I’ve been covering the Air Miles saga a lot recently, and their corporate maneuvering has been anything but confidence-inspiring.
Adding three retail partners earlier this month doesn’t look like it can elevate the wings of the dipping Air Miles jet against the seemingly-unstoppable Scene+ juggernaut. As it turns out, we haven’t gotten to Air Miles’s most baffling collaboration yet.
Today, let’s talk about how Air Miles is coming to the metaverse, and how crypto is involved in the partnership.
A Bizarre Partnership
On November 22, 2022, Air Miles announced that it will partner with not one but two companies to have a consumer-facing, digital loyalty program. The new partners of the Air Miles program will be both the Metaverse Group and Tokens.com.
To clarify any confusion: the Metaverse Group is not the same thing as Meta (formerly known as Facebook), but it advertises itself as a company that specializes in using the blockchain to purchase virtual real estate in the metaverse, if and when it launches to the public.
The metaverse, also known as Web3, is the prospective next “evolution” of the internet, designed to enable users to work and interact with virtual spaces. The easiest point of reference my technology-addled mind can think of is the immersive online virtual reality simulation presented in Stephen Spielberg’s 2018 film Ready Player One.
On the other hand, Tokens.com describes itself as “a publicly-traded company that invests in Web3 assets and builds businesses linked to crypto staking, the metaverse, and play-to-earn gaming.” What this means, is that it puts money into crypto products to back new coins or projects with real capital as collateral, and it also seems to want to invest in the metaverse and video games.
To call these companies speculative would be an understatement. Is there value in metaverse “real estate?” Potentially, but when paying rent for a roof over one’s head can feel hard, it must feel doubly so for virtual space.
On top of this, in the wake of the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX and nose-diving cryptocurrency prices, one must wonder if this is the best partnership for Air Miles to be announcing in late 2022.
However, the company has made the bold declaration that it will have a “brand-agnostic loyalty program” on the metaverse. No comments have been made on what this agnostic loyalty program is supposed to reward (or how), nor is there any word on when Air Miles intends to launch on the metaverse (which is still very much in its infancy).
Is This An Actual Solution?
Right now, one can only examine the Air Miles program from the facts presently available. While this partnership has been announced, and is clearly part of the hope for the brand to remain both relevant and “disruptive”, it has been facing an onslaught from the launching of the Scene+ program.
Scene+’s successes saw many of Air Miles’s oldest and closest partners, such as Staples, sever business relations with a remarkable lack of sentimentality.
We don’t yet know anything about this Air Miles metaverse project, and the metaverse itself is a subject with a large amount of controversy. There are also significant doubts around its viability, with Meta (formerly Facebook), the largest company behind metaverse initiatives, recently announcing an enormous set of layoffs following a poor quarterly report.
This leads to a series of questions I think financially-savvy Canadians ought to be asking of Air Miles:
- What is the earning structure in the metaverse? Are these going to be redeemable for things like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s), or tied to cryptocurrency redemptions?
- What is the exact nature of the relationship between Metaverse Group, Tokens.com, and Air Miles? Sadly, the shady dealings of other companies in the crypto space will arouse a higher level of scrutiny.
- What value can metaverse Air Miles tokens provide, when Air Miles is doing so poorly on the Canadian market?
For my money, this seems to be something of an attempt to ride a wave of hype over value because the core product of Air Miles – the miles themselves – have been subject to consistent devaluations, and just don’t provide much utility to most consumers any longer. A shift to this new era feels like it could tank whatever residual value is left in the program, along with Air Miles’s parent company’s coffers.
In my personal opinion, it feels like this was an idea conceived of during the crypto bull market of 2021, which then sat in a huge amount of red tape for over a year. Now, in late 2022, the idea has been dusted off and prematurely released to the public due to desperation to remain relevant.
The timing for this plan couldn’t have been worse; due to the collapse of FTX, confidence in crypto as a whole is quite low. After all, it’s going to take more than food boxes and flashy blockchain promises to save Air Miles.
Air Miles has announced the launch of a brand-agnostic loyalty program in the metaverse. Further details and specifics are yet to come, but we do know they have partnered with Metaverse Group and Tokens.com.
There is not a huge amount of easily-digestible information on either company, and their businesses are in high-risk segments of the market. Clearly, Air Miles feels it needs to innovate or be left behind, but one cannot help but feel that this announcement is desperate, especially considering its poor timing.
Until next time, be cautious in the crypto space.