Ryde CEO on launching NFTs, its ‘ride-to-earn’ model and crypto payments

After a year of rapid growth, we’re reaching a point where it’s impossible to avoid NFTs. From startups to mainstream brands, everyone wants in on this emerging technology. We see new utilities being tested on a daily basis, and it seems there’s plenty more that’s yet to come.

In an effort to become Singapore’s premier ride-hailing and carpooling app, Ryde recently announced its very own NFT collection called RydePals.

From now until the end of May, interested users can sign up for a Ryde+ subscription plan for a chance to win a RydePals NFT.

“The first 3,350 users to hold an active Ryde+ subscription will receive a RydePal in their Web3 wallet,” says Ryde founder and CEO Terence Zou.

RydePal NFTs will have different rarities, each with a corresponding rewards system.

In the future, holders will receive benefits such as priority booking, cashback, and selected premium services. The NFTs will also be freely tradable on popular NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea.

Why is Ryde launching an NFT collection?

“We have always been eager to observe, and learn from the exciting innovations in the Web3 space,” says Zou. “Observing the tremendous potential of NFTs in rallying online communities around exclusive social clubs and creator fanbases led us to think about how they could do the same for our community.”

NFTs have displayed a tremendous ability to bring people together and foster a sense of collectiveness. They provide a sense of identity in the virtual world, which is growing bigger by the day.

RydePals is a collection of 3,888 NFTs which represent access to exclusive, in-app reward tiers for Ryde users / Screenshot of Ryde

We spent a lot of time thinking about the successes of other more traditional membership revenue models like airlines, Starbucks and Costco. NFT projects have the potential to be the next evolution of traditional loyalty programs, and can really enhance a brand’s ability to acquire and retain its users.

– Terence Zou, founder and CEO of Ryde

Zou believes that NFTs can be used for community-building and engagement in a way that has been popularised by sneaker brands, online games, sports leagues, and comic books.

“They build their communities through a combination of ownership and storytelling that keeps millions of fans vested in the continued success of a brand. All of those principles continue to remain equally valid with NFTs.”

Why is this a big deal?

“RydePals is the first major issuance of NFTs by a large, consumer-facing company in Singapore,” says Zou.

While other brands have released NFTs, they have often been one-off sales, or in celebration of events such as Singapore Art Week. Ryde, on the other hand, is actively integrating NFTs into its operations.

RydePals represents a new membership model which offers users more benefits than the ones we are traditionally used to.

“We hope that this will generate greater awareness about NFTs among a more diverse base of Singaporean consumers, and also get more companies to seriously consider how NFTs can be of real value,” says Zou.

ryde rydepals nft
RydePal NFTs will be freely tradeable on the Polygon blockchain / Screenshot of Ryde

At the same time, Zou’s careful not to perpetuate a misleading narrative. It’s not NFTs which are inherently good or bad — they must be implemented for the right purposes to be of use.

“As business leaders we do our very best to avoid doing things for their own sake, and are mindful not to encourage irresponsible speculation,” explains Zou. “At Ryde, we were very deliberate about ensuring that we used NFTs in a commercially sensible, and socially responsible manner.”

What’s next for Ryde?

Joining concepts such as play-to-earn and engage-to-earn — which have been popularised by Web3 gaming and social media apps — the ride-to-earn model is Ryde’s particular way of bringing value to its users.

“We spent a lot of time looking at how game developers, both traditional and Web3 ones, design incentive mechanisms to make their communities fun and rewarding,” says Zou.

RydePal holders will enjoy a variety of rewards which could help the Ryde+ subscription stand out among its competitors.

ryde rydepals nft
Ryde will also release a set of rarer 3D RydePals which will represent a different reward tier / Screenshot of Ryde

Further down the roadmap, users will be able to ‘breed’ new generations of RydePals by matching drivers’ and riders’ RydePals. Perhaps, they could even use them in mini-games to earn RydeCoins which can be used for in-app purchases.

– Terence Zou, founder and CEO of Ryde

Along with the launch of its NFT collection, Ryde is also expanding its crypto payment options. Users will soon be able to pay for their trips with 70 different cryptocurrencies.

This is an important step towards the growth of Singapore as a crypto-friendly nation. As different industries begin to embrace this technology, crypto starts to resemble fiat currencies more and more — its acts not only as a store of value, but a mode of payment as well.

“Expanding the range of crypto payment options available for Ryde’s users is a natural extension of our efforts to better serve the growing crypto-native segments of our community. As crypto adoption grows in Singapore and around the world, we want to give them an avenue to use their crypto to pay for goods and services in the real economy like Ryde,” says Zou.

Featured Image Credit: Ryde

Also Read: S’pore Web3 platform Slash allows anyone to mint and monetise their own NFTs