Phewtick, the mobile app that pays you to scan a QR code and meet a friend has been making waves globally and in Asia with 500,000 users in over 50 countries.
Released this past June at the beLAUNCH conference in Seoul, South Korea, the app's questionable business model has raised a few eyebrows.
Download the app, link to your Facebook account, scan the code of a fellow user in your vicinity, and accumulate points to eventually cash out actual money.
How does a previously non-existent startup afford to pay half a million users? How secure is the app? Let's find out.
According to a spokesperson from Phewtick, even with the increasing amount of active users, the company will be able to sustainably operate the app for at least two years. Phewtick claims to have amassed US$10 million in funding as well as gaining an undisclosed amount of revenue from advertising.
"So there are no worries in terms of 'money' for the next two years," said a representative from Phewtick
Japan-based Phewtick also revealed they will open their platform to local venues that could create deals for customers.
"For instance, a restaurant in Singapore can offer a deal for users on Phewtick where users can get US$1 by visiting that restaurant and reading its QR within certain hours, for example 6pm to 9pm this Thursday. Then the restaurant has to pay out the points for users, but can gain a new customer," Phewtick said.
From there, Phewtick claims, they could charge the venue a 5-10 percent transaction fee.
As seemingly sustainable as the model appears to be, issues surrounding security have kept users sceptical.
Are they pulling my Facebook data?!
A commenter on the TechInAsia website under the username Aki said: "One of my classmates guessed that they would take our Facebook information and sell it, and hence, be able to earn the money."
Linking with Facebook does raise a few red flags. Is Phewtick in reality a cyber criminal poised to invade our privacy while masquerading as a cute Japanese mobile app?
Apparently not, says Phewtick. "Many developers including Foursquare and Zynga require permissions to access users' Facebook profile. Our permission is the same as them and this method is officially supported by Facebook."
Touché, but what about all that money Phewtick is crediting to users PayPal accounts?
Phewtick asserts that they don't pull any information from the e-commerce mogul either and that PayPal would never reveal sensitive data to begin with.
"We believe all we have to do is sincerely answer to all questions, and we do," Phewtick says in relation to questioning the transparency of the company. A quick visit to the company's Facebook page shows constant updates by administrators of the app.
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