When asked about MoonPay’s upcoming collaboration with Universal Parks & Resorts, MoonPay CEO Ivan Soto-Wright couldn’t help but look back on his childhood experiences in the theme park — particularly its long-running Halloween Horror Nights program.
“[I]t’s kind of a weird full circle to me. I never actually used to go with my dad back in that day,” said Soto-Wright in an exclusive video interview with nft now. The tagline for the Horror Nights program was that “they’re there to scare the sh*t out of you […] But the point is that they’re there to scare you.”
Through its numerous partnerships, crypto payment service MoonPay has established itself as a crucial player in the NFT space. Cryptocurrency exchange CoinGate and NFT marketplace leader OpenSea are just two of its partners in its quest to make Web3 transactions easier.
But what’s in it for MoonPay to involve itself in a theme park event whose sole purpose is to terrify park attendees? Is the crypto space going to dark places? To the contrary, MoonPay’s collaboration with Universal Parks & Resorts might be the biggest mass IRL Web3 onboarding event in history. But park attendees won’t know it while they’re there.
“The foot traffic [inside] the theme parks is huge in scale. Millions of people go to these Universal theme parks — and so our mission at MoonPay is to onboard the world to Web3. We want to bring billions of people into the ecosystem and so we think this is a really good pilot,” he said.
MoonPay’s Universal partnership
Many players work tirelessly to onboard new people into the Web3 world. For example, OneOf dropped multiple collaborations with beloved pop culture icons and even had a massive presence at this year’s Grammy Awards. That last bit is important — to bring the public into Web3, you’ll need to meet them where they’re at. This is when MoonPay made plans with Universal Parks & Resorts. And it started with a scavenger hunt.
Beginning on September 15, MoonPay left QR codes hidden near park attractions in Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort. Upon scanning these QR codes with a smartphone, park attendees will receive unique NFTs of character art associated with the Halloween Horror Nights program. Should an attendee find all QR codes scattered around the park, they’ll be granted a special gold medal NFT.
Throughout this initiative’s month-and-a-half runtime, MoonPay believes that millions of people will make their first steps into Web3 — whether they know it or not. “This is probably the largest ever POAP — proof of attendance [protocol NFT drop] in history,” said Soto-Wright. Notably, the event will offer Proof of Attendance NFTs, which is a POAP-like functionality, but not exactly the same as POAP. While MoonPay wants to build something similar to a POAP, it hasn’t issued any, and doesn’t use them as of writing. That said, “Up to seven million NFTs are going to be created through the HyperMint platform,” added Soto-Wright. The HyperMint platform is crucial to the success of this initiative, since it will facilitate the high-speed minting of what could become millions of NFTs.
Soto-Wright also believes that adopting NFTs is in the best interest of most brands. And many other companies agree. For example, Netflix used NFTs to gauge viewer reception of the latest season of Love Death + Robots. But in Universal, “[t]he guy or girl that runs around the park and scans all of the QR codes” will pique curiosity in other park-goers. “You probably want to know who that person is because that person is obviously super-engaged with the experience. And so, you have a new touch point to reach that person when you never have that data before, right? You’re getting a new data point. This is a new tool at their disposal and it also makes it more exciting to identify who are the super fans — […] the guys and girls that are super excited about your brand.” he said.
Crucial to the process is the seamlessness of the minting experience, which HyperMint and MoonPay make possible thanks to the ease of use of their platforms. “A grandma can scan this QR code,” said Soto-Wright. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You can scan this QR code if you’re waiting in line without having to download an app or anything like that, […] without any of the technical challenges around getting started in Web3.”
Soto-Wright doesn’t believe that ease-of-use should be an experience only Web3 newcomers may enjoy. Whether you’re a total greenhorn or a Web3 veteran, Soto-Wright believes that ensuring Web3 technologies and platforms are easy to use will be a significant driving force in its future growth.
Tying MoonPay’s latest initiative with its guiding philosophy as a company, Soto-Wright said, “everything I’ve done has been about usability. Our company has been focused on the usability aspect of crypto, not purely looking at crypto as an investment asset class. How do you make this usable? How do you make this important in everyday life?”
Thus, MoonPay developed on and off-ramps for buying and selling on major crypto wallets that were truly easy to use. “You don’t have to go to a crypto exchange, buy that crypto, and move it into your wallet. You can seamlessly do it in a couple of taps,” he said. But Soto-Wright’s vision didn’t stop at making buying crypto easy to use. He also saw a similar future for NFTs.
“If people want to acquire NFTs, it doesn’t necessarily make sense that they need to go buy Ethereum from an exchange, and put it into their wallet, [only to realize] that they didn’t have enough gas to interact with that smart contract and buy that NFT,” he said. Identifying this pain point in purchasing NFTs then led to OpenSea’s new NFT checkout feature, which enables users to purchase NFTs using fiat currencies. Soto-Wright described this new feature as “a seamless process.”
The crypto winter
Soto-Wright also touched on what the future might look like for NFTs. After all, ease of use and mass adoption are just a few of the tentpoles in NFTs that community leaders look to work toward achieving. What else is there? Soto-Wright believes that a key factor to the further growth of the NFT space lies in providing users with novel, fun experiences.
“I think [the Universal Studios scavenger hunt] gives you an idea of what’s to come,” said Soto-Wright. “We’re only limited by our creativity now, right?” Across the NFT landscape, that certainly seems to be the case.” With the bear market in full swing, “innovation has looked to be the new currency in the space.” In the last year, several developments have shown the potential of that future, including step-to-earn initiatives powered by NFTs, massive NFT giveaways with unique mechanics, and inexplicably, goblins.
And Soto-Wright believes MoonPay will be a part of Web3’s future — and views its latest collaboration with Universal Parks & Resorts as the first of many steps into new directions. “We’re going to keep raising the bar. We’re going to keep doing these experiments with brands, and I think we’re going to show the world, rather than just say it” he said. “You have to have a long-term mindset or outlook when you look at what’s going to happen. This is a transformational amount of change. It’s like anyone that has accessed the internet can participate. It really levels the playing field and a lot of industries where it was really just a very small set of people that were able to participate.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that MoonPay had created a POAP. This has been corrected to reflect that the company has not created a POAP, and does not use them.