Sydney’s ‘The Owl House’ adds Australia’s first crypto-currency to the menu

Celebrated Sydney bar and restaurant, The Owl House boasts a carefully curated fine wine, craft beer and cocktail list, complemented by a modern menu showcasing the best Australia and the world has to offer. Why then has it decided to add crypto rewards to the menu?

Sitting in the heart of colourful city suburb, Darlinghurst, the bar caters to a diverse clientele, and in 2012 was named ‘Best Bar with Food’ by the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, just two years after it opened.

Celebrated sommelier and Owl House owner, Amir Halpert says key to the bar’s success is having creative ideas and always staying ahead of the game.

‘As they say, food is the new rock ‘n’ roll and you have to keep pushing the boundaries, offering new experiences and sensations.’

It’s this energetic and pioneering spirit that has inspired a partnership between The Owl House and rising Sydney tech-startup, Incent.

The Incent story started in October 2016 when the company crowdfunded Australia’s first crypto-currency, INCNT, a market-based, tradeable digital currency supporting an entirely new platform for rewarding buyer behaviour.

While most rewards programs like Flybuys and Qantas Loyalty offer points redeemable only on the one platform (they also have a habit of expiring), INCNT represents an opportunity for everyday consumers to build their own cache of crypto currency which is theirs to keep and use as they choose.

Australia’s first crypto precinct

Having become one of the first businesses in Australia to accept Bitcoin back in 2014, The Owl House is no stranger to the world of crypto-currencies.‘Every true restaurateur aims to give their guests a fine dining experience and value for money, that’s why we chose to trade in Bitcoin as far back as 2014. We have now extended that to Incent and did the first ever INCNT transaction in May this year’ Halpert says. ‘Incent allows retailers to set their own reward and we gift our customers 5 per cent by way of a thank you for choosing The Owl House.’

Both Incent and The Owl House are involved with the Darlinghurst Business Partnership, which is seeking to establish a Darlinghurst “precinct” supporting cryptocurrency. The hope is that patrons (especially tech-savvy millennials) alienated by the lock-out laws will be inspired to return with this new source of value being offered for their custom.

Rob Wilson, CEO of INCENT, who did that first transaction with Amir in May this year, maintains that Incent is a superior alternative to the much-criticised points loyalty rewards programs, which tend to benefit big corporates rather than the customer.

‘Any customer with an Incent wallet on their phone literally gets instantly rewarded when they pay their bill,’ said Wilson.

‘There’s is no sign-up or annual fee and rewards can be redeemed as cash, gifted, used to make other purchases with over 340 on-line retailers, or kept safe in the knowledge that it won’t suddenly expire.’

‘Additionally, they can also earn Incent for browsing online content so long as they consent to sharing their data.’

Bottom-line benefits

Wilson also sees clear benefits for merchants for whom cashflow is like life-blood.Credit cards are typically their biggest source of bad debt, but with digital currency  there’s no such exposure and no waiting. The money comes straight through.

Earlier this year Australia was ranked 14th in terms of Bitcoin volume by currency with $A2.1m or 276 BTC being traded in a 24 hrs day. This is way behind the number one ranked Japan who trades 30,1404 BTC per day, but as new crypto-currency exchange regulation is introduced in Australia that’s expected to grow substantially.

“To me, it’s a modern, sophisticated and mutually-beneficial way to do business and one that closely mirrors our offering at The Owl House,” reflects Amir.

‘Savvy customers use Incent and other tokens to get value for money and I’ve seen a huge growth in awareness about crypto-currency rewards since we began accepting it as legal tender.’

‘My staff promote it at The Owl House as this is what true rewards programs will look like in the very near future, Businesses that wish to retain customer loyalty will catch-on very quickly.’

Like Uber and solar power, blockchain is here to stay.  It’s a fundamental change that will ultimately see the consumer benefit over third-party intermediates.

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Sadly, The Owl House closed its doors in May 2019. We wish Amir and the team best of luck with their new endeavours.