Phewtick has been the most recent phenomenon to sweep across the east coast. People have gone nuts over the potential of free money and its allure of a lottery-based system. The app is actually quite simple: "friends" scan each other's QR codes, displayed by Phewtick, for points that are later translated into real currency; the amount of points earned is supposedly random, often ranging anywhere between 400,000 to 10, with the current conversion rate going at around 1.66 cents per ten points. Free money, clearly, is the motive behind using the application. The Japanese-invested company plans to turn Phewtick profitable by selling data that could possibly be useful to merchants and companies alike. Each customer's pattern of daily activity is recorded, as the GPS/location portion of the device must be activated in order to even use the app. It seems like a win, as free money is difficult to come by, and the process is slightly entertaining due to the buzz it causes. However, success needs to be sustained and consistency is often too fleeting for the average company to stay afloat. Phewtick is unique and its business plan suggests an eventual introduction of advertisement to the application. Most of the excitement and fun exists solely because of the "new" title it currently holds. The basic functions work well and the basis behind the process is easy to understand by even the most dimwitted of the bunch. If Phewtick were to become a popular and widely used app, there is little doubt that controversy will eventually strike hold. Users will begin complaining about privacy issues and whether it proves justified to sell information as sensitive as location. Even after such hurdles, Phewtick will eventually become a shrine of advertisements by recommending restaurants and other businesses to people who "meet-up" at specific areas. The increase in annoying and superfluous information on the app will surely frustrate many people, especially when they're simply trying to earn "free money." And, of course, nothing is ever really free. Phewtick requires users to rack up at least 30,000 points, or around $30, before allowing the option to cash out; with some estimation, the average user would take anywhere between 1 to 2 months to earn enough points. Again, this is a variable number based on many factors. The app then charges a 15% "commission," something widely odd because it's not as if Phewtick is a third-party application and is making money off itself. The sudden barriers in even gaining anything discourages users who may not have enough time and friends to gain 30,000 points and also consider it worthwhile. There is also something unsettling about the points system: it doesn't seem all too "random." Judging from personal usage and also stories of friends, the first few uses of the app seem to grant larger point rewards, diminishing as use increases ; I managed to earn $11 on my first day of downloading the app but have only garnered around $8 a week since. The hypothesis is not unusual and should be expected.
Human nature is too reliant on "good" feelings that trigger joy in the mind. The first few check-ins are especially important, as its used to hoard in users who managed to earn $11 in a day by scanning codes, something that only takes a few seconds per person. The sum of the money given is undoubtedly long, but the makers of Phewtick don't have to worry a bit. Remember, the money isn't really owned until cashed out at 30,000 points and after the 15% commission. There is no fear for a suddenly large cash-out to millions of individuals and the creators behind Phewtick knows this. It'll take the majority of the community to take months to reach the minimum threshold. Usage will eventually decline and the excitement will die down (it already has). However, this is actually preferable from a business standpoint. Scanning other people's QR codes will only happen in situations where you remember about the app, which is usually when you're legitimately hanging out with a few buddies, not at a college's student union or dorms. The money "earned" will be minimal, probably a few cents per day that can't even be used, but the information can be sold at a ridiculously high rate. Then there's the lottery system. The allure of the largest number of the five possible outcome of points is what spurs Phewtick. People will always be longing for a chance to suddenly ring up a few hundred dollars, though the chances are probably just as bad as winning an equal amount via lottery, if not worse. Tension is a major component in the excitement for pressing "publish meetup." There's no denying that Phewtick is an ingenious idea. What better way to make money than by offering free money?
Phewtick is also meant to be a different angle of socialization, one that advocates meeting strangers or the cute girl across the table. In a way, it's succeeded, as people's desire for money stops at nothing, prompting completely strangers to scan one another. The idea looks to be working but the contact between most people have been surface-level and disappointingly shallow. As the only common grounds between strangers exist in the mutual desire for more points, it's almost impossible to segue into meaningful interactions. In this sense, Phewtick has failed in bringing socialization to the platter. Its made recent improvements, such as adding an option to add an unknown person as a friend on Facebook, but again, it's awkward to do so. One possible solution is to add questions or even ice breakers after the scans. Facebook and Twitter both provide means of communication, something Phewtick does not but needs.
It's difficult to assess whether Phewtick will last but early observation suggests that it won't. The hype has already begun dying out, after two weeks, and people have caught up to the limitations of cashing out and the utterly disparaging rate of earning money. It's become forgotten because the four digit point rewards have dwindled down after the first two days of owning the app. People have deemed it a sham and a waste of time. Users who have already dedicated a decent amount of time in Phewtick area planning to cash-out and never come back. Groups have begun popping up on Facebook where people post pictures of their QR codes in hopes for a few scans before expiration. In order to succeed, Phewtick needs to create a method of allowing better chances to garner more points, or at least another avenue of benefiting the customer. Simplicity, though appreciated and very much a selling point, can also be dull after constant usage. Unfortunately, the app is slowly suffering from the latter.
And do we really need $30 that badly? There's always a single shift at McDonald's that brings in more.