners, and you’ll receive as much as 30% off the item’s cost back in Bitcoin. From there, the Bitcoin is stored in your personal Lolli wallet where it can later be cashed in to your bank account.
It’s like cash back, but for Bitcoin.
So far, Lolli’s partners include a number of different kinds of retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Lucky Brand, Home Depot, Hotels.com, Jet.com,and SeatGeek.
For Adelman, Lolli is not only an incentive for online shoppers but an educational platform where he believes many people will have their very first experience with a digital asset.
“Buying Bitcoin or making any first investment is inherently risky,” said Adelman. “It’s important to make it easy. We’re trying to take away all the risks of buying into Bitcoin. People are making a completely passive investment by us negotiating deals with online retailers and working off our partnerships.”
Adelman has leveraged the retail connections he made through his previous e-commerce startup Cosmic (which was later acquired by PopSugar), to yield a streamlined business model: Retailers offer Lolli a commission for each shopper they drive to the site and Lolli returns a part of its commission back to shoppers in Bitcoin.
For Adelman, it was important to keep Lolli’s design light and approachable. For instance, Lolli’s name comes from the lollipops that banks hand out to customers: “Most people hate going to the bank,” he said. “I’ve always looked forward to the lollipop at the end.”
Adelman said that he believes that risk-free incentives have long been missing in the cryptocurrency space, and that many people still view cryptocurrencies as unapproachable or difficult to understand. For Lolli, Bitcoin is only the beginning. Adelman said that he hopes to build an engaged online community surrounding his product and that its offerings might extend to other digital currencies in the future.
“I believe that Bitcoin is the bank of the future, and that it’s going to bank billions of people across the world,” he said. “Right now it’s not very user friendly, it’s not fun. The thing that’s missing is the lollipop. We’re coming in and being that fun, easy way to get into Bitcoin.”