Coffee shop loyalty cards reinvented
Bootstrapping a gift economy
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[The following is an AI-created story based on my draft bullet points]
The coffee shop was busy as usual. People queued up for their morning fix of caffeine, chatting or checking their phones. The smell of roasted beans filled the air.
I walked in and headed straight for the counter. I didn't need to look at the menu; I knew what I wanted. A large latte with an extra shot of espresso.
"Hi there," the barista greeted me with a smile. "What can I get you?"
"Large latte, please," I said.
"Sure thing," he said. "That'll be $4."
I tapped my phone on the payment terminal. A green light flashed.
"Thanks," he said. "Your order number is 42."
I moved aside and waited for my drink.
As I did, I glanced at the sign above the counter. It read:
Every 10th coffee free without having to sign up or lose privacy
It was a simple but clever scheme. The shop used a new system to track customers' purchases without requiring any personal information or loyalty cards. Each purchase generated a unique, unforgeable token that was stored on the customer's device. When a customer bought their 10th coffee, their device would automatically generate a coupon that could be redeemed at any participating shop.
I liked it because it was convenient and privacy-preserving. I didn't have to worry about giving away my data or losing my card or forgetting my password.
But there was more to it than that.
The system also allowed customers to regift their rewards according to their preferences.
Instead of getting a free coffee, gift it to someone you know!
Or gift it to some a patron who fits a criteria you set!
needs it more than you do (set an income criteria)
does something you appreciate (first responder, open source maintainer, etc.)
shares interest (rooting for same sports game)
frequents same coffee shop in another town (reciprocal gifting?)
These mods were optional but fun. They added an element of surprise and generosity to the system.
Sometimes I would gift my free coffee to a friend who needed a pick-me-up or who shared my taste in books or music.
Sometimes I would gift it to a stranger who met some criteria that appealed to me: Someone who worked hard for a good cause or someone who had similar hobbies or passions as me.
Sometimes I would gift it to someone who visited another branch of the same chain in another city or country: Someone who might appreciate a taste of home or someone who might discover something new.
The system would handle all the details: Matching recipients with givers based on their profiles; sending notifications when coupons were available; ensuring anonymity and security; preventing abuse or fraud.
The recipients would only know that they got a free coffee from someone who cared about them somehow; they wouldn't know who exactly unless they chose to reveal themselves through an optional message selected from a pre-canned set of options:
- Thank you for your kindness
- You made my day
- Cheers mate
- Paying it forward
I thought it was a brilliant way of creating connections and spreading happiness through something as simple as coffee.
And today was my lucky day.
As soon as I paid for my latte, my phone buzzed with an alert:
You have received a free coffee coupon from an anonymous giver!
Criteria: You like sci-fi novels by Ian M Banks
I smiled broadly as I looked at the screen.
Ian M Banks was one of my favorite authors and someone out there shares this love.