Giftcoins - Bitcoin Giftcards

Giftcoins was a small-scale venture that rode on the infamous crypto bubble of 2018. It was a simple single-page app that sold Bitcoin paper-wallets in a form-factor of a plastic giftcard.

Giftcoins.co.uk started as a simple landing page I pretotyped (yep, it's a word!) over a weekend, where I initially described the concept without having any product, only showing pre-generated pictures of what these cards would look like. This allowed me to start collecting emails through Mailchimp's JS widget. After purchasing around £40 worth of Facebook ads I found myself with quite a few real sales leads. Having more confindence in the idea, I went and generated a few hundred private/public key pairs on Bitcoin Paper Wallet, finished the card designs in Photoshop and sent them off to the first card-printing company I could find. Once I had the cards I then built a simple single-page app to facilitate sales (using Stripe's API), card activation (used Twilio API to send me updates) and live price updates (with the help of Coinbase's API).

Blog Figure
A rendering of the card I used for the pretotyped page.
How did it work?

In essence, these cards were paper wallets, printed on plastic cards. The public key had a QR code printed and the private key was hidden behind a scratchpad to more closely resemble an actual giftcard. At the time of purchase customers would commit to buy a card based on a pre-calculated exchange rate (I was basically pinging the Coinbase's API to get the current exchange rate and halving it, which after all expenses yielded me a solid ~40% profit margin.. Upon receiving and activating the card, the customer would then have their physical crypto wallet (i.e. the Bitcoin giftcard) topped-up with the amount of BTC they initially agreed to. I used Twillio API to send myself a text message each time a successful activation went through, so there was definitely room for further automation. Given the traffic however it was a reasonable trade-off between responsiveness, supervision and manual labour involved.

How did it end end?

Since then I've shut down the page as stricter crypto legislations were kicking-in and I did not want to deal with any of that (the profits were simply not worth the extra effort to remain compliant). I still own the giftcoins.co.uk domain name as a memento.

I ended up making a bit of beer money, but the biggest win for me personally is the fact that I prototyped, validated and released a profit-generating proof-of-concept over a couple of weekends. Most of all, I can now smugly say that I succesfully sold shovels during a gold rush.

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