London-listed fintech group Mode has been forced to back pedal on claims it would provide cashback in bitcoin to shoppers at retailers, including Boots, Homebase and Ocado, after the companies denied their involvement.
Shares in Mode climbed as much as 15 per cent following the announcement on Thursday, only to plummet 14 per cent on Friday after the company was forced to release a statement clarifying its earlier claims.
Mode said it still planned to launch its crypto cashback product in the second quarter of 2022 and stated that it had more than 40 online retailers on board.
However, the company said on Friday that “certain specific brands were referenced who, at that time, had approved Mode to be part of their affiliate programmes . . . [but] some of those specified brands have since withdrawn Mode as an affiliate”.
Boots, Ocado and Homebase said they were not involved in the Mode scheme. The denials were first reported by The Times.
Boots said: “We have not been directly approached by Mode and they have used our name without permission in their press release and marketing materials.”
Ocado said it had “never had any affiliation with Mode, nor any involvement with their announcement from 18th November 2021”.
Jonathan Rowland, chair of Mode, said on Twitter: “We are comfortable with what we released [on Thursday] because it was accurate. Some brands don’t want to be associated to crypto despite approving us through the affiliate process. We can’t control that unfortunately.”
Mode was founded by Rowland six years ago to “embrace the power of game-changing innovations”, including bitcoin. The son of former Conservative party treasurer David “Spotty” Rowland, his company offers a bitcoin investment platform as well as payment services for merchants. It listed in London last October.
Mode announced a bitcoin cashback programme with THG on October 12, the same day a botched investor day presentation sent THG shares tumbling by a third.
Jonathan Rowland was previously chief executive of Banque Havilland and a co-founder of Redwood Bank, which offers savings and mortgage services to small businesses in the south-east and north-west of England.
At the time of the initial announcement, Mode chief executive Ryan Moore said: “This marks a major step in making the asset class more accessible to consumers of all demographics, ultimately bringing bitcoin into the hands of millions of customers across the UK.”