Since then, the company launched Hooch Black, a pricier subscription that includes perks like hotel discounts and concierge service. But even then, co-founder and CEO Lin Dai was hinting at plans to use blockchain technology to create what he called “a decentralized model for consumer rewards.”
Now Hooch is delivering on what Dai promised, with a relaunched app that rewards users for their purchases.
“We were super excited about the feedback and response [to Hooch Black] that we saw from our members,” Dai said. “What we decided to do is just completely update the app with rewards for consumers across four different categories — travel, dining, entertainment and e-commerce.”
He noted that while most loyalty programs reward you for using a specific card or for shopping with a specific company, Hooch has partnered with more than 250,000 merchants (including Marriott hotels, TAO restaurants, Starbucks, Uber and Amazon). The company can actually scan the purchases made on any linked debit or credit card, and you’ll be rewarded whenever you spend money with those partners.
The rewards take the form of what Hooch is calling TAP rewards dollars — the exact reward will vary depending on the merchant, but the company says it could be as high as 10 percent of your spending.
Dai said TAP dollars are actually a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, but he emphasized that you don’t need to understand the backend to use the rewards. For most users, TAP dollars will simply be a digital currency they can redeem for hotel bookings, restaurants credits and gift cards.
“Security is our top concern,” Dai added. The idea is to access your transaction history to verify your purchases (Hooch makes money by driving purchases for merchants), but without storing or sharing identifying information. “When we capture the consumer purchase information, we actually don’t capture any of their names or credit card numbers … We don’t store any identity.”
The program also comes with a big perk for enlisting your friends. There is an upfront reward of five TAP dollars, but the real selling point is the fact that you’ll get 20 percent of their rewards — not just on their initial purchases, but for the entire time they use the app.
If you like the Hooch Black plan, you’ll still be able to sign up and pay for it. But the company’s emphasis has shifted to the broader rewards program, which you can join for free.