Mobile food app to offer virtual tokens, foundation for more efficient food supply chain
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Mobile apps have proven a natural tool for food trucks, enabling them to keep customers apprised of their whereabouts, their menu offerings and promotions. Numerous apps have been introduced in recent years.
|Nizar Lavji plans to offer virtual currency for foodservice and a blockchain based food supply chain.|
Nizar Lavji, a South Florida technology entrepreneur, has introduced an app that he believes will offer much more. His app, called Fudi, is already live and is available on iOS and Android. Customers can download the app, log in, then scroll through menus available from food trucks and other chefs that are available on a desired day.
Fudi, however, will also offer a virtual currency token that Lavji believes will make his app more versatile for food truck owners and other chefs who choose to use it. Fudi will offer a virtual token called FudiToken that will enable foodservice providers to give customers a convenient way to pay for their purchases, along with new ways for food trucks and other foodservice providers to promote their offerings.
Lavji, who has been working on his app since 2015 with the support of co-founder Alex Barenboim, could become one of the first entrepreneurs to bring virtual currency and blockchain technology to the foodservice industry.
Virtual currency makes strides
Virtual currency is not completely unknown in the foodservice industry. A handful of food trucks and trailers accept bitcoin, the leading virtual currency, as do many restaurants.
Lavji's concept, however, is to create a virtual token that foodservice providers will use as an alternative, more convenient form of payment. Customers will be able to pay for their purchases (or a portion thereof) with FudiTokens. Foodservice providers will use the tokens to provide promotional discounts.
Fudi will charge the customer a fee for the transaction. Lavji has not yet determined the actual fee at this time.
If a customer wants to pay with the FudiToken and the foodservice provider doesn't accept it, the app will be able to convert the token to regular currency.
In time, as the number of FudiToken users grows, the Fudi ecosystem will expand to include food purveyors in addition to foodservice providers. Foodservice providers will then be able to use the tokens to pay for food and supplies.
Virtual tokens coming in June
Fudi will offer the virtual tokens to the public on its website in June, Lavji said. People will be able to purchase the tokens using regular currency or four of the most popular cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. At the present time, he does not know how much the FudiToken will cost.
The token will become more valuable if Lavji's plan for blockchain based food supply chain comes to fruition.
Long-term focus: food supply chain
Blockchain technology, in addition to providing the infrastructure for virtual currencies, is bringing new efficiencies and transparency to supply chains in several industries. Lavji is not the first entrepreneur attempting to create a blockchain based food supply chain.
By digitally recording the identity of goods, a blockchain can provide a permanent, immutable record for every food ingredient as it travels from farm to table. This transparency can give processors, wholesalers, distributors, restaurateurs, food trucks and consumers information about where their food comes from, how it was processed and a full accounting of its movement along the supply chain.
Once a food supply chain is established on a blockchain, it will be easy to use virtual tokens to pay for things within that supply chain.
"Since the token will have a value out there in the marketplace, they can trade it for any other services they need," Lavji said. "The idea is to make it (the FudiToken) ubiquitous."
The success of the FudiToken will depend on the number of people who accept it, which will require a strong marketing effort.
Present focus on the app
Lavji's first order of business, meanwhile, is to establish the Fudi app among food trucks and other chefs.
He sees particular benefit for food trucks since they have a need to keep customers apprised of their whereabouts on a regular basis.
"The app actually lends itself to food trucks," Lavji said. "It's like an Uber for food trucks."
The app will also provide useful data to foodservice providers. Lavji, who has an extensive software background, will develop reports such as what type of food is popular in what locality and what amount of traffic certain locations receive.
At the time of this report, he said there are about two dozen foodservice providers using the app in South Florida and a few in Chicago.
Lavji did not wish to say how much he has invested in the project. He currently has help from a technology team, a marketing team and event planners.
While Lavji may or may not succeed in creating a virtual token that is widely used in the foodservice industry, his vision makes use of an evolving technology that stands a reasonable chance of making the industry more efficient.
Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.