It was just a few days ago when my notifications began to overflow with what seemed, at first, to be spam. A templated message with links to register for a new kind of currency called Q urged me to sign up. Immediately. Before I knew it my friends were battling one another for referral points and I was linking up my Facebook account, without even thinking about it, to my own Initiative Q account, a new kind of digital currency that is planning to shake up the industry. I currently only have Q7,297 out of the possible free Q28,072 points I can collect, because I have failed to convince more acquaintances to sign up. And I don’t blame them.
Initiative Q is not at all a cryptocurrency, but yet, its diehard fans are already deeming it as the potential successor of Bitcoin; with a more stable touch. In just four months, the payment initiative has managed to spread like wildfire among crypto enthusiasts and all of the people who never jumped on the crypto wave while the getting was good—like myself. Three million users have opened accounts with Initiate Q thus far through a successful marketing approach that saw the company dishing out free Q for every referral, alongside a ‘referral only’ access link that gift-wrapped the whole experience as more bespoke, more exclusive, and I’m guessing, seemingly more trustworthy. What sets Initiative Q aside from its crypto comrades is that no money has yet been exchanged in return for Q.
“The world needs a better payment system. We are glued to its existing infrastructure and the only other option is cryptocurrency, which I don’t believe answers the real problems.” Initiative Q founder, Saar Wilf, who was also the brains behind the transaction verification system against fraud which was acquired by PayPal, told Forbs in a recent interview. “Crypto – like all currency – has built its value based on trust but is decentralised from government. It circumvents the systems, which I think most people realise can be as bad as it can be good. We want Q to become mainstream and that’s why we give it away for free to those willing to promote it.”
Just like cryptocurrency and any other currency for that matter, the value lays in the perceived value it accumulates, and at 100,000 new users each day, Q is certainly on the right path. On its typically quirky, user-friendly and dominantly purple website, the Q team present users with a detailed timeline of how they see Initiative Q pan out for the next three years. “The Q payment network will allow safe, fast, and low-cost transactions, using a global currency” and by late 2021, Initiative Q believes its payment method will “exceed $100M in monthly transaction volume in the launch locations.”
Besides the scepticism that is surrounding Initiative Q and my network’s lack of compliance to sign up and grant me my full 28,072 free Q points (which I still have no idea if it’s worth a lot or like, a little), its premises seem valid. From the reduction of fraud (sellers currently spend 8 percent of their revenue on fraud), making financial processes easier and faster to, as Wilf puts it, using “artificial intelligence to allow families and businesses to share accounts. To have an international currency that can be traded and shared without the ill-equipped processes that are currently in place and cost so much time and money. We want to use technology to trade smarter and more secure.”
Right now Initiative Q’s real-world value stands at three million subscribers, eight employees and absolutely no currency on the market. But even if I just gave away my Facebook information and spent several minutes interacting with an optimistically pleasant purple website, I believe it was worth supporting an initiation that is trying to find alternative ways to our finances. Whether it makes it or not, is another question.
We’ve all heard about it, newspapers and magazines have been dying in slow motion for two decades, according to everyone in the media industry. Because their future success depends on diversification of content and rapid adoption of new media formats as they become available, newspapers and magazines are now experimenting with digital platforms and deeper reader engagement. Print circulation is quickly declining and, to everyone’s surprise, digital subscriptions are not helping as much as planned. Slowly but surely, people’s hope of digital media picking up the slack has been diminishing.