Wow Bao Launches the ‘Hot Buns Club’, a $99-a-Year Web3 Loyalty Program – TechToday

Wow Bao, the digitally nimble Asian food startup that’s expanded nationwide in recent years through an asset-light virtual restaurant model, announced the launch of its NFT program last week. The new NFTs, called Digital CollectaBaos, will be proof of membership in a new super-fan tier called the Hot Buns Club within the company’s Bao Bucks loyalty program.

Wow Bao laid out a web3 vision last November that will eventually include such far-out concepts as metaverse vending machines, but before they take their steamed buns fully into the virtual realm, it’ll start onboarding dedicated customers through its NFT-powered subscription program for $99 bucks a year.

The initial benefits for Wow Bao NFT holders include 10% off delivery orders, double Bao Bucks points on purchases, 10% off merch orders, and contest giveaways.

The Wow Bao NFT program is built on the Polygon network, a Proof of Stake consensus algorithm blockchain that proponents say is more environmentally friendly than many other Ethereum-based digital currencies. Despite the blockchain underpinnings of its new loyalty supertier, Wow Bao is – at least for the time being – downplaying the crypto angle given all the bad press the technology has gotten over the past year, positioning it instead as a digital collectible with associated member benefits.

“We’re staying away from the NFT title,” Wow Bao CEO Geoff Alexander told Restaurant Dive. “The crypto space and NFTs have taken a negative connotation in the last 12 months. We like focusing on making a collectible, we want it to be something that you own.”

The company chose Devour, a Web3 restaurant platform startup, as its partner to power the new program’s web3 ordering. Devour’s DevourGO will enable the delivery of automated promotions for holders of the Wow Bao collectibles when ordering from Wow Bao restaurants in the DevourGO marketplace.

Wow Bao’s entry into web3 is on brand for a company that has seemingly embraced nearly every new technology to enter the restaurant space in recent years. The company was the first chain to sign on to use Eatsa’s automated kiosks (before Eatsa dropped the technology and pivoted to loyalty programs) and has been one of the most aggressive (and successful) companies leveraging expansion through virtual restaurants, opening up close to 700 locations across the US in recent years. The company has also embraced automated vending (of the non-metaverse variety) to dispense bao and dumplings.

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