ABBC: Future of e-commerce payment or just fake news?
ABBC Foundation, a Dubai-based blockchain start-up, launched Aladdin25, an e-commerce platform that supports cryptocurrency payments, in New York on May 30. According to ABBC, some 25 e-commerce platform operators including local companies like 11st, Coupang and WeMakePrice will participate as partners in its project. It also said it demonstrated cryptocurrency payments on 11st during the event. But Coupang, WeMakePrice and 11st say they have never heard of the project, raising serious questions about the reliability of the news. What is Aladdin25? Aladdin25 is a project that aims to enable cryptocurrency payments at global e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay and Rakuten. The Dubai-based company hopes to make a single app, also dubbed Aladdin25, that acts as a platform where customers can compare products from across retailers and pay through cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum and alibaba coin. A commercial version of the app has not been released yet. Is the service linked with China’s Alibaba? In the past, ABBC Foundation used the name Alibaba Coin Foundation, but it doesn’t have direct links to e-commerce giant Alibaba founded by Jack Ma. As the name could create confusion, the two companies had a dispute over trademark rights. In October last year, the Dubai company lost the suit. In March, the company decided not to use Alibaba in its name and made amends with the Chinese retail giant. That is why it named its shopping mall Aladdin25 instead of using a name including “Alibaba.” So what is it? The only thing the ABBC Foundation unveiled after the app launching ceremony was a minute-long advertisement video. The video contains only images representing the brand, rather than hard facts regarding the actual service it will offer. The company said it will release service demonstration videos later due to issues with technology patents. Even foreign reports, it is hard to find detailed information about the app. Most media coverage was a direct copy of the press release distributed by ABBC Foundation. There does not appear to be any media agencies that have covered any announcements made during the May launch event or pictures of the event. The source of the news, in some media outlets, is written as PRNewsire, which is a press release distributing service. Even a Reuters article used by the Korean distributor of ABBC Foundation states at the end that “this content is not produced by Reuters Editorial News.” The article was produced by a press release distributor like PRNewswire. There has been no article yet with information directly collected by reputable media agencies. 11st is unfamiliar with the platform In the distributed media release it seems as if global e-commerce companies like eBay, Amazon and Rakuten have already integrated with the platform. The same goes for local companies like Coupang, WeMakePrice and 11st. ABBC Foundation has the logos of 25 companies lined up in its ad and said it plans to invite more retailers. The Korean distributor of ABBC Foundation posted on its social networking service that “we demonstrated the application working in the presence of reporters and partnering companies,” adding that the company showed cryptocurrency payment work on Amazon and 11st in real time. The local operations of 11st, however, proved to have no relationship with Aladdin25. “We have not been notified of the information from our business teams,” a spokesperson from 11st said. “Korea’s 11st has no plan in adopting a blockchain-based payment system to its platform at the moment.” The press officer, however, added that its Indonesian corporation, which has been sold off, could be involved. Sources from Coupang and WeMakePrice showed a similar response. “It’s not difficult to add another means of payment … but there is no related business ongoing in WeMakePrice [related to cryptocurrency payments],” a source from the company said. “There are cases where you send an email to companies you want to work with and act like you are in positive negotiating terms with them,” one local retail industry insider said. “Considering the list of mentioned companies, this could be a possibility.” Dudu's note When a company announces a partnership with third companies it commonly discusses the release date and content in detail. It is difficult to understand why the companies partnering or planning to partner with ABBC Foundation know nothing about the project. It is therefore highly likely that ABBC Foundation just mentioned the big name companies without permission. Also, making a cryptocurrency payment system in Korea has legal hurdles to overcome. Terra, developed by TMON founder, and a payment platform that Bithum, a cryptocurrency exchange, attempted to adopt both converted cryptocurrency into digital points rather than using coins directly in transaction. For companies to use cryptocurrency directly in transaction, the system needs to qualify within stringent legal guidelines. On the official corporate data from ABBC Foundation, it has a “list of shopping malls to be integrated in our shopping platform” unlike in the press releases. This means at this stage, ABBC Foundation wants to partner with big name companies, but this is not a common way of processing partnerships. Think about a high school student spreading word to the whole school about the list of people he or she wants to date. The outcome could be disastrous. A bigger problem is that the Dubai-based company is leaking information that is not true. At least in Korea, much of the news and information about the company and its coin is not based on facts. ABBC Foundation is either leaking incorrect information on purpose or turning a blind eye to the situation. Even if the company has the capability to establish an online shopping platform supporting cryptocurrency payments, this kind of working process greatly damages the reliability of the company itself.