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Preppers and Penny Savers Find a Home on Bitcoin App, Fold

In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has turned everyone into a prepper. And in their buying fits, the CEO of Fold wants to make sure they don't forget about the original apocalypse money, Bitcoin.

Preppers and Penny Savers Find a Home on Bitcoin App, Fold

Key Takeaways

  • The Lightning Network-exclusive application, Fold, may have found a unique bisection of retail users and hardcore maximalists.
  • Since the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone has become an overnight prepper.
  • Businesses like Fold have seen huge volume since users flood to sites like Amazon for last-minute purchases.

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Long before last-minute preppers were forming lines around the Costcos of America, Will Reeves of Fold has been serving preppers and penny savers a heavy dose of Bitcoin. And now, amid the pandemic, business has been good. Very good.

Building an On-Ramp for Apocalypse Money

Final Provisions took up just a portion of the Fold team’s time over the course of last year. “It was part of our ‘10% time,’ in which we explore different topics and new ideas,” said Reeves.

The site is rather pessimistic. In between different gifs featuring rioters, downed androids, and flooding subway tunnels, are links to products on Amazon. These aren’t your everyday household items, however. 

Instead, viewers are shown a catalog of end-of-the-world essentials. From emergency bags of water, pet cockroaches, to a DIY houseboat building plan, there is a clear target audience in mind. The second item on the list is also a Ledger Nano S cryptocurrency wallet. 

All items feature a link to Amazon, where Fold users can earn cashback for any purchases. Source: Final Provisions

Critically, this site was built a year ago, long before countries began tracking cases of Coronavirus. “Even before the pandemic, we saw some of the cracks and stresses that the world was facing,” said Reeves. “And as a Bitcoin company that’s working within a larger community, we saw a lot of overlap with so-called ‘preppers’ and Bitcoin enthusiasts.”

The primary existential threat for most maximalists has been irresponsible monetary policy. One could argue that Bitcoin was wrought out of the carnage that was the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bailouts. And after a brief tour of crypto Twitter, it’s not hard to pick up the apocalyptic sentiments.  

Alongside building Final Provisions, the team has been head down constructing one of the largest onramps to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. “We decided to lean into Lightning because we saw that Bitcoin could serve a few key roles,” said Reeves. “Payments have been a big portion of our vision, and so, using Lightning Network was a clear choice.”

This vision is a shared one, too. Spun-out of the blockchain venture studio Thesis, Fold raised $2.5 million last year to continue building out the Bitcoin app. Investors included Slow Ventures, Craft Ventures, Goldcrest Capital, Fulgur Ventures, and Meltem Demirrors’ CoinShares. 

Fold has followed a simple strategy for getting new users and veteran Bitcoiners to use the app. 

Attracting Preppers and Penny-Savers to Bitcoin

To attract the former, the team launched a project called Lightning Pizza. It’s a guide for buying your first Bitcoin on CashApp, transferring that new BTC to the Lightning-enabled BlueWallet, and then using Fold to buy a pizza from Dominos. 

For veterans, the sell is much easier.

Sending BTC on Lightning has so far been difficult to trace. When reporting on activity, BitMEX research explained that “there are a significant number of private channels” that cannot be observed. These privacy features have made Lightning Network a viable alternative for Bitcoin maximalists looking to conceal their spending activity.

Whether a user is buying their first Lightning Pizza from Dominos, or a Hazmat suit from Amazon, there are other, more practical reasons for turning to Fold.

When using the Bitcoin app to make purchases, users are eligible for cash back rewards. Compared with traditional rewards, Fold’s are highly competitive. 

As fears rose surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, Reeves said that there were “mass purchasings on Amazon” from Fold users. The list of available retailers is long, with Lowes, Cabela’s & Bass Pro Shops, and Taco Bell being the latest inductees.

And for every purchase made through the application, users can get 4% back in Bitcoin. It can even be connected to a fiat credit or debit card for BTC-based rewards too. 

“Part of the issue with some Bitcoin operations is that the rewards are clunky, it’s a taxable event, and it’s just not as attractive as using a credit card,” Reeves said.

To make using Bitcoin even more attractive, Fold has recently launched its “Spin for Sats” program. Each day, users can log into the app and pick up a small amount of BTC. “We were highly influenced by the early days of faucets,” said Reeves. “The Spin for Sats move is similar. Users can go and pick up some satoshis and play around with Bitcoin.”

As for building a product at the bleeding edge of Bitcoin, it comes with its challenges. For many, the Lightning Network has yet to claim the title of the go-to payments network for crypto users. 

At the time of press, there exist roughly 12,000 active Lightning nodes, an improvement since last month according to data aggregator 1ML. It remains to be seen if easy-to-use tools like Fold will draw more attention to the network.

If not, it may just be for the preppers and tech-savvy penny savers.

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