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).
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.