Our fearless leader, Nilay Patel, sent me an article about Chipotle accepting cryptocurrency for payment earlier this year. I thought about writing something to troll my cryptocurrency-hating editor who loves Chipotlebut then Elon Musk did some bullshit, and I forgot.
Until now. Chipotle made the mistake of tipping us for his new game for National Avocado Day. It’s called “Buy the Dip” because guac costs extra. The game, according to the press release, will “engage fans in a stock market simulation to ‘buy the dip’ at its lowest point and give away a total of $200,000 worth of crypto.” Chipotle did paying $25 million for giving norovirus to its customers, so i guess this is how they recruit new ones.
However, “buy the dip” is a common expression in the crypto world and refers to the idea that crypto’s price movement is cyclical. Occasionally, in this ideology, cryptocurrency values go through a “winter” or downturn, and if you buy crypto it will be cheap compared to the top of the next cycle. Your mileage may vary with regard to this particular investment story.
This is not Chipotle’s first crypto stunt. That would be the celebration of National Burrito Day – much like National Avocado Day, this holiday is the invention of some extremely annoying marketers – by giving away $100,000 worth of Bitcoin (as well as $100,000 worth of free burritos). Chipotle then launched its own currency on Roblox called Burrito Bucks. If you’ve played the Chipotle Burrito Builder game on Roblox, you can get a code for free food at select Chipotle restaurants by redeeming your Burrito Bucks.
And then of course there are the Flexa payments, which Nilay emailed me about. To make them, you use a Flexa app, such as SPEDN (not a typo but a play on “hodl”, itself a drunken typo). So I downloaded the app, and you know what was wild?
The pitch for cryptocurrency was that it should be an improvement on the existing banking system. I don’t understand how to load a wallet I can’t withdraw from to make a transaction is an improvement over a credit card. It’s considerably worse than cash. And unlike cash or credit, every time you buy something with your Flexa account, it’s IRS o’clock. Flexa will minimally help you with your taxes by giving you a CSV of your transactions so you can give the IRS the extra money you owe because you bought a burrito bowl with cryptocurrency.
If I were to deposit money into a Flexa account, where would my crypto go? We will, according to the terms of service“When you deposit your cryptocurrency in the app, your funds are held and insured with a licensed third-party custodian.” Excellent! Cool! No further questions! If you poke around the site, you will find that the deposits are insured by Twinthe cryptocurrency exchange of twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Fortunately, Monique Soriano – an outside spokeswoman for Chipotle – tells me that Buy the Dip winners will receive their crypto through a Coinbase account. Soriano declined to say how many transactions per day were taking place at Chipotle through Flexa, citing the company’s forthcoming second quarter results release. Still, I suspect crypto is more valuable to Chipotle as a marketing stunt than as a revenue stream – after all, the point of Flexa is that Chipotle can choose to be paid in dollarsit doesn’t matter which crypto you use.