EXCLUSIVE. Edenred is working on a "crypto" meal voucher

EXCLUSIVE. Edenred is working on a "crypto" meal voucher

The French giant, which has just joined the CAC40, has tested its famous "Ticket Restaurant" on Ethereum. The Big Whale reveals all the details.

The market downturn has not turned all the big companies away from the crypto universe. According to our information, the French giant, Edenred, which has just joined the CAC 40 on the Paris stock exchange, has been experimenting with a "crypto" version of its star product, the Ticket Restaurant.

The experiment, which was deemed "conclusive", was launched at the beginning of the year with around fifty employees.

Concretely, employees were able to pay with an Edenred crypto (a stablecoin euro developed for the occasion) at merchants located near the company's headquarters in the Paris region.As with traditional Ticket Restaurant vouchers, these new Web3 vouchers were only available for food purchases, and with daily usage ceilings.

While such a solution doesn't change much in form, as the usage is similar, it does have a considerable impact in terms of implementation and efficiency. "Using cryptos means we can start from scratch and create the programme we want," explains Thibaut Reymond, Strategic Project Manager at Edenred. "We have the ability to make bespoke, ultra-personalised offers by freeing ourselves from the steps that are essential for creating a programme on current card networks," he adds.

Today, every programme of this type requires the integration of a large number of intermediaries, such as Visa and Mastercard operators or Apple Pay / Google Pay payment wallets. Blockchain technologies make it possible to complement or replace these giants via open and flexible blockchain infrastructures.

It is also much easier to define the conditions that authorise the spending of money within a "smart contract", an IT contract that defines the rules of use in advance. This relies solely on lines of code.

Changes in identification standards have also prompted the group to take an interest in cryptos. Thanks to identity wallets, i.e. wallets associated with an owner, the risks of identity theft or usurpation are greatly reduced. "Here we have concrete opportunities to bring together the traditional world, which obeys increasingly high standards, and the crypto world, which by construction embeds a very high level of security," explains Clément Le Chatelier, director of digital payments at Edenred.

Still a lack of efficiency

Everything is not perfect with blockchain either. Edenred has indeed run into a few difficulties. "Transaction fees are currently higher than for bank cards and the transaction time has proved longer for the user. In addition, the gateways between the crypto world and the fiat world are still not very fluid and impact the user experience", concedes Thibaut Reymond.

Edenred had nevertheless opted for Arbitrum, a secondary layer of Ethereum (a layer 2), whose function is to improve the efficiency of the main network without sacrificing its level of security (read our report on layers 2). These difficulties show that the infrastructures are not yet ripe for scaling up to millions of payments a day...

"These barriers are currently preventing the release of such a product, but we know that the developments underway will resolve these problems in the coming months," tempers Clément Le Chatelier. "When that happens, the benefits will be obvious to everyone. It will also open the door to new experiences and new services for the benefit of users and merchants", he stresses.

The choice of Ethereum was also obvious because "it seems to be establishing itself as a market standard with numerous use cases", emphasises Thibaut Reymond. "As we want to fit into a much wider ecosystem, the choice of Ethereum seemed quite logical," he points out.

The need for euro stablecoins

The other difficulty encountered by Edenred was clearing transactions on the side of merchants who accepted Edenred cryptos. These merchants needed to recover euros at the end. "The success of this system can only come from a systemic approach where all transactions are carried out on-chain", he insists.

The question of developing a stablecoin is therefore crucial. Today, all options are on the table should Edenred decide to launch its project on a large scale: the group could very well issue its own stablecoin dedicated to this use, or use a project developed by a third party by adding its specific features.

Currently, the largest euro stablecoin is the EUROC issued since 2022 by the American giant Circle.

Around 50 million euros are in circulation. Other projects are set to launch in the coming weeks, starting with Société Générale-Forge's CoinVertible presented at the end of April. As the latter is reserved for companies - as is the case with Edenred - it could feed into projects such as Ticket Restaurant.

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