Drinks paid in DAI — what happens when the bar only accepts crypto?

DAI Hard Drinks Recap — From NYC Blockchain Week 2019

For the team building Mosendo, our primary focus is making cryptocurrencies usable as a daily currency, so it’s always struck us as a bit ironic that most cryptocurrency events don’t even accept cryptocurrency as payment!

So when we were planning an event with MakerDAO to kick off NYC Blockchain Week 2019, we knew that we absolutely HAD to make the event focused on real usage of the cryptocurrency DAI, not just talk and speculation.

Thus, DAI Hard Drinks was conceived of, where attendees could ONLY pay for their drinks using DAI, no other payment forms accepted at the bar!

The days leading up to the event was a whirlwind of preparation as our event sold out within 28 hours, at 225 person capacity. Our waitlist grew to 390 people — clearly there is an interest for stable decentralized cryptocurrency!

We had been working on a proof of concept in collaboration with Connext network that demonstrates some of the key features we are building in to the Mosendo wallet (read our Hackernoon article for the full product vision).

The Mosendo demo featured

  • instant, browser-based wallet. No fumbling with private keys
  • no ETH or GAS required to make a transaction, in fact no fees at all
  • instant transactions, no need to wait for block confirmations

The experience worked a bit like this:

Mosendo Proof of Concept

At the rooftop bar, we setup all the bartenders with the Mosendo demo wallet and walked them through accepting DAI as payment. Faster than a credit card and just like holding cash!

Bartenders learning about DAI

Then things kicked off! People started showing up, and we handed out QR codes loaded up with 40 DAI for buying drinks!

The QR codes were actually links that contained a one time redeemable hash. When the user opened the link on their phone via the QR, the Mosendo web wallet was created in their browser with the $40 redeemed.

This “send link” functionality is possible due to our layer 2 state channel technology partner, Connext Network.

In addition to paying for drinks, we had QRs posted up that people could scan and instantly donate to charities!

As people started spending the DAI at the bar with instant transactions, the party kicked off to DJ Tweed’s beats.

Despite the rainy day, people were having a great time, chatting about the state of crypto and Ethereum as well as learning about DAI and the latest tech enabling easy to use crypto experiences!

User Feedback

Overall, the feedback from the crowd was incredibly positive. Several people had ‘eyes wide’ WOW moments when they realized that crypto payments can be fast and easy while still remaining decentralized and self custodial!

We were able to capture some of the excitement from the event on audio:

Crypto needs to be used as a payment method and if DAI enables that through Mosendo, its pretty critical to the industry.
If there’s any app that make sending payments easier without using a private key thats a huge plus for the industry
DAI is a great onboarding experience to crypto and will further the use of cryptocurrencies if we can get it right

User stats

The next day, we pulled some statistics from the layer 2 network:

  • 289 payments total totalling over $5,300
  • $18.34 average payment
  • $14 median payment
  • $11.50 most common payment
  • 130 payments /hr in busiest hour
  • 10 payments /min in busiest minute
  • Someone kept the party going, there were 3 payments after 2am (bravo)

Learnings and next steps

We learned a lot from this experiment!

It was great to have our thesis validated that non-custodial cryptocurrency is 100% viable as a spending currency, if the user experience is designed correctly!

An entire bar full of 225 people was able to order and pay for drinks in a fast-paced chaotic space, just like they would with credit card or cash. The previous barriers to crypto currency usage in bar-like environments have been eliminated!

At one point we had an issue with payments going through due the network being undercollateralized due to underestimation of usage. In the future we’ll need to be sure to have sufficient collateral on hand for optimistic cases.

Crypto users in particular are more advanced, so the simple interface hid some of the details they are accustomed to. We had people trying to do layer 1 activities that did not work with our layer 2 wallet, so we need to improve the cross-layer compatibility 🤣

Also browser based wallets are a bit risky when it comes to private key management; more robust fund recovery mechanisms need to be in place to ensure users don’t lose their funds.

Next up for us is launching the full native experience!

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