Bicycle ownership tracker BikeFair is using “utility NFTs” to give peace of mind to buyers and sellers. The company has created a second-hand bike marketplace that not only makes buying and selling easy but also keeps track of ownership and registration records.
The Netherlands-based BikeFair aims to create an internationally-available bicycle registry using NFT-based ownership records on the BSV blockchain, using the RUN token protocol. In 2020 it raised around US$500,000 in startup funding with the participation of Two Hop Ventures and launched at the beginning of 2021.
Speaking to us, BikeFair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sten Bossong, said the platform has seen over 2,000 bicycles sold and received over 3,000 new user registrations in 2021. It has a net promoter score (NPS) ranking of 8.9 from over 100 survey respondents, meaning most who used the service would recommend it to others.
Bicycle thefts are a huge problem in any place bikes and second-hand bike markets are common. As well as the hardship and inconvenience caused by having your primary mode of transport stolen, there are also problems for buyers—how do you know the person selling the bicycle to you actually owns it? Whether they “appear legitimate” or not, or whether they even know the history of the bike they’re selling, there’s still a risk. Unknowingly buying a stolen bike could not only mean losing the bike if its real owner comes forward. It could land other buyers and sellers with fines or even criminal records.
BikeFair creates an NFT record for each bicycle when it’s purchased, which includes the bike’s frame number and the name of the buyer. Presently, most BikeFair sellers are verified shops with good reputations.
It’s not just an ownership registry—BikeFair is also a marketplace where bikes can be bought and sold online with a few clicks. The service smooths out several aspects of a purchase, including additional accessories, an escrow service for payments, and managing contacts between buyers and sellers. You don’t need Bitcoin to use the service either since BikeFair accepts iDeal and regular credit cards.
Though BikeFair’s services are available worldwide, at present, it’s marketed exclusively in the Netherlands. The country has a strong existing bicycle culture and an established registration system, meaning any bike purchased in a store comes with registration records. This registration and ownership information would also be recorded with the police in the event a bike is stolen.
Bossong said the company’s first milestone goal is to acquire a larger percentage of the Netherlands market before promoting itself in other countries. However, all adjustments required to make BikeFair a global service are already planned, so doing this will be easy when the time comes.
To have an entry in BikeFair’s NFT registration records, a bike needs to be bought/sold. While it would be ideal for users to add their own registration records without that process, at the moment, purchase records are the most reliable way to ensure the data is accurate. Users can still view or ask BikeFair to change their own personal details.
“If the bike was bought in a bikestore, it’s always registered,” Bossong said. “You can use BikeFair with any bike (unless reported stolen). Matter of fact, when added we automatically check the bike for theft. If it wasn’t reported stolen, you receive digital proof of ownership.”
Will users eventually have the ability to alter their own records? Bossong said it’s something the company would like to see, but such a system is still being developed.
“At the moment, our development team can change the content of the NFTs. So it’s not decentralized. However, we’re looking for partners that can help us decentralize the process and create a one-on-one connection (that works through our interface) for end users to get & keep full control of their NFTs.”
So if police and bike stores already have a registry system, what’s the advantage of using blockchain and NFTs? Firstly, the latter method is far more secure and efficient, and makes relevant information available to anyone using the service. Additionally, BikeFair is international and standardized, meaning any bicycle that crosses an international border after being purchased (or stolen) will still have the same provenance records.
Features listed as “coming soon” on BikeFair’s site include full tracking of a bike’s highlights, purchases, and repairs in a way that any user can view (a bike may be more valuable if it once won a major race or was owned by a celebrity). It hopes to one day include maintenance records for users to tell when their bike needs servicing, and perhaps even a 3D digital image of the bike that could be used in video games or augmented reality applications.
While NFTs on the BSV blockchain and other networks are still used primarily for art collections and speculative trading, BikeFair is leading the way in demonstrating that unique digital tokens have more advanced and economically beneficial uses. This fits with the notion that an NFT—rather than being the item of value itself—works better as a digital representation of a valuable item in the real world. The token itself has value based on what it represents and the security/convenience it provides as part of a wider ecosystem. Since BSV has unbounded scaling capacity and fast transactions at minimal cost, it’s the perfect blockchain to keep track of the world’s business records—from individual bicycle ownership to contracts at the corporate and government level.