Technology

Zombie brand RadioShack is launching a crypto market for ‘the older generation’

RadioShack, the venerable retailer relaunched as an online-focused brand in 2020, now wants to chart a future as a cryptocurrency exchange. Earlier this week, the company announced RadioShack DeFi (short for “decentralized finance”), a market where people can swap newly announced RADIO tokens as an alternative to a centralized exchange like Coinbase. Moreover, RadioShack insists that it’s uniquely positioned to take cryptocurrency mainstream — claiming that “RadioShack, and RadioShack alone, can bridge the gap and ‘cross the chasm’ of mainstream usage for cryptocurrency.”

RadioShack’s argument is basically that as a very old brand, it’s primed to sell old CEOs on cryptocurrency. “Too many [cryptocurrency companies] focused on speculation and not enough on making the ‘old-school’ customer feel comfortable,” the company’s website states, claiming that the average “decision-making” corporate CEO is 68 years old. “The older generation simply doesn’t trust the new-fangled ideas of the Bitcoin youth,” particularly not “adults who are especially authoritarian, intelligent, and well-read (i.e., the CEOs that RadioShack seeks to woo).” Its parent company, Retail Ecommerce Ventures, also owns a variety of other brands like Pier 1 Imports and Dressbarn, and RadioShack speculates about the possibility of a brand like Pier 1 launching its own token through RadioShack’s system.

If you want to read about RadioShack’s strategy, there’s a series of pages explaining the system, which is built on a protocol called Atlas USV. Decrypt also delves more into the parties behind the move. RadioShack is known as a consumer brand, but here, the broad goal is to become a platform that other companies (RadioShack cites Louis Vuitton, Starbucks, and Mercedes-Benz) use to run their own distributed finance projects. You can join a waitlist to be notified when the RADIO token launches.

The launch follows a pattern of troubled but well-known brands moving into cryptocurrency. In 2018 camera company Kodak announced KodakCoin, which was supposed to be part of a blockchain-powered rights management platform for photographers. (This is distinct from the unauthorized Kodak cryptocurrency mining machine shown that same year.) The New York Times raised questions about the coin and its related platform, and Kodak appears to have quietly wound it down.

RadioShack has a somewhat clearer plan for its project. Its site is notably short on reasons why the average current or former RadioShack customer should want to use cryptocurrency. But for now, the goal is apparently to get other companies on board by trading on a well-known name. Or, as RadioShack puts it, “the brand is resolutely embedded in the global consciousness — ripe to be pivoted to lead the way for blockchain tech to mainstream adoption by other large brands.”