Hong Kong Bar uses ‘Drink Exchange’ to set beer prices

Patrons of Hong Kong’s Rude Bar and Lounge can now experience the rush of Wall Street in a unique experience where demand sets market price for their beers.

The Rude Bar Stock Exchange – or RBSX for short – lets customers looking for a drink engage in over-the-bar trading.

The RBSX was created thanks to a software program known as the Drink Exchange, which simulates the experience of a stock market in a bar or restaurant setting. For example, when a certain drink becomes popular among patrons, the software will raise the price of the brew automatically. On the other hand, if a certain brand or drink is unpopular, then the software will reduce the price. The television screens of Rude Bar and Lounge display current brew prices as well as daily highs and lows. This allows the customers to gauge how prices may fluctuate throughout the evening.

Amanda Folcarelli, marketing manager of Rude Bar and Lounge, is enthusiastic about the new software.

“We wanted to defy the norm and offer our clientele something new,” Folcarelli said.

“Something exciting. Something they’d never seen in Hong Kong before. Some of our  regulars had seen the concept in place in New York and Barcelona, and they were massively excited to see it here.”

A bar that uses the Drink Exchange software can offer promotions in a very unique manner. They can simulate a market crash, where the prices of all drinks drop dramatically. Bar owners can link drinks to each other, so that when one goes up, the prices of others fall automatically. Suppliers can offer new products to the bar and have price parameters set low to test its popularity.

And as is true with the real stock market, the RBSX allows for patrons to use certain strategies to stay ahead of the market and avoid price spikes or even anticipate a fall in drink costs.

“Unlike the regular stock market, we actually encourage insider trading,” Folcarelli said. “If a group orders a specific drink, then yes, the price will go up, but rest assured that the other drinks will go down in price. At the moment, we only offer beer on the RBSX, but we’re definitely going to expand on that list in the future.

“The RBSX has definitely added to the community spirit that we have. When our rugby and football teams come in after their Saturday matches, there are players who drink only Asahi, or only Estrella, or only Magners’ all night, so the prices end up staying fairly steady so everyone is happy. And, of course, if someone is looking for something new, or the price is counting down to the next update, or we’re hinting at a market crash, our staff is happy to tease them a little.”

Rude Bar and Lounge is located in the Upper Basement of 79 Wyndham St, with doors opening to the top of Pottinger St.

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